"GOD’S WILL FOR YOU" In Everything Give Thanks INTRODUCTION 1. In our previous two lessons, we saw that it is God’s will... a. That you rejoice always b. That you pray without ceasing 2. As we return to our beginning text (1Th 5:16-18), we learn that it also God’s will... a. That we give thanks in everything - 1Th 5:18 b. "give thanks in all circumstances" - ESV c. "be thankful in all circumstances" - NLT [Not only are we to be thankful in everything, but for everything (Ep 5:20)! To understand why this is God's will for you, let's consider...] I. THE NEED TO GIVE THANKS A. INGRATITUDE DISPLEASES GOD... 1. It is included among other sins that would be prevalent in "perilous times" - 2Ti 3:1-5 2. The wrath of God will be revealed against those who are unthankful - Ro 1:18-21 B. WE ARE TO HAVE THE ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE... 1. Thankful for what the Father has done for us - Col 1:12-14 2. Abounding in thanksgiving - Col 2:7 3. A part of the "garment" we are to put on - Col 3:12-15 4. A complement to our prayers - Col 4:2; 1Ti 2:1 C. THANKFULNESS IS KEY... 1. To overcoming anxiety - Php 4:6 2. To obtaining the peace of God which surpasses understanding - Php 4:6-7 3. To pray without ceasing, and to rejoicing always - 1Th 5:16-18 a. When we give thanks in everything, we will pray without ceasing! b. When we pray without ceasing, we will rejoice always! 4. NB: thankfulness in everything -> praying without ceasing -> rejoicing always! [If we desire to have the peace which passes understanding, that joy which is inexpressible (1Pe 1:8), then we need to develop the attitude of gratitude, being thankful in everything! Some thoughts on...] II. HOW TO BE THANKFUL IN EVERYTHING A. REMEMBER THAT ALL THINGS WORK FOR GOOD... 1. If we love God and have responded to His call - Ro 8:28 a. Loving God presumes obedience to His will - 1Jn 5:3 b. Responding to His call presumes obeying the gospel - cf. 2Th 2:13-14 2. We can therefore glory in tribulation - Ro 5:3-5 a. Knowing that it produces character b. Which in turn produces hope 3. We can therefore rejoice in persecution - Mt 5:10-12 a. Knowing that the kingdom of heaven is ours b. Knowing that our reward in heaven will be great 4. We can therefore rejoice in trials - Jm 1:2-3 a. Knowing that trials produces patience b. Knowing that patience produces perfection and completeness (maturity) B. EXPRESS THANKS IN EVERY PRAYER... 1. We are to include thanksgiving with our prayer requests - Php 4:6 a. Every time you pray for something, first thank God for something b. "Count your many blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done." - Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922 2. Even when we are facing hard times - e.g., Dan 6:10-11 a. Daniel made the giving of thanks part of his daily prayers b. Even when facing life-threatening crisis, he gave thanks as always CONCLUSION 1. William Hendriksen has beautifully expressed the importance of giving thanks: When a person prays without giving thanks, he has clipped the wings of prayer, so that it cannot rise. 2. Do you want... a. The full benefit of prayer in your life? b. The ability to rejoice always, in every circumstance? Then take the time to thank God in everything, indeed, for everything (Ep 5:20), knowing that God can use it for your good (Ro 8:28). Do this, and you will not only do what is God’s will for you, but you will become "more than conquerors" through the love of Christ and the love of God...! - cf. Ro 8:35-39
Proof of Bible Inspiration: Shaking the Head
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Can mere humans predict future events? Not in actuality, since no human being knows the future. Only Deity can do so, or empower a human to do so. For example, living at the beginning of the 21st century, who could possibly provide very detailed, very specific information about the execution of an individual in another country and culture a thousand years into the future? Such ability is beyond human capability. Yet, the Bible portrays just this quality, thereby demonstrating its divine origin.
For example, in a clearly Messianic psalm, King David quoted the Messiah as saying: “All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!’” (Psalm 22:7-8, emp. added). In another psalm, a similar allusion is made: “I also have become a reproach to them; when they look at me, they shake their heads” (Psalm 109:25, emp. added). The individual or individuals who wrote these statements had been dead for centuries when Jesus came to the Earth and fulfilled their predictions. Historical fact verifies that the Psalms were complete centuries prior to the first century A.D. And the actions that were fulfilled were not fulfilled by sympathetic persons, but were, in fact, fulfilled unwittingly by hostile enemies of the Messiah. Consider Matthew’s account of what happened at the cross:
And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing (Matthew 27:39-44, emp. added).How in the world could anyone predict that those who attended the crucifixion would “shake their heads” at Jesus? Lucky guess?
