Faithfully Waiting For Justice

I wish more people read the minor prophets. Besides Jonah, the easiest one.

I wish I read the minor prophets more.

Two conversations have happened in my life recently that have made me more desirous of these little nuggets of Scripture.

The first one was with one of my best friends. The two of us have a tradition of venting to each other about things that come up in our lives followed by offering up prayer and support for each other as we walk out our faith. He was bringing up how many churches seem to have made the book of Acts the entirety of the Bible. What he meant was so many churches have an “Acts-model” of church, small groups, etc. There is a borderline obsession on the part of countless churches and people I know to be EXACTLY like the early church in the book of Acts. I wholeheartedly agree that we could and should live out our faith with the trust, courage, and fervor of the early church. BUT, no one book of the Bible is more important than another. They all are canonized for a reason. Some may be easier to understand, may better articulate the gospel, etc, but Paul says that ALL Scripture is God-breathed and useful for the training up of the saints. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The other discussion was with a student who said that he was looking at his table of contents in his Bible and saw one of the minor prophets and wondered how long it had been there. We laughed about it but in reality I can assure you that not many of us grab our coffee in the morning and turn to the minor prophets. I don’t hear much about these in our churches and in our conversations about faith.

However, I have recently read through the book of Habakkuk, underlining, writing in the margins, and being awed by the truths that are found in this book with way too many consonants in the title.

Here are some truths to glean from the book. If this book confuses you like it did me, check out the Read Scripture video summary on it, it was incredibly insightful.

1. SOMETIMES GOD FEELS UNJUST

If you open your eyes to the world around you, nothing seems fair. The wicked and unrighteous appear to thrive in their kingdoms of sand, and the devoted followers of Jesus who reside in countries where persecution is rampant continue to be swallowed up by violence. When we take a look at our own lives, we may feel slighted by God as well (although when we look at this feeling through a gospel lens we are reminded that God has blessed us with much). Habakkuk shares these raw emotions with the Lord in both 1:2 and 1:13. He asks God why He is silent in the midst of violence, why He doesn’t come to the rescue when the wicked thrive.

2. PRIDE IS A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL BROKENNESS

The verse that caught me off guard and convicted me was 2:4. It says this:

Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. – Habakkuk 2:4

Wowza. This made me squirm. I feel prideful often. I look at my own knowledge of the Scriptures (which is really not that impressive) and become proud. I become proud of the abilities and gifts that God has given me. I can start to think that my ministry will be successful or that I will survive the year ahead because of my own abilities and strengths. Yet the prophet Habakkuk compares this level of arrogance to a man whose very soul is not right within him. This goes back to the previous point. We have been blessed by God. All that we have is from him. I wrote in my Bible next to this verse, “Pride is proof of not getting the gospel.” If I am arrogant, I legitimately have missed the message of the gospel.

3. WE LIVE IN THE MIDST OF CORRUPTION

Well, this part of Habakkuk was hard to accept as well. Now let me be clear I am immensely grateful for the USA. I have been afforded so much freedom, freedom that my own father fought for, and I don’t take that for granted.

However, we are not God’s country. We are not the people of God. Americans are not the people of God.

The older I get, the more I come to realize that we live in a country that while better than most, is not aligned with Christian values. At least not currently.

Habakkuk pronounces many woes on the Babylonians (or Chaldeans) who would come and enslave the people of God. He calls them out for their unjust economics, their enslavement of other nations, their irresponsible leaders, and their idolatry. Every single nation ever has struggled with one or more of these indictments, including the very people of God.

I just am reminded through Habakkuk that my hope should not be in America (The American Flag or The Cross). It should be in Christ the King.

4. WHAT GOD HAS PROMISED WILL COME TO PASS

From the very first page of the Bible, this doctrine has exploded off each and every page as I read. God says certain things about the order of creation and the text tells us ‘and it was so’. I was reading in Jeremiah 1 this afternoon and noticed that in verse 12 God says that He is ‘watching over my word to perform it.’ So as He commissions Jeremiah, He promises to be with Jeremiah in order for His words to come to pass.

Now this truth may not be explicitly present in Habakkuk. However, the entire final chapter speaks of what God did in the exodus and what He will one day do in the ‘Day of the Lord’. Everything that God promises, especially when it comes to rescue and justice, will come to pass in fullness.

5. WE CAN LIVE BY FAITH

When you boil it down, the book of Habakkuk is a powerful reminder of what it means to live by faith. Habakkuk was overwhelmed by the presence of violence all around him. He cried out to God. God answers by saying He will bring Babylon down on the people of Israel (God can use wicked nations for His glory and our good). Habakkuk is fearful of this proposition and God promises to bring down the Babylonians one day as well.

