Where is God?

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Looking through the reading plan as I write this, my normal course of action is to write about whatever we will be reading on the Thursday the blog comes out.

Looking at the plan, I have decided to diverge from my normal routine this week to write about the Book of Habakkuk as it fits between our Thursday readings.

If I do not write about Habakkuk, one of the more explicit sections of scripture dealing with the Sovereignty of God, we will have missed a chance to think through this book together.

Habakkuk was the last of the Minor Prophets to preach in Judah, the southern kingdom, before the final Babylonian invasion.

Unlike other prophets who declared God’s message to people – this prophet dialogued with God about people.

While, most Old Testament prophets proclaimed divine judgment, Habakkuk pleaded for divine judgment – but was surprised with the response.

Like the book of Job, this book presents important biblical truths for people who encounter difficulties that seem incomprehensible.

Habakkuk seeks to understand where is God in a time where the world has gone bad. Why is there so much oppression and injustice? Why do the evil prosper and the righteous suffer?

Why doesn’t God do something? Where is He?

Throughout the ages, God’s people have often expressed this complaint.

Job wondered why God seemed absent amid his difficult circumstances (Job 3), and Israel cried out during its wilderness wanderings, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7).

God’s response was not what the prophet ever imagined or desired: God is surely among his people, will help them, and will bring them justice.

But… he will do it through the violent and haughty nation of Babylon (“the Chaldeans”; Hab. 1:6).

Through this perplexing response, God challenges not only Habakkuk’s faith but ours as well.

That God can bring about good from evil is a theme that echoes down through the whole Bible, such as in Joseph’s statement to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).

God’s response to Habakkuk also foreshadows the ultimate good—eternal salvation—that would come through the ultimate evil—execution of the sinless Son of God upon a cross.

Yet in the unfathomable wisdom of God, on that cross justice and mercy meet.

Jesus receives the penalty that the justice of God requires for sin; and we receive, through faith, God’s mercy in forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life (Rom. 3:21–26).

This is why we can continue to have faith, trust and hope amid the brokenness of our world: God’s providential use of people and events is both purposeful and personal.

So, where is God? He is in sovereign control.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts for this blog were taken directly from: The Bible Knowledge Commentary and extensively from The Gospel Transformation Study Bible.

The Ways of the Lord are Right!

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

Today in our reading, we are looking at the book of Hosea – one of the minor prophets.

Hosea’s name means salvation. He has been called by some as the “tender” prophet or prophet of grace.

The major themes of Hosea are the same as many of the prophets – sin, judgment, and salvation with promises of restoration to those who are faithful – the remnant.

In this book we find five cycles of judgment and restoration.  God loves Israel but they have betrayed Him – judgment on sin is coming, but God will eventually bring His people back to Himself.

The uniqueness of this book is how the prophetic message is linked so closely to Hosea’s personal life.

Hosea marries a woman who will betray his trust, and take other lovers.

In addition, Hosea gives his children names that sent messages of judgment to the people of Israel. The return of Hosea’s wife Gomer after seeking other lovers is symbolic of restoration.

We can find the background for the book, the big idea so to speak, in the covenantal agreement and relationship between the Lord and Israel established in Deuteronomy 28.

Israel was to maintain loyalty and relationship with the Lord by worshiping Him alone and obeying His Commandments.

Obedience would bring blessing – disobedience would bring judgment and eventual exile.

Hosea’s role as a prophet was to expose Israel’s breach of the covenant and warn them of the Lord’s impending judgment.

Israel believed that by prostituting herself in worship to Baal she would receive blessing for her crops and other necessities in life – she was guilty of spiritual adultery.

Although other sins are mentioned in the book – social injustice, religious hypocrisy, etc., the nation was primarily summarized as an adulteress.

Judgment would come and exile would be a result.

Israel was so steeped in their sin of prostitution to the other idols and “gods” that any possibility of repentance was precluded for the time being.

Though Hosea’s prophecy contains some calls to repentance, he did not expect a positive response. The Lord’s coming judgment was inescapable.

In implementing the curses, the Lord would cause the nation to experience infertility, military invasion, and exile.

Several times Hosea emphasized the justice of God by indicating that His divine punishment fit the crimes perfectly.

However, the Lord would not abandon Israel totally.

Despite its severity, each judgment was disciplinary and was intended to turn Israel back to God.

Hosea’s own reconciliation with his wayward wife illustrated Israel’s ultimate restoration.

The ultimate purpose of the Lord’s judgment on His people was to restore them (Hosea 2:5–7).

For the time being, though, God would not hear their prayers.

He would go back to His place like a lion returning to its lair (Hosea 5:14) till the nation underwent its punishment.

As we read though this book we are again reminded of the consequence and effects of our sin.

We can be so much like ancient Israel pursuing idols in a vain attempt to build our own kingdoms, chasing greener pastures, yet end up wallowing in the shame and guilt of our actions.

Yet, our loving God, extends His mercy to a sinful people, despite our rebellion and sin, that we might repent and be restored into a rightful relationship with Him – our God, Lord, and Savior.

Until next time…  keep reading!

Jim

Sources and excerpts used for this blog were taken from: The Bible Knowledge Commentary 

Sovereignty & Judgment

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

This week I thought I would do a brief overview of the importance of the twelve books known as the Minor Prophets.

We are in the midst of reading Amos and Micah now in our plan. As I was trying to decide which book to write about, a thought struck me to do an overview of the Minor Prophets as a whole as many of us are tempted to just quickly read or scan through them.

Most of what you will read through this blog today I took directly from James Boice’s Commentary on the Minor Prophets.

The Minor Prophets emphasize basic attributes of God – His Sovereignty, Holiness, and Love. In these books we also find His judgment, mercy and salvation.

Central to the thinking of the Minor Prophets was the fact that God is the sovereign Lord of history and that nothing happens, either to Israel or to the gentile nations, that is not the result of His direct determination.

The locust plague of Joel was His doing. The destruction of Nineveh was from Him, just as its earlier repentance under the preaching of Jonah was God-given.

When Israel was invaded by Assyria and when Judah was invaded by Babylon, it was the Lord who did it.

Whatever problems the prophets may have with the specific nature of God’s actions—Habakkuk is one who had great problems—they never doubt for a second that the almighty God is in charge of history.

An awareness of holiness was the driving force behind their sharp denunciations of sin. It makes no difference where the sin was found, whether in foreign lands (Edom, as in Obadiah; Assyria, as in Nahum) or among God’s people—it was still an offense to God and called for judgment.

Nowhere in the Bible are there stiffer denunciations of sin and heartier calls for a deep and pervasive repentance than in the Minor Prophets. Apart from repentance, judgment falls.

The conjunction of love and justice is sometimes hard to understand but it is because of God’s great love for His people (even His love for Nineveh) that He sends prophets with the message of judgment and, indeed, eventually sends the judgment itself.

God knows that sin is an outrage against Himself, humanity, and even the one pursuing it. He knows that sin is destructive. So He judges sin—in the case of His own people in order to turn them back from sin to Himself.

Sin not only brings misery, it also leads to a final judgment from God that is furious, deadly, and eternal.

This offers a compelling reason for us to seek salvation from God today. His character has not changed and his promises cannot be broken.

As we learn from Micah, God does not desire to destroy His people but desires to show mercy.

But how can a holy God forgive sinners? The answer is the central point of Micah’s salvation message: God will send a Savior to deliver us from His own judgment on our sin.

If we come to Him seeking forgiveness, we will find Him ready to offer us mercy and love.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Helpful resources for further study – The Minor Prophets Volumes 1 & 2 by James M. Boice and Jonah and Micah, by Richard d. Phillips