The Mysteries of God's Justice (Habakkuk Sermon 1 of 9)

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The Mysteries of God's Justice (Habakkuk Sermon 1 of 9)

March 24, 2002 | Andrew Davis
Judgment, The Kingdom of Christ, Justice of God

I. Modern Issues from an Ancient Scroll

I'd like to ask, if you would, to turn to Habakkuk Chapter 1. Habakkuk was a minor prophet toward the end of the Old Testament, and you'll find him there after Nahum. Where's Nahum? Well, it's before Habakkuk. So there, you can find it that way. But we're looking today and we're beginning on a study today on Habakkuk. God-willing, next week, we'll be preaching on the resurrection. I'm looking forward to that. Really should be celebrating the resurrection every single day, but I'm looking forward to that. But we're going to begin the study this week in Habakkuk, considering the mysteries of God's justice.

Now, 100 years ago, the all-consuming issue that was facing the church, is the question, or was the question of science. Darwinism was making inroads. Einstein was right around that time, and had discovered the Theory of Relativity, and people wanted to know, is it possible to reconcile science and all of those new discoveries with the biblical faith? That was it. And why was that all? Because people felt that history was moving to a Golden Age as we entered the 20th century. There was a view called post-millennialism, the idea that the thousand-year reign of Christ would just be a kind of a seamless end to human history and we'd just move right on into a Golden Age in which all problems had been addressed. That human sin itself had been defeated. We were moving to a Golden Age, and then we entered the 20th century. And those dreams and those thoughts were shattered. First, by World War I, which left bodies strewn all over battlefields in Europe. There was some hope there because it was called The War To End All Wars. How faulty was that, because the greatest war in human history followed it, World War II, again, leaving millions strewn all over battlefields, this time all over the world.

And so, 50 years ago, the all-consuming issue that faced the church was the question of history. Was there any meaning to history? Were we going anywhere? Was there any development? Was there a hand on the tiller of the ship? Were we going anywhere? And then in the events that followed that, we've kind of moved into another question and that's the question of holiness. Is God a holy god? The question of history is, Is God a sovereign god? Is he loving? Is he just? Can he do anything? And after the Holocaust and all kinds of events, as the curtain rose after World War II, and we saw all the horrors of the Nazi regime, we say to ourselves, Is there a sovereign god? Is there a good god, a loving god, or do we have to rethink our doctrine of god?

Deep questions about God's justice, questions about God's power. And as people ruminated on that, they began to lose confidence in God, began to wonder if God was dead or if he was just different than we had imagined. And so, we moved into the question of God's holiness. And why? Because people began to live for themselves living for today. And so, we began recently in the last 20 years, a cultural war, in which we are struggling for the soul of America. And the question is there in the hearts of believing people is, is God holy? Does he care about the things in our culture, in our society? We seem to be losing the cultural war. It seems that every year brings more and more filth on television and in the movies, more and more of a perverse world view in the print media. And we want to know, is God a holy god, and does he care about these things? Year after year, abortion is still the law of the land, despite the earnest prayers of millions. Does God hear those prayers? Is a sovereign God able to respond to the prayers of godly people who are crying out with Habakkuk, "How long, O Lord, is this going to go on?" And what's remarkable is, as we look at these modern issues, and then look back at an ancient scroll, Habakkuk, 26 centuries old, we begin to see that the answers are right there.

Our God is a sovereign and a powerful God and he rules over history, modern issues addressed to their roots in an ancient scroll 26 centuries old. And I think as we go on in our study, you're going to see that more and more.

II. Context: Israel’s Idolatrous History

The context of the Book of Habakkuk is all about history. You have to understand who he was and when he lived. Now, his name, Habakkuk, means embracer. And you get the feeling of Habakkuk embracing God. He had an intimate and a powerful personal relationship with God. It comes out in these three chapters. He loved God and he was deeply concerned about the glory of God. We don't know much about him personally, but we do know that he was a prophet. If you look at Verse 1, it says, The Oracle that Habakkuk the Prophet received. Now, a prophet is a person who speaks the words of God, who can say, "Thus says the Lord," and the words come and they are God's words.

But the word oracle there, also translated burden, literally, it means burden. It's basically a burden that Habakkuk saw. And so he saw burden. He was a prophet and he had a vision. Now, many times, God spoke to the prophets in visions. He gave them visions of the future and visions of the present, as well. In Genesis 15:1 it says, "the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision." And so, Abram had a vision. Isaiah chapter one, verse one, it says "the vision concerning Judah and Jerusalem that Isaiah son of Amoz saw during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah." And so here is Isaiah, a visionary prophet, he's seeing things. Well, Habakkuk saw some things too. And the things that Habakkuk saw brought him deep distress and concern.

