“He who earnestly seeks good finds favor, but trouble will come to him who seeks evil.”
The New Living Translation says it this way, “If you search for good, you will find favor; but if you search for evil, it will find you!” In other words, if you’re looking for trouble, watch out! It will find you!
We’ve probably all known people who just seem to go looking for trouble. It’s easy to get focused on them and be a little smug about the fact that we’re better than that. But do we seek evil in more subtle ways without realizing it?
Have you ever maliciously thought, “what goes around comes around”? Ever taken some secret delight in seeing someone fail? It may seem relatively harmless, but is it? Is it pleasing to God? Is it seeking good or searching for evil?
This week’s question: “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear?” (Habakkuk 1.2).
God had said he was going to allow the pagan nation of Babylon to destroy the city of Jerusalem and take the Jews into captivity. The Prophet Habakkuk was stunned. It didn’t make sense. Why would God allow a nation so wicked to do such a thing to His people.
The Prophet asked a question many of us have asked at one time or another. Where are you God? I’m praying, but you don’t seem to be answering! Why are you letting this evil happen?
If there really is a God who is all good and all powerful, why doesn’t He always answer our prayers for good and right things? Why does He allow evil and suffering? Here is the age-old skeptic’s argument: Either God is all powerful but not all good (therefore He does not stop evil), or He is all good but not all powerful (thus He cannot stop the evil around us). That statement sounds so logical. If He is really all powerful, then He could eliminate all evil, pain, and suffering.
In fact, He could absolutely eradicate all evil in an instant. But suppose He were to decree that, at the midnight hour tonight, He would radically stamp out all evil. On the surface that appears a wonderful idea, but is it? If He did, do you realize that not one of us would be here at 12:01?
The fact is God has already done something about evil, He sent His Son to die for evil people like us and He has given us His grace and His Spirit.
The book of Habakkuk contains only three brief chapters, but in them the prophet showed us that the real issue at hand is not one of evil, but one of focus. Habakkuk outlined the route from focusing on our circumstances . . . to focusing through them . . . and finally, to reaching the place where we focus beyond them.
When we focus on the circumstances, we are tempted to think: “Why God?” “Why me?” “Why aren’t you doing anything?” But the author reminds us that just because we’re in a storm doesn’t mean we aren’t right in the middle of God’s will. Just ask Jonah.
The first step in focusing “through our circumstances” is to get God’s perspective. That’s the reason Joseph was able to forgive his brothers for their horrible betrayal. In Genesis 50:20, he said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to save many people alive.”
Looking through a problem also requires patience, waiting on God and His timing, while holding on to His promises. Next come participation, walking in faith during the process. Hawkings:
Finally, in focusing through the circumstances of life, there is the element of perception. Habakkuk saw that “the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him” (v. 20). God is still in charge. He has not abdicated His throne.
But focusing on “through the circumstances” isn’t the ultimate level of trust. Prayerfully, like Habakkuk, we can learn to focus beyond them. The Prophet ends the book with these beautiful words:
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.
I have been pulling a few thoughts out of each chapter, but I cannot cover all the nuggets Hawkins shares in this little gem of a book. I hope these excerpts whet your appetite to purchase the book for yourself. Just click on one of the links below.
Next week’s question: “Will a man rob God?” (Malachi 3.8).
Last week’s question: “What does the Lord require of you?” (Micah 6.8). Read it here.
You can get a copy of The Jesus Code and follow along with these 52 vital questions. The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. If you do, I’d love your feedback. Click here to get the book or here for Kindle.
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In this life we’ll be hurt and mistreated, at times, sometimes even by those closest to us. The temptation is to give in and become bitter or vengeful. But our example is Christ who prayed even for His betrayers.
15 He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,
He who despises the gain of oppressions,
Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
And shuts his eyes from seeing evil.
16 He will dwell on high;
His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
Bread will be given him,
His water will be sure.
Even in the midst of God’s judgment, He makes provision for those who remain faithful.
But I couldn’t help noticing the two phrases in verse 15, “who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed” and “and shuts his eyes from seeing evil.” I don’t believe that means we shut our eyes and ears to the reality of evil and the need to know what is going on in our country and our world. But it seems to me it would apply to seeing and hearing those things for entertainment or enjoyment. I think each of us must think about what that means in respect to our movie, TV, and video game industries and even our own habits. Continue reading →
God has strong words to say to any nation found calling evil good. Yet … we have decided to call homosexuality another lifestyle option and abortion just a choice. We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics and speaking up for the truth intolerant. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil.”
Even though these passages are specifically about the nation of Israel, there is much universal truth contained in them.
I commented on some of this yesterday, but think about our nation as you read the following verses 5.20-24:
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes,
And prudent in their own sight!
22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine,
Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away justice from the righteous man!
24 Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble,
And the flame consumes the chaff,
So their root will be as rottenness,
And their blossom will ascend like dust;
Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts,
And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
We call evil (abortion, homosexuality, etc.) good.
We call speaking up for the truth on those and other subjects “intolerant” and considered by many to be evil.
We put forth darkness (all kinds of sin and immorality) as being “enlightened”—intellectual.
We rail against the backward narrow minded Christians who supposedly want to “impose” their views on everyone.
We justify the wicked for a bribe and call it politics.
We take away the justice from the righteous man.
Then we are outraged when the flame of a bad economy consumes our retirement plans and our stock portfolios and our jobs disappear like blossoms gone by and turned to dust.
We want to blame past presidential administrations, immigrants, the middle class, the rich, the poor, or corporate America. But the real problem is we “have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel”!
Elihu, the fifth person in this scene, continues with his observations. He has patiently waited while Job and his other three friends have debated the issue of Job’s sufferings and his integrity or lack of it and now he wades in.
While Elihu makes some good observations (we will see in a few chapters that even God did not rebuke him as He did the others), his understanding was still limited. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13.12:
“For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”
There will always be things which we don’t fully understand. We see only a small portion of the tapestry of our lives, our families’ lives, and the events playing out around us. And even what we do see, we don’t see clearly. So when we go through a test or a trial or we read about some tragedy, we must filter it all through the goodness of God, the sovereignty of God, and the absolute holiness of God.
We hear of a child being molested, for instance, and we think “Why would God allow such a horrible thing?” But what if, as a result, that child got saved, and then she married a Christian man, and his life was impacted by her testimony, causing him to draw closer to God. Then when they had children, they raised them in a godly home and, as a result, their children were saved and many of the next generation and the next. Maybe a whole line of people was ultimately impacted by that horrible act, changing the eternal destiny of many. From an eternal perspective, would it be worth it? Continue reading →