Looking Within Archives 2015

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  • Learning From Prayers of Women by Joyce Jamerson
  • Prayers of Nehemiah by Joyce Jamerson 
  • The Prayer of Daniel by Joyce Jamerson
  • He Careth for you (poem)
  • The Prayer of the Patriotic Prophet Habakkuk by Joyce Jamerson

 

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Learning From Prayers Of Women

by Joyce Jamerson

 

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,

because he trusts in you,” Isaiah 26:3 ESV

 

Welcome!  As we begin a new study of prayers in the Bible, it is hard to know where to begin.  Some prayers are familiar and some, not so familiar.  I began to wonder about the first recorded prayer of a woman.  Just when did women feel the need to pray?  If it ever occurred to Eve to pray for her children, theres no record of it.  I suppose if every conversation with God were recorded for us, the Bible would only be available in huge libraries, so in His wisdom, he provided what we needed.   

 

Although there is no recorded prayer of Hagar, it is said that God heard your affliction when she was distressed after being treated poorly by Sarai, Genesis 16:11.  She was comforted by the promise from the Angel of the Lord.  How comforting to know that God knows our distresses even when we cant speak the words; He is aware of even the deep anguish we may experience but cannot confess to others. 

 

God heard and answered Isaac when he pleaded with God for a child because Rebekah was barren; unable to conceive, Genesis 25:19-23.  Similarly, Jacobs beloved Rachel was barren but Leah, upon giving birth to Judah, said I will praise the Lord, 29:35.  Genesis 30:17 says, God listened to Leah.  Once again, God hears the concerns of women and blessed Leah with another son.

 

God further hears and protects women and children when in Exodus 22: 22-24, He gives instruction to not afflict any widow or fatherless child.  If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry. 

 

Surely, the song of Deborah and Barak would be considered a prayer.  They are singing their praises and gratitude to God for victory after they were able to defeat the Canaanites.  Read Judges 4 to notice the role of women in this victory and chapter 5 tells the story in poetry.  We can learn from their next action: They joyfully recounted all the happenings and their faith was supported and strengthened through their memories of that event.  We too, can be strengthened by sharing happy memories of Gods workings in our lives. 

 

Another barren wife elicited the prayer of a husband, when Manoahs wife was visited by the angel of the Lord and a child was promised.  His prayer was not for a child, but asking advice for how to raise the child because of the restrictions that had been given to his wife by the angel.  We are told in v. 9 that God listened to Manoah.   They implemented the Nazarite vow, and of course, we know that child as Samson. 

 

Although women spoke the desires of their hearts (as did Naomi in the book of Ruth, when she asked that the Lord would deal kindly with her daughters-in-law),  the first notation of a woman speaking directly to God is in 1 Samuel 1.  For a long time, Hannah had endured the taunting of Peninnah, her husbands other wife, because she was barren.  Only another woman would truly understand her misery ~ her desperate longing for a child ~ so she found solace in taking her burdens to God.  Year by year they went to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice and as she was in the tabernacle, she prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish (1 Samuel 1:10) and backed up her requests with a promise, a vow, to give the child to the Lord.  If you have never experienced distress to the point of being unable to say words, consider it a blessing.   Many of us have had world-stopping moments, in which we cant begin to think clearly, let alone say an intelligent prayer.  Hannah was so distressed, no words were coming but God doesnt need words vocalized in order to hear.  Her thoughts were coupled with her willingness to personally sacrifice, if she could only have a child. 

 

Eli, the priest, however, saw her distress and thought she was drunk and chastised her to put away her wine.  After explaining, he told her to Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him, 1:17.  And in the process of time, she bore the child that was on loan to the Lord, better known as Samuel,  the judge and prophet.  After delivering Samuel to the temple in chapter 2, Hannah prays again - quite vocal this time - praising God with a prophecy of Christ, because I rejoice in Your salvation, 2:1.   Hannah did not take her vow lightly.  What strength it took to leave her young boy there; what testimony to her faith! 

 

Food for thought:  Deborah the judge, also raised her voice in praise after Sisera was defeated by Israel, Judges 5.  How often are we so delighted with Gods workings that we have prayers that involve only praise? 