Well over 300 prophecies are scattered throughout the Old Testament that refer specifically to the Messiah. Such a number could not be gleaned artificially from the Old Testament and made accidentally to match the host of circumstances that characterized the life and death of Jesus Christ hundreds of years later in the first century A.D. This point is especially weighty when one sees the specificity of the predictions, from His birth village to His tormentors spitting on Him. Jesus’ disciples were scattered and hiding in fear (yet another feature predicted—Zechariah 13:7), with most of them likely not even attending the crucifixion (Matthew 26:56; John 16:32). They lacked the facility, opportunity, and wherewithal to identify hundreds of minute details about Jesus’ life and death, and then find matching components in the Old Testament text. A few coincidences might have some counterweight, but 300+ such predictions that entail minute details of Jesus’ life on Earth are overwhelming proof of the supernatural element. Indeed, there is an unprecedented cumulative impact of so many details converging into one Person. Only one conclusion is possible: the only way a writer could pinpoint such specific details is if he was guided in his writing by a divine, transcendent Being. This is the only logical, rational, plausible explanation. The Bible is, indeed, the inspired Word of the God of the Bible.
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
All one has to do is walk through the halls of the nearest hospital or mental institution to see people of all ages suffering from various diseases and illnesses. Suffering is everywhere, and thus such questions as the following inevitably arise. “If there is a God, why am I afflicted with this illness?” “If there is a God, why was my son not allowed to see his sixteenth birthday?” “If there is a God, why are my parents afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease?” These and hundreds of similar questions have echoed from the human heart for millennia. They are as old as the first tear and as recent as the latest newscast.
For many people, the existence of pain and suffering serves as a great obstacle to belief in God. Skeptics and infidels, both past and present, have held that the existence of evil is an embarrassment for those who believe in God. One philosopher, J.L. Mackie, in an article titled “Evil and Omnipotence,” set out to show “not that religious beliefs lack rational support, but that they are positively irrational,” and “that the several parts of the essential theological doctrine are inconsistent with one another.”
How do theists reconcile the presence of suffering with the existence of an omnipotent and all-loving God? Some have argued that illness and other kinds of suffering are illusionary and spring from a false belief. Others have maintained that no explanation is necessary, because mere mortals should not have to justify the ways of God to men. But most Christians acknowledge that suffering is real and that it is a problem that deserves careful attention. Even though man cannot explain in specific detail all of the reasons for human suffering, the Bible gives enough answers to allow man to come to grips with the problem in general. Contrary to what many in this world believe, there are a number of logical reasons why people experience mental and physical pain. One of the main reasons is rooted in the fact that God is love (1 John 4:8), and that love allows freedom of choice.
Adam and Eve were presented with a choice in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:16-17). Israel was given the choice of serving the Lord or foreign gods (Joshua 24:15). Even today, man is a free moral agent with the ability to make his own choices (Revelation 22:17). God did not create man as a scientist creates a robot that automatically follows his master’s instructions without the choice of doing otherwise. Would God be loving if He created intelligent beings and then programmed them to slavishly serve Him? God granted mankind free will as an expression of His love. Sadly, man frequently brings suffering upon himself because of the wrong decisions he makes. The apostle Peter wrote: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters” (1 Peter 4:15, emp. added). When people suffer the consequences of their own wrong choices, they have no one to blame but themselves.
Man also suffers because of the personal wrong choices of others. If God allows one person freedom of choice, He must allow everyone that freedom to be consistent in His love for the world (God is no respecter of persons—Acts 10:34). Uriah the Hittite suffered because of David’s sins (2 Samuel 11), and ultimately was killed because of David’s attempt to hide the wrong decisions he had made. All of Egypt suffered because Pharaoh decided to keep the Israelites in Egypt when Moses told him to let them go (Exodus 7-12). Today, families may suffer because a father is thrown in jail for drunk driving. In such a case, he is the cause of the family’s suffering. If a man smokes all of his life and then eventually dies at an early age because of lung cancer, both he and his family suffer because of his decision to smoke. God is not to blame for man’s personal wrong choices, nor is He to blame for the wrong decisions that others have made.
