From our finite point of view, we often have the question, like Habakkuk, “God, where are you?!?” When we or someone we love faces suffering or loss, we wonder where God is and why we’re not feeling his mercy. It’s difficult, at times, to understand. But like we learned in Job, God is always active. We may not see it or feel it, but he is in control and, as we’re learning in Revelation, God ultimately wins.
- 1- No background is given regarding who Habakkuk is or what the purpose of the book is.
- 1-17 – Habakkuk asks God a question many of us have asked or would like to ask: God, where are you when all these things are going wrong? Habakkuk asks God why he allows his people to suffer.
- 6-20 – God responds with a series of promises of destruction and devastation for those who have harmed others, particularly his people, and disobeyed him. He assures Habakkuk that he will not remain silent.
- 1-19 – Habakkuk’s last chapter is a prayer/psalm to God. Notice the word “selah” throughout it and how it ends with instructions on how it should be sung. Habakkuk recalls the work he’s seen God do as well as what he’s heard of God’s work. He ends with confidence that God will fulfill what he’s said he will do.
- 1-6 – Well, this sounds pretty awful. Like during the first Passover, it was important to have the sign of God in order to avoid punishment. All those who God has not sealed got the locusts.
- 20-21 – It’s important to remember that people are given chance after chance to repent and turn towards God, but they continually choose not to.
- 1-9 – This psalm expresses the emotions of someone carried off to Babylon. This was clearly a devastating event.
- 10 – Though an explanation is not given, this verse seems to suggest simply to stay out of other peoples’ affairs.
Are there things you long for? A new job? A spouse? A child? Do you long for God? This isn’t how we normally talk and maybe isn’t how we think or act either. But the cool thing is, the psalms, specifically today’s psalm, describe longing for God. This is a deep need and desire to be close to him. What might it look like for you to long for God.
- 24-30 – Daniel is careful not to take credit for the incredible act he will perform. He gives glory to God for this ability.
- 31-45 – Babylon had been a great power that had conquered Israel and other lands. God reveals that they will soon crumble despite their current might.
- 46-49 – Daniel and his friends worked for the king but still remained faithful to God.
- 13-18 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are given another chance by the king. This is probably not an act of grace, but a desperate attempt to get everyone to do what he says. Even amidst the threat of certain death, they give a powerful response in verses 17&18.
- 24-25 – Many believe this fourth person with the three friends to be Jesus or an angel of protection.
- 24-30 – Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego’s incredible faith ends up turning even those who would openly and intensely defy God.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14:
- 8 – Ain’t that the truth?
- 10-11 – This is a great way of looking at our gifts – that they should be used to bless others. Often, we use our gifts for our own betterment or enjoyment.
- 12-19 – We are told to relish our sufferings if they are received due to faithfulness. Not all suffering is because we’ve been faithful.
- 6-11 – We are encouraged to always be ready for a time when Christ can raise us up. We must be watchful, however, for stumbling blocks along the way.
- 81-82 – People in the Bible frequently describe their desire for God as one of “longing”. We rarely long for God. We often feel as if we’re doing him a favor by praying, reading Scripture, or living faithfully. What if we saw our position more like the folks who wrote the Bible?
- 16 – Leaders are appointed to protect their people and have higher standards upon them.
We all hate admitting when we’re wrong. People might think we’re dumb or think we’re often wrong if they don’t have a good sample size. We want to seem competent and with it and we like to prove why we’re better than others. Today’s proverb reminds us, though, that the humility of admitting fault can free us and others in so many ways.
- 1-12 – Clearly this imagery is meant to be a metaphor for something else. Leading Ezekiel through the water of increasing depths may represent God leading us through deeper and deeper depths of trust. The good fruit growing out of the temple’s waters could represent God providing good things for the people.
- 13-23 – The land had to be re-divided between the Israelite tribes now that Israel is back from exile.
- 10 – The temple, though the original one was destroyed, was still designed to be the center of the Israelites’ existence.
- 35 – The Lord is There is one of the many names God is given throughout Scripture to describe something he has done for his people.
1 Peter 2:11-3:7:
- 11-12 – We know God doesn’t want us to fall to temptation and sin, but we rarely think of how negatively it affects us and we often fail to see the benefits of living faithfully.
- 18-25 – It seems ludicrous and completely unjust for us to endure punishment or suffering for something we’re not guilty of, but that’s what Christ did and sometimes we are called to endure as well. (These types of verses have also been used to justify things like domestic abuse. That is not what is intended by this passage.)
- 1-2 – Our kindness and goodness can often draw others to Christ.
- 3-6 – Outward beauty is fleeting, but inward beauty will always be beneficial.
- 54-56 – This speaks of a time when God’s word was a comfort when the psalmist was out of his element. God’s word can do the same for us.
- 13 – It is so hard to admit where we are wrong, but it brings freedom for us and others.
In Genesis, Esau loses his birthright after saying, “I’m so hungry I’m about to die!” He most likely was not about the die of hunger. When we’re cold we say, “I’m freezing!” and when hot, “I’m burning up!” We tend to over exaggerate our suffering. Though today’s psalmist sounds pretty dramatic, we have to remember that suffering is real and elicits great emotion in us.
- 1-27 – The author laments over the pain and sorrow of the exile and destruction of the Israelites and their land. But then the author offers hope. God’s faithfulness does renew continually.
- 37-42 – The author recognizes that his people have sinned and are at fault and ultimately need to accept what they’re given.
- 43-54 – The Israelites were shamed because it seemed that their God couldn’t take care of them or had forgotten them. They were both overtaken and humiliated.