Just notice the change in Habakkuk’s outlook.

Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. – Habakkuk 3:18

This was highlighted in my Bible as well.

We live amongst injustice and violence.

Sometimes that is all we can see.

Yet we can be like Habakkuk and faithfully wait on the justice of God, rejoicing in the God who saves.

In His Name,

Nate Roach

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BREAD MAN?

When you think of heroic men of valor, what comes to mind? For me, it’s images of Mel Gibson defending Scotland, Russel Crowe fighting for Rome, and Tom Hanks storming the beach at Normandy. It’s the image of a gun, a sword, an axe, or a horse.

When I hear the word hero, I definitely don’t imagine a loaf of bread. Facebook timeline

Yet this is what Gideon was envisioned as by his enemies in Judges 6-7. And in my humble opinion, it’s super fitting. Gideon was a man who was not courageous, not confident, and not strong, in his own power at least. I grew up being told his story, hearing of his character being worthy of emulation and imitation. Now, he was surely used by God in a great way, but God poured out grace and strength in his life.

Gideon’s story starts in a bleak and dark season of Israelite history. The book of Judges is set in a period of time when God’s people did what was right in their own eyes, there was little to no submission to God’s leadership of the people. Idolatry was rampant, and the people of God were not worshipping the Lord. In steps the Midianites, who oppress and overpower God’s people. They steal crops, women, and the general livelihood of the Israelites, who then flee to the mountains and caves.

The people of Israel cry out to God for deliverance (Judges 6:7) and God responds by sending a prophet, ultimately raising up Gideon to save them.

When we first see Gideon, he was hiding (Judges 6:11). Now this was likely a smart move since the Midianites were stealing crops. However, it is still a sign that he wasn’t the most bold dude around. Look at how crazy his calling is though.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor.” – Judges 6:12

The Lord looks at a man who is hiding from the enemy forces and refers to him as a mighty man of valor. What a great reminder that God sees us for who we can be in His strength and grace. I LOATHE the cliche nature of what I’m about to say, but I think it is fairly true: “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” God obviously knew what Gideon would be able to do in His divine strength, and so he calls him what he knows he can be.

Now right off the bat, we see Gideon in doubt and fear. If you follow along with your Bible open, you will see that Gideon questions God’s presence with Israel and questions God’s call of him specifically. God tells Gideon that He will be with him in verse sixteen. You would think this would suffice, but Gideon still doubts. The rest of the chapter is three different tests that Gideon wants God to come through in before Gideon will believe in Him.

Here’s why I don’t see Gideon as a superhero of the faith. When God tells Gideon to destroy the altar of an idol in this chapter, Gideon did so in the middle of the night.

So Gideon took ten men of his servants and did as the Lord had told him. But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night. – Judges 6:27

What in the world. You’ve been approached by God. He has told you that He will be with you as you do what He commands. And yet you’re still afraid.

Look at chapter seven. Gideon is not done being afraid.

God takes Gideon’s army of 32,000 and whittles it down to 300, in order to be able to show that it is His power working through Gideon’s troops. Even after all of God’s promises and proclamations, God knows that Gideon is still afraid.

But if you are afraid to go down, go down to the camp with Purah your servant. And you shall hear what they say, and afterward your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp – Judges 7:10-11a

Here’s the best part of the story:

When Gideon came, behold, a man was telling a dream to his comrade. And he said, “Behold, I dreamed a dream, and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian and came to the tent and struck it so that it fell and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.” And his comrade answered, “This is no other than the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel; God has given into his hand Midian and all the camp. – Judges 7:13-14

This makes me laugh so much. Gideon is envisioned in this enemy soldier’s dream as….. a loaf of bread.

Fitting.

Gideon hears this and worships, and ends up leading the people of God to victory over the Midianites.

Gideon isn’t a superhero of the faith however. Yes, he’s listed in Hebrews 11 in the ‘faith hall of fame’. But the story of Gideon is not the story of his amazing faith in God.

No, the story of Gideon is the story of the God who is patient in our doubt and present in our fear. STORY OF GIDEON

It may appear like I was taking shots at Gideon, but in all honesty I know that I am much the same as him, if not worse. God can speak to me through His word, reminding me of his promises, and I respond with doubt and fear. God can prove His presence in my life time and time again, and I’ll still feel like I’ll need proof that He’ll come through again.

Be. Encouraged.

God is patient in our doubt and present in our fear. He will walk you through any battle, any trial that you may be facing. Doubt and fear are normal emotions. We aren’t called to dwell in them but we can be encouraged that He will walk us through them.

He is patient in our doubt and present in our fear.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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