Monday, April 21, 2014

Why Aren't The Faithful Better Off?

Have you ever had some questions from people about Yahweh that have been hard to answer? One of the classics is, "If God is so great and loving, why are there such bad things in the world?" Habakkuk was a prophet who asked Yahweh some tough questions. One of them can be summed up by "Why do good people seem to suffer and the bad seem to prosper?" That's a great question and it may surprise you that Yahweh answered. But his answer involved a vision about the end times:

For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. (Habakkuk 2:3)

And then he says something that acts like a springboard into the famous passage of woes. He tells Habakkuk the prophet:

Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. (v.4)

Habakkuk's question was about the proud people of the world, the ones who achieved things by their own strength. Perhaps they were arrogant in attitude or maybe they were just arrogant at heart, but these people figured they did not need Yahweh because they achieved a good life on their own. But it isn't about a good, comfortable, well off life filled with luxury or even fame.

Life here is about faith. It is about learning to trust Yahweh. It is about learning to seek his strength and help in all situations and circumstances in life. It is about allowing him to use those things to change us, to change our character to his liking. It is about maturing in our faith. On this side of the cross, it is about maturing into the full measure of Jesus. This life is a journey of growth and change as we carry out the work of our Lord Jesus. It is a life of faithfulness to our God, our Lord, our Father.

Yahweh then tells Habakkuk what will happen to the proud people, the independent people, the ones who thought they could get along without Yahweh, not understanding it has always been all about Yahweh. He tells him that in the end each person will get their reward. He tells him of the judgement that is to come. Jesus said that such people have received all they are going to get here but the righteous have a greater reward waiting for us.

We can't forget that Yahweh is just and people will receive from him what he has promised. If he promised good it will be good but if he has promised punishment then they will be punished. This is why we praise him that he has rescued us from this judgement and has covered us by his grace. We deserved the judgement, we are no better than the proud, but we have accepted his rescue plan and now stand covered by the blood of the sacrificial Lamb. Yahweh sees everything and everything will be judged against those who turn their back on his hand of love and grace. We should not feel envious of these people but instead our hearts should be filled with pity; we know what's coming.

When Habakkuk received this vision as a response to his question, he burst out into praise and he ended with a declaration of faith. I am wondering if our relationship with Jesus is mature enough to declare and apply Habakkuk's prayer. It is a prayer that brings a counter effect against any envy you may feel towards those who seem to be having an easier time  with life:

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills. (3:17-19)


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