 

There is no prayer recorded concerning the widow of Zarephath in 1 Kings 17, but her life surely elicited prayer on her behalf by Elijah.  She had ministered to the needs of Elijah by providing her last morsel of food for him and as a result, we remember that there was an unlimited supply of meal and oil for her and her son.  Quite some time later, the boy died and in her distress, the widow accused Elijah of bringing that tragedy her way.  In turn, Elijah accused God of bringing the tragedy but God mercifully responded giving Elijah power to restore the son and her faith in Elijah was restored.  As we view the faith of this woman, it seems impossible that she did not pray; its just that were not told and we too, must have faith in Gods wisdom. 

 

Esthers plight involved wise planning and fasting and it is hard to imagine that she was not a praying person, but there is not a single prayer mentioned in that book - from her nor from her uncle, Mordecai.  (Once again, they may not be recorded.)  Yet, we see Gods hand in the unfolding of that story.  We could also assume there were no prayers on the lips of Jobs wife, since she was so willing to advise her husband to curse God and die. 

 

As we continue going through Scripture, we can visit together with Elizabeth and Mary and only guess as to details of their conversations; if only we were told more!  But after Elizabeth praised Mary in Luke 1:42-45, we do have Marys response; a song of praise.  Her soul couldnt hold in her praise; her faith in God.  Spend some time with Luke 1: 46-55 when you can.  Her words have become known in the religious world, as the Magnificat and was even set to music by composer J.S. Bach.

 

Following soon after, the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36) was known by her habit of staying at the temple, fasting and praying.  What impresses me about her is not only her faith in the coming of Christ, but her age.  Anna was a woman who lived her faith; she had set the habit of prayer and did not let the issues of aging or being a widow deter her.  Can we draw a lesson from this to set our habits when we are young?  Many years ago, a friend and I were complimenting an older woman who was as sweet as they come and rarely complained, comparing her to many older women who take opportunity to tell all their woes.  Our conclusion was:  If we want to be sweet and gentle older women, we need to start early!  How will a grouchy young women be when she is older?  Most likely, still grouchy!

 

I guess the Syro-Phoenician womans request could be considered a prayer, Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7: 24-30.  She had enough faith in Jesus to request healing for her daughter.  At first, Jesus was rather dismissive, saying He wasnt sent to her people (Gentiles) but only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  But she was insistent, saying Lord, help me!  He then told her, It is not good to take the childrens bread and throw it to the little dogs.   Where would you have been by this time?  Stomping off, irritated at such treatment?  At being called a dog?  She humbly accepted that comparison and answered, True, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters table.   Persistence and faith.  Her faith was greater than her pride and Jesus then praised her for that faith and granted her request.  

 

Well, I guess thats enough.  Surely there are more.  Im looking forward to exploring more prayers of the Bible with you as time goes on.  When men and women pray, things change.  We will all gain spiritual growth, have better relationships, relieve our anxieties and feel comforted, simply because we have poured out our hearts and put our trust in the God who listens.

 

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Learning from Prayers of the Bible

Prayers of Nehemiah

by Joyce Jamerson

 

Have you ever received devastating news?  How did you react?  A gasp?  Tears?  Shock?  As we continue a series on Bible prayers (in no particular order), we’ll see how Nehemiah reacts.

 

After being taken into Babylonian exile, Nehemiah served as cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia.  It’s interesting to note Nehemiah’s reaction to some unsettling news when he inquired about the fare of the Jews in Jerusalem who had survived the exile.  Those who survived were troubled and ashamed because of the state of their city.  The walls were broken down and the gates had been destroyed by fire.  Surely, they remembered or had been told of the glory of Solomon’s temple and were disgraced by comparing what once had been with what they had become. 

 

Since we are all different, our reaction to bad news will also differ.  Many years ago, our oldest son was in a very bad auto accident.  Even though my impulse was to immediately travel to the hospital (in another state), other factors were involved and the decision didn’t come immediately.  Since the news came late at night, we tried to rest and I left the next morning, leaving my husband to take care of other details. It took that length of time to be secure in our decisions.

 

We are told that Nehemiah sat down (indicating it weakened his physical state), wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying.  Jerusalem.  What was to become of it?  It was both the spiritual and political center of Judah.  Nehemiah immediately prayed as follows:

 

“O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there. ’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.

