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Lesson 8: Trusting God's Goodness (Habakkuk) *

Introduction: Would you like to keep private past decisions that were questionable? How many times do you wish that others would not criticize you? Do you like it when others want to discuss with you some error that you made in the past? Except when you are sinfully bragging, do you like to talk about past sins? Unless you are an uncommon saint, the answer to all of these questions is that we do not like to be questioned, criticized or reminded of our sins. Our amazing God is open to a discussion about His decisions. The God who created us is willing to discuss how He treats us. The book of Habakkuk reveals a God who is open and transparent. Let's jump into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about God's decision-making!

  1. The Complaint

    1. Read Habakkuk 1:1-2. The NIV translates as "oracle" a word that means "burden" or figuratively a "dark message." Is this message from God? (The dark message seems to be from people who are complaining to God.)

      1. Have you ever had your children or your spouse say, "You don't listen!" "You never help me"? How do you like those kinds of complaints?

      2. Why do you think God publishes in the Bible these complaints against Him? (He wants us to learn something.)

    2. Read Habakkuk 1:3. What is the complaint here? (God tolerates injustice. God tolerates violence and destruction.)

    3. Read Habakkuk 1:4. Why is a discussion of the law relevant? (Normally, the legal system of justice is the way in which violence, destruction and injustice are handled. These are the human mechanisms to address these problems. The complaint is that neither humans nor God are doing anything about injustice.)

  2. God's Response

    1. Read Habakkuk 1:5. This is God's response. How does God think His response will be received? (God says, "I know it will be unbelievable.")

    2. Read Habakkuk 1:6-7. What unbelievable thing does God have in mind? (He is going to use evil, unjust and arrogant people (the Babylonians) to carry out a mission for God.)

    1. Read Habakkuk 1:8-11. In addition to being wicked, what else can we say about the Babylonians? (They are a military powerhouse.)

  1. The Reply

    1. Read Habakkuk 1:12-13. What are the obvious problems with God's plan? (God is pure. Why would He use the wicked? God believes in righteousness, why would He use the treacherous? Especially, why would God use the really wicked to punish the mildly wicked?)

    2. Let's discuss this for just a minute. Does God care about the really wicked? (When we studied the book of Jonah we learned that God loves and pursues the really wicked.)

      1. Why not use the mildly wicked to punish the really wicked? (This is an important lesson for Christians. God gives no credit for being mildly wicked. We cannot think that we are owed something by God for being mildly evil.)

      2. Have you ever said, "Why did you punish me? This other person is a lot worse?" "Officer, why did you pull me over, this other car just passed me - you should pull him over instead!"

      3. Let's talk about this in terms of today. Would God allow Satan or fallen angels to punish us?

        1. Does Satan want to harm us? (Yes!)

        2. Is God's punishment simply stepping aside and not stopping evil?

        3. Have you noticed that it seems to be a law of the universe that evil works bring evil responses? You punch someone and they are likely to punch you back. Would it be fair to conclude that evil has its own natural punishment in most cases, and God decides whether or not to intervene and prevent the punishment?

    3. Read Habakkuk 1:14-16. What is the other problem with God using the really wicked to punish the mildly wicked? (The really wicked give praise to their false gods.)

    4. Read Habakkuk 2:1. After stating the additional complaints, what does Habakkuk do? (He waits on God for an answer.)

      1. Does God have to answer? Does God have to explain himself to His creation?

  2. God's Reply

    1. Read Habakkuk 2:2. How important is God's answer? (God says "I want everyone to know what I have to say about these complaints." That suggests the answer is important.)

    2. Read Habakkuk 2:3. What kind of response is this? (God says, "Wait for it." "Timing is very important here. I will do what I promise in My time.")

    3. Read Habakkuk 2:4. What two kinds of people does God say exist? (The righteous who live by faith, and the proud with their evil desires.)

    4. Read Habakkuk 2:5. What is wrong with those who are evil? (They are greedy and never satisfied.)

    5. Read Habakkuk 2:6-7. What is God's answer about the future of the evil? (God says "payback" is coming. The evil will be ridiculed and scorned. They will change places and become the victim.)

    6. Read Habakkuk 2:13-14. I keep time records of my work. The day before I wrote this I put in 11.4 hours of work. What does God say about laboring to exhaustion? (It is all going to burn!)

      1. What is important in life? (Advancing the knowledge of the glory of God. Bringing glory to God. I like to think that my work every day is to advance the Kingdom of God rather than just build something that will burn.)

    7. Read Habakkuk 2:15-16. Does this sound like advice on current issues? (Consider the number of Internet videos of drunk young people who fit this picture.)

      1. What is God telling us? (That if we take advantage of others, we can expect others to take advantage of us. God will pour out a cup of disgrace on us.)

    8. Read Habakkuk 2:18-20. We started this chapter by saying that God is going to give His answer about why the truly evil are used to punish the mildly evil. God is going to tell us why He allows violence and tolerates injustice. What answers do you find among the verses that we just read? (God's answer seems to have several parts. First, He knows who are the righteous who live by faith and He knows who are the proud and greedy. God knows who trusts in Him and He knows who trust in their own creation. God says the timing may vary, but the wicked will be punished. Evil and violence will end. God says, "I am on My throne - trust Me!")

  3. Habakkuk's Prayer

    1. Read Habakkuk 3:1-2. In light of what God just told Habakkuk, what does Habakkuk pray? (Do it now! Bring justice now! Bring mercy now!)

    2. Habakkuk 3:3-16 recite God's great power and glory. God can do anything!

    3. Read Habakkuk 3:17-18. Consider the contrast. God is all powerful and can do anything. However, as a practical matter, right now in my life things are going very poorly. What attitude should you have in such a situation? (We should rejoice in God and be joyful. God asks us to look beyond our situation and trust that He will make things right.)

    4. Read Habakkuk 3:19. How does trust, faith and joy in God change our life? (An attitude of trust gives us wings! It gives us strength and it gives us speed and it gives us the ability to see things clearly.)

    5. Friend, would you like wings? Would you like joy, strength, speed and clarity? Trust in God. Despite the current problems of life, God is on His throne. Trust that God sees those who live by faith and those who oppose God. In His time, God will make it right!

  4. Next week: The Day of the Lord (Zephaniah).
* Copr. 2013, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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