God, Where Are You?

SERIES: Conservation with God!

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR THE WEEK OF JUNE 3 – 9, 2020

Aim: After studying the book of Habakkuk, students should know how to grow from a faith of perplexity and doubt to the height of absolute trust in God!

Introduction:

As the prophet Habakkuk stood in Jerusalem and pondered the state of his nation, Judah, he must have been dumbfounded. . .so much evil thrived, completely in the open, but God reminded strangely silent!  Where was He?  How long would He allow this mess to continue? The book of Habakkuk offers us a picture of a prideful people being humbled, while the righteous live by faith in God. It reminds us that while God may seem silent and uninvolved in our world, He always has a plan to deal with evil and always works out justice. . .eventually.  The example of the prophet Habakkuk encourages believers to wait  on the Lord, expecting that He will indeed work out all things for our good.

Habakkuk 1:1-4 (MSG)

Habakkuk’s First Complaint  — How Long!

1     The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it:

2     God, how long do I have to cry out for help before you listen? How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!” before you come to the rescue?

3     Why do you force me to look at evil, stare trouble in the face day after day? Anarchy and violence break out, quarrels and fights all over the place.

4     Law and order fall to pieces. Justice is a joke. The wicked have the righteous hamstrung and stand justice on its head.

I. Concern

Habakkuk opens with the words “how long.” 

How Long, a phrase that occurs sixty-five times in the Bible, often expresses anguish over God’s perceived delay in bringing justice. 

  • Remember justice delayed is not justice denied!

David exclaimed “how long” on several occasions:

Psalm 13:1-3 NLT: 1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? 2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? 3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.

Psalm 6:1-3 NLT:  1 O Lord, don’t rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your rage.
2 Have compassion on me, Lord, for I am weak. Heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. 3 I am sick at heart. How long, O Lord, until you restore me?

Psalm 35:17 NLT:  How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing? Rescue me from their fierce attacks.  Protect my life from these lions! 

Psalm 79:5 NLT:  O Lord, how long will you be angry with us? Forever? How long will your jealousy burn like fire? 

Psalm 94:3 NLT:  How long, O Lord?  How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat? 

The saints in heaven even ask the question – “how long.” ‘

Revelation 6:10-11 NKJV10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”  11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.

Point to Ponder: Have you ever had to pray a “LORD, how long” prayer?  Did you get a response as to “how long” it would be?

Point to Ponder: Habakkuk was disturbed that God seemed to be oblivious to or unconcerned about the rampant evil in Judah.  Do you have the same feeling over your neighborhood?  Your community?  The world?

Point to Ponder:  Apparently Habakkuk began to feel that God did not care about or was even concerned with what was happening. What about today, does He care? 

II. Conditions   

Community (v. 3)

  • Injustice
  • Wrong
  • Destruction
  • Violence
  • Strife
  • Conflict

Courts (v. 4)

  • Overwhelmed with the sheer number of lawsuits
  • The Law is paralyzed
  • Judges were rendering unjust decisions
  • The wicked trapped the righteous by forcing them into court

The conditions in the community and the courts led to 2 huge problems:

  • The Law lacks power
  • Justice is never carried out.

Point to Ponder: The law in Judah had been perverted so that justice could not prevail. What happens to society when the authority of law is ignored, or when those who should interpret and enforce the law put their own personal gain first?

Habakkuk 1:5-11 International Standard Version (ISV)

God’s Response – You think that is something? Just wait. . .you ain’t seen nothing yet!

5     “Look out at the nations and pay attention!  Be astounded! Be really astounded!
Because something is happening in your lifetime that you won’t believe, even if it were described down to the smallest detail.

6     Watch out! For I am bringing in the Chaldeans, that cruel and impetuous people, who sweep across the earth dispossessing people from homes not their own.

7     They are terrible and fearsome; their brand of justice and sense of honor derive only from themselves!

8     Their horses are swifter than leopards, and more cunning than wolves that attack at night. Their horsemen are galloping as they approach from far away. They swoop in like ravenous vultures.

9     “They all come to oppress hordes of them, their faces pressing onward — they take prisoners as numerous as the desert sand!

10   They make fun of kings, deriding those who rule. They laugh at all of the fortified places, constructing ramps to seize them.