We today also suffer on occasion because of the personal wrong choices of former generations. If man is able to reap benefits from the work of former generations (medical discoveries, technological advances, etc.), then it is only logical that he be able to suffer the consequences of the sins of former generations. [Although man does not inherit the sin of Adam, he does suffer because of the choice Adam made to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.] Who is partly to blame for millions starving in third-world countries today? Answer: Some of their ancestors. Years ago, because people accepted the false doctrine of reincarnation, they began teaching that it was wrong to eat cows because they might be eating a long-dead-but-now-reincarnated relative. The doctrine of reincarnation has deprived millions of people throughout the world of good health. Is God to blame when people will not eat the meat that could give them nourishment?
When one experiences suffering in his life, it often is because he has chosen to sin. He might be suffering the consequences of his own wrong decisions, the wrong decisions of others, or the wrong decisions of former generations. But regardless of the reason for the suffering he endures, God is not to blame.
Creation in Medical School Curricula?
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
Elsewhere in this issue of Reason & Revelation (Brooks, 2011), Will Brooks discusses a recent issue of The Scientist in which Leonid Moroz argues that courses on macroevolution should be included in the curricula of medical schools and biomedical Ph.D. programs (Moroz, 2010). Brooks convincingly argues that the debate over macroevolution has no place in such curricula. Although Moroz argues that viewing biology through the lenses of evolutionary theory is critical for optimal performance in medical and bio-medical fields, Brooks notes that even some evolutionists concede that biology makes sense in light of creation as well. He notes from a discussion he had while in graduate school that his advisor agreed that “the way in which we conduct biomedical research is unchanged” regardless of one’s stance on the creation/evolution debate (p. 19). In other words, the discussion is irrelevant for such curricula. My graduate research in the bio-mechanical field attests to this fact as well. Not once was evolutionary theory mentioned in any coursework or research—it was simply irrelevant to the task at hand.
That said, in actuality a strong case can be made for the inclusion of the creation model. The implications of the evolutionary principle known as “the survival of the fittest” were horribly carried out on the Jewish population by the Nazis in World War II in an attempt to create the “master race” (cf. Stein and Miller, 2008; Butt, 2001). In contrast, it is the Christian religion that enjoins principles that are in keeping with patient well-being. While genocide, abortion, and euthanasia are in keeping with the ideals of evolution, the Bible promotes compassion for the weak, sick, and hurting; sacrificing oneself to help others; treating others the way we would want to be treated; and doing our best at whatever we put our hands to—all hallmarks of the medical field. It is the Christian religion that has caused the number of hospitals to grow throughout the world and medicine to be given, often free of charge, to those in need. The American Red Cross, founded in 1881 by the deeply religious, Clara Barton (“A Brief History…,” 2010; Barton, 1922, 2:317-325), is heavily involved in helping others at home and abroad. According to the official American Red Cross Web site: “Today, in addition to domestic disaster relief, the American Red Cross offers compassionate services in five other areas...” (“About Us,” 2010).
Support of such compassionate efforts would certainly be considered among the ideals emphasized by Christianity. In fact, the emblem of the Red Cross is so synonymous with Christianity that it is not used in those countries where the logo is “by its very nature, offensive to Muslim soldiers” (“The History of the Emblems,” 2010; cf. “A Downside to Symbols…,” 2010). Many of the strides that have been made in the medical field in the last 200 years for the benefit of the world were made in this nation, which until the last 30-40 years essentially taught “Christian Biology” in schools. God, Christ, the Bible, and Creation were believed by most Americans and biology was taught through those lenses. The field of medicine or bio-medical research hardly suffered by not teaching evolution, but instead teaching Creation for all those years.
The atheistic evolutionary viewpoint would say, like Scrooge, if someone is not fit enough to live, they ought to die “and decrease the surplus population” (Dickens, 1843, p. 11). Christianity, on the other hand, results in self-sacrificial physicians. That’s the kind of doctor I want working on my family. Christianity fits very nicely in the medical field. Perhaps it should be a part of medical school curricula once again.
REFERENCES“About Us” (2010), American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.d8aaecf214c576bf971e4cfe43181aa0/?vgnextoid=477859f392ce8110VgnVCM10000030f3870aRCRD&vgnextfmt=default.
“A Brief History of the American Red Cross” (2010), American Red Cross, http://www.redcross.org/portal/site/en/menuitem.86f46a12f382290517a8f210b80f78a0/?vgnextoid=271a2aebdaadb110VgnVCM10000089f0870aRCRD.
“A Downside to Symbols: Cultural Mismatches” (2010), History of Graphic Design, Symbols: The Alphabet of Human Thought, http://www.designhistory.org/symbols.html.