- 55-66 – The author clearly still has hope that God will restore his people.
- 3-4 – What a lovely description of Christ!
- 8-12 – Christ cannot be placed on the same level as the angels. He is, instead, set apart and above the angels.
- 1-11 – Though the psalmist’s words seem somewhat dramatic, our sufferings tend to illicit those kinds of thoughts. It is hard to see outside of difficulty and suffering and keep things in perspective.
- 21 – Hothead men tend to ignite controversy everywhere they go.
It’s ok to feel sorrow. It’s ok to ask questions. It’s ok to wonder where God is when you suffer. Lamentations proves it.
Only 8 weeks to go to complete our Year of the Bible! Pretty incredible, eh?
This week, we have a bit of a cornucopia of readings. We’ll spend time in Philemon, Hebrews, Lamentations, and Ezekiel, as well as the usual suspects Proverbs and Psalms.
Something you might want to note this week is the connection and resolution between the Old and New Testaments. Both Lamentations and the prophet Ezekiel are longing for redemption and connection with God. They’re experiencing destruction and separation due to sin. But then we read Hebrews, and other portions of the New Testament and we see that the redemption those in the Old Testament longed for has been realized through Jesus.
Sometimes it is hard to read the prophets and other portions of the Old Testament because the people are being punished and are crying out. But the blessing of reading both the Old and New Testaments at the same time is we immediately get to see God’s answer. We have Christ.
The theme of several of the readings today seem to put us in our place. We are human and finite. God is big, powerful, and ultimately in control. And while this could be read as limiting or squashing us, like it did for David, it should give us hope. The ultimate outcome is not in our hands. We don’t have that kind of pressure. But we serve the God who is in control and who has our best in his plans and has the power to bring those plans to fruition. God in control is a good thing.
- 12:1-13:19 – Job contends that he has become a laughing stock and recognizes the power of God.
- 13:20-14:22 – Job switches into a prayer to God. He is clearly incredibly discouraged. He even asks, in verse 14:13, for God to let him die for a while until God’s wrath subsides so he can then come back and serve God with joy. Job makes a valiant effort at remaining faithful.
- 15:1-35 – Eliphaz speaks to Job again, now with more force. Eliphaz begins to accuse Job of thinking of himself more highly than he ought.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58:
- 29 – Though it’s uncertain what this means exactly, it’s presumed that the Corinthians had started the practice of being baptized on behalf of people who didn’t come to faith before they died.
- 29-34 – This argument against those who say there is no resurrection from the dead for people continues from yesterday’s reading.
- 45 – Paul, once again, compares Adam and Jesus. They are considered the first man and the last man. One brought death, the other brought life.
- 55 – This verse is quoted in the Charles Wesley hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today”.
- Jeduthun, who this psalm is written to, was a Levite appointed to be one of the masters of music by King David.
- 4-7 – Though David’s words seem somewhat hopeless, talking about how minor our lives are, he continues to put his hope in the Lord.
- Powerful and reassuring words that we can work and strive, and it’s good for us to do our part, but ultimately, the Lord determines and owns victory.
Speaking in tongues is one of those things that people use as an example of why Christianity is weird. Many Christians are even totally turned off by it. Speaking in tongues is a gift of the Spirit, so it, in and of itself, is a good thing. The discomfort is often because we are simply not familiar with speaking in tongues or that gift is being used incorrectly. Paul goes to great lengths in our 1 Corinthians reading to explain how and when this special gift should be used. Hopefully this will clear up a little confusion and assuage some fear.
- 4:1-5:27 – Job’s friend, Eliphaz, suggests that it is Job’s sin that has brought his troubles about. While sin does bring on some of our afflictions, ancient cultures believed that all infirmities and difficulties (i.e. blindness or paralysis) were brought on by the sin of you or your parents.
- 6:1-7:21 – Job’s response asks to be shown whatever sin he has. He ends by asking God why he won’t take the pain and torment off of him.
1 Corinthians 14:18-40:
- 18 – Paul says this to explain that he’s not jealous of the Corinthians for being able to speak in tongues, because he can too. Paul spends a good amount of time explaining the proper use of tongues. Clearly the Corinthians were using them incorrectly.
- 20 – A good contrast. Be young in your knowledge and experience of evil. Be wise and mature in your thought.
- 22- This simply means that tongues gain the attention of unbelievers while prophecy serves that purpose for believers.
- 26-33 – Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians how to appropriately use their gifts so they can build up the body instead of confuse it.
- 31 – When the law of God is on our heart, it is considerably easier to follow it.
- Proverbs says similar things in 15:8 and 15:29. Sacrifices from the wicked are not given with the heart that they are intended.
No one likes to suffer. Job did a lot of it. And though Job’s suffering wasn’t fun either, we can learn a lot from it.
Tomorrow we begin Job, which is widely regarded as the oldest book in the Old Testament, and therefore, the Bible. Job is challenging in a number of ways, but the main reason is: Job was righteous. Why does God allow him to be tormented?
Though not intended as a complete explanation, hopefully these thoughts will shift our thinking from something along the lines of, “why is God so mean?” to “what was really happening here and what came of it?” Take a second to think through these thoughts:
- God was not the one doing the tormenting.
- For the majority of the book, Job, who is being tormented, defends God.
- Job’s friends are certain they can explain Job’s suffering. No one can explain suffering.
- God gave Job his blessings. It is his choice to take them away as well. But note that God abundantly blesses Job again in the end.
I won’t try to explain what happened to Job in this book or how God operates or why we suffer, etc. Hopefully the above thoughts will at least add a few bumper lanes as you read this challenging book.