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Wicked Men - 4

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
October 4, 2022 8:00 am

Wicked Men - 4

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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October 4, 2022 8:00 am

God can even use wicked men to accomplish his purposes. This is the fourth of five messages in the series God's Surprising Servants by Dr. Jim Orrick.

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I invite you to open your Bibles again to the book of Habakkuk, Chapter 1. The theme that we're covering this week is God's surprising servants, things or persons that God uses that we don't often think of as being used by Him. So Sunday morning I preached on the way that God uses the quiet, wasting things to bring about His judgment, things like the moth, which was Sunday morning, and then Sunday night to bring to our attention the fact that often our unconscious influence is more powerfully used even than our deliberate conscious influence. Last night from Romans, Chapter 5, we saw how that God uses adversity in general, and tonight we're going to focus in on one particular source of adversity, and that's wicked men.

So last night I explained that adversity included things like sickness or the sorrow of a passing loved one, some sort of financial problem or something like that. I never really focused last night so much on people, and when adversity comes from wicked people, it's even harder to understand because we expect that people are going to behave according to certain rules of social conduct and are just going to be nice. And so it's so shocking when someone makes our lives miserable and they are behaving according to a standard other than the one that we believe everyone ought to be abiding by, the basic principles of justice and righteousness. Now this is probably not going to be the most exhilarating sermon of the series, but it may be the most practical one of the series because I can hardly imagine that anyone could live their entire life without experiencing some vexation that stems from the bad activity of wicked people. And even if it's not directed at you personally, then there are times when we have to live in a government where bad decisions are made by governing officials, or we may live in a neighborhood where there are dangers that are propagated by wicked men and wicked women who are at work there, and so on.

But usually we will have some experience at some time in our lives of where we are caused great grief by people who are acting wickedly. Now in the Bible we often see wicked men at work, and often these wicked men are people who are professing to be followers of God in some way. And sadly enough, in our own lives sometimes some of the most vexing treatment that we have to endure is propagated by people who are professing to be believers. Jesus warned His disciples, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God.

They will put you out of the synagogue. So in the early centuries of Christianity the primary persecution that came against Christians came from religious people, it came from the Jews. And in the 7th century, in the 60s, it switched over to the Romans and there came to be terrible persecution from Rome in the 60s until Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70.

And then there followed several other epics of great persecution that came from Rome. Throughout the world today there are Christians who are taking their lives in their hands if they declare themselves forthrightly for Jesus Christ, and especially if they take the profession of their faith so far as to follow the Lord in baptism. I think that in many cultures that is just like the last step. We will tolerate it, the family says, the belligerent family says, we will tolerate what you are doing until you take this final step of obviously affiliating yourself with the people of Jesus Christ by following Him in baptism. And in some countries the lives of believers who follow the Lord in baptism are measured in weeks.

The likelihood of their surviving a year is very unlikely because of the persecution that they are encountering. So how do we make sense of all of this? There are some people who say, well God is not in control of wicked people and they hope to find some comfort there. When good things happen God is behind that, but when bad things happen Satan is behind that.

I don't think that there is any real comfort to be found in that option. I think that the real comfort is to be found in saying God is in control of wicked people and they cannot do anything without God's permission. And so when rotten things happen to us because of the bad actions of bad people ultimately if we are going to have peace about it I think we need to be able to say like Joseph did to his brothers, you meant it for evil but God meant it for good. Now when bad people are serving as God's servants of course they are not doing so deliberately. In the book of Isaiah the prophet describes how that the Lord is going to use Babylon to chastise His people, but he explains the Babylonians have no intention of serving Yahweh when they're doing it.

Instead they are serving their own selfish interests and they are going to get punished for that. But when, here's the question to consider, when the Babylonians were executing God's judgments against Israel were the Babylonians obeying God's will? To answer that question we need to understand that when we talk about God's will we're talking about two distinguishable things. First of all there is God's will of command or another word God's will of precept.

