Summary: We need constant direction from God. Habakkuk was a man who knew how to wait for an answer.
Waiting for an answer.
Two years ago, Elizabeth (my wife) and myself went to the lake district, and after dragging her up a mountain, while she moaned all of the way, we then decided to go for a row on lake Windermere. As when Liz rowed we tended to get a little bit dizzy, I mainly took control of the oars. We only had the boat for a certain time, and so my theory was that if I rowed up the lake for half the time, then I would have enough time to row back down the lake. I started off, and after half an hour of my Steve Redgrave impressions, it was time to turn back. What I hadn’t noticed, was that there was a really strong wind that was getting more and more gusty. The reason I hadn’t noticed was that for the first half of the journey, the wind had been behind me. I suddenly realised that I had to put twice as much effort into going only half the distance. Wanting to impress Liz, I just got stuck in and rowed that little bit harder... As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going... Well sort of.
There was a second thing that I hadn’t counted on, and that was that there was a number of large expensive yachts between myself and my destination. The wind was now getting that strong that it was moving them from side to side and creating quite a nice little slalom course The problem when you are rowing a boat is that you are facing one way, while travelling in the other, and nobody thought of putting a rear view mirror in them. Because of this I had to trust Liz to guide me through. If anybody has witnessed Liz’s navigational skills then you know that she could get lost in an empty room. Eventually, after listening out for her directions, and acting upon them, we eventually made it to our destination.
So often we can find ourselves in situations in our lives where we need direction. The going is getting tough and we desperately need answers, yet instead of God sitting in the boat with us, we can feel that He must be miles away on dry land. I want to talk about a man in the Bible who found himself in that situation, and needed answers from God. I want to find out what he did with those answers.
Introduction to Habakkuk.
Habakkuk was written towards the end of the seventh century BC, when the Babylonians were becoming a mighty nation and Jerusalem was about to fall. It would have probably been just after the last good king of Judah, Josiah, when the nation had now fallen back into his sin. We see Habakkuk despairing at the sinful state around him and questioning what God is going to do about it.
1. Persistence in prayer:
Here we see one of the first things that I want to talk about today, Habakkuk’s persistence in his prayer.
The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2:How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you,
"Violence!" but you do not save?
3: Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and
violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4:Therefore the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the
righteous, so that justice is perverted.
God needs to see what our heart really desires. It is one thing to pray, ’Lord, direct me in your will’, and quite another, to petition God in daily seeking of the answer. We see here that Habakkuk has cried out to God many times and his heart has become more and more burdened. We can pray for the salvation of people, and be discouraged when God does not rush in with his answer. Sometimes God waits until our heart is broken for them. We could be waiting to use a ministry gift, that we know we have but is lying dormant, without the opportunity for it to be used God may be taking you through a training period, but he wants to see that your desire remains the same.
In whatever way that we are seeking direction or an answer from God. He wants to see whether this is really the desire of our hearts.
God then answers. We have to realise that when we are sincere in asking God for an answer. God will always give us one, and show us the right direction. However don’t be surprised if it isn’t always the answer that we want, or even the one that we expect. God answers Habakkuk by telling him that he is raising up the Babylonians in order to punish the sin around him. A nation more sinful than Israel have ever been.