Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18 - Good Answers To Good Questions

December 18, 2011

Scripture Reading:
Habakkuk 1:1-3:19; Revelation 9:1-21;
Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 30:10

Ask the right questions if you're to find the right answers.  
~Vanessa Redgrave

Habakkuk 1:1-3:19

There is nothing more satisfying than getting a question that you have been pondering answered. The right answer to the right question can take a person from anxiety to calm, from fear to hope, and from fecklessness to purpose-filled. This is what happens with the prophet Habakkuk.

Habakkuk is not so much of a prophet as he is an honest seeker of God. This man confronts God on some big issues and finds that if you seek God, He can be found. Habakkuk learns a very important lesson from God that becomes the key doctrine for the New Testament books of Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. This concept is that "the just/righteous shall live by faith."  This teaching was also responsible for Martin Luther nailing his 95 thesis to the church door and opening the way for the Reformation. Good answers to good questions lead to good results.

Habakkuk's Questions and Complaints:

Here are Habakkuk's gripes to God.  These are sincere and honest attempts to understand his Creator. Remember that God is relational. He wants His creation to know and love Him. God is not put off by our earnest questions.
  • How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But, you do not listen.
  • Must I forever see this sin and misery around me?  The wicked in Israel far outnumber the righteous, and justice is perverted with bribes and trickery.
God's Answer:

God explains that He uses nations to judge other nations at times. He understands that the nations who are conquering Israel are not in and of themselves just people.
  • Watch and be astounded at what I will do.
  • I am raising up the Babylonians to be a new power on the world scene.
  • They are a cruel and violent people, who will march across the world and conquer it.
  • They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.
Habakkuk's Next Question:

Searching to know if God is just, Habakkuk continues.
  • Is your plan to wipe out Israel?
  • Will you let Babylon get away with their cruelty forever?
  • Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?
Habakkuk Waits For God's Answer:
  • I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the Lord will say to me and how he will answer my complaint.
God Answers:

God goes from discussing the current situation in Israel to speaking about the humble versus the proud on earth. He describes His relationship to each.
  • Write my answers on a tablet and tell everyone else what I have said.
  • If it seems slow to happen, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.
  • Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, but the just/righteous live by faith.
  • Wealth is treacherous, and the arrogant are never at rest.
  • Suddenly your debtors will rise up and take all that you have, while you stand trembling and helpless.
  • You have plundered many nations, now they will plunder you.
  • How terrible it will be for you who get rich by unjust means.
  • How terrible it will be for you who build cities with money gained by murder and corruption.
  • How terrible it will be for you who make your neighbors drunk.
  • How terrible it will be for you who beg lifeless wooden idols to save you.
  • But the Lord is in His holy temple.  Let all the earth be silent before Him.
Habakkuk's Prayerful Response:

Habakkuk is humbled and wants to be just and live by faith in God. He has learned that the key to having a good relationship with the Creator is to recognize that God is Sovereign and to trust in Him alone.
  • I have heard all about you, Lord, and I am filled with awe by the amazing things you have done.
  • Help us in our time of deep need, as you did in years gone by.
  • In your anger, remember your mercy.
  • God's brilliant splendor fills the heavens and the earth is filled with His praise.
  • What a wonderful God He is.
  • God is sending His chariots of salvation.
  • You marched across the land in awesome anger and trampled the nations in your fury.
  • You went out to rescue your chosen people to save your anointed ones.
  • I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
  • I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.
  • The Sovereign Lord is my strength.
  • He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.
May we all learn from Habakkuk's wonderful conversation with God that God's judgments are just.  He is just and merciful and seeking to save the lost. The proud will not follow him, but righteous people are made righteous by their faith in God.  Amen!

Revelation 9:1-21

Today we are continuing with a more detailed look at what occurs during the Great Tribulation and how it is that God allows the earth and its people to be judged.  We are reading about the seven trumpets that send forth the movement of God's judgment. In this chapter we see God allowing Satanic activity on earth during the Great Tribulation as a punishment.

Now, the fifth angel blows his trumpet and John sees a star fall to earth from the sky and the star (Satan) is given the keys to the shaft of the bottomless pit. By the way, stars in the Bible are sometimes used to describe angels both fallen angels and good angels. In this case, Satan, who is called the "morning star" in Ezekiel, is the star that opens the bottomless pit. When the pit is opened, smoke pours out, which darkens the sky and locusts descend upon the earth. These unnatural creatures have the ability to sting like scorpions. They torture the people on earth who are not sealed by God as His own. Remember that we read about God sealing the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel.

These locusts are described as quite hideous and are obviously demonically inspired creatures. They are given five months to torture people on the earth. This is a very unnatural plague.  These demon creatures are led by a fallen angel named Apollyon, which means "the Destroyer."  This is the first terror of which the flying eagle warned. There are two more terrors to come.

The sixth angel blows the trumpet and a voice from the four horns on the altar that stands in the presence of God speaks. The voice says to release the four angels that stand at the Euphrates River.  These angels were made in advance and prepared for this very event, day and hour, month and year.  They are to be turned loose to kill one third of the people on earth. These are demonic angels.

We see that they lead a demonic army of 200 million troops.  Again, we have an unnatural scene.  The horses' heads look like lions.  Fire and sulfur billow from their mouths. The people on the earth who die are dying from the fire, the smoke, and the burning sulfur. The tails of the horses are snakes that can injure people. These are fantastical images that really cannot be explained by anything that anyone has ever experienced.  The Bible indicates that the people who are not killed by these unnatural creatures will still be too proud to turn to God. They will continue to worship idols, and demons, and material goods. They will not repent of their immorality, drug use, murders or thefts.  Please note that the word for "sorcery" is the word "pharmakeion," which is where we get our English word "pharmacy."  Many of the people during this horrific time on earth will apparently make it through by taking drugs.  Drug use will make it easier to deceive the world into following the Antichrist.  Drug use also promotes sexual promiscuity, murder, theft, and other abhorrent behaviors that God will judge.

As we read about these horrible judgments on the earth, it is good to think back to Habakkuk's conversation with God. God told Habakkuk that He knew that the Babylonians, who were deeply guilty in their pride, were still going to be used to judge Israel.  Now we see that God is using satanic forces to judge Israel and the world system. God reminded Habakkuk that the righteous will live by faith.  We learn from God's teaching that we must have faith in His decisions to judge as He wills.  We must trust by faith that God is just and His purposes are good.  Keep this in mind as you read of the terrible judgments that will come upon this earth.

Do you live by faith?

Psalm 137:1-9

Here is a psalm of weeping, while being held captive in Babylon. Notice that the psalmist has hope and faith in God's future salvation. This makes the psalmist righteous!

Proverbs 30:10

Don't slander people.  Especially don't slander people to their employer.  They may lose their job.

What are you learning?


Jubilee Gal
Kathy Fullerton

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