 

Since that was in the month Chivlev, the 9th month of the Jewish Calendar (Nov-Dec), it was four months later in the month Nisan (March-April) when Nehemiah approached King Artaxerxes with his concerns.  For whatever reason (weather could be a factor), Nehemiah waited.  His sadness of heart was enough for the king to notice so when questioned, Nehemiah grabbed the opportunity and poured out his concerns about the state of Jerusalem.  (He didn’t react with “why doesn’t somebody do something?” He saw the need and was up for the challenge!) The king asked, “what are you requesting?” and there begins one of the greatest lessons of leadership in all the Bible.  Immediately, Nehemiah prayed.  Great leaders pray.  There was no time to bow his head or even close his eyes.  We are not told his words but you can imagine.  “Please give me strength.  Please grant me wisdom.  Help me to find the right words.  May the king be receptive.” 

 

Before noticing the rest of Nehemiah’s prayers, let’s dwell on the first one; the one quoted above.  Does any one thing stand out as he begins praying? Even though he has a direct request in mind, he doesn’t start out with his wants; he begins by recognizing the greatness of his great and powerful God.  He begs for His attention and acknowledges how sinful Judah had been to even be in such a situation.  Do we ever get into a tight situation of our own doing and expect God to rescue us without acknowledging how we happened to be there?  Nehemiah mentions that he and his own family were also guilty of sin and he brought this before God in prayer “day and night.” 

 

So Nehemiah focused on God; acknowledged sins and asked for success.  Armed with confidence in God, he presented his plan to the king.  Some use an acronym for PRAY in that we can Pray, Repent, Ask and Yield.  Good plan.  Nehemiah had a plan of action figured out before making a request.  Smart man, Nehemiah.  How many sermons have you heard on “Rise up and Build” from Nehemiah 2:18?  Have you ever failed to count the cost of a project before starting it?  And how effective were the results?  (I’m afraid there are some unfinished messes in my sewing room because of that failure!)  Nehemiah showed a lot of wisdom in advanced planning and follow-through. 

 

You will certainly remember Sanballat & Tobiah and their ridicule of the Jews as they began their task.  Nothing like mockery when beginning a project!  Nehemiah again took that to God in prayer, 4:4,5.  “Hear, O our God, for we are despised; turn their reproach on their own heads, and give them as plunder to a land of captivity!  Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You, for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.  If there was ever a time to watch and pray, this was it.  Nehemiah was rather direct and focused in asking God to give them what they deserved and went on working, 4:9.  He then re-directed himself to the task at hand.  Oh, if we could learn from that one thing!  Give it to God and put it behind us instead of wasting precious energy in fruitless worry. 

 

A type of prayer in chapter 5 took the form of an admonition when Nehemiah presented some tough challenges to the people.  We need to be thankful, as well, for dedicated teachers who will point out errors and challenge us to correct them as Nehemiah did.  He shook out the folds of his garment and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house and from his property, who does not perform this promise.  The people then said “Amen! and praised the Lord. As the persecution continued, Nehemiah calls upon God to strengthen his hands (6:9) and in 6:14 uses the term “my God”  when he asked God to remember Sanballat and Tobiah according to their works.  God was personal to Nehemiah; not a stranger; almost like telling a best friend the latest news.  We get the feeling that Nehemiah could call upon God for any thing at any moment.  Later, in 7:5, he tells how “my God” put an idea into his heart.  Nehemiah humbly gives God all the credit for his abilities.  

 

What a tender and warm scene, as Ezra read from the law in front of all the people and in their renewed spirit, they “answered, ‘Amen, Amen! while lifting up their hands.  And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground,” 8:6.  Read through chapter 9 when you can and note the renewal of the people and the praise they were lifting up to God as they recount how He sustained them throughout their history.  We can learn so much by reading how God was praised in Scripture, for I fear I am not the only one that is sadly lacking in that department.  Their situation prompted them to praise.  Are our situations so different?  Perhaps we don’t recognize the depths of our sins and the sins of our nation?  Our nation and its leaders surely do need to be remembered in our prayers for we are rapidly drifting away.   

