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From Confusion to Confidence: What Confusion We Face

From Confusion to Confidence (Intro to Habakkuk)Suffering and evil–why does it exist? More importantly, how do we account for it as believers, people who say there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God? The problem of suffering and evil is one of, if not, the largest problems of the Christian faith/worldview. Yet here we sit, as Christians, believing in an all-good, all-loving, all-powerful God. How? Maybe a better question to ask is, “Why?” It is in these times that confusion often reigns. We want to have confidence in God…but how? How can Christians go from confusion to confidence? We go from confusion to confidence by understanding the sovereignty of God and the three truths it involves. In this series of posts, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk will be our guide, leading us from confusion to confidence by helping us understand God’s sovereignty. The first truth Habakkuk leads us to understand is “Who we Are“. Today, Habakkuk will lead us to understand “What Confusion We Face”.

In Habakkuk 1:2-4, Habakkuk is a confused prophet. He is a frustrated prophet. He is meant to be calling people back to God and warning of God’s discipline of His covenant people. But all Habakkuk sees is God ignoring injustice. Ignoring iniquity. Ignoring violence. Ignoring wickedness. Habakkuk sees no justice from God. Habakkuk sees no righteousness in God’s actions. Habakkuk is confused. And we would be too if we were in his shoes. Habakkuk sees material prosperity and spiritual poverty existing side by side. He sees this in God’s special covenant people: Israel.

MoreThis is a very interesting time in Israel’s history. The nation has already been divided (north = Israel, south = Judah). The nation of Israel has already been captured and deported by the Assyrians. Josiah was king in Judah just prior to this time. The book of the law had been found. The Passover had been kept. All was ok spiritually. But then Josiah was killed in battle. The Egyptians soon after invaded and set up their own king. There is much material prosperity from Josiah’s reign still in place during Habakkuk’s time, but the new king does not follow God. So there is also much spiritual corruption. So while there is real material prosperity, there is also rampant spiritual poverty! (2 Chronicles 35-36)

In other words, there are people who are wicked, violent, and unjust getting rewarded materially as if they are spiritually great. Habakkuk is frustrated. Habakkuk is irritated. Habakkuk is confused by this. Habakkuk knows God is just. He knows God can not let sin go unpunished. But all he sees is injustice going unpunished. So God answers Habakkuk. God will bring justice. But justice means judgment. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s confusion only adds more confusion. What God is going to do Habakkuk will not believe. “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5). God’s answer is unbelievable. God’s justice is confusing. God’s justice is judgment. But it is judgment on the very nation He promised to protect and preserve. And Habakkuk is more confused by that (Habakkuk 1:12). Habakkuk is confused at how God will use a wicked nation, the Babylonians to bring justice. Habakkuk is confused by God’s judgment. Habakkuk’s confusion is in his understanding of God’s plan.

Habakkuk, as our guide, experienced that same confusion we face as well. We have confusion in our understanding of God’s plan. How could He use someone more wicked than us? How could God judge us by someone that needs judgment themselves? Romans 8:28 states that “for those who love God all things work together for good”. golgotha-01But how can an unjust judgment be good? These are the things that confuse. These are the things that frustrate. These are the things that cause us to question God and His plan. But as we will see next week, these confusions, frustrations, and questions cause us to evaluate where our confidence must be found.

From Confusion to Confidence: Who We Are

From Confusion to Confidence (Intro to Habakkuk)Suffering and evil–why does it exist? More importantly, how do we account for it as believers, people who say there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God? The problem of suffering and evil is one of, if not, the largest problems of the Christian faith/worldview. We all face the problem of evil and suffering at some point in our lives. Typically we face this issue very early in life due to:

  • Loss of a grandparent,
  • Injury to ourselves,
  • Loved one being diagnosed with cancer,
  • Divorce,
  • Suicide,
  • Tornados,
  • Hurricanes,
  • Famine,
  • Job Loss,

And the list could go on and on and on. The truth remains: there is suffering and evil in our world. There is injustice and perversion in our world. Yet here we sit, as Christians, believing in an all-good, all-loving, all-powerful God. How? Maybe a better question to ask is, “Why?” We have all had moments in life when it does not makes sense, moments when difficult times hit; mom and dad get divorced, grandma dies, our brother has cancer, a person who has harmed us goes free, or the bills far outweigh the paycheck. The question we want answered in these times is “Why? Why now God? Why me, God? Why this, God?”