A precept is a command, what God expects of us. There is God's will of precept. And then distinguishable from God's will of precept is God's will of purpose.

We talk about God's will of purpose. We call that the decrees of God. The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. That's the answer that the Baptist catechism gives to the question what are the decrees of God?

Hear it again. The decrees of God are His eternal purpose. So God being an intelligent being is not just waking up in the morning saying hey what do I feel like doing today? Instead like an intelligent person who plans out His future God has a purpose that He has planned out from eternity past. So the decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will. So He has formed this purpose not in reaction to events that He foresaw but did not plan. No, that's not the way that God formed His purpose. He formed His purpose according to His will. And so nothing happens by accident.

None of the angels ever runs up to God and says you'll never believe what happened today. God knows the end from the beginning because He has planned the end from the beginning. He knows the end from the beginning not merely because He is omniscient but because He has eternally decreed what's going to happen including the wicked acts of wicked men. The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His will whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatsoever comes to pass. And so God's ultimate purpose in His decrees is that all things that happen would ultimately bring glory to Him.

So back to my question. When wicked men are used by God to carry out God's purposes, are they obeying God's will? They are obeying God's will of purpose but they are disobeying God's will of precept. A great example of this in one verse is in Acts chapter 2 and verse 23. It took us so long to find Habakkuk.

I'm not going to have your turn there. So in Acts chapter 2 and verse 23 Peter is preaching on the day of Pentecost and he says something like this. I don't have it memorized word for word but this is very close to it. According to the determined purpose and counsel of God, you by the hands of lawless men crucified the Lord of glory. Now do you see both wills there in that one verse? According to the eternal purpose of God, that's His will of purpose, you by the hands of lawless men crucified the Lord of glory. Were they obeying God's will when they crucified Jesus? They were obeying His will of purpose but they were disobeying His will of precept. His will of precept was believe in my Son, receive my Son, love my Son, follow my Son. And when they with hatred crucified they were disobeying God's will of precept. But all the while inadvertently they weren't meaning to do it but they were fulfilling God's will of purpose that Jesus should be the Lamb of God and that His blood would be shed. And so when wicked men and women carry out the purposes of God and act as His servants, they are fulfilling the purpose of God all the while they are disobeying the precepts of God.

Well just as an aside, what is our rule of conduct? Our rule of conduct is God's will of precept. We are to do what God says. We don't know all of God's hidden counsels. We don't know them until He unfolds them. And God's will of purpose is a great comfort to us.

It's a rock for our comfort. But God's will of precept is the rule for our conduct. So we are to do what God says.

Still continue with this for just a bit. Someone may ask the question, well if God has already foreordained everything that is going to come to pass, what's the purpose in our praying? Does God change His will of purpose when we pray? And a very simple answer to that is we pray because God has commanded us to pray.

And somehow in a mysterious way, God uses our prayers to fulfill His purposes. God in His wisdom has not only ordained the end that all things should be for His own glory, but He has also foreordained the means by which this end would be brought about. The same question applies to evangelism and missions. If God has already elected whoever is going to be saved, then why do we evangelize and why do we send out missionaries? Well, the very simple answer that goes along with today's message is because God has commanded it. And God uses the preaching of His Word to call those who are His elect out of their sin into salvation because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We don't always understand how our obedience helps to fulfill God's will of purpose, but that shouldn't keep us from doing what God has plainly told us to do. A theory about the sovereignty of God, even if it is the right theory about the sovereignty of God, should never interfere with our doing our plainly revealed duty. God's will of precept, what God has revealed for us, is the way that we are to live. But when God uses wicked people, as almost certainly you'll have some experience with it.

How are we to respond? I think that Habakkuk gives us a good model to follow, mostly. He starts off with an example that is not all that great, but it's one that we can relate to. Let me give you the situation in the book of Habakkuk. The book of Habakkuk starts off with Habakkuk the prophet expressing his amazement that God allows so much wickedness to go on in the land of Israel.