 

The closing prayer in the book is when Nehemiah asked to be remembered.  He had staged a clean sweep in casting out evil and restoring temple worship showing incredible courage and determination.    “Remember me, O my God, concerning this and do not wipe out my good deeds that I have done for the house of God and for its services,” 13: 14.  With Nehemiah, prayer was not a last resort when all else failed; prayer came often as he went through the monumental task of restoring Jerusalem.  You could call it the 3 M’s.  Mind.  Muscle.  Meditation.  Nehemiah settled the plan in his mind; put the needed organization and  muscle behind the plan and actively prayed and meditated on God’s plan for His people.  He did what he could and left the results to God. 

 

Five times in the book we find Nehemiah’s request: 

Remember me, O my God,” 

prayed with confidence to One who faithfully answers.

 

 

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The Prayers of Daniel

by Joyce Jamerson

 

 

We’ve looked at the prayers of women in the Bible, as well as the prayers of Nehemiah and this study is of the prayers of Daniel.  As I mentioned, this series of prayers in the Bible is in no particular order so you are subject to my whims!

 

We know Daniel as a noble young man, who served God in spite of very difficult circumstances. Being taken to Babylon as a captive didn’t change his behavior or his prayer habits.When Nebuchadnezzar the king demanded an interpretation to his disturbing dreams, none of the wise men of Babylon could do so and it was ordered that they all be killed.  Knowing this would probably make one shrink into the background, but Daniel, with confidence in the wisdom and understanding God had given him, volunteered.

 

What interests me is his next step.  He immediately went to his three friends, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (otherwise known as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) and asked them to pray.  Is that our first thought?  To ask others to pray for our situation?  They were all in danger of being killed, so they all prayed; knowing exactly how to pray and for what purpose.  Clearly, prayer was an established habit for all these young men.  The interpretation to the king’s dream was revealed to Daniel through a vision during the night.  Immediately, Daniel blessed the God of heaven and prayed.   It was a heart felt prayer of praise and thanksgiving; not just a simple thank you.   It is as follows:   Daniel 2: 20-23.

 

“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever,

 to whom belong wisdom and might.

 He changes times and seasons;

 he removes kings and sets up kings;

 he gives wisdom to the wise

 and knowledge to those who have understanding;

 he reveals deep and hidden things;

 he knows what is in the darkness,

 and the light dwells with him.

 To you, O God of my fathers,

 I give thanks and praise,

for you have given me wisdom and might,

and have now made known to me what we asked of you,

for you have made known to us the king's matter.

 

There was a lot at stake for Daniel at this time.  Daniel had, early on, learned the protection that can be had by following God, the “steadfast love that endures all the day,” Psalm 52:1.  He prefaced his interpretation with a disclaimer that it had anything to do with his own wisdom. 

 

“Daniel answered the king and said, “No wise men, enchanters, magicians, or astrologers can show to the king the mystery that the king has asked, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries, and he has made known to King Nebuchadnezzar what will be in the latter days,

2:27,28.

 

There are so many fascinating stories in the book of Daniel, including the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar’s punishment for being prideful and the handwriting on the wall.  After Belshazzar’s death, Darius comes to power and with it, comes the next big challenge for Daniel.   Because he was tricked, Darius, quite unknowingly, signed a decree against praying or giving homage to anyone except the king, for 30 days.  (Consult Daniel 6 for the exciting details!) 

 

Daniel had risen to high power and as usual, others in high places ~ twisted and perverted by jealousy ~ made life difficult for Daniel.  They could not defeat him in any way, except through his God.  Imagine that!  Nothing could be brought against him except to attack his religion.  In spite of the decree, Daniel kept his window open and prayed as usual, three times a day.  Are your prayer habits known to others?  Could you be convicted of praying three times a day?  Daniel wasn’t trying to push an agenda or demonstrate for his rights, but quietly and simply continued to pray according to his conviction. 

 

“When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously, Daniel 6:10.

 

Once Daniel had been put into the den of lions, it was a miserable night for Darius, since he realized he had been tricked.   Once again, God’s protection is known by the entire kingdom just because of the the life of Daniel.  And those who accused him?  Well, you wouldn’t want to be married to any of them, because they and their wives and children went to their demise when  all were thrown into the lion’s den. 

