David Platt – Questioning God (It is okay to do so)

This is the struggle of faith. It is a real struggle to reconcile the character of God with the circumstances of our life. This is not trite. This is deep and if we are honest with God in our lives; this is a struggle- reconciling the character of God with the circumstances of our lives.

Habakkuk 1  Habakkuk 2

It’s those moments in life when something happens that changes everything. There’s things that happen in our lives that make us sit back and wonder what is going on? Why did this happen and where is God in the middle of this? The pain and suffering…

Habakkuk, the prophet in reverse: who spoke TO God on behalf of the people

What I want to show you is that these are not just okay questions, these are good questions to ask. All the other prophets, except Habakkuk are speaking for the Lord to the people. That is why they always say, „Thus saith the Lord”. But in Habakkuk we see the reverse. We see Habakkuk speaking to God on behalf of the people. What we see in the book is a dialogue with God, where Habakkuk is wrestling with injustice and evil and suffering everywhere around him.

The Babylonians, referred to as the Chaldeans here in Habakkuk, are about to take over Judah. The people of God in the middle of suffering as a result of their sin, and Habakkuk wondering, „God what are you doing? Where are you in the midst of all this?” And what we see is the hard reality of Habakkuk:

God uses painful experiences to accomplish His sovereign purposes

That’s the cold reality of the Book of Habakkuk. The prophet Habakkuk wrestles in the struggle of faith; wrestling with God in the same way we have seen this in Job, or Moses, or even Jeremiah… Habakkuk coming to God with deep, honest questions that lead to deep, honest praise. I want us to see the relationship between the two. From the struggle of faith to the song of faith in the book of Habakkuk.

The struggle of faith:

  • Does God hear? Have you ever cried out to God in the middle of pain and gotten the sense of nothing but the silence of heaven? These are bold questions. You almost wonder: Is this appropriate? I want you to see the prophet pressing in to God. He is not content with surface theology. He is pressing in deeply. Does God really hear?
  • Does God care? Habakkuk’s living in the middle of evil and injustice and suffering and seemingly God is doing nothing about it.
  • Is God good? This is one of the main questions of the book, and really one of the deepest questions in all of life. How can God be good and there be so much evil and suffering in the world? That’s the ultimate question. Is God good and is God holy?
  • Is God holy? He is pressing into the very nature of God here saying, „You are holy, yet you are sitting idly by as all this evil runs rampant.” Which bring us to the next question:
  • Where is God’s power? „God, are You going to protect your people in the middle of all of this contention, strife, destruction; violence rising around, always before your people. Where is your power and…
  • Where is God’s word? „The law is paralyzed. What good is your word? Are You going to show your justice?” which leads to really what I think sums up this whole picture:
  • Is God worthy of my trust? Habakkuk comes to God with questions and God responds by saying that he was about to raise up the enemies of the people of God and use them to rout His people and destroy them. Have you ever cried out to God in the middle of suffering, only to find that His answer and His response only evokes more questions? That is exactly what is happening here. God responds and then Habakkuk says, „What?”

This is the struggle of faith. It is a real struggle to reconcile the character of God with the circumstances of our life. This is not trite. This is deep and if we are honest with God in our lives; this is a struggle- reconciling the character of God with the circumstances of our lives. This is not just be happy and move on. There’s a depth here that Habakkuk is pressing in and it leads us to God’s second response: Verses 2,3 and 4; the most important verses in the entire book. (notes continue below video––>) More DAVID PLATT Sermons here.

Habakkuk 2:2-4

And the Lord answered me:”Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it;it will surely come; it will not delay.
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

The key phrase in the entire book of Habakkuk is in verse 4. „The righteous shall live by his faith”. From the struggle of faith to the life of faith; God says to Habakkuk, to His people, „Here’s how to walk through suffering. You live by faith.”