Barton, William E. (1922), The Life of Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross (New York: Houghton Mifflin).
Brooks, Will (2011), “Does Evolution Belong in Biomedical Curricula?” Reason & Revelation, 31:18-20, March, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?&article=3796.
Butt, Kyle (2001), “Ideas Have Consequences,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=528.
Dickens, Charles (1843), A Christmas Carol (New York: Aladdin Classics).
Moroz, Leonid (2010), “The Devolution of Evolution,” The Scientist, 24(11):36.
Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).
“The History of the Emblems” (2010), ICRC Resource Centre, http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/misc/emblem-history.htm.
God’s Word: Right About Sex
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
In Proverbs 29:18, Solomon noted that when a society eliminates God and His Word, people do what they want to do with minimal nagging from their own conscience or from others around them. In contrast, “happy is He who keeps the [God’s] law.” In the same way that parents’ rules for children are for their good (e.g., “Don’t touch the stove”), God’s Word is for our good always (Deuteronomy 6:24; 10:12-13; Psalm 19:7-8; 119; Romans 7:12). That fact is true regarding how individuals in a society should conduct themselves sexually as well. A little-known study conducted in the early 1900s and published in 1934 lends support to that fact.
J.D. Unwin was a British ethnologist and social anthropologist of Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He was no advocate for Christianity or religion. In his book, Sex and Culture, Unwin discusses the results of his study of 86 societies from over 5,000 years of history. These were selected due to the availability of the evidence that substantiated their regulations/expectations regarding sexual activity, and included various Melanesian societies as well as several African, Polynesian, Assamian, Paleo-Siberian, North American Indian, Babylonian, Athenian, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and English societies. Each culture was categorized based on how strict its societal rules and expectations were concerning sexual activity, especially regarding acceptable female sexual behavior in a society. The studied societies were divided into seven classes of sexual regulation—three pre-nuptial and four post-nuptial categories. Regarding pre-marriage customs, some societies allowed (1) total sexual freedom before marriage; (2) some pre-marital activity and allowing for only “irregular or occasional” sexual activity; and (3) no sexual activity—invoking punishment or death to women who failed to remain virgins until marriage. Concerning post-nuptial allowances, some societies (1) considered polygamy acceptable as well as having no restriction on faithfulness. Neither party was “compelled to confine his or her sexual qualities to the other for his or her whole life”; (2) only considered monogamy acceptable, but again, neither party had to confine his/her sexual appetites to his/her spouse for life; (3) required wives to confine their sexual activity to their husband, but the husband could have other sexual partners through polygamous relationships (i.e., strict polygamy); and (4) required strict monogamy as the acceptable practice—where both the husband and wife were confined to each other sexually for life (pp. 341-343). Unwin’s discoveries about these categories are enlightening.
According to Unwin, the “first primary law which operates in all human societies” is that “the cultural condition of any society in any geographical environment is conditioned by its past and present methods of regulating the relations between the sexes [sexually—JM]” (p. 340). In every instance, when sexual restrictions in a society are at their highest level (i.e., strict pre-nuptial abstinence andstrict monogamy), the society inevitably progresses, and the more sexual activity is curbed in a society, the more the society progresses. When restrictions are lessened, the society inevitably stops progressing and begins to digress, ultimately disappearing if the restrictions are not again tightened. “[A] limitation of sexual opportunity [i.e., more sexual restraint in a society—JM] always is, and so far as I know always has been, accompanied by a rise in cultural condition” (p. 2). The rise occurs after the implemented rules have been in effect for “at least three generations” (p. 321). “Any extension of sexual opportunity [i.e., less sexual restraint in a society—JM] must always be the immediate cause of a cultural decline” (p. 326).
Unwin argues that the more lenient a society is in its sexual allowances, the more energy is inevitably used by that society in gratifying its sexual desires. The more strict a society is, the more that extra energy is used in expanding a society and progressing.
[P]sychological researches reveal that the placing of a compulsory check upon the sexual impulses, that is, a limitation of sexual opportunity, produces thought, reflection, and energy. Now the evidence is that a cultural advance has been caused by a factor which produces thought, reflection, and social energy…and that it occurs only when the sexual opportunity has been limited. I submit, therefore, that the limitation of the sexual opportunity must be regarded as the cause of the cultural advance…. If men and women are sexually free, their sexual desires will receive direct satisfaction; but if the sexual opportunity is limited, the impulses must be checked. Then the repressed desires will be expressed in another form…. [U]sually the tension produced by the emotional conflicts is exhibited in some form of mental and social energy, the intensity of that energy depending upon the intensity of the compulsory continence [i.e., the level of restriction placed on sexual activity—JM]. When the sexual opportunity of a society is reduced almost to a minimum, the resulting social energy produces “great accomplishments in human endeavor” and “civilization.” When the compulsory continence is of a less rigorous character, lesser energy is displayed (p. 317).
