A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                    *** Walk-thru the Bible ***

Re: Violence (Habakkuk)

"O Jehovah, until when shall I cry for help, and You will not hear? I
cry out to You, Violence! But You do not save.  Why do You make me see
evil, and You look upon toil? For destruction and violence are before
me; and there is strife, and contention rises up.  On account of this
the law has become feeble, and justice does not go forth with
continuity. For the wicked surrounds the righteous, so justice goes
forth, being perverted." (1:2-4)

This passage sounds just like today. We don't have much of a record of
the life of Habakkuk. But we know from others that a prophet's life was
not always one of comfort. Often they were persecuted. Much of their
lives, when they weren't preaching, were spent in hiding from those who
hated God's message. Habakkuk has been crying out to God, and he feels
alone, it would seem.

And on the other hand, apart from a prophet's 'personal'
considerations, there is also that which any Believer today feels. We
are told that the days when Christ would be ready to come again would
be like the "days of Noah" (Mt24:37), which, in his days, "the earth
was filled with violence" (Gen6:11)  That is today's characteristic.
Forget what is going on in Israel at this moment, that is its own
prophetic entity; in society in general, there is violence. As this is
being written, another murder case is on trial in Spokane. Even in a
smaller, more conservative place like Spokane, it seems like the news
reports a murder, shooting, stabbing, assult, rape, etc. if not every
day, at least every other day. And meth-lab busts are occuring every
day.  And as Believers, we look around us, and we cry out to God "until
when?" How long, Lord? How much more time must this go on before God
comes and judges this world, and sets up His righteous and just rule?

God gives Habakkuk a "vision", and tells him to "make it plain on the
tablets, that he who reads it may run" (2:2) And notice it says, "For
the vision is still for an appointed time, but it speaks to the end,
and it does not lie. Though it lingers, wait for it; because it will
surely come. It will not tarry." (2:3)  An "appointed time", a similar
expression to "in that day" that we see throughout the O.T. The time of
"the end". As we see these conditions, we cry out "how long?", and it
seems like it is "taking forever" for the Lord to fulfill His Word. But 
God exhorts, even though it "lingers, wait for it". It is a surety. It 
-WILL- come. God's promise -WILL- be fulfilled. God's promise will "not
tarry", He is "not slack". (2Pt3:9)

And notice that there are two kinds of people: the one whose "soul" is
"lifted up" in unrighteous pride. And then, the "just" one who "[lives]
by his faith". (2:4)

So, notice the judgments of God: Against those who increase their
wealth by dishonest gain. (vs5-6) Against those who shed blood in
violence. (vs7-8) Against those who get a person drunk or use date-rape
drugs, to sexually violate them. (vs15)  Just like today!

The judgments of God are "in kind". "And Jehovah has returned to me
according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands
before His eyes.  With the merciful, You reveal Yourself as merciful;
with an upright man, You reveal yourself as upright; with the pure, You
reveal Yourself as pure; and with the crooked, You appear perverse; for
You will save an afflicted people, but will bring down haughty eyes.
(Ps18:24-27)  And it will be well-deserved: "By what things she
glorified herself, and luxuriated, by so much give back to her torment
and mourning..." (Rev18:7)  "..since they poured out the blood of the
saints and of the prophets; and You gave blood to them to drink, for
THEY WERE DESERVING." (Rev16:6)

So, notice how God says He will repay the evildoers: If you date-raped 
somebody, and thought you got away with it, you will be exposed to know 
whether you are circumcised or not. (vs16)  If you meted out violence, 
it will come on you, even through the wild animals. (vs17) What you 
thought was in secret "will be proclaimed  on the housetops." (Lk12:3b) 
Just like that time I cheated on a spelling quiz (7th grade), writing 
the words on the edges of the book, and the teacher saw, and came up, 
grabbed the book and shoved my crib-notes in my face, and then SLAMMED 
the book down on my desktop with a -LOUD- "smacking" sound...and the
WHOLE CLASS knew what I had done.  Which was worse, being caught? ..or
knowing that everybody in the class knew!  As He says, "So I also have
stripped off your skirts over your face, that your shame may appear."
(Jer13:26)

As Believers, we see the world engaged in idolatry (2:18-19), and we 
cry out to God at their blindness. But as we considered in the October 
article recently, as we have the "mind of Christ", we are assured of 
God's justice. We know God's holiness. While we see them engaged in all 
the things the world does, we know that God is "in His holy temple".  
(2:20) Why does it then say, "let all the earth keep silence before
Him"?  When they come under God's judgment, they will understand God's
Law.  When they see themselves judged, they will have nothing to
answer. When those crib notes were staring me square in the eyes, I had
nothing to say. I was 'caught' red-handed.  "But we know that whatever
the Law says, it speaks to those within the Law, so that EVERY MOUTH
may be STOPPED, and all the world be under judgment to God." (Rom3:19)

As the scene of that little Arab boy being shot, after many pleas from 
the father who was trying to shield him, was being shown on TV, tears 
come to the eyes at the violence. How long, Oh Lord!? We know that this
is merely the beginning of what is yet to come. And the prophet prays
to God that while God is judging, "in wrath remember mercy". (3:2)

God is going to "shake" the nations and mountains. (3:6) He is going to
plague the rivers and seas. (3:8) He is going to use the things from
space (3:11), as we have notice from recent Fig Leaves about asteroids,
comets and meteors; and as we have seen from other Scriptures recently,
which we won't repeat here.  Where God COULD choose to utterly wipe out
all of mankind, His plan has "shortened" the days. (Mt24:22) He has
done so out of mercy for His "elect's sake", Israel.

While we see things erupting in Israel now, God's plan is firmly ON 
TRACK. It will come to an end. God will "march..in fury" (3:12) against 
the nations. He will provide salvation for "[His] people, for salvation
for Your anointed [Israel]". (3:13)  So, even if it seems to "linger",
we "wait", because it is "an appointed time".

So, as we can say along with John, "Even so, Amen!" (Rev1:7), the
prophet concludes, "I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of
my salvation. Jehovah the Lord is my strength, and He will make my feet
like hinds' feet, and He will make me to walk on my high places."
(3:18-19)