Israel’s history

Well, what did he see? What was going on? Well, to understand that, you have to go back in time even further. God called a man, Abraham, out of Ur of the Chaldeans. Chaldean means Babylonians. He came from Babylon, followed up the Fertile Crescent just at the word of God, and ended up in a country not his own. And at one point, God spoke to him and said, "Do not be afraid, Abraham. I am your shield. I'm your very great reward." he said, "How can you give me anything? I don't have a child, I don't have anything." And he took him out and he showed him the stars, as we've talked about, and said, "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars in the sky." Abraham heard that promise. He believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness. He was justified at that moment.

Then God made him a second promise. "Your descendants will get this land. They're going to live in this country," but God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He's a very patient God. And so, there was going to be a history. Abraham would not get that land. Isaac, his son, would not get that land. Jacob would not get it. The patriarchs would not get it. God waited for over 400 years, and in that time, Israel went into Egypt and in slavery, and they lived as slaves under the oppressive whip of the Egyptians.

And at the right time, God brought the deliverer, Moses, and he brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, through the Red Sea, heading toward the Promised Land. Of course, the Jews through unbelief could not enter that first generation. God gave them in the desert, the Mosaic covenant, the law by which they were to run their nation, by which they were to live. And it's in due time after that generation died off, he brought them into the Promised Land and fulfilled his promise to Abraham. And so, they entered the promised land. They took it over, militarily. God showed his power through Joshua and through the army of Israel. They took over the Promised Land and they drove out most of the inhabitants there.

They left some and those inhabitants began to pollute them with false ideas and false practices, false gods. And little by little, we began the cycle of sin and rebellion and idolatry, and then judgment and chastisement, and then repentance, national repentance and restoration, and then they'd begin it all over again. It happened in the Book of Judges, and it continued right on through all the Kings. At one point, at a key moment in Israel's history, God split his people into two nations, the northern kingdom and the southern kingdom. They were split, two different countries, in effect.

Israel, the northern kingdom, immediately went into gross idolatry and it wasn't long, the year 722, that Assyria came in, that mighty power, a Gentile nation, and took the northern kingdom away. And they didn't live in the Promised Land anymore through their sin. But God miraculously delivered the southern kingdom, Judah, and the city of Jerusalem, by sending a single angel who had went out and destroyed 185,000 Assyrian troops in one night. That's a busy night for an angel, powerful and godly King Hezekiah had spread the whole matter up out before God in prayer and God saved the southern kingdom for another 100 years, approximately.

The problem was that Hezekiah got sick. He was going to die, he was about to die, and God sent the Prophet Isaiah and said, "You know you're about to die. Put your house in order because you're going to die." And he turned his face to the wall and cried. He wanted to live longer. "I don't want to go to heaven," but he wanted to live longer. He said, "Alright, I'll extend your life 15 years." In that 15 years, he had a son named Manasseh who was born to him. Manasseh, the most wicked king in the history of Judah, immediately led Judah into even worse idolatry and sin than Israel had experienced. Manasseh took one of those descendants of David, one of those children, one of his own children and sacrificed him to a pagan god. Evil man, Manasseh. Eventually, the warning came through the prophets that God was going to judge Judah for the same kinds of sins. Manasseh had a son named Josiah. Josiah, a godly little boy, eight years old when he became king. Can you imagine the crushing burden of taking over the people of God at the age of eight? But he was a godly man and he grew up and restored and purified the temple, got the temple sacrifices back in order. You see, Manasseh had put an idle in the Holy of Holies.

But Josiah purified it, got it back going again, the sacrifices. And while they were doing the work on the temple, suddenly, the book of the law was found. This is probably the Book of Deuteronomy, and it was brought back to the king and he read it. And as he heard the words of the law of God, he began to weep. He began to cry. He began to tear his clothes because he realized that the wrath of God against their nation was great because they had sinned greatly. And so, he humbled himself under the word of God, Josiah did, and he began a one-man revival. And he began to clean up Judah. He began to clean them up of high places and Asherah poles and carved idols and cast images and worship altars of Baal and incense altars, and idolatrous... Places of idolatrous worship.

