Wrestling with God (Part 8)
In modern American society, we are highly sensitive to fairness. We want our sports to be fair. We want our jobs to be fair. We want our politics to be fair. But, deep down, we all know life just is not fair. In the first chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet is pointing out the apparent unfairness of God toward His people.
When Habakkuk complained (1:2-4) about the injustice around him and that God did not seem to be listening, God answered him. The answer is found in verses 5-11. Here, God tells the prophet that He is going to do something; and when He tells Habakkuk what it is, he will not even believe it.
The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Habakkuk. When we read from the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations we get a little insight into the attitude of God’s people.
They have lied about the Lord
and said, ‘He won’t bother us!
No disasters will come upon us.
There will be no war or famine. (Jeremiah 5:12, New Living Translation)
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you will never suffer because the Temple is here. It’s a lie! (Jeremiah 7:8, New Living Translation)
Not a king in all the earth—
no one in all the world—
would have believed that an enemy
could march through the gates of Jerusalem. (Lamentations 4:12, New Living Translation)
The people of Judah seem to think that just because they were God’s chosen people, they were exempt from discipline or punishment. They appear to be incapable of remembering their own history. They had been slaves before. They had seen famine. They had lost in battle. They had placed their confidence in the temple and in their walls and gates. These are all things built by man. If man can build it, man can destroy it. Because of their misplaced confidence, they behaved as if there were no consequences. But there are always consequences.
“Shout to Judah, and broadcast to Jerusalem!
Tell them to sound the alarm throughout the land:
‘Run for your lives!
Flee to the fortified cities!’
Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem:
‘Flee now! Do not delay!’
For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you
from the north.” (Jeremiah 4:5-6, New Living Translation)
Therefore, this is what the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies says:
“Because the people are talking like this,
my messages will flame out of your mouth
and burn the people like kindling wood.
O Israel, I will bring a distant nation against you,”
says the Lord.
“It is a mighty nation,
an ancient nation,
a people whose language you do not know,
whose speech you cannot understand.
Their weapons are deadly;
their warriors are mighty.
They will devour the food of your harvest;
they will devour your sons and daughters.
They will devour your flocks and herds;
they will devour your grapes and figs.
And they will destroy your fortified towns,
which you think are so safe. (Jeremiah 5:14-17, New Living Translation)
There are quite a few other passages that say virtually the same thing: consequences are coming. And they will not be pleasant. Life as you know it will not be the same. God makes it clear that He will use any and all means necessary to bring correction to His people. Habakkuk seems to think the discipline was unfair. He thought it was worse than the crime. If they are God’s people, whatever He decides is fair is fair.
God longs for His people to live the life He has called them to. To live for God will make demands on your life and your will. A person cannot claim to be God’s child and not live the life God chooses for him.
Does the discipline God is handing down seem fair to you? Is there a time you lived as if there were no consequences for your actions? Did God prove otherwise to you?