It is in these times that frustration sets in. It is in these times when depression can become a reality. It is in these times that confusion reigns. But, as believers in Jesus Christ, we want to trust God. We know we should trust God. We want to have confidence in God…but how? How can Christians go from confusion to confidence? We go from confusion to confidence by understanding the sovereignty of God and three truths it involves. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk is going to be our guide. Habakkuk is not just going to be our guide, but we are going to vicariously live through him. We are going to walk in his shoes, think his thoughts, and live his life to fully understand how God’s sovereignty can cause us to go from confusion to confidence.

The first truth we must understand to go from confusion to confidence is who Habakkuk is, and by doing so, understanding who we are. As with most minor prophets, God has Habakkuk identify himself. The identity of the man is important. However, his responsibility is just as important. Habakkuk’s responsibility is not supposed to be hidden by his identity. Habakkuk is supposed to perform his responsibility as part of his identity, but he struggles with this. Bruce Wayne struggles with this same issue.

batman-logoHe is a multi-billion dollar man. Owner and chief executive of his deceased parents corporation, Wayne has not had to struggle with much in life, except the unexpected killing of his parents (which he witnessed). So Bruce has a major identity crisis, traveling around the world, stealing, killing, fighting, and being imprisoned to find out who he really is. He is in turmoil within himself. He wants to avenge his parents death, but does not know how as a multi-billion dollar corporation owner. So after years of fleeing and some “in the hills, recon, black ninja” training, he returns to Gotham City to seek revenge on his parents murderer. However, he masks his real identity by becoming Batman! However, at the end of the movie “Batman Begins” Batman has another problem. He cannot separate his responsibility as Batman from his identity as Bruce Wayne.

Habakkuk has the same issue. His responsibility is part of his identity. As a prophet Habakkuk was to be identified as God before the people. This is true for every prophet God appointed starting with Moses (Exodus 7:1-2). A true prophet from God not only represented God to the people, he would speak as God. And speaking as God meant that every word had to be true and the prophet could not presume to speak his own words as God’s (Deuteronomy 18:18-20). So Habakkuk’s responsibility was to speak God’s Word–to speak it truthfully, to speak it entirely. But Habakkuk’s responsibility was in turmoil with his identity.

Habakkuk’s name shows us his true identity. Habakkuk means to “wrestle” or “embrace”. And it becomes evident quite quickly in the book of Habakkuk that the one with whom Habakkuk wrestles is God. Habakkuk does not wrestle God physically like Jacob, but theologically. Habakkuk is confused and upset with his understanding of God and the way he perceives God working. And as this wrestling match continues Habakkuk only gets more confused. But at the end of the book we see that through all this wrestling Habakkuk embraces God as well. Habakkuk wrestles with God’s justice, but embraces God’s sovereignty. Habakkuk wrestles with God’s judgment, but embraces God’s control. Habakkuk was a wrestler. But Habakkuk was also an embracer.

What about you and I? Are we wrestling embracers? Do you wrestle with the deep things of God only to find yourself embracing Him more? There are two positions we can take that are both incomplete. First, we can levitate toward being only an embracer. We do not wrestle to understand our God. We only embrace everything at face value. We do very little deep thinking or meditating about God and His character. The catch phrase for those who tend to be just embracers is “Let go, and let God”. Secondly, we can gravitate toward being only a wrestler. We struggle against God in every area of life. We don’t truly seek Him, instead we only seek to defend our point of view. Those who struggle with being just a wrestler have the motto, “I must understand”.

golgotha-01Which one are you more prone to be: a wrestler or an embracer? Habakkuk reveals to us that we must be both. But while we lived vicariously through Habakkuk in order to understand how to go from confusion to confidence, there is a greater wrestler who came and lived vicariously for us. Jesus came and wrestled sin so that we could embrace Him. Jesus came and wrestled the ultimate injustice of our world, so that we could embrace His life, death, burial, and resurrection. Have you wrestled with Him? Are you embracing Him today?

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