Well, how do you do that? The life of faith:

  1. You listen to the truth of God.  „My word is the rock upon which My people will stand, in the midst of pain and suffering. In the midst of trial, you will never go wrong listening to the truth of God. Our emotions will lead us all kinds of different ways. Our circumstances will lead us all kinds of different ways. Our thinking will lead us all kinds of different ways, the advice we are given will lead us all kinds of different ways. The truth of God is the rock, the compass that brings us back to center at every point: walking through trial necessitates that we listen to truth. And the word of God IS the trust. It may not always say exactly what we are wanting to hear; it may not speak in a way that we would like to hear, but we can listen to this truth and find a foundation upon which to stand, no matter what the circumstances are.
  2. Lean on the timing of God. We want action in the short term. Short term circumstances provide a poor measurement of the long term character of God . The life of faith says, „I don’t see it now. All I see is darkness, all around me. The life of faith presses in and says, „I’m going to wait and God is going to show Himself and He is the one who hears and cares and who has all power and who is good and who is holy, who’s going to show this”. This is where we realize that suffering on earth, trials on earth can only be understood in the timing of heaven. Think about it. Any trial, we have no idea all that has gone on to lead us to that point; not just in our lives, but, in other people’s lives around us and we have no idea what is going to come from that in our lives or the other people around us. There is a whole perspective here that we do not have. When Job went through his suffering, he had no idea that Satan had approached the throne of God in heaven to tell God that the only reason Job worships Him is because he has „stuff” from God. And God tells him to take away all his stuff and Satan does it. Unbeknownst to Job, an audience of Satan and a hundred thousand angels and God are peering over Job. And Job tears his clothes and falls on his face and says, „The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. And unbeknownst to Job, 200,000 angels arms go flying into the sky and say, „Worthy is the God of Job!”  and Satan goes running from God’s presence. Job had no idea. I;m not saying that every time you go through trials, there’s some divine presence in heaven leading up to this. But, I am saying this, „You and I have no idea what is going on  leading up to this and we have no idea what is coming out of this. Job had no idea when he was in chapter 1 of what would happen by chapter 42 where he says, „I have heard of you God but now I have seen you and know you deeply”. There is a wrestling between chapter 1 and chapter 42. There is a picture here. There is a timing here and here’s what we are realizing even as we read these prophets. None of these prophets ever fully experienced, saw the hope about which they prophesied. I can not, based on the authority of God’s word, say to any person tonight, about the trial that you are in, in your life, that it will end in this life. The reality is, that you may, never in this life see the end of this trial. At the same time, you can lean on the timing of God. What do you mean?
  3. Live with your trust in God. This is the key question right here. You can, in the midst of suffering, either trust in yourself, or trust in God. God says, „Trust not in yourself, trust in Me”. This is where we realize this verse’s importance for it is quoted several times in the New Testament, most notably: Trusting in God for your salvation. Romans 1:16-17 and Galatian 3:11-12. At the moment, when you trusted in God for your salvation, you trusted yourself upon God. And what God is saying to and through Habakkuk is, „Just as you trust in God for your salvation; trust in God amidst your suffering”. God will show Himself faithful. In the same way that He saved you from your sins, by faith; He will sustain you in your suffering, by faith.
  4. Look forward to your triumph with God. From verse 5 and throughout the rest of the chapter the Chaldeans get their due. But right in the middle of this there are 2 verses tucked away that are glorious glimpses of hope for Habakkuk. 2:14- The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Yes, there is coming a day when God will show His glory in an astounding, universal way.If you are walking through suffering right now, if you are going through a difficult time of pain and hurt, know this. Hold on to this: There is coming a day when the pain, the hurt and the suffering will fade away and the glory of God will fill the whole earth and it will be beyond dispute: He is indeed good! And He is indeed holy and He is indeed just and right and worthy of our worship. Look forward to the triumph. This is Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:17: Take heart, these light and momentary troubles and afflictions; they are passing away. So, we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but we fix our eyes on what is unseen. If you are in the middle of suffering in your life, lift your eyes and look toward that which is unseen. God is going to show His glory in a way that is going to cause all the hurt and all the pain and all the wrestling to fade away. God will show His glory and we will stand in awe.
