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When The Answer Is Disaster

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 15, 2022 1:00 am

When The Answer Is Disaster

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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May 15, 2022 1:00 am

How do we move forward when injustice seems to be winning? Where is God then? The prophet Habakkuk had the same issue in the nation of Israel—complaints which belong in today’s news. Yet amid the turmoil, the prophet has a burst of faith, knowing that God is still in charge. Are we prepared to face our own honest questions and keep praising God?

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Sometimes were overwhelmed with calamity, but it seems when we pray that God is nowhere to be found. We lose a job at a foreclosure notice. Our health is suddenly at great risk despite earnest praying our situation only gets worse.

That was the cry of the prophet Habakkuk, and for many, it's our cry to please stay with us from Chicago. This is The Moody Church.

Our weekly service of worship and teaching with pastor Erwin Blitzer. Today we continue a series on the triumph of unanswered prayer and our focus on this broadcast will be from the book of Habakkuk on how to handle those times when the answer is disaster, the Moody choir comes now to open today's service with a song of praise and our father at this moment, we do crown you King of our lives. We thank you today that we can sing your praises.

We ask Lord that even as we had been singing and will continue to do so that the praise that is offered to you may be made acceptable through Jesus Christ our Lord. We ask all men we continue our worship as we read God's word.

You'll find the passage in your bulletin from first Chronicles 16. Please join me on the bold print all give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples same same town where glory in his holy name. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice see remember one time ascribed to the Lord, O clans of the peoples ascribed to the Lord glory and strength ascribed to the Lord the glory due his name and offering before hand. Then all the people said Amen and praise the Lord. So I began today with the question. Where then is God we've all asked that question many times we ask it when we see injustice in the world.

We see it. We ask it when there's poverty.

We ask it when the rich exploit the poor. We ask it when there is injustice in the courts. We asked the question when people suffer and when, tsunamis, and when Katrina comes. We are always asking that question in our hearts we ask where then is God. Where is he.

When injustice seems to be winning when all those who are evil have their heyday, where is will that's the problem that the prophet Habakkuk had I always say it's Habakkuk or Habakkuk, depending on where you put the impasses. What I'd like you to do is to turn to that book in the Old Testament and in order to find it, go to where the division C happens between the New Testament and the Old Testament and then go back about 20 pages this morning I looked it up in the Bible that is in the pew. And I think if I remember correctly. I should've taken further note of it, but I think it's page 825 something like that to help you find this little profit little only in the sense that it is a brief letter that talks to us about our relationship with God and God's relationship to us. Well, let's turn to what Habakkuk has to say and I begin with his prayer.

Verse two. Oh Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not hear or cry. Do you violence and you will not save what you make me see iniquity, and why do I really look at the wrong destruction and violence are before me strife and contention arise to the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth for the wickets around the righteous. So justice goes forth perverted. I'm praying to you God. But where are you. How can you look upon this and see what is happening.

He had two problems with God. First of all, God appeared to be deaf Lord, how long will I cry for help, verse two, and you will not hear. Are you deaf must I shout in the other problem is, he thought that God was possibly blinded verse three. Why do you make me see iniquity. I see it do you. That was a charge that was leveled by God against the idols of the nation and the charge was that the idols are blind and deaf and there are times in our own lives. When it appears as if that's the way our God is to know in this book of Habakkuk. He this profit has a relationship with God where it's almost like a telephone.

He talks and God answers, and then he talks again back-and-forth it's a little different than most of the other prophets because he's not so much preaching as he is having a dialogue with the Almighty but the Almighty is speaking to him and so we better listen. So that's the prophet's prayer. But what happens next is deep perplexity.

Notice God answers him in verse five, and says that look among the nations and see wonder and be astounded, for I am doing a work in your day that you would not believe if told Brian raising up the Chaldeans that bitter and hasty nation who marched through the breath of the earth to seize dwellings that are not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Notice the last part of verse nine. They gather captives like sand at Kings.

They scoff at rulers, they laugh. They laugh at every fortress they pile of dirt and take it they sweep like the wind, then go on and on guilty men whose own might is there God. Habakkuk you don't think I'm doing anything. I am I'm raising up a very evil nation by the name of the Chaldeans or the Babylonians as we know them better and I am doing something that you wouldn't believe they are going to come against you. And if you think that Judah has problems. Now look out because it's going to get worse. That's my answer to your prayer what you might consider to be difficulty today is going to turn out to be disaster what you think are tough times are going to end up being tragic times. I'm doing something.

