Key Point - Though waiting can be difficult, God always hears and responds.
Quote #1: There is a strong theological theme in many books of the Hebrew Bible that God administers justice by rewarding the righteous and punishing the wicked. This has been called “moral cause and effect” where the wicked get what they deserve. It can been seen in many psalms, including Psalm 1: “Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked...they are like trees planted by streams of water” (Psalm 1:1, 3). Habakkuk is challenging this notion of “moral cause and effect,” crying out to God that “The wicked surround the righteous— therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
Habakkuk 1:1-7 New International Version (NIV)
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians,[a] that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.
Habakkuk 2:1-4 New International Version (NIV)
1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;I will look to see what he will say to me,and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
The Lord’s Answer
2 Then the Lord replied:“Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
Habakkuk 3:17-19 New International Version (NIV)
17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
Quote #2: Habakkuk struggles with the presence of injustice in God’s creation. The LORD responds by saying that justice will come; the righteous should live by faith. In response, Habakkuk states that his relationship with God will no longer be governed by circumstances.
Quote #1: During Micah’s lifetime, the Assyrian Empire began to grow more powerful. In 722 BCE, the northern kingdom of Israel was conquered by Assyria, and its capital Samaria fell, bringing the Assyrian armies to within 10 miles of Jerusalem. The southern kingdom of Judah was not overrun, but was made a vassal state, paying tributes and forced to bow to Assyrian religious and political authority. In the years immediately following the fall of Samaria, the population of Jerusalem increased, possibly due to an influx of refugees from the north. This may have contributed to the economic difficulties and exploitation that Micah addresses.
Micah 3 New International Version (NIV)
9 Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; 10 who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. 11 Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.” 12 Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets. Micah 6:6-8 New International Version (NIV)
6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Quote #2: “The subtle nuances of the very strong (Hebrew) verb da-rash are just fascinating. “Require” misses the heart of it, I think, for we resort to notions of rules or grading, as in “the teacher requires you turn in a three-page paper by Friday.” The verb darash has undertones of affection, or the healthiest sort of dependency, as in “the child requires his mother’s love,” or “the flower requires rain and sunshine.” There is a mood of seeking in darash; lovers seek each other out, and a shepherd seeks his lost sheep—and in the Old Testament, both situations use darash. So when the Lord “requires” justice, kindness and mercy, it isn’t that the Lord “insists on” or “demands” these things. God seeks them, yearns for them, and frankly needs them from us as intimate partners in God’s adventure down here." - Rev. James Howell, Meyers Park UMC
Prayer for the Week - Blessed are you, O Lord, our God, creator of the universe. When the people went astray and abandoned your covenant, you remained faithful. Lead us to follow your will and walk humbly with you, help us to live in your promises, and remind us of your unfailing love. We pray all of this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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