Habakkuk

2017.02.19 Sunday Sermon
God’s Ways Are Higher—Habakkuk

Last week, I finally went to go see the movie “Silence.” As you may have already heard, there’s a lot of discussion (and some controversy) surrounding the message of the movie. Personally, I enjoyed the movie. I thought it was well made, for the most part anyway, and I thought it touched on a theme that we often don’t engage in enough in our Christian circles.

One of the main themes the movie touches on, as the title portrays, is “God’s silence,” and more specifically, “God’s indifference and inactivity.” It’s a difficult topic to talk about, because it seemingly casts God in a not-so-compassionate light. Isn’t God supposed to be good? Isn’t he supposed to be merciful? Isn’t he supposed to listen to the prayers of his people? Then why such inconsistency?
神は良いお方ではないのですか?神は憐れみ深いのではないのですか?神はご自分の民の祈りを聞いてくれるのではないのですか?ではなぜそのように矛盾しているのですか?

The next book up in our six-year journey through the Bible is Habakkuk, and this book addresses some of those same themes—the indifference of God and the inconsistency of God. We continue through the Minor Prophets with Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet in the Southern Kingdom of Judah who ministered around 600BC, long after the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fallen back in 722BC. He warned of the fall of Judah to the Babylonians, and the prophecy was realized soon after with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586BC.

The problem that was going on in Judah was the unfaithfulness of God’s people. There was so much wickedness in the land, and at first, Habakkuk was shocked by a different kind of God’s silence. As the prophet became more and more burdened in his heart regarding the wickedness of God’s people, he wondered why God seemed so indifferent to all the evil. Why wasn’t God cleaning things up in Judah?

Well, God’s response came, and it equally shocked Habakkuk, though in a different way. God’s remedy was to use the wicked nation of Babylon to punish the wickedness of Judah. This time, Habakkuk could not understand God’s inconsistency. How could a holy God use a wicked nation to punish his own special people?

Does God sometimes seem indifferent to your troubles? You pray and pray, but it seems like he’s just not listening. Much like in the movie “Silence” where God seemed silent in the midst of brutal persecution of his faithful people in Japan. Or much like what Habakkuk first encountered in seeking righteous correction for his countrymen.

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Habakkuk 1:2-4)

主よ、助けを求める私の祈りに、いつになったら耳を傾けてくださるのですか。何の答えもないので、むなしく叫ぶばかりです。「助けてくれ、人殺しだ」と叫んでも、だれも助けに来てくれません。私を取り囲んでいる罪と悲惨を、いつまでも見ていなければならないのですか。どこを見ても圧制とわいろがはびこり、人は議論や争いにふけっています。律法は無視され、法廷では正しい裁きが行われません。悪者の数は正しい人よりはるかに多く、わいろと詐欺が公然と行われているからです。(ハバクク書1:2-4)

Or Does God sometimes seem inconsistent to you? You worship him as a good and loving God, but it seems like he allows bad things to happen. Much like in the movie “Silence” where God seemed to allow the torture and death of faithful Christians. Or much like what Habakkuk encountered next when he couldn’t comprehend God’s decision to raise up the Babylonians to destroy Judah.

Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (Habakkuk 1:12,13)

ああ、私の神である主、聖なる永遠のお方よ。このことはみな、私たちを抹殺するためなのですか。そんなはずはありません。私たちの岩である神よ、あなたは、恐ろしい罪を犯した私たちを懲らしめ、正しい者にしようとして、カルデヤ人を起こされたのです。私たちは悪い者ですが、彼らはもっと悪いのです。どんな罪をも見のがさないあなたは、私たちが彼らにのみ込まれるのをただ立って見ておられるのですか。悪者たちが彼らよりましな者を滅ぼすのを、黙って見過ごすべきでしょうか。(ハバクク書1:12、13)

The book of Habakkuk addresses a very important reality that Christians must understand and overcome if we are to mature in the love and knowledge of our good and faithful God.
ハバクク書はクリスチャンが理解し、乗り越えなければならないとても重要な現実に取り組んでいます。

One of the modern “Christian myths” that ought to be eliminated says that when you trust Jesus Christ, all your problems go away. Not true. Well, it’s true that your biggest problem—your sin problem—has been solved, but with that solution comes a whole new set of problems that you didn’t face when you were an unbeliever.
なくしてしまわなければならない現代の“クリスチャンの思い込み”の一つに、イエス・キリストを信じれば、問題はすべてなくなってしまうということがあります。

We believe that God is good and faithful and just. But then we encounter problems like: Why do good people suffer and evil people prosper (Psalm 73)? Why isn’t God answering my prayer? When I’m trying to do my best for the Lord, why do I experience the worst from others?

Christians who claim to be without problems are either not telling the truth or not growing and experiencing faith in the context of real life. Perhaps they’re just not thinking at all. They’re living in a religious dream world that has blocked out reality and suppressed honest feelings and internal struggles.
何の問題もないと言うクリスチャンは、本当のことを言っていないか、実生活で信仰が成長していない、信仰を経験していないかのどちらかです。おそらく全く何も考えていないのでしょう。そのような人たちは、現実を見ないようにし、正直な感情や心の葛藤を抑えてしまった宗教的な夢の世界に生きているのです。

Like Job’s friends, they mistake shallow optimism for the peace of God, and the good life for the blessing of God. Don’t be mistaken! The true peace of God is NOT positive thinking, and the true blessing of God is NOT a comfortable life with no worries, or what a typical Japanese would consider, “Good luck, good health, and good fortune.” Those are not the signs of the true blessing of God. People who believe such things are horribly mistaken. You never hear them pray what David and Jesus prayed, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
神の真の平安は前向きな考えではありません。神の真の祝福は心配事のない快適な生活ではありません。
“運が良く、健康で幸運” これらは神の真の祝福のしるしではありません。