He also, for the first time, celebrated the Jewish Passover. All of these things were restored, but his time was short and he died at age 39. And immediately after that, the people began to slide right back into sin, the high places were immediately rebuilt by Josiah's ungodly son, Jehoiakim.

The Time of Habakkuk

And it's in that context, at that time, that Habakkuk steps up. Now, Habakkuk looks around and says, "What is happening?" We've done all that already. Look what happened to Northern Israel. They got taken away by the Assyrians. The mighty Assyrians took them away. And now, we're getting prophets like Jeremiah who are telling us it's going to happen again. And Manasseh has led us into wickedness, but Josiah came and we had a revival. We had a national revival. We turned back to God. There was hope for us, and now we're right back in it again with Jehoiakim. And so, he's grieved about this, he's distressed intensely.

People of Judah and Jerusalem refused to listen to the prophets. They didn't listen to Jeremiah, and they wouldn't listen to Habakkuk either. And so, judgment was hanging over them at that moment. Like a the Sword of Damocles, just hanging by a thread. And the word of the prophet came. And the name of the judgment was the Babylonians. Because the Babylonians, just a little time before that, they've been really relatively unknown. They themselves were subject people. The Assyrians had conquered down the Fertile Crescent. The Babylonians lived down there. They were subject to the Assyrians, but they rose up. We're going to talk more about this next time we talk about Habakkuk, but they rose up. They overthrew the Assyrian Empire. They crushed Nineveh in 612, about five or six years, I think, approximately, before this book was built or written.

And so, they're rising up. The Babylonians are the new power on the horizon, but they're still relatively unknown. You see, the Babylonians had been Judah's friend. When Hezekiah had been healed from that illness, some envoys, some messengers had come from Babylon. And Hezekiah welcomed them and they congratulated him on his miraculous healing, and said, "We're so glad." And he said, "Well, I've got some things I'd like to show you." And he takes them into his store rooms and shows them the gold and the silver, and the costly jewels and all of the stuff that God had given. And, "Oh, boy, you have quite a collection here. Isn't that interesting? Let's make note of that, write it down. That's interesting. A little kingdom of Judah with lots of stuff. How about that?"

And Isaiah, the prophet, comes and says "Who are these men?" And Hezekiah said, "They're messengers from a distant country." "From what country?" He said, "The country of Babylon." "Well, let me tell you what's going to happen in the future. They're coming back with an army to take all this stuff." Isaiah saw it 100 years ahead of time. Hezekiah, you know what he said? "That's fine. It won't happen in my lifetime." That's what he said. And so, the Babylonians were hanging over Judah and Jerusalem by a slender thread. And the time was coming. The Babylonians were coming.

III. The Message of Habakkuk

And that is the context. Now, the grief is caused by the behavior of the sin of Judah and Jerusalem. Look what he says in Verse two and following. Habakkuk complains to God and he says, "How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen, or cry out to you, violence, but you do not save. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me. There is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted." He's bringing a complaint to God and so that begins the conversation that the book of Habakkuk really is. Habakkuk starts with a complaint. You boil it down to this. "God, how can you, a holy just righteous God, having chosen a people, Israel, for yourself, how can you tolerate this wickedness? You gave us a law, we're breaking it. Do something."

Now, what do you think Habakkuk had in mind? A revival. Right? We had it under Josiah. Let's have a revival. Let's pray that God would revive us. Now, it doesn't say that but I think having lived through Josiah's reign, I think that probably was on his mind. Let's have a revival, and let's come back to God. That's what he was praying for. God gives him an answer. No, it's not going to be a revival, it's going to be a slaughter. It's going to be a destruction. The Babylonians are coming, and they're powerful and they're strong and they're swift. And you will be blown over like a tidal wave. I'm going to deport you, and I'm going to bring an end to the Jewish sovereignty over the Promised Land. I'm bringing an end to it.

Well, Habakkuk doesn't like that. It's what I call out of the frying pan into the fire. Right? And so Habakkuk responds back a second time. He said, "Now, wait a minute, God. How can it be that you will use a godless pagan nation who are even worse than us to discipline us for sin? That doesn't make any sense either. And so I'll tell you what, God I'm going to stand here on my watch. I'm going to station myself, and I'm going to wait until you give me an answer." Habakkuk 2:1.

God’s Three-Part Answer

And God's answer comes in Habakkuk 2. His answer comes in three parts. Part one. I'm going to judge the Babylonians too, because I'm going to raise up other nations to conquer them. And guess what? Other nations are going to conquer their conquerors, and it's going to go on and on.