Habakkuk and you'd better realize what it is. While how is the prophet going to respond to that. That is exactly the answer that he was looking for. You read the text and you continue on and it's almost as if well after that. I'm sorry I asked quite frankly I could live without this we cry out to God for the United States of America and say, God, you raised up this nation pleased during righteousness. Please help us in God's is a I'm doing something I'm doing something that is hidden, but it will be revealed. I'm raising up a nation who's going to fly planes into some of your famous towers. I'm raising up in media that is going to assault your values through technology. I'm raising up mediums that will spread the world and the earth with your pornography and all that and I'm raising up people that are going to understand the tough times are coming.

As a matter of fact I'm going to begin a recession and a lot of people are going to lose their jobs. That's the answer to your prayers and we say God did we hear you correctly. This is not what we are praying for. Well, Habakkuk, God bless him.

He was just like we are questioning God and wondering how in the world. This could possibly be consistent with the God that he thought he knew any goes on now and he begins to dialogue with God, look at his response in verse 12. You see, Habakkuk's problem is ours. He knows something about God and his attributes and he understands that the problem is he can't to square that with what he sees in the world like our problem. God is love. All really God's love, so there's a young mother that dies of cancer, leaving children behind.

I mean, it's the struggle of every human being is ever come to believe in God, we can put it together and what Habakkuk is saying in the next few verses is this seems to fly in the face of two of your attributes.

The first attribute is holiness or I should say justice verse 12 are you not from everlasting. O Lord my God, my holy one, we shall not die, oh Lord, you have are ordained of them is a judgment and you all rock Established them, for reproof, you are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idling there's that word again look at traders that are silent when the wicket swallows up the man more righteous than he is saying. This creates bigger problem for me than I had when I began praying God, it's inconsistent with your justice. Of course were evil as your people. I've already admitted that you know that there is no justice and there is violence in the land in your law is not being followed but were not as bad as the Chaldeans, not as bad as the Babylonians course were evil as a nation we have our evils, but you know at least we don't kill people who convert from one religion to another.

We don't condone that the random terrorism of blowing up women and children random for political agendas. Now we've got our problems but were not that bad. We're better than they are.

So how come you're going to use them to judge us.

How come you are going to use some wicked judges in this land and raise them up and justice is going to be perverted God. It doesn't make sense.

It seems inconsistent with your justice. And it seems inconsistent with your holiness. You are of purer eyes than to be holding. How can you stand this travesty of your law being maligned by us as a nation and how can you stand all this when you are of such pure eyes that you find it difficult to even look at evil, though you know that it exists. That's the question so Habakkuk spills out his soul to God and he pours it all out and says I don't under stand what you're following us. You know that so far we've looked at the prayer of Habakkuk.

The perplexity of Habakkuk and now the posture. I like it every once in a while when not all of the sequences in my message actually begin with the same letter and it worked out this time I don't do that too often, but occasionally the posture of the prophet chapter 2, verse one. I will take my stand at the 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. The imagery there is of a man who's on rampart. He is looking into the distance to see if any enemy is coming into the city and what he does is continue to stare because he wants to be the first who's going to see it and in the very same way. Habakkuk is saying I'm going to stand here on tiptoes in reverence. I am going to stand here because whatever God says I want to make sure that I get it right and I can hardly wait to hear what he's going to say so, God begins to speak in God says.

Habakkuk I want you to write down the vision and you say well did he do it. That's this book you'd say, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could stand on the wall of the city and see God see what God is saying will just read the word and when you read the word you get what God is saying. You'll notice verse two the Lord answered me right division make it plain on tablet, so he may run who reads it or still division awaits its appointed time that's going to be critical in a moment.

Verse four behold his soul. That is the soul of the unrighteous is puffed up. It is not upright in him, but the righteous shall live by his faith okay very famous verse by the way, quoted three times in the New Testament the righteous one shall live by faith. But I want to ask at this point faith in who well, we know that that is faith in God, but faith what faith for what times are hard, where in an economic crisis. There are those who experience sickness and poverty and we are in a desperate state is a nation morally and spiritually.