Among the accomplishments of extremely energetic societies are territorial expansion, conquest, colonization and the foundation of a widely flung commerce. All these things, and their like, are manifestations of what I call expansive social energy. A society which displays productive social energy develops the resources of its habitat and by increasing its knowledge of the material universe bends nature to its will. All such accomplishments as these imply the previous exertion of thought and reflection, these being necessary precursor to all human achievements (p. 315, italics in orig.).Unwin noted that though he considers high restraint of sexual behavior to be the “immediate cause of social energy,” he is
content to conclude that it is the cause of social energy only in the sense of being an indispensable contributory factor; that is to say, even if other factors also are indispensable and operating, no social energy can be displayed unless the sexual opportunity is limited. Other things being equal, however, social energy will be exhibited by any society which places a compulsory limitation upon the sexual opportunity of its members. Conversely, in all cases any extension of sexual opportunity must result in a reduction of social energy. Such is the evidence from psychological research (p. 320, emp. added).
The inherent power of thought and the potential energy of the human organism can be exhibited only when the sexual impulses are controlled by the operation of social ordinances; and the amount of energy and the profundity of the thought depend upon the extent of the imitation which these ordinances impose. If the compulsory continence be great, the society will display great energy; if it be small, there will be a little energy. If there be no compulsory continence, there can be no energy; it remains potential (p. 339).When we look at American society today, Unwin’s discoveries, if true, are eerie admonitions to consider, for according to Unwin, “as soon as the sexual opportunity of the society, or of a group within the society, was extended, the energy of the society, or of the group within it, decreased and finally disappeared” (p. 382, emp. added). Using modern layman terminology: unbridled cravings of any sort will tend to monopolize our mind and our time. If a society as a whole allows unbridled cravings to become widespread, then the society as a whole will have much of its mind-power and energy focused on fulfilling those lusts/addictions rather than on doing good for others and improving society. Statistics indicate that sexual anarchy rules the day in America. Pornography, adultery, divorce and remarriage, “shacking up” without even marrying (whether with one person or more than one), homosexuality, polygamy, and pedophilia are rampant in American society and are even encouraged in many cases through law, music, movies, and books. [See Apologetics Press’ book Sexual Anarchy (Miller, 2006) for documentation of America’s growing sexual insanity.]
Interestingly, in harmony with what a Christian would expect based on God’s Word, Unwin found that absolute monogamy led to the most advanced societies. “In the records of history, indeed, there is no example of a society displaying great energy for any appreciable period unless it has been absolutely monogamous. Moreover, I do not know of a case in which an absolutely monogamous society has failed to display great energy” (p. 369, emp. added). “Those societies which have maintained the custom [of absolute monogamy—JM] for the longest period have attained the highest position in the cultural scale which the human race has yet reached” (p. 25). “Generally speaking, in the past when they began to display great energy…, human societies were absolutely monogamous…. [T]he energy of the most developed civilized societies, or that of any group within them, was exhibited for so long as they preserved their austere regulations. Their energy faded away as soon as” this restriction was loosened (p. 343, emp. added).
Unwin argues that strict monogamy fosters an environment where advancement is more likely to be achieved in a society. He argues that the next rung down on the sexual regulation ladder (strict polygamy), does not lend itself to societal advancement. “An absolutely polygamous society preserves but does not increase its tradition. It does not possess the energy to adopt new ideas; it remains content with its old institutions” (p. 368, emp. added). Though admittedly he did not engage in a formal study of the subject, it is interesting to note what famous General George S. Patton observed during World War II about the North African Islamic countries (that practiced polygamy):
One cannot but ponder the question: What if the Arabs had been Christians? To me it seems certain that the fatalistic teachings of Mohammed and the utter degradation of women is the outstanding cause for the arrested development of the Arab. He is exactly as he was around the year 700, while we have kept on developing. Here, I think, is a text for some eloquent sermon on the virtues of Christianity (1947, p. 43, emp. added).In Matthew 19, Jesus called His audience’s memory back to the beginning—when God defined marriage for mankind.
Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female’ [Genesis 1:27], and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ [Genesis 2:24]? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate (Matthew 19:4-6).Scriptural marriage is intended by God to be comprised of one eligible man marrying one eligible woman, and the two becoming one flesh for life. Strict monogamy is the biblical definition of marriage. According to the Bible, sexual activity is good and to be encouraged in that setting (1 Corinthians 7:3-5; Hebrews 13:4; Proverbs 5; Song of Solomon). Unwin’s study helps us to see at least one reason why marriage was so defined.
[NOTE: Unwin’s study was obviously confined to societies in existence before the early 1900s when the study was conducted—most of which were likely isolated from significant influences by other cultures due to the state of technology before the 1900s (e.g., a lack of telephones, television, Internet, etc.), as well as natural, geographical limitations (i.e., inability to travel extensively between nations). Such a study might be more difficult today, since societies are, for the most part, not isolated, but rather, heavily influence each other. One society might be perceived to advance in contradiction to Unwin’s assertions, when in actuality, its advancement was merely due to, for example, its acquisition of technology from other societies, receiving aid from other societies, etc.—practices engaged in often today. That said, eliminating many of those influences from the equation, as Unwin’s study did by necessity, would logically seem to allow a more accurate assessment of the effect of sexual behavior on a society.]
REFERENCESMiller, Dave (2006), Sexual Anarchy (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Patton, George S. (1947), War As I Knew It (New York: The Great Commanders, 1994 edition).
Unwin, J.D. (1934), Sex and Culture (London: Oxford University Press).
Habakkuk & Paul: Their Gospel of God
The truth God declares to Habakkuk is well known truth that was built into God's dealing with humanity right from the very beginning. So, in principle there's nothing new in the message that life with God is experienced by the righteous who trust in God. In the memorable and theologically critical case of Abraham there were no invading armies who would work destruction but there was a barren womb and a body as good as dead. Abraham looked these realities full in the face and defied them because he believed that what God promised he could do and was eager to do.
In Habakkuk as in other places it is more than simply truth; it is truth in the form of gospel. It is old truth offered as good news under trying circumstances.
In Habakkuk both ungodly Judah and godless Babylon called God's righteousness and faithfulness into question. Habakkuk called for divine action that would justify God and demonstrate his faithfulness and that's what he was promised.
But the proposed action astonished him. In fact he was assured that there would be those who when they heard it would not believe it (1:5). The prophet and his people were to look to the Gentile nations for God's demonstration of his righteousness.
Gentiles would be the instrument of God's righteousness? The lawless heathens? That was astonishing. And what was even more astonishing was that his righteousness/faithfulness would be demonstrated through violence and insult against his chosen people. The prophet is afraid that this might mean the destruction of the entire nation (1:11) and if God was the leader of the invading Gentiles against his own chosen people, how could that possibly show his faithfulness? That this lover of God and his people found the whole message hard to swallow is easy to see especially in chapter three but he ends up praising God.
Paul preached a gospel some people thought he ought to be ashamed of but he insisted that he found it right there in the heart of Habakkuk.
He agreed with Habakkuk that both God's people and the Gentile world were God-denying and insulting (Romans 1:18-3:20). He insisted with Habakkuk that God's righteousness is revealed in an astonishing way. A way that many of those who heard it would not believe (Habakkuk 1:5; Romans 10).
Paul also agreed with Habakkuk that though Israel (Judah) had the torah it was ineffectual to bring about God's righteousness because the nation was sinfully weak and self-centred (Habakkuk 1:1-4; Romans 2:16-3:20; 8:1-3).
God's action in and through the Gentile invasion was to destroy self-sufficiency and generate a trustful desperation in Israel. (It certainly brought desperate trust out in the prophet as we can see from 3:18-20.)
God's faithfulness to his covenant first and foremost is to maintain and secure Israel's relationship to himself in holiness because this only and always was Israel's guarantee of life. God might for various reasons and for varying periods of time deprive Israel of food, clothing, political freedom or other blessings. In this he was not being unfaithful. If all this was done that he might maintain the relationship then it was God keeping faith with them at a more profoundly fundamental level than providing the simple creation goods like food and shelter.
In Habakkuk the foreign invasion was a judgement on Israel in light of its widespread violation of the covenant and torah; and while the wrath was merited it was God's severe mercy to them in order to bring them to himself in faithfulness. He would restore them to himself through a cross-experience. The crucifixion arose because of Israel's sin and Gentile arrogance and rapacious greed. But it was more than that! God was in it redeeming and blessing.
So the punishment is mercy. The wrath is kindness.
