The Justice of God

Brent Aucoin July 14, 2007 Psalms 97:2

 

-Intro—Do we have any Token fans here today?  In JR. Tolken’s Lord of the Rings Series Sauran the Evil Force in Tolken’s Fictional Middle Earth is on the rise to dominate and control all of middle earth for his good pleasure.  The evil armies of Mordor are plundering villages and striving to annihilate the kingdom of men.  Women and Children have been plundered in villages by the armies of Mordor.  The Injustices of Sauron and Mordor spread out over Middle Earth like the waters of a Tsunami over the land.  At one seemingly impenetrable location, Helm’s Deep, a faction of the Kingdom of Men take their stand against the onslaught of the evil forces of Mordor.  However, like a Tsunami, the walls of Helms deep could not repel the waves of the evil tide.  However, when all seems lost and dark…this happens…..

Why do we love endings like that??

Gandalf, the white, the mighty warrior, rides in with his armies and executes justice—a swift and complete annihilation of the armies of evil and a deliverance of the women, children, and good people held up in Helm’s Deep

All is restored… Justice is served…..

-We live in a world where the manifestation of God’s justice to make all things right doesn’t seem to be present

-Look at the Newspapers this morning (list illustrations)—Where is the justice?

-Psalm  97:2 states “Righteousnesss and justice are the foundations of His throne”

-The question, naturally arises if Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne” then why is there so much injustice in the world?

-And let’s take it more close to home….You may be saying…

            “I’m not concerned about Justice in the world but….(WORLD PEACE AND JUSTICE)

            “I’m concerned about my HMO doing what they said they would do…

            “I’m concerned about my spouse who deserted paying child support

            “I’m concerned about the bully who is bothering my kid

            “I’m concerned about the boss who is treating me unfairly

”I have gotten away with a lot my self and nothing has happened to me.  Where is God? God has no knowledge of my actions!!..He is not going to do anything!!

Psalms 97:2 Rightouesness and Justice are the foundations of His throne???  PLEASE—Are YOU KIDDING ME???!!

-If the righteousness and justice are the foundations of God’s throne and there is seemingly no justice then could we logically conclude there is no throne—God is not really in control..

- with that in mind, would you open your Bible this morning to The Book of Habakkuk  (pp 664-665)

- while you’re turning there, let’s talk a minute about the overall series...

- this summer we’re doing a study entitled Reaching New Heights in Our Knowledge of God

- the point is that the source of motivation and sustenance for all we’re seeking to do as a church this year is a growing knowledge of our God...

- without that, everything we’re doing is simply human activity...and we will run out of gas long before the job is done...

- or we will do it in a way that lacks mission, or purpose, or clarity...

- or worse, we’ll fail to work in a way that gives glory to God...and our efforts won’t help others come to know the Lord better...[repeat series title]

- we’re  6 weeks into this now, so let me just ask you...have you been finding specific occasions where you could link a particular attribute of God (Holiness, Faithfulness, Sovereignty, Presence, Love, Power.

Habakkuk was a prophet of God who face similar justice questions that we have posed

Something was happening in Habakkuk’s day that was rocking his world.

Habakkuk lived during the 7th century BC (around 605 BC)

Those were some very dark days.  The nation of Israel which was once a glorious empire under King David and Solomon had now dwindled to a small piece of real estate around Jerusalem.

That now small kingdom was called the southern Kingdom and its name was Judah

As Habakkuk surveyed the government situation he says this…

      Read vv. 2-4

What does Habakkuk see among the leaders of his day—notice the words—violence (HAMAS), iniquity, wickedness, destruction, strife, contention, ignoring the law, justice in not upheld, the wicked surround the righteous, justice is perverted

He accuses God of making Him LOOK AND OBSERVE these things.  The IMPLICATION IS THAT God is not doing anything about it

Habakkuk is despairing, doubting, wondering, Where is God????  (Notice his questions….throughout)

      v. 2  How long O Lord will I call for help

      v. 3  Why do you make me see iniquity

      v. 13 Why do you look with favor on those who deal treacherously

      v. 13  Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they

      v. 17 Will the wickedness continue

But at the end of Habakkuk, something has changed….

