Habakkuk's journey

Reflecting on recent sermons in Habakkuk.

Huw Williams | 18:39, Thursday 14 September 2013 | Turin, Italy

Last Sunday we finished our little series in Habakkuk in ICT. If our time there has been half as challenging to the congregation as it has been to the preacher, it would be cause for many thanks. Of all my reflections on this wonderful little book, I only have space (and I'm sure you only have time right now) for one.

So why not think about Habakkuk's remarkable journey for a moment, as we trace it through these three short chapters? In chapter one we find him unhappy; if his consternation at the wickedness he sees around him in Judah is understandable, then if we're honest, we can also relate to his relativistic response to God's choice of Babylon as His instrument to address Judah's corruption. While we may embrace the orthodox doctrines of sin, when the heat is on, don't we all know what it is like to fall back on the old relative perceptions of "more righteous" and "less righteous" as we look around us, applying the relevant labels?

He has certainly been listening to the God who speaks

Habakkuk is unseen in chapter 2 (after verse 1 at least) as he gets his awaited answer from God. This of course culminates in the instruction to all the earth to be silent, since God is in His holy temple (2:20). In this climactic passage, God is contrasted against idols; they are created by men and women, but He creates men and women. Idols are silent before us, we are to be silent before Him. Why? Because He is not silent, because He speaks.

And this perhaps is the turning point for Habakkuk, since the transformation in his outlook in chapter 3 is remarkable. And He has certainly been listening to the God who speaks, as he rehearses God's great works of salvation through history. This is what makes the difference to Habakkuk, this is what transforms him from the complaining, frustrated figure cut in chapter 1, to the joyful, worshipping figure of chapter 3. What has made the difference? A promise of personal security and prosperity in the middle of Judah's impending hardships? No, but he has learned to rejoice in God, even though he knows - materially at least - things are going to get worse before they get better. The difference is a renewed vision of the character of God. The God whose love always goes hand in hand with His judgement.

there's a far more attractive God waiting to meet us there than we have ever imagined

And where am I going with all this? Simply to say this - if what Habakkuk needed was a clearer vision of who God is, what He is really like, and if that was to be found in listening to the God who speaks in His word, then what are we waiting for? Let's get our Bibles out, and let's start reading them – because there's a far more attractive God waiting to meet us there than we have ever imagined.

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