How Long, Lord?

How Long, Lord?

Quite a few people in the Bible have asked God, “How long do I have to put up with this?” Even Jesus asked this question when his disciples and the Pharisees (religious leaders) were arguing. Mark 9:19 He was human as well as divine and knows how we feel.

Habakkuk was a prophet during a time when the king and leaders of Jerusalem were especially wicked. This was in the late 500s BC. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about Habakkuk, but we can see what he is like through his prayers.

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?

Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.”   Habakkuk 1:2-4

God answers and tells Habakkuk he will punish these rulers of Jerusalem by sending the Babylonians to destroy them and the city. The Lord had told many prophets this and had warned the people of Jerusalem for years.

God said, “They have built high places to Baal on which to burn their children in the fire as offerings to Baal—something I never commanded or mentioned, nor did it even enter My mind.” Jeremiah 19:5

Isaiah the prophet wrote about the people of Judah: “Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. No one enters suit justly; no one goes to law honestly; they rely on empty pleas, they speak lies, they conceive mischief and give birth to iniquity. They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever eats their eggs will die; whoever cracks them will hatch a viper. Their feet rush into sin; they are swift to shed innocent blood.

They pursue evil schemes; acts of violence mark their ways. The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths. They have turned them into crooked roads; no one who walks along them will know peace. So, justice is far from us, and righteousness does not reach us. We look for light, but all is darkness; for brightness, but we walk in deep shadows.”
 Isaiah 59:3-9

I’m not so sure Habakkuk was happy with God’s answer. At first, he acknowledges the right of God to punish, but then he told God what he thought of the Babylonians and asked, “Is he to keep destroying nations without mercy?”

Then Habakkuk says something bold,

“I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”

We can also pray like this. We can ask God anything and then wait for an answer. I’ve done this many times and he has always answered my questions. Either he puts the answer in my mind, I find it in the Bible or gives me a dream. My sister Liz asked God a question about 15 years ago and recently got the answer. She laughed about that, but it just shows that God will answer one day. We must be patient.

God tells Habakkuk to write down what he is going to tell him so many can read it. His answer to this question is long and I believe is not just about the king of Babylon. It looks to me like a judgment of the nations of all the world. And he specifically says, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.  Habakkuk 2:3

The Pulpit Commentary says:

“The prophecy personified yearns for its fulfilment in “the end,” not merely at the destruction of the literal Babylon, but in the time of the end – the last time, the Messianic age, when the world power, typified by Babylon, should be overthrown.”

In verse 4, God compares the wicked and the righteous by saying, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”  Instead of relying on their own strength, those who follow God live by faith in the strength of God.

So, what does God say? It seems to me I should copy down everything from Habakkuk from this point to the end of the book, but I won’t do that to you. It would be good to find the book online and read it, asking God to help you understand.

Suffice it to say, God tells of the evils the nations have done; how they have hurt the innocent. In chapter 3 he moves on to judgement, when he will come down and allow the earth to be destroyed while he saves those who are waiting for him. They are hiding from their persecutors, but he knows where they are.

When this earth is dying from global warming, which will cause heat from the sun to burn our food and people, then Jesus will return and rescue those who believe in him. This is told in the book of Revelation and is one of the last plagues to fall on earth.

“The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire.”  Revelation 16:8

God doesn’t cause the sun to burn us, be he allows the world to reap what it has sown. We have sown chemicals into the earth and sky and one day they will rain down on us. But there is hope in God. He will save those who wait on him. Jesus will come the second time in the clouds of heaven and call us to himself.

“I have made you and I will carry you;

I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”  Isaiah 46:4

I give permission for anyone to copy and use my posts.

The Waters of Shiloah or the Euphrates River. All of Us Must Choose.

The Euphrates River
Photo by
: Jayel Aheram from Iraq,USA.

Forasmuch as this people refuses the waters of Shiloah that go softly … the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many.’ ISAIAH 8:6, 7.

In the days of Isaiah, the prophet of God, Ahaz was King of Judah. The 10 tribes of Israel along with Damascus joined forces to take over the land of Judah and the city of Jerusalem. Ahaz and the people were frightened. They knew they couldn’t beat back the great force of those armies.

Isaiah came to Ahaz with these words from God, “Listen to me, and keep calm; don’t be afraid; don’t let your heart be easily moved. Aram, Ephriam and Rezin have plotted your ruin saying, ‘Let’s invade Judah; let’s tear it apart and divide it among ourselves and make Tabeel king over it.’ “But the Lord says, “It will not happen…” and God adds, “If you do not stand in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

The message was longer than this, but God was telling King Ahaz that if he trusted in him, God would protect Judah. But Ahaz did not believe in or listen to God. He had his own idea, which was to ask the kingdom of Assyria to come to his aid. So, he made an alliance with a ruthless, godless people.