Both nations warranted judgement because both were sinful, boastful and arrogant. Gentile kings weren't able to see that Israel being God's elect were suffering at God's hands to bring light to the world. God's instrument of chastisement and revelation was the Gentile with Israel suffering from them and for them. (Isaiah had spoken of this astonishing truth that neither Gentiles nor Israel could see. See 52:13-15 with peculiar reference to Gentiles nations and 53:1-3 more nuanced for Israel.)
God concluded them all under sin that he might have mercy on them all. See Romans 11:28-32 where both Gentiles and Jews are brought under God's judgement that they might experience grace.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
The World English Bible
Psa 33:1 Rejoice in Yahweh, you righteous! Praise is fitting for the upright.
Psa 33:2 Give thanks to Yahweh with the lyre. Sing praises to him with the harp of ten strings.
Psa 33:3 Sing to him a new song. Play skillfully with a shout of joy!
Psa 33:4 For the word of Yahweh is right. All his work is done in faithfulness.
Psa 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is full of the loving kindness of Yahweh.
Psa 33:6 By Yahweh's word, the heavens were made; all their army by the breath of his mouth.
Psa 33:7 He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap. He lays up the deeps in storehouses.
Psa 33:8 Let all the earth fear Yahweh. Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Psa 33:9 For he spoke, and it was done. He commanded, and it stood firm.
Psa 33:10 Yahweh brings the counsel of the nations to nothing. He makes the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
Psa 33:11 The counsel of Yahweh stands fast forever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Psa 33:12 Blessed is the nation whose God is Yahweh, the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance.
Psa 33:13 Yahweh looks from heaven. He sees all the sons of men.
Psa 33:14 From the place of his habitation he looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth,
Psa 33:15 he who fashions all of their hearts; and he considers all of their works.
Psa 33:16 There is no king saved by the multitude of an army. A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
Psa 33:17 A horse is a vain thing for safety, neither does he deliver any by his great power.
Psa 33:18 Behold, Yahweh's eye is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his loving kindness;
Psa 33:19 to deliver their soul from death, to keep them alive in famine.
Psa 33:20 Our soul has waited for Yahweh. He is our help and our shield.
Psa 33:21 For our heart rejoices in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.
Psa 33:22 Let your loving kindness be on us, Yahweh, since we have hoped in you.
Psa 34:1 I will bless Yahweh at all times. His praise will always be in my mouth.
Psa 34:2 My soul shall boast in Yahweh. The humble shall hear of it, and be glad.
Psa 34:3 Oh magnify Yahweh with me. Let us exalt his name together.
Psa 34:4 I sought Yahweh, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
Psa 34:5 They looked to him, and were radiant. Their faces shall never be covered with shame.
Psa 34:6 This poor man cried, and Yahweh heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.
Psa 34:7 The angel of Yahweh encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Psa 34:8 Oh taste and see that Yahweh is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Psa 34:9 Oh fear Yahweh, you his saints, for there is no lack with those who fear him.
Psa 34:10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger, but those who seek Yahweh shall not lack any good thing.
Psa 34:11 Come, you children, listen to me. I will teach you the fear of Yahweh.
Psa 34:12 Who is someone who desires life, and loves many days, that he may see good?
Psa 34:13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking lies.
Psa 34:14 Depart from evil, and do good. seek peace, and pursue it.
Psa 34:15 Yahweh's eyes are toward the righteous. His ears listen to their cry.
Psa 34:16 Yahweh's face is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Psa 34:17 The righteous cry, and Yahweh hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles.
Psa 34:18 Yahweh is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a crushed spirit.
Psa 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but Yahweh delivers him out of them all.
Psa 34:20 He protects all of his bones. Not one of them is broken.
Psa 34:21 Evil shall kill the wicked. Those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.
Psa 34:22 Yahweh redeems the soul of his servants. None of those who take refuge in him shall be condemned.
Psa 35:1 Contend, Yahweh, with those who contend with me. Fight against those who fight against me.
Psa 35:2 Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for my help.
Psa 35:3 Brandish the spear and block those who pursue me. Tell my soul, "I am your salvation."
Psa 35:4 Let those who seek after my soul be disappointed and brought to dishonor. Let those who plot my ruin be turned back and confounded.
Psa 35:5 Let them be as chaff before the wind, Yahweh's angel driving them on.
Psa 35:6 Let their way be dark and slippery, Yahweh's angel pursuing them.
Psa 35:7 For without cause they have hidden their net in a pit for me. Without cause they have dug a pit for my soul.