So I want to know what I should have faith in God for hang on to that what follows. Now in the next chapter is not a direct answer to Habakkuk's question as much as it is that God is affirming judgment for all who are wicked. Of course we need to simply point this out. There are five woes that God gives in answer to Habakkuk's prayer in question verse six. Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own.

Verse nine woe to him who gets evil again for his house to set his nest on high to be safe from the reach of arm, woe to that person were living at a time when there are many people involved in the mortgage crisis and I understand that part of the problem is predatory lenders who knew right well that those people could not pay but because they were making money.

They signed them up anyway. Woe to those who gets evil again for his house to set his nest on. I think as long as long as I'm okay. I don't care about anybody else. Woe to them.

Verse 12 woe to him who builds a town with blood. Verse 14 says that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord. Verse 15 woe to him who makes his neighbors drink. All right, verse 19 woe to him who says to a wooden thing awake woe to idolaters what is God saying here God is saying Habakkuk, you have to get one thing clear day yet understand this is not as if the violence in the land or the violence of the Chaldeans that they are going to bring upon the land and they did. It is not as if wicked people of any stripe of any religion of any country are ever going to get by. I know what's going on and my standard judgment and holiness has not changed one iota.

What you must understand. Habakkuk is that I am on a different timetable than you are to different timetable. Give me time did you notice that the vision talks about the time appointed and we say to ourselves. I want justice and I wanted today, preferably at least by tonight and God says I have my own timetable factors a verse in Ecclesiastes that can be roughly translated this because the judgment against sin is not executed immediately.

People think it is safe to do evil. I'm not getting caught. They say I made my money. Perhaps unrighteously, perhaps by cutting corners. But I got by my friends got Bob everybody's doing it and God is doing nothing God says to Habakkuk, I am doing something and keep in mind, I know exactly what is happening and judgment will come when Habakkuk hears about God's sovereignty and God's judgment, he says. Finally, in verse 20 but the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth. Keep silence before earlier in the first chapter he said oh God, how can you be silent when all this is going on in the world and now he begins to backup and to say now it is my turn to be silent as a matter of fact it is the turn of the entire world to know that God is in his temple, and in his presence, our mouths have to be close.

We might not understand his ways but it's all under his control, so notice that we have moved now and we have moved from the idea of this prayer to his perplexity to his position and now I'd like to talk about his praise were going to go through the text that I'm to tell you what's going on and then your life is going to be changed forever will never be the same. If you are open to what God has to say to you today through his word. He goes on in chapter 3 and he prays that in wrath.

God would remember mercy. Last part of verse two and then beginning at three and going on, he begins to talk about what God has done in the past as he is contemplating the works of God.

The splendor of the heavens verse for his brightness was like the light rays flashed from his hand before him. Verse five there when pestilence and plague followed at his heels. He scattered mountains you can look through this yourself and see the wonderful hyperbole that Habakkuk has regarding what God is doing. Most commentators believe that what is really talking about is the deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt, you know, it talks about the season. The rivers opening then the pestilence that came upon Egypt and so forth and Habakkuk here is lost in wonder when he looks at the past and begins to think what God has done and then we conclude you'll notice it says verse 16 of chapter 3, I here and my body trembles my lips quiver at the sound of rottenness enters into my bones. My legs tremble beneath me. Don't you feel that way when things go bad. And when we read the headlines yet. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon the people who have invaded us. I am willing now to have patience to let God do it on his schedule and his agenda and not mine. That's what is emphasizing and then this book ends with this unbelievable almost surprising burst of praise.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit beyond the binds the produce of the all of fail, and the fields yield no food. The flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herds in the stalls, yet will I rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord is my strength.

He makes my feet like the deer's. He makes me tread on high places and then he ends with a note to Jerry Edmonds says right here to Jerry Edmonds the choirmaster with stringed instruments. That's right it's right there. This this apparently was sung. This was sung what's going on, what's the connection between what Habakkuk is learning about God. And suddenly this great burst of admiration and praise. What's the connection.

How can we move from all these questions to praising God. How can we make that transition.

That's the question there are two things that Habakkuk concluded about God and he said if these things are true about God.

I can praise even though everything that is been nailed down is being torn up and everything is falling in around me. First, God is in control.

God is in control of the Chaldeans are coming.

That's that's scary. They were wicked. They were evil they used to skin people alive. They were known for their violent. The Chaldeans are coming. God says I'm the one that is raising up the Chaldeans that bitter and hasty nation that shall come against that is part of my work as a discipline and as a judgment for sin, but I am in control.