But Habakkuk wasn’t that kind of a believer. As he surveyed his country and his people, he found himself struggling with some of the same serious problems. Habakkuk anguished over God’s inaction. He was tormented by God’s inconsistency. Things were not well with Habakkuk, both within and around him. But he also did the right thing: he took his problems to God.
ハバククは神が何もしてくださらないことに苦悩しました。神の矛盾に苦しめられました。ハバクク自身も彼の周りも物事がうまくいっていませんでした。しかし彼は正しいことをしました。自分の問題を神に持っていったのです。

Habakkuk wanted to see God do something more, particularly in the area of justice for evildoers. The book of Habakkuk pictures a frustrated prophet, much like Jonah, but Habakkuk channeled his frustration into prayers and eventually praise to God, rather than trying to run from the Lord as Jonah did. I’ll touch on this more at the end.
ハバクク書はジョナのように不満を抱いた預言者を描いていますが、ハバククはジョナのように主から逃げようとするのではなく、自分の不満を祈りに変え、最終的には神への賛美に変えています。

And that’s our takeaway from reading and studying this book. We’re going to have problems in life, whether we’re Christians or not. We’re going to face troubles, hardships, suffering, and bad health, whether we’re Christians or not. It’s the broken, fallen world that we live in, and their involvement has nothing to do with God’s goodness.

Why? The answer is simple, but not because the issue is simple. Actually, much like trying to critique the movie “Silence” or answering a question like, “Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?” it’s complex and complicated.

So, I don’t mean to simplify the issue or give a simple answer, but the answer must remain simple for the reason that we cannot fully understand. It is impossible for us, as finite human beings, to fully understand God, who is infinite (we learned this last week in the nature of the Trinity).

We can wonder and we can ask, but the solution to the problem is not in the question. The answer is that, simply, God’s ways are higher, much much higher, than our ways. It is impossible for us to fully comprehend all the ways of God. We do not have the capability. We do not have the faculty. It’s like a child trying to understand quantum physics. It’s like me trying to understand trigonometry and calculus. It’s just not possible, simply because God—his thoughts, his ways, his reasoning, his process—is way too big for us.
神の道は私たちの道よりはるかに高いのです。神の道をすべて完全に理解しようとするのは私たちには不可能なのです。

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8,9)

「わたしの計画はあなたがたの考える計画とは違い、わたしの思いはあなたがたの思いと同じではない。天が地より高いように、わたしの道はあなたがたの道より高く、わたしの思いはあなたがたの思いより高い。」(イザヤ書55:8、9)

We have to be realistic and humble, and just accept this truth. We also should know and accept that God makes no excuses for his actions. He doesn’t need to justify himself, much in the same way he replied in the book of Job.
神はご自分の行いに言い訳をなさいません。ご自分を正当化する必要はないのです。

So, after we accept this reality, what we can do and are called to do is to follow Habakkuk’s example. First, he prayed.
私たちにできること、求められていることは、ハバククの模範に従うことです。まず最初に彼は祈りました。

Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

主よ。今、私は、あなたのうわさを聞きました。あなたがしようとしておられるみわざを知り、恐れをもって礼拝しています。この非常時に直面している私たちを、再び、昔のあなたのようにお助けください。あなたの力を示してください。御怒りの中にも、あわれみを忘れないでください。(ハバクク書3:2)

Habakkuk prayed for his people and his nation. We, in the same way, are called to pray when we face troubles. Even when it seems like he isn’t listening, we are called to pray. Even when it seems like he’s ignoring, we are called to pray. And even when it seems he has gone silent, we are called to pray. Pray for mercy. Even if the outcome we desire never comes, what we can do is keep praying for mercy.
神のあわれみを祈りましょう。私たちが望む結果とならなくても、私たちにできることは神のあわれみを祈り続けることです。

And ultimately, he praised God.
そして最終的には、彼は神を賛美しました。

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17,18)

いちじくの木が全滅して花も実もつけず、オリーブの木も実りがなく、畑が荒れたままであっても、羊の群れが野で死に、牛小屋がからっぽでも、私は主を喜びます。私を救ってくださる神のおかげで幸せです。(ハバクク書3:17、18)

When we trust in the Lord fully, praise rises up. Take careful note of the fact that Habakkuk’s prayer and praise was not dependent on his desired outcome. He leaves the outcome to God. Even when the outcome seems bad to him, and even when he cannot understand its goodness or reason, he praises God. I believe he is able to do that because he trusts God. He trusts in God’s sovereignty. He trusts in God’s decision. He trusts in the fact that God’s ways are higher than what we can comprehend.
ハバククの祈りと賛美は自分の願う結果に左右されていませんでした。結果は神に任せていました。結果が自分にとって悪いように思われても、その良さや理由が理解できなくても、彼は神を賛美しています。

Like Habakkuk, if we are able to pray and praise God in the midst of suffering and troubles, regardless of what we would consider a favorable outcome, we gain strength and courage to face and overcome those trials. Like the faithful Japanese Christians in the movie “Silence,” and the many who have endured hardship and disease with courage and joy, let us reflect that same courage and joy as a testimony of our God.
ハバククのように、苦しみやトラブルのさなかにあっても、神に祈り、神を賛美することができるなら、私たちが好ましい結果だと思うことにかかわらず、その困難に向き合い、乗り越える力と勇気を得るのです。

Habakkuk ends with this testimony:

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19)

神、主は私の力です。私を鹿のように速く走れるようにし、山の向こうに安全に連れて行ってくださるのです。(ハバクク書3:19)

(pray)