Psa 35:8 Let destruction come on him unawares. Let his net that he has hidden catch himself. Let him fall into that destruction.
Psa 35:9 My soul shall be joyful in Yahweh. It shall rejoice in his salvation.
Psa 35:10 All my bones shall say, "Yahweh, who is like you, who delivers the poor from him who is too strong for him; yes, the poor and the needy from him who robs him?"
Psa 35:11 Unrighteous witnesses rise up. They ask me about things that I don't know about.
Psa 35:12 They reward me evil for good, to the bereaving of my soul.
Psa 35:13 But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth. I afflicted my soul with fasting. My prayer returned into my own bosom.
Psa 35:14 I behaved myself as though it had been my friend or my brother. I bowed down mourning, as one who mourns his mother.
Psa 35:15 But in my adversity, they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together. The attackers gathered themselves together against me, and I didn't know it. They tore at me, and didn't cease.
Psa 35:16 Like the profane mockers in feasts, they gnashed their teeth at me.
Psa 35:17 Lord, how long will you look on? Rescue my soul from their destruction, my precious life from the lions.
Psa 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great assembly. I will praise you among many people.
Psa 35:19 Don't let those who are my enemies wrongfully rejoice over me; neither let those who hate me without a cause wink their eyes.
Psa 35:20 For they don't speak peace, but they devise deceitful words against those who are quiet in the land.
Psa 35:21 Yes, they opened their mouth wide against me. They said, "Aha! Aha! Our eye has seen it!"
Psa 35:22 You have seen it, Yahweh. Don't keep silent. Lord, don't be far from me.
Psa 35:23 Wake up! Rise up to defend me, my God! My Lord, contend for me!
Psa 35:24 Vindicate me, Yahweh my God, according to your righteousness. Don't let them gloat over me.
Psa 35:25 Don't let them say in their heart, "Aha! That's the way we want it!" Don't let them say, "We have swallowed him up!"
Psa 35:26 Let them be disappointed and confounded together who rejoice at my calamity. Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me.
Psa 35:27 Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause. Yes, let them say continually, "Yahweh be magnified, who has pleasure in the prosperity of his servant!"
Psa 35:28 My tongue shall talk about your righteousness and about your praise all day long.
Rom 15:1 Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Rom 15:2 Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, to be building him up.
Rom 15:3 For even Christ didn't please himself. But, as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me."
Rom 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that through patience and through encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Rom 15:5 Now the God of patience and of encouragement grant you to be of the same mind one with another according to Christ Jesus,
Rom 15:6 that with one accord you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rom 15:7 Therefore accept one another, even as Christ also accepted you, to the glory of God.
Rom 15:8 Now I say that Christ has been made a servant of the circumcision for the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises given to the fathers,
Rom 15:9 and that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore will I give praise to you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name."
Rom 15:10 Again he says, "Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people."
Rom 15:11 Again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles! Let all the peoples praise him."
Rom 15:12 Again, Isaiah says, "There will be the root of Jesse, he who arises to rule over the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles will hope."
Rom 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:14 I myself am also persuaded about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish others.
Rom 15:15 But I write the more boldly to you in part, as reminding you, because of the grace that was given to me by God,
Rom 15:16 that I should be a servant of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, serving as a priest the Good News of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Rom 15:17 I have therefore my boasting in Christ Jesus in things pertaining to God.
Rom 15:18 For I will not dare to speak of any things except those which Christ worked through me, for the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed,
Rom 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of God's Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and around as far as to Illyricum, I have fully preached the Good News of Christ;
Rom 15:20 yes, making it my aim to preach the Good News, not where Christ was already named, that I might not build on another's foundation.
Rom 15:21 But, as it is written, "They will see, to whom no news of him came. They who haven't heard will understand."
Rom 15:22 Therefore also I was hindered these many times from coming to you,
Rom 15:23 but now, no longer having any place in these regions, and having these many years a longing to come to you,
Rom 15:24 whenever I journey to Spain, I will come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey, and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while.
Rom 15:25 But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints.
Rom 15:26 For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem.
Rom 15:27 Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.
Rom 15:28 When therefore I have accomplished this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will go on by way of you to Spain.
Rom 15:29 I know that, when I come to you, I will come in the fullness of the blessing of the Good News of Christ.
Rom 15:30 Now I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in your prayers to God for me,
Rom 15:31 that I may be delivered from those who are disobedient in Judea, and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints;
Rom 15:32 that I may come to you in joy through the will of God, and together with you, find rest.
Rom 15:33 Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.