Ever wondered how strong the Chaldeans were you ever wondered how strong radical Islam is, for example, if you ever wondered how much authority Pilate had over Jesus ask a different kind of question. Have you ever wondered how strong the devil really is you say I'd like to know today I'm going to tell you whatever you may say about the service today. If you're listening by the Internet radio. However, finally, you'll find an answer to the question of how strong the devil is are you ready he has as much power as God lets him have and not one whit that's how strong he cannot even harass you unless it passes Jesus Christ's test of control.

The devil wants to get to Peter and Jesus says, Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, he can't get to you until I've passed off on it. Once you understand this you will pray again, Satan, as we must. And as we are instructed, but we will pray with the great faith because we know that God is in control and I will quote the words of Jesus to Pilate words that I absolutely love the words are the output is to have no power at all against me unless it were given to the from above the evil people that are harassing you what is happening in your life. The injustice that you are enduring the feeling that you are being marginalized and misunderstood.

Evil can have no authority over you unless it is given from above God is in control and that's why we pray to God, and that's why we have a day of prayer and fasting. It is because we believe that ultimately we must submit everything to God and we can come to God about anything because God is in control when Habakkuk realized that said, I realize that nothing is happening willy-nilly among the nations. Nothing is happening in the raising up of leaders in the taking down of leaders that that God stands back of everything he does not do evil. He does not do evil, but through secondary causes. These involved in and everything that transpires on his, so that's the first thing secondly when Habakkuk began to go over the story of the Israelites and their deliverance out of Egypt, he learned something else about God. He learned about the control of God, but he also learned about the care of God, he began to think of how God led them through the Red Sea and how God dried up the Red Sea and how God fed and then how the mountains tremble, then how everything else began to happen under his sovereign control and God delivered his people.

He said you know what I can also believe that God cares about me and Habakkuk finally realized something.

He said never again will I interpret the silence of God is the indifference of God. There are times when God is silent but that doesn't mean that he's not working. That doesn't mean that he is indifferent.

It still means that the very air of your it is numbered still means that he sees the sparrow fall to the ground and that you as a child of God. Our number one on his list of things to take care of in the universe.

He says I will accept. He says the fact that there times when God is silent, but he is faithful and he is working and that he cares about me. So what Habakkuk says in the last part of his book in verse 17 we could translate it for our era something like this, and though the refrigerator is empty, and though I may lose my job or perhaps have because that's exactly what Habakkuk is saying the only means of livelihood was what grew, and of course the animals in the field, though, things should turn against me and what I have planned not come to pass. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord and my God. I will take joy in the God of my salvation, for the Lord God is my strength and I will go on believing and trusting. No matter what.

That's what the prophet say and so it comes down to this. You believe in the care of God and the control of God do you believe that when God puts us through the kiln through the furnace that he he keeps his hand on the thermostat and therefore we can be assured that nothing is happening randomly it is directed toward an appointed and that we have to understand that God is on a different timetable. God was saying Habakkuk, you're absolutely right about my holiness. You're right about my just as you're wrong about the issue of time as I'm on a different schedule than you are. William Cooper struggled with insanity and tried to commit suicide is able. Who is he, he was the man who gave us the wonderful line but God moves in a mysterious way, his wonders to perform. He also wrote of the song. There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel's veins and sinners plunge many that flowed lose all their guilt staying. I mentioned that because there are people who are genuinely saved to struggle with perhaps mental illness with depression, with a sense of hopelessness. That's why by the way, we need the church. That's why we have TMC communities is because not a one of us can live the Christian life successfully on our own and it's not enough simply for you to be here, though, that's wonderful.

You need to plug into our ministries. You need to get to know people.

You need to become part of the body that helps us in our walk with God. But I love what William Cooper wrote based on this text, bovine, nor figtree. Neither there wanted fruit should bear all the field should weather nor flocks or herds.

There yet God the same abiding his praise shall tune my voice or while in him confiding.

I cannot but rejoice God says where you are. You can live differently now.

You still pastor that I just don't see the connection.

Now here's what were going to do next three or four minutes God is going to bring deliverance to hundreds of you who are listening and I explained what commitment means because you seek. Here's what we do as Christians we we hear a message like this and then we pray and we sale God I pray that things will work out. I pray that this will happen and and were just fidgeting and and we don't pray in faith because we keep praying over and over and over again.