Look at the end of Habakkuk…These are great verses…There doesn’t seemed to be despair or distress any more….confusion or puzzlement

Habakkuk seems to manifest a quiet soul, a resting soul

Take a look at verses 3:17-19 [read]

Habakkuk was now sure of the fact that God was acting justly even though he had not experienced it.

He has a faith in God’s Justice and even you might say a very  appropriate fear.

His faith and fear of God’s justice preserved and sustained him during his time of confusion, uncertainty in regard to the events around him

Faith and Fear of God’s certain justice will preserve and sustain us during times of our confusion/apathy about widespread injustices

What did Habakkuk experience that transformed his despairing perspective?

Three pictures of God Justice that can instill fear and faith in us during times when we are 1. confused about the unfair circumstances around us or 2. apathetic about our own sin

Let’s take a look at what Habakkuk experienced

Right after Habakkuk’s Lament about the injustice of his own government leaders and people of Israel around him, God answers….What God answers is astounding….

Take a look at verse 5-11

Notice “Look/Observe” v. 5  Habakuk had complete Lord what to you cause me to look or observe the injustices in v 3, Now the Lord says LOOK AND OBSERVE

v. 8 cf Deut 28   49     “The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,  50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.

Do you get what is going on here?

God is raising up a wicked nation, like Babylon to plunder and take over His nation of Israel

[Imagine if something like this happened—America/taken over by Al-Qaida]

***Can you image that??

Here is How Habkkuk responds to God’s revelation

vv. 1:12-17-2:1

Habakkuk is confused, but what God shows him makes him even more confused

God what are you doing ???? 

But Habakkuk has to see something here.  There is something he doesn’t understand that is causing his confusion so we see that the

The first picture of God’s Justice that …begins to transform Habakkuk’s perspective on all the injustices around him is that

1)  God Will Use Any Means He Pleases to Purify His People (1:5-17)

God was raising up a wicked nation, like Babylon to plunder and take over His nation of Israel

A.  His means doesn’t always appear just on the surface (1:13)

Do you see how Habakkuk describes the Babylonians in verses 14-17??

The Babylonians are like ruthless fisherman

The Israelites are like leaderless, hapless, directionless, dumb sea creatures

The fish and the sea creatures are caught and entangle in the fisherman’s net and on their hooks to be consumed joyfully by the fishermen

Hapless Israel seems to exist to gratify the Babylonians greed for economic prosperity

And even furthermore, they attribute their great catch and success to their own military might  (v. 16)  “Offer sacrifice to their net”

When we talked 3 weeks back about the Sovereignty of God we asked the question—Who are we talking about.

Now we have to ask the question, What are you doing God??

This can’t be right by any stretch of the imagination.

The methods and circumstances Do not always appear just on the surface.

Illustration:  Janet and I first attempting to have kids (contrast with the lady who got pregnant and didn’t even want the baby—living in sin)

Anyway, Habakkuk does not shrink from asking God some tough questions….

                  God, When will you answer me?

                  God Why do you look with favor on those who deal treacherously??

What does Hababbuk’s question imply?  God looks with favor on those who deal treacherously

Why are you silent when the wicked are swallowing up others?

Are they going to be doing this forever?

            B.  Godly people have sincere struggles and questions in these situations (1:12-17)

But Godly people understand their place 2.1  When I am reproved

Habakkuk was not hesitant to ask the tough questions.

But he also understood that He was not God. and that he was still under God even though he lacked understanding.

But really was any of this really incomprehensible???

Was what God was doing unjust, inconceivable, incomprehensible??

Was there really no method to God’s madness all around Habakkuk

There is a very understandable method to God’s seeming madness….

      C.  God operates very simply on the principle—you reap what you sow (1:5-11)

Notice what God was doing.

Wwhat were the injustices that Habakkuk was complaining about in verses 2-4. 

What were the key words.?

