Contrasting God and Man – Pt 1
* It’s the fall of the year. It’s a beautiful time. Many things show evidence of the season we are in; the weather has cooled off, vegetation is in a different status of growth or death, the colors of the leaves are changing, and much more can be seen. The other morning I had to drive Lakeshore, the many colors of the season can be seen in the trees, and the “contrast” to other times of the year is startling. Contrast; this is our word for the evening. Consider this topic with me for a bit.
* To keep this simple, let agree on a working definition for the evening. Here is the noun definition; “an obvious difference between two or more things.” (Cambridge dictionary). And now, the verb definition; “To compare 2 or more people in order to show the differences between them.” Contrast.
* Most of the time we think of contrasts in terms of color and not in terms of people. This may well be one of the great issues surrounding the 21st century American when it comes to the concept of who man is as well as who God is. Think about this, if we have reduced God to, “the man upstairs” or “the big guy” or something on this order, we have now taken the almighty and reduce him human status. Additionally, we can take mankind and elevate him to ‘god-like’ status. Either way, we have missed the Biblical and divine contrast between God and man.
* Before we read, please remember, this book opens with the pleading prayer of Habakkuk. In essence he says, “Lord, I see and know how bad this country is and I ask you this question, ‘how long until you do something?’” God responds, “I am putting together a plan which you will not believe. Look at the world’s events and see what I am doing.”
* Tonight we pick up in verse 12 with Habakkuk’s second prayer.
* Admittedly, I had a difficulty discerning God’s message to us from this prayer because I know that verse 2:1 is the big tamale.
* After studying and praying, the message for us is a message which we need to “get our hands and arms around” that we may understand, embrace, and hold to, no matter what comes our way. We’ll divide our thinking into 2 major slices.
1. An Appropriate view of God – Of all the things which would help us as individuals, as a church, as a community, and as a country is this concept. For the actions and reactions of people are directly related to their personal view of God. If our concept of God is like Santa Claus or the Easter bunny, then we only go to Him for those things we need and “want.” If our concept of God is like the little old grandfather who doles out only kind words, extends forgiveness every time without any expectations, or is someone to protect us no matter what we do, then we have little respect for Him and His desires for us. However, God is not like Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, or a little old grandfather and Habakkuk points out at least 6 attributes in his prayer.
a. His Preeminence – This word means “over and above, excellence, and to be first.” Habakkuk begins with this thought “from eternity” (KJV “everlasting”). He follows with the word in the HCBS “Yahweh” which is interesting, the Hebrew word is Elohim. Of course the prefix El means “God”, but it is worth understanding that Elohim is the name for God used in Genesis 1:1 to 2:4 and contains the idea of creative and governing power. He is preeminent because He was first; He was and is the creator of all that we know. When we get our hearts around this one truth, it changes our view of God. But there is more.
b. His Permanence – Without taking a breath, Habakkuk says, “You will not die.” This affirms the Biblical truth that is spoken of in Revelation 1, “I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last; I WAS dead and NOW am alive.”
* This is the same God who parted the Red Sea, destroyed Sodom, and got into the fire with the 3 Hebrews. This is the same God who wouldn’t let Jonah or Elijah off the hook. He is the same God who spoke to Paul. He is from the beginning & will be to the end. A proper view of Him is life-changing.
c. His Plan - Habakkuk writes “You appoint” or “ordained” or “set the course”. We can pause at this point and reassess our view of God. In His sovereignty, God is still in the busy of appointing, ordaining, or even calling. He has a call for every person, every congregation, and even every nation. I’ll submit to you that the reason so many are so unhappy today “inside” a church fellowship is because they are outside of His plan for their lives. They have found a place within the body and have determined that they are comfortable and then refuge to budge and have become unhappy and hard to get along with. The sad thing is this; they cannot figure out why. Most of the time they blame those around them, as it simply “cannot be my fault.” Want to know personal happiness, joy, peace, love, and even fulfillment? Quit being so worried about your comfort and focus on His plan.
d. His Power – HCSB says “to execute judgment” while other translations say things like “for judgment” or maybe “to judge”. The implications are clear. God has the power and, on occasion ‘grants the power” to judge. Consider with me the power of a judge. When a judge speaks it becomes law. Sadly, in America we have seen this in the worse ways. We are purportedly a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. Less than ten years ago in the state of California, the most liberal people in this nation votes to NOT ALLOW homosexuals to marry. The courts, that is judges, ruled that the “people couldn’t do this” and thus, overturned the “will of the people.” There is great power in the judge.
* The second note I’ll make is not in terms of civil judgment but in spiritual and eternal. Here it is; everyone is going to be judged one day. Those apart from God’s offer of salvation will be judged in their sin and found guilty. Those who have received God’s offer of salvation will be judged according to their works. For the born again believers, their sin and guilt will be dealt with at Calvary, but their judgment will be based on what they have done with what they have received. This is the power of judgment. This thought bleeds into what’s next;
e. His Punishment – First, let’s keep our historical connection in mind and then move to our spiritual application. Habakkuk has heard this disturbing word from God that the Chaldeans are being empowered by God Himself to execute judgment on the disobedient people of God. Our text says, “You have destined them to punish us.” KJV uses the word “established” which causes us to realize that “God set up the Chaldeans for one purpose—to punish His children.” This flies in the face of the modern-day concept of God. We hear it all the time, “God is love and never exercises discipline or exacts punishment on anyone, let alone His children.” Out of these 6 attributes which we discover about God in these verses, if we could convey the truth of these last two attributes, things would be different. The difference would start inside our homes, makes its way into the church fellowships, and ultimately impact our culture. From observation, it would seem that we have forgotten who God really is, what power He truly has, and that He does punish sin.
f. His Purity –Look at the first part of verse 13. God cannot even ‘look’ at evil. Seems like we saw that on Golgotha when God turned the lights out on sin. We need to get our hands on this; there will be no sin, no disobedience, nor “pushing it to the edge” in heaven. The appropriate view of God is one that brings a soberness to lif