 

There was a time of more visions and interpretations and the next recorded prayer of Daniel is in chapter 9.  It is quite lengthy so it is not included here, but perhaps you can spend some time with it soon.  Herbert Lockyer, in his book, All the Prayers of the Bible, says it should be read upon one’s knees.  He also notes wonderful lessons gained from this model prayer as listed by Burgess and Proudlove, from their book, Watching Unto Prayer.  They are as follows: 

 

  1. Place of prayer…………………..he went into his house.

  2. Courage in prayer……………..……his windows being open.

  3. Direction in prayer……………….…….toward Jerusalem.

  4. Attitude in prayer………………………….he kneeled upon his knees.

  5. Regularity in prayer……………………..…..three times a day.

  6. Thanksgiving in prayer……………………..….gave thanks before His God.

 

Continuance in prayer………………………..……as he did aforetime.

 

Daniel’s conclusion is of particular interest, Daniel 9: 18-19.

 

“O my God, incline your ear and hear.

Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name.

For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness,

but because of your great mercy.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive.

O Lord, pay attention and act.

Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city

 and your people are called by your name.

 

Look at what happened next:  (9:20-23)

 

“While I was speaking and praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my plea before the Lord my God for the holy hill of my God, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice. He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, “O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision,” ESV.

 

Did you see that?  “At the beginning of your supplications…”  NASV.

The moment you began praying…”  NLT.

At the beginning of your pleas for mercy…”  ESV.

 

In other words, your prayer was heard the minute you started!

 

Why Daniel prayed is what jumped out at me.  We don’t pray because of our righteousness or to gain favors but because of God’s great mercy.  In chapter 10, there is another vision, when Daniel is visited by an angel.  Daniel stood before him trembling and heard these words.

 

“Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard,” 10:12.

 

 Because of the majesty of this vision, Daniel is left weak and speechless but notice one of his concerns.

 

“O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me,

and I retain no strength.

How can my lord's servant talk with my lord?

For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.

 

Would we be as concerned if weakness, for whatever reason, kept us from talking with God?  If our relationship with God in prayer is not established, surely we do not fully understand it’s benefits.  Daniel shows us that prayer is valuable for life’s difficulties and praying often is desired; not because of selfish reasons but because of his deep desire to stay in close contact with his Father and do His will.  Are you thinking that prayer in your situation is impossible?  Pray anyway.  We can ask our friends to pray for us and with us to praise God, not only for His mercy, grace and many other attributes, but for the remarkable blessing and opportunity to come before the God of heaven.  If prayer has not been your habit, make changes, starting today!  Prayer removes fear and anxiety, so we can live a life of purpose, just as Daniel.

 

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer,” Romans 12:12.

 

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving,” Colossians 4:2

 

 

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 "He Careth For You"
 
Cast all your care upon Jesus,
 Who ever careth for you,
He will sustain and uphold you,
 He will be faithful and true.

Jesus our blessed Redeemer,
 Jesus, our Shepherd and Guide,
Ever will bear all your burdens,
 Ever will stay by your side.

Jesus knows all of your problems,
 Knows all our trial and care,
He's ever ready to help us,
 Ready to answer our prayer.

Oh! what a comfort in trial,
 Just to lean hard on this Friend,
Trust Him for grace and deliverance,
 Learning on Him to depend.

Jesus wants you to be happy,
 Wants you to have peace and rest;
Cast all your care then upon Him,
 Lean on His strong, loving breast.

Careth? Oh yes! Jesus careth,
 His own are dear to His heart;
All His beloved whom He died for,
 They are to Him set apart.

Oh! how He cares for His people,
 Guards them and keeps them alway,
Wants them to share in His glory,
 All through eternity's day.

Make your requests then to Jesus,
 Trusting His promise so true;
Roll on the Lord all your burden,
 For He is caring for you.

     —by Lois Beckwith

 

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The Prayer of a Patriotic Prophet

Habakkuk

 

by Joyce Jamerson

 

Praying acknowledges our dependence on God and as we look into the prayer habits of Habakkuk, we see the traits of dependence and closeness.  Through his experiences, we also see that if were going to pray, we have to be ready to accept His Wisdom. 

 

Habakkuk loved his country.  His name means to embrace and embrace he did; both God and country.  He was passionate about Judah and hated seeing the sinful nation that it had become.  Written sometime in early 600 B.C., Habakkuk was very uncomfortable with seeing the rising power of Babylon; their reputation was of destruction and cruelty.  He was also concerned about the wickedness of Judah and as was his habit, took his concerns to Jehovah.  He had his ideas about how Jehovah should handle this situation and asked, How long shall I cry for help and You will not hear?   Jehovah answers with Look among the nations, and watch; be utterly astounded!  For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it be told you,and then told Habakkuk that He was sending Babylon to Judah. 

