MAY 11

Why, O Lord?

Bible Reading: Habakkuk 1

There was this distressing story in the news recently. A rally for Stan Pulliam, one of the candidates for governor of Oregon, was being held in Portland. A group of Antifa members, all clad in black, attacked the gathering, and threw smoke bombs and balloons filled with paint and feces at the group. Stan Pulliam later commented, “The city of Portland – from roses to riots. As a statewide candidate for governor, we should be able to go to the largest metropolitan community of our state and have a peaceful campaign rally.” It should be noted that it took 20 minutes for the Portland Police to respond to the violence, though the rally was held adjacent to the Portland Police Station. The delay was attributed to a severe attrition of officers and shortage of those willing now to work in that city. And just like in that situation, one cannot read or hear of the news without hearing stories of increasing violence across our nation, and of countless cases in which justice does not prevail.

Habakkuk the prophet lived in a time of national deterioration and corruption in sin.  Godly people were suffering, and wicked people were prospering.  He wondered how it was that such evil could continue to exist.  If God were all powerful, how could He allow for such evil?  So, he cried out to God, asking: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? (Habakkuk 1:2-3).

Habakkuk was distressed by what he was witnessing, as any godly person would be.  Note that he had been crying out to God for some time.  And we should also note that he was He did the right thing in taking his questions and concerns to God. 

Habakkuk had some specific concerns he addressed to God: “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?  Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted (Habakkuk 1:3-4).  I’m sure you can relate to Habakkuk’s concerns.  God, why don’t you do something?  Why doesn’t anybody care about the law anymore?  How is it that in a clear case of right vs. wrong, those on the side of wrong win?  How is it that matters pertaining to justice have been placed in the hands of those who refuse to abide by it?  These are all legitimate questions and concerns.  We’ve a tendency to get angry or complain about such things, but the best thing we can do is to take our concerns and questions to God.  He knows all, sees all, and is perfectly just in all His ways.  And just as He had a plan to mercifully save those who trust in Him, He has a plan to one day bring to justice all those who don’t (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Jude 14-15).

God’s answer to Habakkuk was not what he expected.  Perhaps he was hoping for revival, like what had happened in King Josiah’s day (2 Kings 22-23), But that was not to happen, as God spoke to him of the pending calamity that was close at hand (Habakkuk 1:5).  It seemed to Habakkuk that evil was spiraling out of control, but God was about to enact justice by bringing forth the Chaldeans to deal with Judah’s sin.  Not even kings and rulers would be able to stand against their ferocious and violent onslaught!  Habakkuk continued in his dialog with God but concluded that he would trust God no matter what came his way (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

What are we to make of all of this and how does it relate to our praying?  One thing we’ve got to realize that evil and injustice have been a part of man’s existence ever since the fall.  To the extent the church and the Word exercise influence over a person or people, evil is restrained, but whenever people throw off such restraints evil flourishes (Romans 1:18-32).  As previously noted, there will come a day when God will judge, as Peter spoke of: “With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join with them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).  In the meantime, we’ve a gospel to live out and proclaim.  The good news of salvation through faith in Christ is the sole hope for all that ails us (Romans 1:16).  Amidst all the evil and injustice that exists in our world, we’ve a message to hold forth by which sinners can be saved and thereby escape God’s judgment.  Lord, help us to live as Your people in this needy place that we might bear forth Your message, both with our lips and lives, that others might come to know You.  “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, Thou art the ruler yet” and we are trusting You. 

Judgment is Coming, but the Good News is that Jesus Saves

JESUS SAVES

We have heard the joyful sound:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Spread the tidings all around:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Bear the news to ev’ry land,
Climb the steeps and cross the waves;
Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command;
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Waft it on the rolling tide:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Tell to sinners far and wide:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing, ye islands of the sea;
Echo back, ye ocean caves;
Earth shall keep her jubilee:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Sing above the battle strife:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
By His death and endless life:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Sing it softly through the gloom,
When the heart for mercy craves;
Sing in triumph o’er the tomb:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Give the winds a mighty voice:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Let the nations now rejoice:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!
Shout salvation full and free,
Highest hills and deepest caves;
This our song of victory:
Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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