About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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In The Midst Of The Mess


Habakkuk 1:5 reads:


"Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."


In the 1960's and 70's Charismatic Movement Habakkuk 1:5 was often quoted as if it had a present-day prophetic fulfillment of God pouring an unbelievable blessing on us within that movement.  Is that what this verse is all about? 


The historical context of this verse concerns Babylon's violent devastation of the nations of the ancient near east.  It had just conquered Assyria in 612 BC and was in the midst of destroying God's nation of Judah, the nation in which Habakkuk lived.  In the midst of the mess, life was painfully chaotic.  There was no justice anywhere, just war, violence, and destruction.  This irritated Habakkuk so much that he was upset with God.  Where was God when you needed Him?           


In response to Habakkuk's questions and complaints, God told him to look around, observe, and be utterly amazed, something Habakkuk was already doing.  It was why he was furious with God in the first place.  Why did God ask His prophet to do something he was already doing?  I believe God wanted Habakkuk to take a step back and see the mess from His perspective, not his own perspective.  God was doing something among the nations that Habakkuk missed.  He was not sitting around doing nothing, as Habakkuk thought.  The bloodshed and violence was in fact God's doing.

The amazingly unbelievable thing God would do was to have Babylon utterly desecrate Jerusalem in 586 BC.  The destruction of God's nation and people would not have caused Habakkuk to jump for joy, as we were doing in the Charismatic Movement in 1972.   


The apostle Paul put his New Testament prophetic spin on Habakkuk 1:5 and it wasn't like the spin we put on it in 1972.  While talking to the Jews of his day, Paul told them this.  Acts 13:40 and 41 read:


"Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you:  Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you."


Like Habakkuk, Paul warned the Jews that if they did not repent and hand their lives over to Jesus, an unbelievable thing would happen to them, and it did.  Just like Babylon destroyed Jerusalem in 586 BC, Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD.  In both instances, it was the unbelievable thing God did.   


Here's my twenty-first century prophetic spin on Habakkuk 1:5.  God can certainly do the amazingly unbelievable thing today, but it can look pretty messy at times.  It can include violence and bloodshed as an act of judgment to accomplish His will.  I realize this is easier said than done, but in the midst of all the cultural upheaval and any needed participation on our part, God wants us to step back and see things from His perspective.  He wants us to fully trust that He is accomplishing His will in the midst of the mess. 

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