Have you ever had to rely on someone to do something that you could not do for yourself, or simply help you with a task? Many, if not all of you will answer an emphatic yes to that question. For example, when you are seeking any form of medical attention, you trust that the doctor is knowledgeable about the human anatomy and disease process. As well as skillful and adept when using surgical instruments. The doctor might very well be a ‘quack’ but you do not know that. You just trust that he knows what he is doing because he is a doctor.
Or you are struggling with a subject in school but your friend, who knows the topic well promises to tutor you every Tuesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. You trust that your friend would keep his promise and show up on the days and time specified.
The two illustrations above are quite familiar experiences for some of you and are directed towards persons you can interact with face to face. They also serve to illustrate the uncertainty you can experience when you place your trust in another human being. What if you are in a situation where you have to rely on someone you know is there but you cannot see? Consider the following scenario:
Seeta, an unemployed widow with two young children, is a born-again Christian, who prays earnestly every night and day for God to provide for her and her children. The mortgage was overdue and her dwindling savings was not enough to cover the bills and food. Although Seeta knew God did not forsake her and that he answers the prayers of his children, why was he taking so long?
There are many believers out there who can relate to the scenario above. The Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk felt the same as Seeta in relation to God’s apparent delay in answering prayers. The book of Habakkuk was written around 620 B.C. during the time when the children of Judah had once again turned their backs on the LORD their God. They were not honoring His statutes or laws. Such as, worshipping Him alone, obeying his commandments, paying tithes and offerings, keeping his Sabbaths or tending to the House of God. In other words, they were being rebellious. Their rebellion extended as far as to persecution and execution of the LORD’s prophets. So Habakkuk, fed up and saddened by the living conditions and evil displays of the children of Judah, asked the LORD the following question in Habakkuk Chapter 1, Verse 2:
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help and You will not hear? Or cry out to You of violence and You will not save?” (NKJV, Amplified Bible)
Habakkuk felt like the more he prayed the more evil abounded and his prayers were ineffective or falling on deaf ears. There was no law and order or justice. The entire ‘political system’ of the day was corrupt. Sounds familiar? In the eyes of Habakkuk, it seemed as though evil was triumphing over good and God was not listening.
Before going on to the response the LORD gave to Habakkuk, I have to mention a comment made during an interview that was being conducted by a reporter and a resident of a ‘high risk’ community in Trinidad a few years ago. The gentleman, responding to a question asked by the reporter said, “It seems as though God has forgotten about this community.” On hearing his remark, I was instantly reminded of the conversation between Habakkuk and the LORD.
You see, the LORD had a plan which was already being executed as observed in Hab. Ch.1 vs.5-6, where it says, 5 “… I will work a work in your days which you would not believe though it were told you.” In other words, the LORD is saying to Habakkuk, “You will not believe what I am going to do to fix this.”
6 “For indeed, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.” (NKJV)
The Chaldeans were the Babylonians, led by king Nebuchadnezzar. The LORD’s plan involved these known ‘barbarians,’ the Babylonians, savages who did not follow the rules or respect authority. As far as they were concerned, they were their own authority. Yet they were commissioned by the LORD to invade the city of Jerusalem and take into captivity, the children of Judah (during the reign of the then King of Jerusalem, Jehoiachin). This was the LORD’s plan to restore the children of Judah back to Himself.
Habakkuk could not understand why the LORD would use people known for their use of unrelenting force, who killed and plundered just for the sheer pleasure of it, to carry out His plans of restoration of the children of Judah. Habakkuk began to rely on his senses more than relying on the LORD. Which explains his line of questioning, for Habakkuk asked another question. However, his second line of questioning was one of disbelief. Let us take a look at it in Hab. Ch. 1 v. 13, “Why do You look on those who deal treacherously and hold your tongue when the wicked devours one more righteous than he?” In essence, Habakkuk is saying, “Seriously? That is Your plan? You know who these people are, what they are like? They will wipe us out. Is your plan to just watch us all die?” Habakkuk was not just confused he was also afraid.
The LORD’S second response to Habakkuk served to comfort, exhort and edify his righteous servant. He even told him to write down the vision in Hab. Ch. 2 v. 4 which says, “…the just man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness” (NKJV, Amplified Bible).
You see saints, there are times when our lives are filled with moments like the one described above. When the situation seems to be getting worse and you feel like God is not hearing you or he is taking too long to answer your prayer. Yet Almighty God is saying even today, “…the just man shall live by his faith…” The LORD’s plan for the children of Judah was not one of punishment per se but one of love to get their attention, so to speak, so that they would remember the God who brought them out of bondage, out of the land of Egypt. So they could worship the only true and living God who delivered to them fortified cities for them to possess. Who set them apart so that they could be His people and He could be their God. It was a plan of Restoration.
In fact, Habakkuk, after hearing the LORD’s second response, remembered all that he was told about the mighty works of the LORD and also those which he had witnessed for himself in Hab. Ch. 3.
One day while meditating on the action of faith, the Holy Spirit said to me, “Faith is like walking a tight rope with Almighty God on the opposite end encouraging you to come to Him. But being so high up with no safety net in view, you are afraid to step out in faith. Totally dependent on your senses and not totally dependent on God, who promised to catch you if you should fall. Believe that He will catch you (as he has done so many times before) for He is your safety net.”
Hebrews Ch. 11 v. 1 describes faith as being “the substance of the things [we] hope for, the evidence of things [we] do not see” (NKJV).
Let us take another look at the LORD’S response to Habakkuk which says, “…the just man shall live by his faith and in his faithfulness.”
The word faithfulness denotes commitment and the word faith means to believe. Therefore, the righteous or just man lives by faith/believing [in the LORD and everything He says in His word] and exercising faithfulness/commitment to believing [the LORD and everything He says in His word]. In essence, all God wants you to do is commit yourself to believe. You cannot effectively exercise one without the other. Faith works in accordance with faithfulness and vice versa. The words shall live expresses future action. Saints, all our tomorrows are our future, which ultimately become our present.
As believers we need to remember and understand that events are unforeseen only to us human beings. Almighty God, in His infinite wisdom, is Omniscient God − He knows everything and has already dealt with all obstacles (on the cross of Calvary) that may come in the way of our serving Him. The only obstacle He cannot deal with is you. Your failure to exercise your faith in Him and what He says in His word is the only obstacle preventing Him from moving on your behalf. If that is case, I implore you to get out of the way and allow your Heavenly Father to work.
We are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus and faith is the lifestyle we have been commanded to live, an attitude we should constantly maintain, being totally committed to believing Almighty God. For it is our duty and responsibility as born-again believers, for the glory of God. So when you are faced with dire situations and have to walk that ‘tight rope,’ I encourage you to step out in faith and in faithfulness for “Without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Hebrews Ch. 11 v. 6).
May Almighty God, bless you all. When next we meet, we will continue our study on faith.
All of God’s blessings.