He's just amazed that he lets it happen. And then God says, well, I'm about to do something about that. I'm going to bring the Chaldeans to punish Israel. And then Habakkuk responds, the Chaldeans, they're worse than we are.

How can you use the Chaldeans? And Habakkuk says, well, I just I need to think about this for a little while. And so he retreats into his tower.

And he thinks about it for a little while. And then God reveals to him how he's going to make it through this. You'll make it through all of this Habakkuk, you and other faithful, if you live by faith.

The just will live by faith. And then he gives Habakkuk a vision of how he is going to punish the Chaldeans when he's finished with them. So that takes up most of chapter two. And then in the third chapter, which is the chapter that pastor read just a few minutes ago, then Habakkuk responds with adoration and praise on how great God is.

And then he concludes that he is going to rejoice in the Lord. So that's a quick summary of the book of Habakkuk. I'm not going to read the entire book, but I have the whole book in mind as we look at these various things.

And the first thing that we'll see is that when wicked men are at work, it often seems that God is absent. Look with me at the first three or four verses. Habakkuk, the oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw, let me just point out to you that this entire book is poetry. And so you don't read poetry the exact same way that you read prose. Poetry is condensed, deliberately artistic language that is meant to arouse an emotional reaction.

So that's one of the primary functions of poetry is to stimulate an emotional reaction. So much of the Bible is in poetry. I'm just looking at the book of Nahum, it's all poetry. Looking at the book of Micah, it's all poetry. I estimate that about one-third of the Bible is written in poetry. It's rather daunting because most of us have not had a very good education in poetry and we don't quite know what to do with it. And you're not going to be lost at sea if you don't ever understand how to read poetry, but you'll miss some of the real beauties in the Bible if you just persist in reading poetry as if it were prose. And so one of the characteristics of poetry is that it draws heavily on metaphor, draws heavily on suggestions for which you supply the concrete imagery. And I love poetry, I love the poetry of the Bible, I love English and American poetry.

Just want to point out to you that this is poetry. It doesn't always follow the same logical patterns that prose does. So the book of Habakkuk is going to read drastically different than the book of Romans, which is very logical and lays point down upon point.

Habakkuk is more feely, it's more emotional. And so try to feel the emotion in these things that we read. When wicked men are at work, it seems like God is absent. Verse 2, oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not hear or cry to you violence and you will not save?

This is not the way that I have understood you to be. You seem to take pride on being the one who hears prayer. Well, I'm praying and you're not hearing me. Verse 3, why do you make me see iniquity and why do you look idly at wrong? I thought that you were a God who was at work in the world. How is it that you can let such wickedness go on?

Looks to me like you're not doing anything. Destruction and violence are before me, strife and contention arise. And look at the terrible consequences of you're not hearing prayer and you're letting this go on. Verse 4, so the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth for the wicked surround the righteous so justice goes forth perverted. Now in these opening verses, he is describing the conditions of things in Israel, but it applies to when God is using wicked men and when God is allowing wicked things to go on. There are times when we feel like, are you listening?

Are you present? Don't you care that these sort of things are happening? And God is a big God. There's never any cause for us to be insulting or to be disrespectful to the Lord. We should always avoid that. But when you have questions, it's not wrong for you to ask the Lord questions.

Why are you letting this go on? He may give you an answer as he does to Habakkuk and the answer that he gives is, I'm about to do something about the situation that you describe. So verse 5, and here we see the wicked men that God is about to use in bringing judgment to Israel.

Look among the nations and see, wonder and be astounded. So the Lord says, I'm getting ready to tell you something that is going to make your jaw drop open. This is going to be surprising to you. In fact, it's going to stretch your credulity.

Not sure that you can believe this, for I'm doing a work in your days that if, that you would not believe if told. Here it is, for behold, I'm raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation. Now in using poetic language, he describes how good the Chaldeans are at being bad. First of all, they are just a group of pirates. They march through the breadth of the earth to seize dwellings, not their own.