And so, answer number two. The nations that are seeking to build human empires one after the other, after the other, and that's what it's been in human history, one empire after another, built one on top of the other. Alexander the Great built his fortress on the ruins of Nineveh. And just one conqueror after the other, they're going to be fighting for earthly human glory, and you know what? They are wasting their time. Why? Because the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord. As the waters cover the sea, my glory will stand. You can't defeat me. And so, human kingdoms will rise and fall like a baseball thrown in the air. They'll reach an apex and then they'll come back down, one after the other. But my kingdom that I'm building patiently and gradually will stand forever. And everyone will see my glory.

Answer number three. Okay, that's the big picture. Big picture. Nations rising and falling, but God, what about me, personally? What about individual people in your land? Are you going to sweep away the righteous with the unrighteous? Don't you care about individuals? We see the big picture now, but what about individuals? I've got an answer there, too. Habakkuk 2:4. "The righteous will live by faith." And we're going to talk more about that in due time, but to the reformers, the Apostle Paul, in the New Testament picked up on that three times. "The righteous will live by faith." You want to survive? Trust me. Believe in me, and you will survive. Survive what? Survive in this world as long as I intend for you to, and then survive Judgment Day, ultimately. There is no condemnation, therefore, for those who are in Christ Jesus. By faith in Jesus Christ, you will survive Judgment Day.

So, that's a three-part answer. Babylonians are going to be judged by one kingdom. That kingdom will be judged as well. Ultimately, I am building my own kingdom. The glory of the Lord is going to spread over this whole world and individuals within it will be part of that through faith alone. That's a heavy answer. That's a deep answer and it sweeps over all of history. God, you are doing something in history and you're looking after the individual, too. And so, Chapter three is Habakkuk's godly response. He celebrates. First of all, he talks about God's power. When God comes to judge, he means business. He uncovers his bow and he calls for many arrows, not just a few. When the judgment time comes, it comes, and nothing can stop it. But in the end, I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God, my Savior. I'm going to trust him, no matter what he does. Like Job says, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." And so the final word is Habakkuk 2:20, "The Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the Earth be silent before him."

IV. Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why Does a Just God Tolerate Injustice? (vs. 2-4)

That's the whole message of the book of Habakkuk in about five minutes. Now, let's look at some of the details. Let's dig into Habakkuk's first complaint. Why does a sovereign and just god tolerate in justice? Look at Verse two, 2-4. He says, "How long O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen, or cry out to you, violence, but you do not save." Israel had been given a law, a righteous law, but they were not holding it. They were unjust, they were unholy. They did not follow the law, and they did not follow the righteous and godly example of Kings like David and Hezekiah and Josiah.

And so, they were ungodly, they were in sin. There was national wickedness, there was violence. Jeremiah diagnosed it this way. Jeremiah was a contemporary of Habakkuk. They saw the same things. So any description you get of Judah in the Book of Jeremiah, that's what Habakkuk was seeing. And what did Jeremiah see? He said, "As a well pours out its water, so she pours out her wickedness. Violence and destruction resound in her. Her sickness and wounds are ever before me. Take warning, O Jerusalem, or I will turn away from you and make your land desolate so no one can live in it." That's what Jeremiah said.

It's a cauldron, a pot of violence. People are killing each other. There's also treachery. There's idolatry. There's false religion, social injustice. The poor are being trampled. The powerful ones are taking the poor's houses and possessions and farms, and the poor had recourse back to court, but the courts were corrupt because of bribery. And so the whole system, he says the law is paralyzed. Nobody can do anything. And so, there's social injustice and the law is paralyzed. And why is that? Because the leaders are corrupt, they're wicked. The King Jehoiakim, all he cared about was a paneled palace with big windows, it says in the Book of Jeremiah at Chapter 22. He liked the big windows, and the smell of cedar. You smell that? The smell is... Boy.

And he doesn't care anything about the poor. And what about the judges? They're on the take, too. They're taking in financially and so the law is paralyzed, and there's extortion, and there's violence, and there's luxury. And so, what does Habakkuk do? He says, "God, how long do I have to put up with this?" And as a prophet, he probably could see it even more clearly. "How long do you make me look at these things until you act?" And so he cries out to God through patient watching.

