Summary: The Advent season begins with anticipating the comming of Jesus both at Bethlehem and as a future hope similar to the characters in the Chronicals of Narnia.
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Scripture: Habakkuk 2:1 – 3
Title: Watch, Wait, Be Amazed
I. Deferred hope is the present reality.
A. Habakkuk registers a legal complaint against God...
1. (1:2) “How long, O Lord, must I call/cry/beg (so intensely) for help, but you do not listen?”
a. Habakkuk feels a perceived injustice: God tolerates wrong.
b. There is frustration in his tone as he “cries” and “begs” God for action, which does not seem to be happening.
2. (1:13b) “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
a. God has promised justice/salvation through the “evil” Babylonians!
b. This frustrates Habakkuk even more because it doesn’t make sense.
3. God answers with two words:
a. (1:5) “Look at the nations and WATCH – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”
b. (2:3) “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, WAIT for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
B. Our complaints:
1. We see violence everywhere:
a. riots in France
b. natural disasters
c. Iraqi war, terrorists, etc...
d. Democrats and Republicans fighting
2. We see injustice everywhere in a legal system run amok:
a. One prisoner in MI is suing himself for $5 million for violating his “civil rights” by committing a crime.
b. Judge in CA that ruled that parents could not control what schools taught their children about sex.
c. Oregon Supreme Court ruled 5 - 1 that telling a business it cannot have a live sex exposition on its premises is a violation of freedom of expression. BTW, they ban smoking in the saloon with the live sex show.... and in OR pumping your own gas is illegal.
*This is the pattern of humanity as it hurtles itself toward destruction. Genesis 6:11 “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.” (ESV) Or as the Message puts it, “As far as God was concerned, the Earth had become a sewer; there was violence everywhere.”
II. Delayed justice is (thankfully) the imposed reality.
A. There are some serious questions we have to ask ourselves:
1. Does God tolerate wrong?
a. When bad things happen and there does not seem to be immediate repercussions it seems to make bad people bold.
b. When judgement seems paralyzed, it seems that it will never come.
2. When God’s people fight, does that mean that peace will only come through universal destruction administered by the “evil?”
a. Habakkuk was offended that God would use the ungodly to change things.
b. Is it possible that the criticisms/attacks/persecutions leveled against the church by the world are well deserved (in America) judgements from God?
3. Is it selfish and judgmental of us to demand justice?
a. Demanding justice means we have judged a situation and people. Something that is often done lightly or in ignorance.
b. Demanding justice means we want what we want, when we want it without regard to the other person.
B. So we wait...
1. “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” C. S. Lewis noted that the effect of the rule of the White Witch, which represents evil, is to cause it to be “always winter but never Christmas.”
2. Winter eventually wears on even those who love it. It becomes burdensome and is occasionally dangerous.
3. Celebrating Christmas in winter is important (“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas”) because Christmas is a time of joy and hope in the mist of the sinful, dangerous, upside-down world.
*So how do we handle what we face in this world?
III. Immediate trust is the Christmas Reality.
A. The call for justice/salvation is not just for ancient people.
1. It is an end-time call: Revelation 6:10b “...how long before You will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth.” (The martyred souls under the altar.) (ESV) The Message puts it this way, “How long before you step in and avenge our murders?"
2. Identification with those who are hurting is a basic requirement of ministry: 2 Corinthians 11:29 “When others are weak, I am weak too. When others are tricked into sin, I get angry.” (CEV)
3. It is the prophetic fulfillment of what Jesus has done on the cross: Ephesians 4:8 “That is why it says: When He ascended on high, He led captives in His train and gave gifts to men.”
4. At Christmas we remember to anticipate the return of Jesus by looking forward to the Babe in Bethlehem. We anticipate the cross and its’ forgiving and healing effects in our lives.
B. It takes trust to allow God to do the right thing in His time.