Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God responds to Habakkuk amazement at God’s lack of action by letting Habakkuk know that He is more involved than the prophet will ever believe.

“You’re Not Going To Believe This!”

Habakkuk 1:5-11

In A.D. 988 Prince Vladimir made Christianity the state religion of Russia. Throughout the last 1000 years the Russian church has had a rich history of great men and women of faith, wonderfully ornate and reverential cathedrals, and influence that spread beyond the borders of Russia…for a time. The time came when the church lost its influence, lost its courage, and succumbed to the pressure of governmental persecution and control. The time came when the church found it more prudent to avoid the confrontations, conflict, and contentious spirit of the leadership of the nation. That was the day the church began to die in Russia. The church leaders may have raised the white flag, but God’s plan was not affected.

The greatest threat to the Russian people and to the church of Russia was the ideology of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin. When the Bolshevik Revolution took place in October of 1917 the plan put in motion to eliminate the influence of the church upon society in every way. In the decades that followed, the communist leadership would use the church for the their benefit, but they systematically sought to rid the nation of God in every way.

Karl Marx, the political philosopher whose ideas were nominally followed by the Bolsheviks, called religion "the opiate of the people." Although many of Russia’s revolutionary factions did not take Marx literally, the Bolshevik faction, led by Vladimir I. Lenin, was deeply suspicious of the church as an institution and as a source of spiritual values. Because of Marx and Lenin’s hatred of religion, atheism became mandatory for members of the ruling Russian Communist Party, the Bolsheviks. To eliminate as soon as possible what was deemed, “the perverse influence of religion in society,” the communists launched a propaganda campaign against all forms of religion.

Marx and Lenin had a different vision for the country than what was being offered by the church leaders. Dr. D. James Kennedy writes in his book, Character and Destiny,

Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin promised to give the world a ‘new man.’ The Communist super-man was supposed to be a new creation on the face of the earth. He was to be noble and selfless, concerned for others, and towering above the rest of humanity. The Communists were, in fact, out to create a whole race of supermen.

Under the brutal dictator, Joseph Stalin, the Soviet government took the theological dimension of the Communist heresy to an even greater extreme as it tried to control every area of life and thought. Government bureaucracies controlled the affairs of workers, citizens, writers, artists, athletes, and merchants. The state controlled the economy but also encouraged the rise of a ‘cult of praise’ that took on many aspects of religion. It was a sort of deification of their evil leader. Policies handed down by Stalin were treated with all the solemnity and authority of papal edicts. The ruler was their god, and the people were to be the glorious creations of the state. These were communism’s ‘new man.’ (Dr. D. James Kennedy, Character and Destiny, pg. 130.)

While Marx and Lenin marshaled all of the forces of communism to remove Christianity from the minds of the Russian people -- God was still at work. When the communists took control they believed that they could turn the people’s hearts from God and erase any memory of God’s influence upon the nation -- God was still at work. When communists slaughtered countless men and women of faith in their efforts to rid the country of Christian influence – God was still at work. There was a young boy who was watching while the revolution took place and although he was raised in a communist state and had no faith of his own as a young man – God was still at work. Dr. Kennedy writes once again in his book, Character and Destiny,

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that when he was just a young boy while the Communist revolution was still going on, millions of Russian people were being slaughtered. The streets ran red with blood, and fear stalked the land. One time he overheard two peasants arguing about why all this was happening. He said he would never forget what one of the peasants said: ‘It is because we have forgotten God! That is why all of this is happening to us. We have forgotten God!’ The great author said that in spite of all of the education and all of the experience he has gained, including the eight long years he spent as a political prisoner in the gulag, he never forgot the wisdom of that simple peasant: ‘It is because we have forgotten God. That is why all this is happening to us.’ (Dr. D. James Kennedy, Character and Destiny, pg. 142.)

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