There is a very interesting parallel running between the Old Testament and New Testament portions of our GRIP Bible reading this week. The Old Testament section opens in the book of Habakkuk. There we find the prophet Habakkuk boldly bringing a formal complaint before God, not once but twice. This glimpse into an interaction of such a nature between a person and God provides a fascinating insight into the human-divine relationship.
In most cultures of the day it would have been extremely hazardous to one's health to bring a pointed complaint to the attention of the king. This would have been especially true of complaints of a nature such as Habakkuk's, where in it the king is implicated as being uncaring at best and downright unjust at the worst. Such criticisms would typically have resulted in the loss of one's head, or insert here whatever other method of inflicting a torturous death the particular ruler in question had a preference for. But even though God is vastly elevated in power and position over any such temporary earthly rulers, He allows Habakkuk to voice his complaint and then responds to his questions without condemnation or reprisal. That we as lowly human beings have any right of access to the almighty God of the Universe is truly incredible in and of itself. But to think that we can speak with such transparency and boldness in His presence and walk away unscathed is almost unfathomable. This is yet another of the many confirmations found in Scripture that God truly does love us as fully and completely as He claims He does.
In his complaints, we find Habakkuk wrestling with the age-old question and problem that many both before him and since have found so difficult to understand as well. Why does God seemingly allow the wicked to prosper while the righteous suffer? What is God doing? Why is He turning a deaf ear to their cries for help? Why is justice not being served? Why are there people getting away with such evil deeds? And over the centuries many have taken this even further and have asked even harsher questions, such as, "Is God good? Is He indifferent? Is He asleep? Is He dead? Is He real?"
God responds to Habakkuk basically the same way that He has to others who have presented the same question to Him in other recorded passages of Scripture. He makes it exceedingly clear that nobody is getting away with anything. Justice will be served in its entirety, at the appropriate time and with complete judicial integrity. God reveals that His timing in such matters is often different than ours. While we want, and expect consequences for evil actions to be immediate (at least when it is someone else committing the offense and not us ourselves), that is not always the way God deals with it. God has a higher and more informed perspective than we do, and there are often dynamics in play that we are totally unaware of as we view the situation from our very limited vantage. The bottom line once again, as it is in so many other areas of this walk of faith that we have been called to, is that we need to trust God in such matters and defer to His Sovereignty, because He's got this.
The remainder of the Old Testament portion of the reading contains several ongoing references to both God's pending judgement on sin and evil as well as the coming reward for the righteous. Thus, it was very interesting to be reading these passages while at the same time to be getting a sneak peak at the end of the story, with our New Testament readings falling in the second half of the Book of Revelations. There we see glimpses of the actual outworking of God's plan – including His ultimate judgement of evil and rewarding of the righteous. There are no complaints of inaction or unfairness to be found at the end, when the Almighty reveals Himself and asserts His rule. The books are brought out and meticulously balanced. Wrongs are righted and the righteous are avenged. There is no respecter of persons or statue of limitations as justice is applied with surgical precision. It is universal, swift and complete. Earlier entreaties to be patient and trust God are fully vindicated and God proves that He did, in fact, have this all along. Faith in the Lord of the long game is justified once and for all.
As this is my final blog on the past year’s GRIP readings it seems fitting that the text is building to a climactic crescendo. The long anticipated and foretold Messiah who finally came as a child, died as a man and ascended to heaven in resurrected form is now returning in unspeakable glory, majesty and power. As He establishes His kingdom once and for all there is a final accounting. The Great Judge takes His place in the Supreme-est of Courts. The books are opened and pure undiluted justice rains down. As the reality of divine accountability sinks in desperate attempts to escape are made, but to no avail, as there is quite literally no place to run and no place to hide. As the justice of God surges forth all unrighteousness is swept away before it. It is an awesome and fearsome sight. No one can stand in its path. No one, that is, except for those wearing a seamless robe of righteousness… a robe that they never wove themselves. It was a gift, purchased at infinite cost, but freely given. And never has Christ’s sacrificial death and remarkable gift of redemption been so appreciated and fiercely clung to by those who chose to accept it, as it is on that day of divine judgement, when it delivers just as promised. Let all the earth praise Him for our God reigns!
(Associate Pastor of Administration)