God’s Apparent Silence

Now, the problem here is God's apparent silence. God is just too patient for us, isn't he? We look and we want him to act immediately. A bad guy does something, we want God to act immediately. And so Habakkuk is saying, "Do something about that." Events flow by, it seems, with no word from heaven. God seems to condone it. His silence is misunderstood. People think, for example, number one, that he doesn't exist. His silence proves that he doesn't exist. He's dead, God is dead. Or perhaps they misunderstand his nature. Maybe he likes wicked things, or maybe he's weak and can't do anything about it. He has good intentions. He just can't do anything about it. They misunderstand his nature.

Or they misunderstand his purposes. They don't see the plan. And so, Habakkuk does what a godly person should. When you're troubled, when you're distressed, you don't know what to do, you go to God in prayer. You say, "God, explain it to me. I don't understand." And so he brings it to God in prayer, a compassionate, a passionate complaint. Now, I don't think it's irreverent to pour out a complaint like this to God. Habakkuk was not being irreverent. He just wanted an answer.

V. God’s First Response: The Babylonians Are Coming!

And so God gave an answer. And the answer came. He said, "Look at the nations and watch, and be utterly amazed, for I'm going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if someone told you." Because I'm bringing the Babylonians, and they're coming to judge.

There's a book entitled, He Is There And He Is Not Silent. That's God. He is there and he is not silent, he's just patient. And when the time comes, the judgment comes, and the time had come, Habakkuk was hoping for a revival. Instead, judgment is coming. And look what he says in Verse five, "I am raising up the Babylonians." Does God have the power to do that? "I'm going to do something." Yes, he does. "I'm going to bring the Babylonians." How does he do that? Well, he's king. He's King of kings and Lord of lords. He can bring the Babylonians. "I'm going to bring them and they're going to defeat Assyria and then they're coming your way. And they're going to defeat you as well. The Babylonians are coming." And then, he goes on. It's not just, I'm going to bring the Babylonians. Let me tell you about the Babylonians. I'd like to describe them to you. And so he does, in Verse 7-11. Look with me.

He says, "I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people." That means they are bitter, they're harsh, they're hard. They have no love. They don't mind killing anybody, man, woman, and child. There's a hardness to them. And they're hasty, they're impetuous. They just move. They're unpredictable. You don't know where they're going to go on the battlefield. They are hasty, they're ruthless, they're impetuous. And they sweep across the whole earth. They've got a big vision of conquest. It's not enough to just take over Assyria. They want the whole world. They've got a world vision of conquest.

They "sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people." What happens is as you hear reports about this city or that city crumbling and falling, and your heart starts to flutter, and you realize they're coming your way. And so, other prophets liken it to be being a woman in labor. There's just a grief, there's an anguish, there's a pain. Other prophets talk about, it's like a drunkenness that comes over you, an insanity. And you don't know what to do because they're coming your way. They're a feared and dreaded people. And then it says they are a law to themselves, and promote their own honor. They do it all for their own glory. They're not following any kind of law except what they want to do. They are a law to themselves and promote their own glory and their own honor. And by the way, within that is the seeds of their own destruction, because God doesn't tolerate that.

But the time has come for God to use this wicked people, and so they come. And they sweep across the whole Earth. It says, they come from afar. Their horses are swifter than leopards, keener than wolves at dusk. What that means is the wolves haven't had anything to eat all day, and now they're ravenous. And you throw a little lamb, like Judah, in the midst of ravenous wolves, and it's gone. It's like a shark attack. That's what these Babylonians are going to be like, ravenous. And they're arrogant, too. Look at Verse 10 and 11. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities, then they build earthen ramps and capture them.

A fortified city like maybe Jerusalem, with a wall? Yeah. No problem. They laugh. It will be absolutely no problem for us to get in here. And so, they're going to build an earthen ramp and they're going to capture it, and then they're going to move on. They'll shake the dust of Judah off their feet and they're going to move on and take over Egypt too. You are nothing to them. They're arrogant, powerful and strong. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities, then they build earthen ramps and capture them and sweep past like the wind, and go on. Guilty men, listen to this, whose own strength is their god. Habakkuk is going to pick up on that the next time that we preach on this. We're going to talk about it. They ultimately sacrifice to their own military power. Their own strength is their god, and that's going to be their undoing as well. So he describes them. They're guilty men whose own strength is their god.

Now the message of Habakkuk is, that the guilty are punished eventually, but the righteous stand by faith. And so we have hanging over us a the Babylonian invasion. And the next time we're going to see Habakkuk's response. Now, we have some lessons here on history.