I don't see anything and we even get more nervous. God's is your praying and that's fine. But what you are doing is you don't understand the meaning of the phrase commitment. The best way to illustrate. It is the life of Joseph Potiphar. The Bible says he committed all matters of his house to Joseph and then it says and concerned himself with nothing that was happening in his house now. Turns out the Potiphar's wife tried to derail Joseph, but even then Joseph was faithful. But here's the point. He's so committed himself. The Bible says to what Joseph was doing at such confidence in Joseph that he concerned not himself regarding the matters of his house. Could you imagine what would happen if we committed ourselves to God like that told somebody yesterday via email.

Who struggling with anxiety. He believes that maybe won't be unable to earn enough money for his family. Years ago, young medical student, met with me and said I am so full of anxiety. I can't even sleep because I think I might flunk out of med school. I said that's no problem we can take care of all that. Right now what you need to do is to commit yourself to God in such a way that you take the burden from your heart. Transfer it to God and say, God, you are fully in charge all do the best I can but this is yours not mine. He said I can't do that because he said if I do, God might let me flunk med school anyway I'm saying yeah, but how would you like to flunk at peace, or not at peace. You know you can go through joyfully. You go through it with no dependents sure it's no guarantee you're going to pass med school, why not enjoy it. Either way and he left filled with anxiety. I never did discover whether or not he passed. I hope he did but if he didn't. How can you go wrong just simply transferred that burden from your shoulders to God in such a way that you say God as of this moment. I no longer concerned myself with what is going to happen because that is your business. My confidence in you see what God is saying is you pray you praying a prayer. You pray, don't you think it's time to trust and when you trust. You continue to pray, but you pray very differently. Your prayers are filled with praise and adoration you say.

Even though the worst time should come, I will still rejoice can't get that by praying.

Just praying you can only get it by that transfer of trust to God. Now I need to tell you from my own experience, I know you can do this in this meeting, you can start what you need to do is to take out an hour at least minimally be longer when you're alone with God.

And then you say God I'm here for serious serious business because I can't bear these bird you never intended me to so what I'm going to do is I maybe get down on the floor in your face before God in silence and by the way, if you were not here last week and you did not get one of those bulletin inserts those cards to tell you how to seek God. We do have some extra ones over at the connection corner. I understand what you do is you say God I'm going to spend time in silence. I'm going agree with you about everything and I'm go to make a commitment of my life and my future to God that is so late. I'll tell you there's struggle the devil's going to be there and saying yeah, but what if God doesn't come through yeah you know you have to look out for yourself. The whole thing stay there as long as you need to bring your lunch unless you want to fast and leave it in God's hands so that you can say, even if the figtree doesn't blossom even if the crop fails even of my job is curtailed, even if there isn't enough money even if the relationship doesn't work out I will still rejoice in God is not my burden. It's his. And then we think of the verse of Scripture. Casting all your care upon him, for he care if for you.

Get rid of that burden woman riding a bus caught a bus heavy suitcase scarcely hold at the bus stop. She was so glad she got in the middle of the bus and continue to hold it up. Somebody said put it down. She said I'm glad the buses carrying me. I can't expected to carry my suitcase to the way we are. Listen, if you're on your way to heaven.

You're on the bus right put down the suitcase and begin to do it right now. Let us pray father bring deliverance to your people bring the same faith that Habakkuk had because Lord were going through difficult times. All of us have challenges all of us have a future that is very very unknown.

All of us have issues that we bring to church and we keep in our homes.

All of us have that old God. We pray, and I ask in Jesus name that we might be able to say though the figtree rots. We will continue to trust you grant that old God. We ask in Jesus name, amen on today's Moody Church. Our pastor looks or open the Bible to the book of Habakkuk to show us how best to deal with those tough times in prayer when the answer is disaster next week. Dr. Luther takes us to the book of second Corinthians to help us focus on those times when the answer is denied our six part series on the triumph of unanswered prayer can be yours on CD for a gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our call 1-800-215-5001. Let us know you'd like to support Moody Churches ministry our thank you to you will be a set of messages you can hear and then pass on to others.

Call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at Moody Church media 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to moody that's moody Join us next time for another Moody Church. Our with pastor Erwin lutes are in the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago.

This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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