 

Habakkuk could hardly believe his ears; that wasnt what he had in mind at all!  How would using a cruel, wicked nation with a thirst for power help Judah?  The possibilities flooded his mind. Still disturbed, he will stand watch to see what Jehovah will say next; to see how He handles the complaint.  In All The Prayers Of The Bible,Lockyer comments that Habakkuk had to pause to hear God speak.  Does that bring to mind Psalm 46:10?   Be still and know that I am God, I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!  What wonderful advice to just be still and wait.  In our society, there is not a lot of being still.  We are here, there and everywhere and have to make ourselves stop long enough to read Gods Word and and meditate upon it.  We post; we tweet; we give our opinion all too freely when focusing on the Word would give us much more peace. 

 

The Lord answers again, For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

In his Commentary on the Minor Prophets,Homer Hailey comments:

  Jehovah then observes that whatever the people must suffer, the doom of the wicked is certain.  This partially solves the prophets problem.  While waiting patiently for the nation to come up against them, he looks back over Israels history and sees Jehovah coming to assist His people at all times of their need.

 

Chapter 2 closes with But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.  

 

Silence.  Submission.  Trust. 

 

So many lessons are being learned when Habakkuk realizes the extent of Gods protection.  We too, must remember that God can use evil for His own purpose and we must not fret, but be still and know that He is God.  Our own nation is not where many of us would like it to be and Christians are seeing more persecution now than in many of our lifetimes.  Should we turn against God because of evil?  We too, can learn from the experience of Habakkuk and respond in faith. 

 

In Chapter 3, Habakkuk vividly shows how much his faith has grown.  He has better understanding of the workings of God and the necessary chastisement Judah will receive at the hands of the Chaldeans; but Babylon neednt think they are home free.  Their day will come; God is sovereign and He is in control.

 

We dont enjoy times of struggle, but as one popular quote reminds us:  The struggle youre in today is developing the strength for tomorrow.  Or another:  You never realize how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. 

 

Habakkuk, strengthened with knowledge and understanding, composes a beautiful prayer; actually a type of poem.  The emotional pressure he has been under is evident in the prayer, as he realizes the great mercy and lovingkindness God has had in the past and will continue to have.  Amidst his fears, He praises God, naming many of His attributes - splendor covering the heavens, an earth full of praise and radiance like sunlight.  He doesnt forget Gods power and describes rays flashing from His hand, His ability to survey the earth and to address the stress of the nations.  Even though mountains are shattered and ancient hills collapse, His ways are everlasting.  In very poetic language, Habakkuk describes how Jehovah uses pestilence, lightning, hail and such as weapons to strike the house of evil.  The mountains quaked; the sun and moon stood in their places.  Through all this, Habakkuk admits how he trembled at what was taking place.  I will include the last few verses so you can meditate on his conclusions.  Habakkuk is a great little book and makes a good study; one we may need to study more deeply as our own nation plunges into the depths of sin.  It does not go unnoticed by God and at times, we too, may wonder how He is working but just as with Habakkuk, being still and waiting is a good approach.

 

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.

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 hindsfeet,

And makes me walk on my high places.

 

His reaction is typical of one who knows a difficult situation is ahead with the helpless realization that all he can do is wait.  Difficult times have come before and once again, the tempest can be survived.  Age and experience do tend to build strength.  Habakkuk loved his country and wanted better things for it.  Verse 17 is classic trust as he remembers how God delivered in the past and is confident He will do so in the future.  When Babylon comes in all their fierceness, there is a good chance his homeland will suffer; convenience and food sources will be taken away, but Habakkuk does not despair.  His faith is bolstered by the strength he gains from God - from the goodness that God continually delivers and the promise that He will deliver once again.   Great is Thy Faithfulness! 

 

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake,

for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven,  Matthew 5:10.

 

Even as our nation continues its decline, can we rejoice while waiting? 

 

Patient perseverance from the patriotic prophet.

 What a great example for us.

 




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September/October 2017