            Violence (Hamas), iniquity, wickedness, strife and contention, Law is ignored and justice is not practiced with and among his own people

Now notice the description of the Babylonians…

v. 6 seizing places which are not theirs,  (This was true of Israelite leaders)

v. 7their justice and authority originate within themselves (This was true of the Israelite)

v. 9 They come for violence (HAMAS)  (This was true of the Isrealites)

So….was God unjust to raise up “unjust” Babylon to discipline his unjust people???

No precisely the opposite, God was being by definition just in allowing his people to reap what they have sown.

Habakkuk was not necessarily seeing how God was operating here. 

Thus a lack of knowledge created the hardship and confusion about God’s justice

 

God operates very simply on the principle—you reap what you sow

[Agricultural metaphor—even more than they have sown]

Hosea 8:7 (NASB95)
     7     For they sow the wind

And they reap the whirlwind.

Applications:…..Illustration about Josh G

Ultimately God may use whatever method he chooses to bring about a harvest of what you or I have sown

Illustrations:  Lying—Lied to///The individual who goes and takes another spouse//Somebody will inevitably do that to him.  Parent who does not take time for their kid//later on guess what the kid has no time for the parent//The person who talks badly about another person—inevitably has somebody be talking bad about them

 

The first picture then that Habakkuk sees that begins to transform His perspective is that of God’s Justice of using whatever method He pleases to bring about discipline and purity of His people.  To teach them

The question still remains however…Habakkuk asks—What will you do with these Babylonians…These Bablyonians…Certainly God you have disciplined and judged your people by them but what will you do with them?

The second picture that God wants Habakkuk and us to know about his Justice to instill a fear and a faith in us is that …

2)  God Will Certainly Humble the Proud (2:2-20)

            A.  Who?--Those who exalt themselves at the expense of others (2:4-5, 9, 12, 15)

Throughout Scripture God is constantly in active opposition to the Proud

God oppose the proud

vv. 2:4-5 In the previous chapter Babylon was portrayed as a ruthless fisherman

Now Babylon is portray as a a drunken individual that is insatiable who wants more and more wine

Babylon had a voracious appetite, Babylonian Greed for them to gobble up more and more real estate, prosperity, economic wealth for their--For their empire to get larger and larger

v. 9  Babylon built their empire by robbing other nations they sought to make themselves invulnerable to attack, like an eagle that builds its nest in an elevated, inaccessible spot.

     Babylon was using calamity on others to ultimate secure their empire from calamity

But understand that God was not immediately going to deal with Babylon

God is opposed to the proud but does he always immediately act to humble them

God’s certain humiliation of the proud should not be confused with God’s immediate humiliation of the proud

            B.  When?--After the fullness of their purpose is realized (2:3)

Why would we believe that the maker of time would not know how to tell time and show up at the appointed time?

The only reasons that we would believe that is because  we believe our time frame is better

ILL:  Dr. Colin Smith Hebrew provision

            C.  How?—Retributive Justice again!  (vv. 2:7,8, 15-17)

Where have we seen this before????

            D.  Why?—The Glory of the Lord (v. 2:14 contrast with v. 2:16)

      Just because God is not dealing out justice on your time table do not conclude that he is unable, unwilling, incapable, or not present.  You need to conclude this…. There is still a purpose for that behavior to continue.  God may be allowing the fullness of wickedness to be displayed.  God may simply be exercising his mercy in withholding justice

If God has not yet humbled the proud around you then what….???

If God has not humbled your proud heart yet then what…

Do not mistake God’s patience with His inability to act or His approval

       So Habakkuk has seen now 1) God uses any method He pleases to purify his people  2) God will humble the proud

Now, as Habakkuk begins to understand all of this He sees one final revelation from God about who God is…In Chapter 3, God gives this third  picture of Himself

What is Habakkuk seeing here?

God as a Mighty Warrior riding forth…

With glory, radiance, lighting flashes

Before Him nothing stands…the ancient nations that seem to be stable—like mountains  collapse

Everything is turned upside down

There are cosmic disturbances in the world order as the Lord rides forth

What is the signirficance of this picture?  What does this vision of God to Habakkuk mean

How does it relate to justice?