They are not going to abide by the law. They have a law of their own that drives them in what they're doing. They are very good at this. They are dreaded and fearsome. Their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.

In other words, they're making up the rules as they go along. This is one of the sources of frustration when we are suffering because of the bad behavior of wicked men. It's like, why are you guys acting like that?

What's the reason? It seems like you're departing from all reason. That's the way wicked people act. They're vicious. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves. Their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle, swift to devour. They come, they all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. They sweep by like the wind and go on. Guilty men whose might is their God.

So some nod towards the fact that they may be religious, but especially obvious in the translation that I am reading, that it is their own might that they worship. And now Habakkuk responds to that. And this is the first of several responses that we get, and it's going to occupy, his response is going to occupy our attention for the rest of the time. This first response is understandable, but it is shortsighted. And then beginning in chapter two, we see several responses that I think are worthy of our imitation.

But let's look at his first response, which is understandable, but shortsighted. And there really are two prongs to his reaction here. The first prong is, he says, Lord, this is out of character for you.

And the second prong is, it looks like you don't love your people. So sometimes when we're undergoing persecution or some kind of hardship at the hands of wicked people, we think this is out of character for you to let this go on, and it looks like you don't love me. We can see both of those things beginning in verse 12. Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?

We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained him as a judgment, and you, O rock, have established him for reproof. You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong. Why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? That's the first prong of this complaint.

I thought you were holy. How can you use people like that? And then it looks like you don't love your people. It looks like you're just treating us like fish. Verse 14, you make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. He brings all of them up with a hook. He drags them out with his net. He gathers them in his dragnet, so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore, he sacrifices to his net and makes offerings to his dragnet, for by them he lives in luxury and his food is rich. Is he then to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever? The fisherman here is the captain of the host, the king of the Chaldeans. He's just going through the nations like a fisherman would throw his hook and catch a fish, or like a fisherman would throw his net and haul in fish, only it's not fish, it's nations and you're putting us in there. How can this be?

It's understandable, but it's short-sighted. Now, let's spend the rest of our time looking at the responses that Habakkuk does, has, that are worthy of our imitation. And the first one is, well, chapter 2, verse 1, I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower and look out to see what he will say to me and what I will answer concerning my complaint. I would expect him to say what he will answer concerning my complaint, but I think he anticipates that there's going to be further discussion here.

He's going to answer my complaint and then I'm going to answer him back. But I think the first thing that Habakkuk does that is a response that is worthy of our imitation is he says, I need to take a deep breath here and think about this for a little while and I need to get in a place where I can see the big picture. I think that's the significance of stationing himself on the tower.

You can see things from a high perspective that you can't see from other. And I think that's what Habakkuk is saying. I'm going to take my stand at my watch post. I'm going to look carefully to see what God may be revealing in using these wicked men to accomplish his purposes and I'm going to strive to get the big picture of things. The second thing that Habakkuk does that is worthy of our imitation is that he says, I'm going to live by faith. Now faith is embracing truth that you cannot figure out by reason, but instead you understand truth because God has revealed it.

Faith is believing what God has said, especially when the only reason for believing it is because God has said it and you believe it with the intention of obeying him. And Habakkuk is going to make it through this. The Lord tells him, you're going to make it through this if you will not be guided by your sight, but if you will be guided by what you know about me.

Now I understand Habakkuk that what you know about me seems to be obscure right now, but you've got to trust me that for a while it's going to look like I don't love you and I don't love Israel, but you've got to trust me. It reminds me of a hymn that we sing. When darkness veils his lovely face, I rest on his unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil. I may not be able to see his face, but his grace is unchanging.

And then there's this from John Donne. Though thou with clouds of anger do disguise thy face, yet through that mask I know those eyes, which though they turn away sometimes, they never will despise. So he imagines that God's face is covered over with a mask of anger, just as it is here in the book of Habakkuk. But through that mask of anger, he sees those eyes and he says, though they may turn away sometimes, they never will despise. I think one of the principles that we're about to read in this passage of scripture is do not doubt in the dark what you have seen in the light.