VI. Five Lessons on History

1) History is Under God’s Control

Number one. All history is under God's control. God sovereignly rules history. It's God that raised up the Babylonians, just like it was God earlier who raised up the Assyrians. And it will be God who raises up the Persians to conquer them. God rules history. Daniel put it this way. "The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes. He rules."

Daniel also put it this way, "His dominion is an eternal dominion. His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him, What have you done?" Do you know who said those words? Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, spoke those words. He said, "No one can stop his power." That's what Nebuchadnezzar said he learned personally, individually, about the sovereignty and the power of God.

2) History Follows a Divine Plan

Number two, history follows a divine plan. Jesus said, "I am the alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the beginning and the end." I wrote history. And it's following a plan. Every detail has been worked out. I know what I'm doing and we're on schedule.

3) History Follows a Divine Timetable

Number three. History follows not a human time table, but a divine time table. At his time, in his way, he will do it. Now, it took too long for Habakkuk, but of course, the response was bigger than Habakkuk wanted, right? Habakkuk wanted a revival yesterday. God promised judgment tomorrow. That's God's ways are not our ways. But everything is following a divine time table. Again, Daniel 2:20 says, "Praise be to the name of God forever and ever, his wisdom and power, wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons. He sets up kings, and he deposes them." That is God. He rules and his time table is his own.

4) History is Bound Up with the Kingdom of God

Fourthly, history is bound up with the kingdom of God. Everything must be seen in light of Habakkuk 2:14, "The Earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." What is God's glory? It is his Kingdom, and that kingdom is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to build a spiritual kingdom that will never end. And so, everything must be seen in the light of Jesus's Kingdom. Jesus came to set up the glory of God on this earth and through faith in Christ, we have eternal life.

5) Justice is Always Done in the End

Point number five about history. Justice is always done in the end. Habakkuk was frustrated by God's silence, but God is just. And in the end, all the wicked will perish, but here's the problem. Who is righteous? Who's righteous? Only those who are cleansed through the blood of Christ through faith, the righteous will live by faith. That's who's righteous. Now, how do we apply this to ourselves? Well, number one, I think our response to the wickedness that surrounds us here in America is huge. It's very important. What did Josiah do when he heard the law of the Lord? He tore his clothes. He wept, he was broken-hearted over it. And he got busy, and he started working. A one-man revival was Josiah. What did Habakkuk do when he saw the ungodliness and wickedness? He brought it to God in prayer. He was torn up by it.

Ezekiel was brought on a journey, a spiritual journey, by the power of God to show him a certain category of people in Jerusalem at that time, who wept and who aggrieved over the sins of their nation. And he said, "Put a mark on them. Put a spiritual mark on them." And then later in Ezekiel, the avenging angel went through with the sword and everyone who didn't have the mark was slain. And so your response is everything. Do you respond to the wickedness around you like Habakkuk, or do you respond with indifference? It doesn't matter how our nation is. Are you aggrieved? Are you enraged at injustice and wickedness? And does it make you pray and seek God? Praying with passion, and ultimately trusting an inscrutable God. What do I mean by an inscrutable God? It means you can't figure out what he's doing. Can you trace God's ways out? Do you understand his plan? Isaiah 55 says, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts. Neither are my ways your ways,' says the Lord, 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'" And then Paul, after explaining the Gospel, said, "O the depths of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God, how unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out. Who has known the mind of the Lord or been his counselor?"

We don't know God's ways, but ultimately, we know this. All of God's ways, all of his history leads to the cross of Jesus Christ. In the cross of Christ, I glory, towering over the wrecks of time. Jesus's cross towers over these kingdoms that have risen and fallen. And Jesus lived a sinless holy life, and called simple humble faith-filled people to enter a kingdom that would never end. And through faith in Jesus Christ, through that sinful, or sinless life that Jesus lived, we can take on his righteousness through simple faith in Christ. And Jesus, not only did he live a sinless, pure, holy life, he was willing to lay down that life on the cross and die in our place and to give us a righteousness that will enable us to survive Judgment Day. And not only did he die on the cross but he rose from the dead.

And next week, we're going to celebrate that great, that mighty resurrection. Jesus Christ and his kingdom alone explains all of history. And it also addresses the needs of every individual person who's listening to me today. Yes, there's a big huge plan for all of history but there's an individual purpose for you as well. Repentance and faith in Christ. Come to Christ today. If you haven't trusted in Christ, let today be for you the day of salvation. The righteous will live by faith.


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