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BULLETIN ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY FOUR
Wait and Trust, for our God is
Study in Habakkuk, Its Meaning
and the Blessed Revelation of God
Habakkuk is a book of depth. It contains the dishavelled distaste of the prophet for the simple horrors of man, hunting one another, insatiable, intent on evil and rarified in goodness. WHY ?
He is asking God and expects an answer.
God tells him (Ch 2) that He is far from mere ill-will in the matter. Indeed, He cites and lists cases of woeful misconduct and disloyalty so that this is the ground cause of the troubles, not some ill-will on His part. They ask for lavish response and reluctantly He gives it. Then He makes a statement which is in need of no 'interpretation', NOT, He declares,
"Behold, not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labour to feed the fire, and nations weary themselves in vain."
There is nothing demanding variation of meaning, no ambiguity to correct. There is a simple statement concerning the vain, frustrating and laborious works of man and their relationship to their Creator. A simple negative is prefixed to the concept on the topic of their futile and frustrating situations, and it is being affirmed that if you want to know the cause of it, then it is NOT of the Lord. Don't attribute it to Him!
If for the sake of idiom you want to add "it is" to make it "it is not of the Lord," fine! But to pretend that there is some kind of question as to the intent, meaning, information being given to us about the Lord and man, makes a somewhat spectacular case of adding to the word of God (strictly forbidden in Proverbs 30:6, for example.
The context in Habakkuk also flows most smoothly as you proceed on. The sequence proceeds thematically in the light of the first basic question of the disturbed prophet, rather as follows. Oh no, says the Lord, it is not of Me that you have all these things which so revolt you. in the domain about which you, Habakkuk, have been questioning, that of writhing and violence and futility. FOR the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (2:14).
In other words, it is as if the Lord apostrophises the prophet in some such way as this: What a thought! Do you not realise that there is, if you will only WAIT FOR IT, to be such an outpouring of the ultimate, divine purpose in peace and wonder and goodness and wisdom when the time comes, as will like a flood! The very thought, that it was the Lord who in some unnecessary way was marring man! Far from it: for His goodness and desire will be shown in the end in the entire scope and generosity of His good desire. It will come; Discipline there must be, but vastly astray is any thought of God actively. Far from it as shown in the weeping both of Jeremiah (9:1ff) and Christ (Luke 19:41ff.).
Many and deep may be the strivings of man: and many are the chronic sins of man. The Lord does not let this pass, and affliction rightfully reminds people of their sins and their folly (cf. Amos 4); but in the end, the desire of the Lord to bring a people out from this in the abundance of peace and purity, will prevail. In fact, in Habakkuk 3, we read of the Lord with His Messiah bringing judgment to pass as the accounts are paid, the finale is wrought and intrusive wickedness is routed (3:12-13).
What then is necessary as one waits on the Lord of glory for the purgation, the purification, the restoration of the rule of righteousness, the salvation of His own people in His rich and glorious presence ? It is faith. By faith (as if to add to Hebrews 11 in some way),. Meantime you are to wait, and it is for the reality of the overall divine plan that you must wait.
The time of restitution of all things will come: wait for it. It is not in the multitude of material blessings that you wait (Habakkuk 3:17ff.), but beyond their reach, in reliance on the Lord whose nurture transcends and does not ignore the small and great features. If you are tested in heart now, it is not for nothing. God has the answer for the heart and it comes from and waits upon Him entirely. It is His gift in substance to come, and faith which relies on His enterprise and goodness, awaits His last Act, as it were, knowing that it is not in vain but in the Lord that the answer comes as the blessings come and the curse goes. This divine singularity, transformation, it is not yet consummated; but held as a vision to come in victory. Wait for it!
You are to WAIT; for the just, those trusting in the Lord, deeply entrust themselves to Him, believing His word, all of it, and not the shimmer of scattered light. This world reeks and reels with man's sin on the one hand, and God's wrath on the other; but the judgment to come, like the blessing to be, will far outpace the case of the present time and reliable is He who grants it!
Indeed it is time to realise that the concept of integrality, which has been emphasised on this site over many years (e.g. Bewilderment, Bedazzlement ... Ch. 3 (2008) applies not only to the body, but to the situation facing man as one whole. It is like someone trying to work out what is the purpose of some political or feline action, and it is not until it is well under way that the evidence unmistakably reveals what is in view.
It is often the same in great music, where various introductions, seemingly terminal cadenzas, heightened passages occur before the thrust and meaning, the point and psychic fire becomes apparent. It is so in the human body where so many partial, particular, collaborative issues and movements can occur as the entire information load discovers itself, and the vadrious actions and supportive interventions, resistances and facilitations are realised in their order and place. It is so in the DNA where there is even multi-purpose information, alternate readings of the same letters in different sequences or reverse order, and editing procedures join themselves as copies are made of the DNA for man in every generation. Then the passing particularities reveal the purpose in the result: man.
It is ludicrous to try to discern meaning in the maze and matrix of information without looking to the end of the matter, where multiple means brilliantly induce the existence of a multi-purpose, but limited being which does not stop at criticising or even rejecting its God and Maker. To and for this, or the opposite in blessing, he is made.
When however you come to examine and study the matter of man's will - to deceive, even to be deceived in some cases, to oppose, to be free at any cost, even to aim to become God as from the first to the last in the evil works which are really a self-eliminating game, the truth is insuppressible. It is the same in the order and direction available both in the DNA for the body and in the spirit accorded to man: to enable him to love or hate, despise or recognise law or even instead, or even pursue the constriction or marring of his own construction if he feels like doing this.
In such premises, or instead in more orderly reliance on oneself and one's self-will, as if the brilliant feat of the construction of man's body, generation by generation, programmatically in the DNA were to be despised or even not noticed: then it is shown where multitudes stand and fall. Yet is through many and marvellous means presented to man as a gift (and not by nothing or mindlessness or lawlessness, ludicrous pretences) that this given. Such things may intensify the curse, but they ignore the remedy, for their proponents, their disciples will not listen (Matthew 13:14ff., Isaiah 29:13ff.)
Accorded such gifts, such meaning, such provisions, man is set for the obtaining of this love with its gift not only of meaning but Messiah, not only divine attention but intervention, by taking it as foreknown for each before creation itself occurred (Ephesians 1:4ff.). Similarly he may prefer hate, mere mute wonder or simply try to dismiss the situation from his mind. Some as the Bible puts it (Romans 9:17ff.), do not like to retain God in their knowledge. In the end this means that He does not retain them in His rescue program for man, pardoning sin and granting peace. So be it.
The case is simple for many: God makes, including freedom, man responds, including self-destruction. The love of God for His creation is great and He seeks for all to be brought back into harmonious friendship with Himself (Colossians 1:19ff.). Some however prefer darkness. It is very dark. It has many phases like a disease. In the meantime, as the Lord tells Habakkuk, WAIT, for the just shall live by faith. The issue is not grabbing, netting men in evil intent like fish, but being at peace with God, in the full thrust and tide of His affection, not in dithering or demanding, but finding His will and delighting in Him whose practical love, sacrificial substitutionary death and resounding, predicted resurrection (on time) is the basis for every good thing for a fallen race.