In this vision of God that Habakkuk sees there are allusions to past acts of God on behalf of His people

When in verse 3, the text says that God comes from Teman and Mount Paran, with lighting flashing …the children of Israel would have understood that as a reference to the Exodus

The Exodus which was one of the times that the God was acting to judge Egypt and deliver his people with a might hand  (a judgement of the

Verse 11Sun and moon stood in their places….Joshua 10:12-13—Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the sons of Israel and he said in the sight of Israel, “O Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and O Moon in the valley of Aijalon.”  So the sun tood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies.  Is it not written in the book of Jashoar?  And the sun topped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

Allusions here in Habakkuk, to the Exodus and the Conquest of the Promise Land where God the Mighty Warrior acted in behalf of his people

In both of those past events in Israel’s History—The Exodus and the Conquest  God did two things 1) Ultimate Justice Upon Those who were Not His People and 2) Amazing Deliverance of Those who were His people

And as Habakkuk sees the vision now in the context of What will happen to Babylon and the People of Israel with those allusions to Past events… the significance of the vision is that even 900 years after those events….

3)  God is the Mighty Warrior that is Still Acting to Set All Things Right  (Hab 3:3-15)

Why did God remind Habakkuk of the past event?  To remind him that the same God of the Exodus and the Conquest who executes justice and deliverance is the same God of Habakkuk’s time

Why Did God allow Habakkuk to be in our Scriptures… To remind us that the same MIGHTY WARRIOR who rides upon His heavenly chariot IS THE SAME GOD TODAY

Revelation 19:11ff

            A.  Certain judgment upon those who are not His people

            B.  Certain deliverance of His people (v. 13)

What should be our response to all of this? 

Habakkuk saw

Three pictures of God Justice that  worked in him to change him from one of doubting, despairing.

What is hIs response now???

Habakkuk 3:16-19 (NASB95)
     
16     I heard and my inward parts trembled,

At the sound my lips quivered.

Decay enters my bones,

And in my place I tremble.

Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,

For the people to arise who will invade us.  (Babylon  He had to wait until all of the Lord’s purpopses played out to their JUST END)

     17     Though the fig tree should not blossom 

And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold

And there be no cattle in the stalls,

     18     Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

     19     The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.

Fear OF THE MIGHTY WARRIOR that terrifies  the the Proud (GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD

Faith that Sustains the Humble

Awe that Astounds All

Conclusion:   (From Robert Chisholms book… From Exegesis to Exposition)

James Michener’s Novel Poland in a chapter about German Occupation of Poland during WW2, 2 polish men are prisoners of War. Szymon Bukowski and an elderly professor named Tomczyk.  The Germans torture them on a daily basis and Symon cannot understand what sustains the professor through this torture.  After a particularly brutal beating Szymon asks andTomzyk explains…

It is not my responsibility to bring retribution to these men.  WE have…a God to whom we allocate that task and we must believe that He notes every action in this cellar and will in due course make honest restitution…And it does not matter, son, whether we are alive to see the restitution or not.  It will come as surely as day follows night, and we are now in the night.  It will surely come.  That we must never doubt…God sees everything that happens in that room, and it is to Him that we look for deliverance

Habbakkuk had come to that same conclusion where he had faith and fear of the certainty of God’s justice

We may not be able to make much sense out of the seemingly unjust events happening around us, but we can be confident that He will execute justice

And at the same time he will never abandon His faithful followers or sweep them away indiscriminately

We can say

     17     Though the fig tree should not blossom 

And there be no fruit on the vines,

Though the yield of the olive should fail

And the fields produce no food,

Though the flock should be cut off from the fold

And there be no cattle in the stalls,

     18     Yet I will exult in the Lord,

I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.

     19     The Lord God is my strength,

And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,

And makes me walk on my high places.

Brent Aucoin

M.S. - Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Central Baptist Seminary
Th.M. - Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Ph.D. - Baptist Bible Seminary

Pastor Brent Aucoin and his wife, Janet, came on staff in July of 1998.  Pastor Aucoin serves as overseer of Faith Seminary and Soul Care Ministries at Faith Church.

View Pastor Aucoin's Salvation Testmony Video