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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Habakkuk's Concern is Answered (Habakkuk 2)

What have God's predictions in this chapter to do with Habakkuk’s concern about the intention of God to use an evil power to chastise his people? Several answers are given here to the prophet’s question.

The first is that God will punish Babylon for its worldview, even if he allows that Babylonian worldview to affect his people in an adverse way for a time. That worldview was concerned about worldwide domination of its ideas, and Judah along with others suffered under its rule. Any enemy of God’s people always has a worldview which is very different from God’s requirements.

The second is that God uses the current worldview to chastise his church and hopefully bring it to a situation in which it will repent of its sin. This is obvious; although God had used the Assyrian empire to punish Israel several decades previously, he could not now use the Assyrian empire to punish Judah because the Assyrian empire had been conquered by Babylon and was no longer in existence. When I was converted in the early 1970s, the big enemy of the Christian church was communism in Russia and Eastern Europe. There were numerous books and tapes dealing with how it would overrun the world. The church did suffer badly under communism in Eastern Europe, but today in the main the big threat to the church is not communism, although it is in some parts of the world. But we have other threats which have replaced it and which may be more powerful and more lethal. Only time will tell.

The third is that the church will survive under God’s chastisement. Would it have been better for Judah if God had just left them alone? The answer is no, because they would still have been conquered by Babylon as the rest of the area was. It is better to be conquered because of divine chastisement than to be merely allowed to be conquered in God’s general providence for one’s sin. Because the Lord was engaged in chastisement, it was a reminder of his faithful commitment to his people, and they could deduce from it that he would restore them eventually.

A fourth lesson is that political changes are often connected to God’s purpose for his church. Babylon was raised up by him to chastise his people and then Cyrus of Persia was raised up by him to set his people free. Both Babylon and Persia did many other things, but they are remembered in God’s Word for their contact, for good or ill, with God’s kingdom. The fact that the Lord can use even his enemies for the good of his kingdom should be a great comfort. After all, as Paul says in Ephesians 1:22, Jesus is head over all things for the benefit of the church.

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