All of this leads to the song of faith. The last chapter in Habakkuk is absolutely amazing. It’s intended to be used as a psalm in worship. Habakkuk just reviews the greatness of God and the history of His people. After those deep, deep question, now the result of deep, deep praise.
The song of faith:
  • God is awesome
  • God is full of wrath. You realize that God is indeed holy and He is indeed just and God will show the full extent of His wrath to sin and sinners alike
  • God is full of mercy. At the same time, God is full of mercy. Wrath and mercy. Isn’t this the picture we are seeing with all of the prophets? Wrath and mercy; helping us to understand the death on the cross (where) wrath and mercy meet together in One.
  • God is present in all of creation. (Deut. 33) When you walk through suffering, yo do not have a God who is distant from you. You have a God who is present with you. He is with you in the valley. He never leaves you alone. You’re never alone in suffering. You God is present in all of Creation.
  • God has power over all things.
  • God is sovereign in all things. There is not one event in history that God is not totally sovereign over. When you hurt, or maybe one day when you hear that diagnosis from the doctor that you dread; know this, that in that moment God is absolutely on His throne and He is not surprised. When you got that call, or when you get that call, it changes everything. Know this: God was, is, will be on His throne; sovereign over all of that. This is really, really good when you realize the next thing…
  • God is the protector of His people. It is good to have this God on your side. Let me rephrase that: You really want to be on His side. Just let this soak in: Child of God. The God who has power over all things in the universe, the God who is sovereign over all things in the universe is your protector. No fear. Bring what may. No fear. God is our protector and He is the deliverer of His people.
  •  All this leads to the last 3 stunning verses. Habakkuk has wrestled with God. Circumstances around Him are dark on every side; suffering and pain and no sign of anything changing and this is Habakkuk’s conclusion: God is our satisfaction. He says „I will rejoice in the Lord” He doesn’t just sustain (trusting) but he satisfies (rejoicing). This is not just some trite happiness, it is a true happiness, a rejoicing that says, „Everything is taken from me and yet I still have God and so I still have joy.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places
  • God is our strength. He upholds us. He makes us tread in the high places. If you’re in battle, you want to be in the high places. The high places is places where you conquer from. Places where you rule from and reign. In the midst of suffering, Habakkuk says, with His strength and His satisfaction he leads me to the high place, where no matter what is raging around me, I not only survive, thrive; but…
  • God is our victory. He puts us on the mountaintop as a victor and a conqueror in the midst of suffering.
It does seem weird to us, this truth of Habakkuk that God would use painful experiences to accomplish  His sovereign purposes and I want to remind us of something far, far, far weirder. Something far more difficult to comprehend:
The comforting reality of the cross
that God would use His Son’s suffering to accomplish His people’s salvation. That is hard to understand. One writer put it this way. God is always at work in human history, to achieve His ultimate goal. In the means by which He chooses to pursue that goal may be as astounding as: the destruction of a  nation or as incomprehensible as the blood dripping from a figure of a man on a cross. Yes, God’s ways in Habakkuk may seem strange, and yes, God’s ways in our lives may seem strange. Bu, look to the cross, for there, God takes the penalty of our sin, from our lives and pours it out on His Son and takes the pain of His Son to bring us peace. For God, the Father on high, wills the crushing death of His Son; the cruel, torturous, otherwise unexplainable death of His Son to bring us life.
His pain brings us peace.
His death brings us life.
We find salvation in His suffering and because of his sufferings for our sins, in our place, because of His victory over sins on our behalf, because of Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the grave we can know this: Put your faith, put your trust in this- our suffering is temporary. Death itself is temporary. Christ is eternal. So thrust yourself upon Him. Thrust yourself upon the eternal God who reigns sovereign over all things and realize: Your suffering is temporary and your God is trustworthy. He will lead us all to conclude: Though there is no figs on the vine and there is no fruit in the field, we can rejoice in our God. Take joy in His salvation and stand strong on the high places because of His glory. Praise be to God. From the  message series: A Chronicle of Redemption Part IV Faithful Prophets in a Divided Kingdom. David Platt is Pastor of the Church at Brook Hills.
More DAVID PLATT Sermons here.

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