There are dark days that will come. There are times when wicked men will knock you back on your heels and you'll say, do I even know this God at all? And the Lord says, son, daughter, you'll survive this thing. You will live by faith. Let's read God's response to Habakkuk. The Lord answered me, write the vision. I'm in chapter two, verse two.

Write the vision, make it plain on tablets so he may run who reads it. For the vision awaits its appointed time. It hastens to the end. It will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it. It will surely come. It will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up.

It is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. So here I think the Lord begins to sound the distant thunders of the storm that he is going to bring against the Chaldeans. And he says it's not going to be immediate. The Chaldeans are going to come. I'm going to use these wicked men to accomplish my purposes. But just wait.

Just wait. That's not the end of the story. But to make it through to the end of the story and live, you've got to live by faith. And of course this is that statement that is quoted in the book of Romans to teach us how we become Christians.

It's not because of all the things that we can figure out. It's based on what God has revealed in his son Jesus Christ. It is a salvation that is from faith from first to last as it is written, the just shall live by faith.

And that's the quotation of this very verse of scripture from the book of Habakkuk. I remember several years ago when I was pastor of a church in Kansas City. There was a young man in the church who was unusually bright. And by the time he was 13 or 14 years old, he had read probably more books than I'll ever read in my whole life.

Just a really intelligent young man. But he wasn't a believer. He was open minded to becoming a believer.

But he was just not convinced. And I would talk to him. We were on cordial terms. And he always listened carefully to my preaching.

And the conversations that we had were always very rich. But he never became a Christian. And then I left that church and went to teach at Boyce College.

And the first year or two that I was there someone told me, this young man has become a Christian and he's coming to be a student at Boyce College. And so I was happy to hear that and happy to see him when I did and invited him to come into my office. And he sat down and I said, well, I hear you've become a believer.

That's right. He said, tell me about it. He said, well, I wanted to be the first person to prove Christianity from principles of philosophy and logic. And so I was out to do that. And one, but I wasn't, I was always distressed.

I knew I wasn't a Christian. And one day my dad sat me down. In fact, you probably know his dad. This is not embarrassing to anybody. Jim Ellef is his dad.

Benjamin Ellef is the young man that I'm talking about. And so he said one day my dad sat me down and said to me, under the guise of humility, you are trying to search out carefully logical proof for Christianity. But I think it is in fact an evidence of your arrogance. And if you are going to ever become a Christian, then you are simply going to have to believe what the Bible says. And Benjamin said, it occurred to me that I was going to have to take something on faith because I really couldn't prove that reason was a reliable means of revealing truth. I was taking that on faith.

And I realized that I was going to have to take something on faith. And so I decided that I was going to believe the Bible as the Word of God. And I said, so shortly after that you became a Christian? He said it was virtually at the same time because, of course, I knew what the Bible said about Jesus. So once I embraced what the Bible said about Jesus, then I embraced Jesus and became a follower of Jesus Christ.

Benjamin was a little bit like verse four that says, behold, his soul is puffed up. I know all this stuff. I can figure all this stuff out. The Bible says that not many wise are among those who are called. It's not that God has anything in particular against really smart people. It's just that really smart people think we can figure it out.

Did you notice how I changed the pronoun there? Yeah, we think, oh, I can get this. I've been able to figure out all this stuff all my life and I'm going to figure this out too. I don't need to, I don't need to be reduced to that childlike faith.

Yes, you do. Unless you become like a little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Your soul will be puffed up.

It will not be upright, but the righteous shall live by his faith. And that's the way that we have got to survive when we are being tossed around by wicked men. Wicked men are God's servants. Sometimes he uses them to chastise us. Sometimes he uses wicked men to move us out of a comfortable but wrong course. This afternoon when I was talking to Carol about this message, I said, I can really only think of three times in my life. I'm 62.

