"Prophetability - lessons of strength and power in the minor prophets!"
There is a constant outcry in our land for social justice. I was inspired recently by a YouTube video from the Potter’s House presenting the tension in the Dallas TX area about the white female police officer who entered an African American man’s apartment, thinking it was hers, and shot the owner dead. The police officer was initially investigated and allowed to keep her job. At first, some brushed it off as an accident and rejected the notion that the incident had any elements of social injustice but, as we have later seen, that wasn’t necessarily the case. If America has a “blind side,” a chink in our character, then we need to see it so that we can address it. If the Church in America has a “blind side,” a chink in our character, then we need to see it so that we can address it. If you as a Christian in America have a “blind side,” a chink in your character, then you need to see it so that you can address it.
Often, in “ancient biblical times,” prophecy was for the purpose of bringing attention of the people of God to their “blind side.” It is called a “Blind side” because we don’t see it ourselves. As you know, prophets were hardly ever welcomed with enthusiasm and their words were often ignored. It seems like human nature is such that we are seldom inclined to face the reality that our actions can both positively and adversely affect others.
The process of selecting a Supreme Court Justice in America has caused much tension recently. Many Christians are clear in vocalizing their support of our current president’s nominee as he claims to share many of the ideals conservative Christians hold dear. I have even read some Christians argue that they cannot see how any Christian could not support a person for Supreme Court who has Christian ideals. For me, however, ideals that sound Christian are not always Godly and ideals are not more important to God than individuals.
Ideals do not save people only faith in Jesus Christ can do that. Whenever individuals are become collateral damage in the battle to preserve ideals the mark of righteousness has been missed.
Some are often inclined to believe that what is right for one is right for all but that is true only when all things are equal. Habakkuk felt that things were NOT at all equal for the people of God. In Habakkuk 1: 2-5 the writer states; “How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save? 3 Why do you force me to look at injustice?Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?Oppression and violence are right in front of me.Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. 4 This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges.For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.Look at the nations and observe—be utterly astounded!For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.”
My first response when reading this passage is to cry aloud; “Praise God!.” My second response is to wonder why would a cry for social justice be referred to as a prophecy. As I ponder that question I realize that the reason why a cry for social justice like Habakkuk is considered a prophecy is because the social injustices of the world make way for the savior of the world.
In other words, God will one day show up and right the wrongs done to His people.
As a matter of fact, whenever social injustice is at its worst it should be a time for the faith and hope of God’s people in Him to deliver to be at their height. Awful prophesies astonishing. Habakkuk witnessed “Oppression and violence right in front on him.” But God promised to turn the awful oppression into an opportunity for astonishment. In v.4 God said; “Be utterly astounded”
It might be that the reason why the situation you’re in is so awful is because if it wasn’t you wouldn’t be astonished by how amazingly God worked it all out for you. Why do we think it to be more a miracle when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after being dead three days than when He forgave the Samaritan Woman’s sin at the well that day? I think it’s because we see death as awful. We see decay as awful. We see the grave as awful but we don’t always see our sin as awful. If Christians were amazed at the Grace of God to save us and remained inspired by salvation to serve God wholeheartedly forever, then it may have never been necessary for God to allow awful things to befall us. Perhaps that is why Jesus suffered an agonizing death on a cross instead of dying peacefully in his bed at 92 because awful prophecies astonishing. It is often only after things have turned terrible that we finally turn to God.
The law is lacking. It is unfair to expect everyone to obey the same set of laws when all things remain unequal for everyone. Habakkuk lamented; “Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. 4 This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges.” Laws can be more hollow than holy. However, I often hear Christians push for the election of politicians who “say” they promote biblical ideals so that everyone will be required to behave in a more Christian manner. My wife likes to say; “You cannot legislate morality.” I agree with that.
Habakkuk discovered that having one Law and expecting all to follow it will end in disappointment. Not everyone will follow it and eventually those who do will want God to punish those who do not and that is just one way the law is lacking. The law failed in the Old Testament but love flourished in the New Testament. If obeying the Law didn’t work when God used it to motivate his people to righteousness why would we think the law will work now to motivate people to do rightly? To me it seems that the Church sometimes overemphasizes ideas and underemphasize individuals. Whenever the church places more emphasis on keeping laws than loving people this phenomenon continues to happen. It is almost like there is this believe that if we can just preserve the ideals of the church and if we can just keep prayer in schools and if we can just get a president in the white house who will support our ideals and if we can just get people in the supreme court who share our religious beliefs then maybe we can have a country like we want. One of the major problems of that way of thinking is that ideals aren’t God’s priority. Rather, people are. People not principles.
This brings to mind one of the big differences between the Old and New Testaments. God’s way of relating His expectations to His people was different in the Old testament compared to the New Testament. There is such a difference that Marcion claimed that the God of the Old Testament was not the same God as the one in the New Testament (Google Marcionism). I think the Church and Christians will experience the most liberating move of God whenever we make the move from prioritizing the law (Ideals) and move toward prioritizing love (Individuals).
God’s ultimate action will be unbelievably awesome.
In Habakkuk, the word of the Lord says; “For I am doing something in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.”The only way God could do the great things He has planned for you was for you to go through the great pains He had planned for you. Jesus quoted Zechariah and said in Matthew 26“I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. ”Sometimes God’s people must endure uncomfortable things. This plan, the plan to bring gain through pain, including injustice and injury, was ingenious. I say that because it worked! We know it worked. Despite these words in Matthew 26 the wonderful acts of God still occurred. In Acts 1: 8 the bible says; “8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Although there is much injustice God will always justify the righteous. Until then, as Habakkuk reminds us; “The just shall live by faith!” - Dr. Hughes
Rev. Wiley Hughes
D.Min., Psy.D., FBPPC, LPCA, NCC
Apostolic Leader of Destiny Now