February 21, 2018

Jesus to the Rescue

By: Larry Shaffer

The birthday theme continues with a message and pics from Beri nineteen years ago. Beri was 14 and an aspiring poet.

WARNING: this is long but please do not miss it.

Habakkuk 1

The debate is underway. Habakkuk begins by questioning God. Why! Why! Why! God responds and tells him He is going to answer his questions and He is going to act. But it will be in a way that will horrify Habakkuk. He will not bring revival, He will bring judgement.  If that’s not disturbing enough, the agents of His judgement are going to be the most godless, wicked people on the face of the earth. The fierce and impetuous Chaldeans.

Let’s learn about Habakkuk from Paul

As we try to understand God’s actions, we turn to Acts 13 where Paul quoted Habakkuk 1:5 in one of his sermons. When Paul entered a new city, he would start by teaching in the synagogue. In Acts 13, He chronicles the Old Testament events, leading his listeners on a progressive story that culminates in the fulfillment of the Messiah, Jesus. He concludes the sermon with an alter call saying, “Therefore, let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses. Therefore, take heed, so that the things spoken of in the prophets may not come upon you: (then he quoted Habakkuk 1:5), For I am accomplishing a work in your days, a work which you will never believe…” just like when you hear the opening phrase of a familiar poem or fairy tale, the rest of the poem flows through your head. That was Paul’s purpose here. They were familiar with the scripture and by quoting this opening line, the rest of God’s words of severe judgement in Habakkuk ran through their head. Paul was teaching them to avoid the same catastrophic results that Judah experienced in the days of Habakkuk.

Why God?

Back to the original question: why did God bring about such extreme judgement against Judah in the time of Habakkuk? Right before Paul quoted Habakkuk 1:5, he referred to the covenant of Moses when he said, “and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the law of Moses.” This is incredibly enlightening to me so indulge me to take a little more time to provide context.

When God renders horrendous judgement in Habakkuk 1, He is simply being true to Himself and doing what the people had agreed to. God was fulfilling His side of the covenant. He always does what is right. As context, there were three dominant convents in the OT:

1)     The unconditional Mosaic Covenant. God would build a mighty nation from Abraham. Unconditional in that Abraham didn’t have to do anything. God did it all.

2)     The unconditional Davidic Covenant. God would raise up the Messiah from the line of David. Unconditional in that David did nothing and God did it unconditionally.

3)     The Conditional Mosaic covenant. This is an “if/then” covenant. In this Covenant, God says IF you obey I will bless you. BUT, if you disobey, I will curse you. This is a bad agreement for the Jews. RUN! Don’t do it! However, Exodus 19:8 says “All the people answered together and said, ‘all that the Lord has spoken, we will do!” How naïve. They agreed to the impossible.
In conclusion, the people thought they could be good enough to please God and enjoy His blessings. Just like people today often feel in their works-oriented religions. The purpose of the Mosiac Covenant was to make it abundantly clear that we can never, ever, ever fulfill our side of the covenant. Never, ever! Judgement and cursing is going to happen every time to every one of us because we CANNOT keep our side of the covenant and fully obey always and perfectly. So, Paul is preaching and saying ‘you can continue in your works religion with rituals and laws and try and live up to the Old Covenant. However, your result will be the same as the people in Habakkuk. OR, you can let Jesus be your substitute in the covenant and let Him fulfill your part. This is the gospel message. Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. Let Him be your substitute. God will fulfill His side of the covenant and you will, through Jesus, enjoy the blessings of the covenant that you can’t keep on your own. Jesus will fulfill your side of the covenant. With Jesus, the conditional covenant now works, and you will be blessed forever….if you let Jesus be your substitute. Amen!