Today's my birthday. So I said in my life, so blessed, I can really only think of three times when my life was really upended by bad men. And in all three cases, I explained to her, it was God's moving me away from a comfortable but wrong course, not sinful, just not right for me, into something else. And thank God I can look back on all three of those experiences and see how the Lord was using it to move me into something else.

But it sure was painful at the time, very, very painful to have my life disrupted so deeply by these bad men. All three instances were orchestrated by men who were professing Christians. And to be fair, I think that in all three instances these professing Christians thought that they were doing the right thing.

It may be that they were not abiding by the same standard of right that you and I would, but I think in all three cases they thought that they were doing the right thing. So first of all, we have seen Habakkuk saying, I'm going to think about this and try to see it from a big perspective. I'm going to get in my watchtower and I'm going to wait and live by faith, just like the Lord has said. Now the rest of chapter two is taken up with the way that the Lord is going to eventually judge the Chaldeans. I'm not going to read that, but I'm going to skip ahead to Habakkuk's next response, which we find at the beginning of chapter three. And this I think is, as I said, his song of praise where he's overflowing with gratitude in response to what the Lord has revealed to him. But he resorts to prayer.

I think we have assumed that we're going to be doing that all along, but here it's made specific. Oh Lord, I have heard the report of you and your work, oh Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it. In the midst of the years make it known. In wrath remember mercy. And so he very meekly and humbly prays to the Lord, I see what you're doing. It makes me fear, but don't abandon the good thing that you have in store for your people.

In the midst of the years make it known. Don't get so carried away with your wrath that you forget that you are a merciful God. And so he resorts to prayer. That's the third response that Habakkuk takes that is worthy of imitation.

And then the fourth response that Habakkuk takes that is worthy of imitation is in verse 16 of this chapter. And this is a statement of submission. I hear and my body trembles. My lips quiver at the sound.

Rottenness enters into my bones. My legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will wait quietly. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon the people who invade us. I'm really scared.

This is a very emotional thing for me. But so help me God. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble.

I'm not going to complain anymore. You have shown me a vision of your justice and you have shown me a vision of your character. And I respond with saying it is better to know you than it is to know why. And I think that's really one of the main messages of the book of Job. You know Job was never, as far as we read in the book of Job, God never explained to him here's why all this bad stuff happened to you. Instead when God shows up at the end of Job he asks him all these questions which demonstrate that God is vastly superior in every way to Job. And that quiets Job's heart. And that's the same thing that happens to Habakkuk here.

And that's the same thing that needs to happen to us. We need to learn how to say with the psalmist in Psalm 131, oh Lord, my heart is not lifted up. My eyes are not raised too high. I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother. Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Oh Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore. Just like a little child who doesn't even have to understand how mommy and daddy can protect him from all of this stuff but somehow it's okay when I'm on mommy's lap, the psalmist says. That's the way that I have calmed and quieted my soul. George Herbert has a poem where he is in distress because he has not achieved a lofty position that he thought surely would be to the glory of God if God would give him this great position. And he says, but that thou art my wisdom, Lord. In other words, if it weren't for the fact that you are my wisdom and both mine eyes are thine, that's the way he has of saying I have entrusted the guidance of my life to you.

If it weren't for the fact that I've done that, my soul would be extremely stirred for missing my design. Were it not better, so he starts to make a suggestion to the Lord, were it not better to bestow some place and power on me? Then should thy praises with me grow and share in my degree.

I mean if you make me famous, I'll talk about you when I'm interviewed. But when I thus dispute and grieve, I do resume my sight. So it's like me saying, God, I told you, I know I told you that I was going to give you my eyes so that you could guide me, but you're not doing such a great job.

Could I have my eyes back? When I thus dispute and grieve, I do resume my sight and pilfering or stealing what I once did give, disease thee of thy right. And then he muses, how know I if thou shouldst me raise that I should then raise thee? Perhaps great places and thy praise do not so well agree. So I think that if I were made famous and influential, I would be sure to give glory to God, but it doesn't always happen that way.