11   Then like the wind sweeping by they will pass through — they’re guilty because they say their power is their god.”

III. God will Intervene

His own time

His own way

          We learn that when God is silent, that doesn’t mean. . .

  • He is unconcerned
  • He is unaware

     Three things Habakkuk needs to do while waiting for God’s justice. . .

  1. Look at the bigger picture
  2. Be astounded at what God is doing
  3. Believe God’s Word

Point to Ponder: Habakkuk complains about having to “see iniquity” in Judah, but God redirects his eyes to “look among the nations.”  God gives him a new perspective.  Why is it helpful for us to look with faith beyond the details of our immediate problems to see the bigger picture?

Point to Ponder: What do you think would astound you if you looked at world events through eyes of faith?  How will you get better at seeing God’s providence in events?

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) – For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Point to Ponder: God says that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe what God is doing even if he were told, and then God tells him.  Why do we find it hard to believe God’s word?  In Hebrews 2:1; 3:15, what practical advice does the author of Hebrews give with regard to believing God’s word?

Hebrews 2:1 (NIV) – We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.

Hebrews 3:15 (NLT) –Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”

IV. God’s Instrument

God was raising up the Babylonians for His purpose

  • Babylon – God instrument to punish Judah

What was this nation like that God was going to use to punish Judah?  God,  Himself, describes the Babylonians in the harshest terms: they are. . .

  • Ruthless
  • Impetuous
  • Swifter than leopards
  • Fiercer than wolves
  • Fly like vultures
  • Sweep pass like the wind
  • Gather prisoners like sand
  • Bent on violence

      God had warned His people centuries before that if they turned away from His

      Law, He would send an enemy nation to judge them.

Deuteronomy 28:49 (NLT) – “The Lord will bring a distant nation against you from the end of the earth, and it will swoop down on you like a vulture. It is a nation whose language you do not understand

Digging Deeper. . .

Accepting God’s Sovereignty

As with Jonah, Job and others, God does not owe Habakkuk any explanations.  However, God answers Habakkuk’s complaints in order to prepare him for what is coming.  God knows it will be a shock to hear that Babylon, a nation more wicked than Judah, will be His instrument to punish Judah, God’s chosen people.

  1. God is sovereign over the rise and fall of all nations (Job 12:23).  In verse 6, what phrase affirms that wicked Babylon (the Chaldeans) will not rise to power merely by human effort or chance?    
  2. The nations are under God’s control and He uses them as instruments to accomplish His good purpose.  In v. 6-7, what are a few things  Judah should expect from the Babylonians, God’s instrument of punishment?                                                  

Facing God’s Judgment

  1. The Babylonians took the Jews into exile in Babylon in three major deportations.  In v. 9, what image describes the large numbers of prisoners that would be taken?  How many were taken in the second and largest deportation (see II Kings 24:14)?     
  • In v. 10, how effective will Judah and other nations’ defenses be against the Babylonians?                                                    
  • In v. 11, military strength had become a god to the Babylonians.  What other types of strength can be a god or idol to a nation?  To a community?  Family?  How can we avoid reliance on false gods?                                                                                                                                                                                           What does that tell you?    

PRAYER PRINCIPLE:                     ShoutHallelujah for the ability to be able to have a conversation with God.

SOCIAL JUSTICE PRINCIPLE:       When you know others are going through a rough time, encourage them by any Godly means necessary.

EVANGELISM PRINCIPLE:            Share with others the need for a relationship with Christ.

STEWARDSHIP PRINCIPLE:            Giving allows others to gain knowledge of God by expanding His Kingdom.

DISCIPLESHIP PRINCIPLE:            When you feel like you are being judged, remember only what you do for Christ will last; keep working for Christ no matter what.

NEXT WEEK’S TITLE: God, You CAN’T Be Serious!!! This is not Fair!

SERIES:          Conversations with God

NEXT WEEK’S READING ASSIGNMENT:  Habakkuk 1:12-2:20; Psalm 90:1-2; Deuteronomy 7:9; 1 Kings 8:56; Isaiah 48:9; 2 Peter 3:9; Psalm 102:27; Malachi 3:6; Isaiah 21:11-12; Ezekiel 3:17; Ezekiel 33:2-6; Psalm 27:14; Psalm 130:5-6; Isaiah 40:28-31

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.