"The Frustrated Preacher"
Sometimes preachers get frustrated - not necessarily with other people - sometimes the frustration is with God. As God's spokesman, preachers want to see results; God often sees ministry. (This sermon is based upon the first 11 verses.)
The Frustrated Preacher
A. I hate to tell you this about me, but sometimes I get frustrated. While it’s true that sometimes my frustration is with people, what I want to be honest about, is sometimes my frustration is with God.
B. Let me give you an example from another preacher that is true about me. I am driving down the road and come across the sign, “Road Work Ahead.” The first thing I want to do is speed up and get through the construction before traffic gets bogged down. As I enter the construction zone I do a quick count of how many people are working and how many are standing around doing nothing. I am cynical that way.
C. I see 5 people leaning on shovels, a couple more talking on their cell phones, one guy driving this huge truck and one man actually moving stuff around with his shovel and what really upsets me is that make two miles or more one lane and they only work on 20 feet of road. Yes, I get frustrated. But it’s only tax money right?
D. Wrong! I feel cheated that it seems like only one or two people are doing any real work, that the whole things seems very inefficient and wasteful, but I have to work and no one does my work for me. But the truth is, I don’t know all the facts. I don’t know the bigger picture. I don’t’ know that at just right moment all those people leaning on their shovels have to work extremely hard and fast when the big truck begins to dump its contents. I don’t realize the people on the phone are coordinating this two mile construction project far more efficiently than I thought.
E. In other words, my smug snarling about their laziness and my tax dollars and how I work harder than they do and life is unfair is not accurate. But here’s the kicker – sometimes I look at God just like that.
F. God sees there is a lot to be done in this life, He know the world is falling apart and needs His direct involvement, but it seems like God is lazy or doesn’t care.
I. Habakkuk, the Frustrated Preacher
A. So we come to Habakkuk and we find a very frustrated preacher. Frustrated not so much with the people of the Southern Kingdom as he is frustrated with God. Many of the prophets are frustrated that the people of God neglect to act in accordance with God’s teaching. Habakkuk is frustrated with God. He goes so far as to call God “idle.” Listen to Hab. 1:2-4.
B. This honest anger is not good or justified. It happens, God doesn’t strike him dead, but it is inexcusable to speak to God in such an accusatory manner. God doesn’t have to answer me. Job tried it and it didn’t work real well for him. But in this case we get God’s response.
C. Let’s look at the first complaint. Habakkuk is deeply upset about the wickedness and injustice still going on in Judah even though this is probably during the timeline of the reforms by the good King Josiah. Despite the good that the king has been doing, the sin seems so invasive that only God could root it out and according to Habakkuk, God is not doing a very good job of helping the innocent, the wicked outnumber the righteous and justice is perverted.
D. I know we have the perfect congregation, but suppose there is a group of Christians meeting together and the elders are trying very hard to motivate this group of Christians and providing for them everything they need for spiritual transformation, but the majority of the church refuses make any real spiritual change. In frustration the preacher who was working with the elders goes to God in private prayer and says, “God! What is happening? We are trying so hard to do things the way you want and hardly anyone is following. You are God. You change hearts. Come on God, please, do something!”
E. In the case of Habakkuk, God gave him a direct answer. But it wasn’t the answer Habakkuk expected.
II. God Responds
A. Listen to Hab. 1:5-6. WAIT! Okay God, I was frustrated about the church, but don’t kill us.
B. God said, “I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told,” then God tells him. And God is right, Habakkuk doesn’t believe it.
C. There were three main powers in his day. You had the Assyrians, which had destroyed the Northern Kingdom, they were “king of the hill,” but truth be told, they were beginning to fail. Then you had their big enemy, the Babylonians (or Chaldeans) and they were a brutal, aggressive and unbelievably violent people. They were the kind of people you expected God to strike dead. They were how many Americans view the leadership of North Korea. And the third group was the Egyptians, but they were also in decline. They had no love for the Assyrians and wanted to march through Judah, but Josiah did not want it and ended up fighting Egypt and dying.
D. Of this group of people, God chose the Babylonians (Chaldeans) to teach Judah a lesson by destroying them, the temple, and bring the last of God’s chosen into exile. God was right, Habakkuk couldn’t believe it. But that’s next Sunday’s sermon.
A. If you and I were as honest with God and as open as Habakkuk, we would probably complain that good Christian people often get beat up by bad Christian people as much as they do unbelievers. We how long do we have to cry out to God for help before He steps in and does something.
B. If truth be told, many in here have probably been frustrated that God isn’t doing enough and when He does something, we sometimes feel like God is doing it wrong.
C. What I love about Habakkuk is we need to hear this whole story before we can really offer an invitation that is fitting. But for today, I ask you open yourself up to God and listen. Maybe God is doing something you don’t believe, but trust Him. His ways are not ours and His wisdom is greater. If we can pray for you to grow in your trust of God, then come as we stand and sing.