In fact, it rarely happens that way. And so he concludes his poem, Wherefore unto my gift I stand, I gave you my eyes, you keep my eyes. Wherefore unto my gift I stand, I will no more advise, only do thou lend me a hand since thou hast both mine eyes. So I'm blind.

I need someone to guide me. Do let me feel your hand. Do let me get on your lap like that weaned child. And the title of that poem is Submission. It is in submission to the Lord that we find peace and quiet. Sometimes I would wager that you probably sing Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.

The words of Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee were written by Henry Van Dyke. He wrote several other poems, including this very short one, which is a good illustration of this point. In this little short poem, he describes how that he was ardently seeking after peace and insisting upon getting it, but he never got it until, well listen to the poem. With eager heart and will on fire, I fought to win my great desire. Peace shall be mine, I said, but life grew bitter in the weary strife. My soul will was hurt, my pride was wounded deep. To heaven I cried, God grant me peace or I must die.

The dumb stars glittered, no reply. Broken at last, I bowed my head, forgetting all myself and said, whatever comes, thy will be done. And in that moment, peace was won.

And that's what happened to Habakkuk here. I'm scared about all this that's happening. I'm unhappy about it. My legs are trembling. I'm scared, but I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon the people who invade us. I will submit to your great sovereign ways. And then the fifth thing that Habakkuk does that is worthy of our imitation is found in those final verses. Though the fig tree should not blossom nor fruit be on the vines, and the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, comma.

But just let me say, that's a real economic situation right there. And this is the sort of thing that is going to happen when the bad men come, the bad men who are God's servants come, it's going to be lean times, not a lot of food to eat. But Habakkuk has seen a vision of God's glory.

And he sees he's seen something that's better than having a barn full of livestock and a field full of food. There in verse 18, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Even though all these other things can be taken away from me, what really gives my soul joy cannot be taken away from me. I will rejoice in the Lord. He is the God who gives me salvation. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. He is the God who gives me strength.

God the Lord is my strength. What do I make of this? He makes my feet like the deers. I think that means he's making me highly adaptable. Deer are just incredibly adaptable and can get in places and get away in places that you just can't imagine. I think that he's saying I'm going to be nimble and adaptable like a deer.

And then what about this? He makes me tread on my high places. I think he's saying that he's going to give me ultimate victory. This is just the poetic way of saying the Lord has done a lot of great things on high places. He gave the law on Mount Sinai. He sent fire down from heaven on Mount Elijah.

Mount Carmel. Jesus spoke the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was killed on Mount Calvary. Jesus ascended up to heaven from the Mount of Olives.

A lot of important things have happened on mountains. And I think this is just the poetic way of saying the Lord ultimately is going to give me victory. I will rejoice in the Lord. He's the God of my salvation. He's the God who gives me strength. He's the God who gives me adaptability.

He's the God who gives me victory even in the midst of these dark times when he is using wicked men to accomplish his purposes. Well, one of the benefits of this message for me is that I have a tendency to look back with some bitterness and perhaps some unforgiveness on those bad men who did bad things to me. And if I can see, like Joseph, whatever their motives were, let's just go ahead and say that they meant it for evil. God meant it for good.

Then that gives me an entirely different perspective. And so let this sermon ooze into your memories of how bad people have mistreated you in the past. And see what good the Lord has brought out of it.

You say, well, I can't see any good that came out of it. Then you're just going to have to walk by faith. It may be that you're going through something like this right now. You're being bypassed for a promotion that you really ought to have had. And it may be because you're a Christian.

It may be because you're not going along with being a pal to various perverted ideas that the corporation is trying to foist on its employees and you are enduring some kind of persecution. It may be that it's just around the corner for you because everyone who lives godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But just know this, that the devil himself is God's devil. And he cannot do anything without God's permission. And these wicked men, though their motives are not at all intending to serve God's will of precept inadvertently, our sovereign God is overruling all things for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose. And they are serving God's will of purpose. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-26 03:54:59 / 2022-12-26 04:11:27 / 16

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