Because of Ahaz’s choice, God tells him that eventually the king of Assyria will turn to fight against Judah itself.

 “Because this people has rejected the gently flowing waters of Shiloah and rejoiced in Rezin and the son of Remaliah,

the Lord will surely bring against them the mighty floodwaters of the Euphrates —the king of Assyria and all his pomp.

It will overflow its channels and overrun its banks. It will pour into Judah, swirling and sweeping over it,

reaching up to the neck; its spreading streams will coveryour entire land, O Immanuel! Isaiah 8:6-8

God compares his rule over Judah to the, “…gently flowing waters of Shiloah,” to the king of Assyria who was like a raging river, overflowing its banks and causing ruin.

The waters of Shiloah is the spring of water that bubbles up near Jerusalem. It is the water that filled the pool of Siloam, where Jesus told the blind man to go and wash and he would see. It is the water source where Jesus came and proclaimed, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink!”

Alexander Mclaren writes:

“The waters of Shiloah that go softly stand as an emblem of the Davidic monarchy as God meant it to be, and, since that monarchy was itself a prophecy, they therefore represent the kingdom of God or the Messianic King. The ‘waters strong and many’ are those of the Euphrates, which swells and overflows and carries havoc, and are taken as the emblem of the wasting sweep of the Assyrian king, whose capital stood on its banks.

But while thus there is a plain piece of political history in the words, they are also the statement of general principles which apply to every individual soul and its relations to the kingdom, the gentle kingdom, of our Lord and Savior, or swift Euphrates in spate. That is what the rejecters have chosen for themselves.

Better to have lived by Shiloah than to have built their houses by the side of such a raging stream. Mark how this is a divine retribution indeed, but a natural process too. If Christ does not rule us, a mob of tyrants will.”

Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, “Whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.    John 4:14

I pray all of us will choose the gently flowing spring that flows from the throne of God.

Part 9: Timelines of Prophecy.

Many of you reading may be wondering when we are going to be getting into the book of Revelation.  That is where all the prophecy about the end of time is located, right?  Well, no.  In the first chapter we looked at prophecies from the books of Matthew and 1 Peter, for instance, to prove we are indeed in the end times.  In the second chapter we looked in the book of Daniel to prove that Bible prophecy is true and reliable.  Now, in the third chapter, we are going to look in Daniel further but for different reasons.  Before we can get into the specifics of Revelation we must start with the bigger picture because we not only want to understand what everything in Revelation means, we want to know why each thing means what it does and how it fits in with the others.  So one more chapter in Daniel and we will move on to Revelation.

The book of Daniel gives us very useful timelines that we can follow like maps, where we can mark on them different events prophesied in the Bible.  These timelines are described as days, weeks, and months, but a day in prophetic language is actually a year.  (see Appendix 2). 

  If one day equals one year (Ez. 4: 4-6 and Num. 14: 34), then…  
               
  One Week 7 Days   7 Years    
               
  One Month 30 Days   30 Years    
               
  One Year   360 Days   360 Years (see Appx. 2)

 

We are going to start with a timeline that gives us a clue as to when the starting point for some major timelines lie and to prove that our understanding of timelines is correct.

‘Seventy weeks have been declared for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.  So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.  Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary.  And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.  And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering….” Daniel 9: 24-27

This passage was spoken by the angel Gabriel to Daniel so it comes straight from heaven.

Gabriel was saying that the Hebrews and the city of Jerusalem had 70 weeks, or 490 years (7 days per week multiplied by 70 weeks equals 490 years), of probation left to straighten out and start keeping their side of the bargain they had made with God way back when God brought them out of Egypt.  The start of the probation period would begin when a decree was issued allowing the Hebrews to “restore and rebuild” the city of Jerusalem. 

It was not long after the Medo-Persians conquered the Babylonians that many of the Hebrews were allowed to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed.

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Jerusalem with orders that, in part, called for Ezra to organize the city so it could rule itself independently while still being part of the Persian Empire.  Ezra was to appoint magistrates and judges and was to ensure the carrying out of the king’s laws. (Ezra 7: 25, 26)  Although the decree from Artaxerxes did not specifically say that the city of Jerusalem was to be rebuilt, Ezra and the rest of the Hebrews knew the orders they held implied the rebuilding.  How else was a city to function without buildings for the government, the courts, etc?  So Artaxerxes’ decree “restored” Jerusalem to the Hebrews and they began to “rebuild” the city in 457 BCE.

 

Surrounded by God.

800px-Yad_Vashem_view_of_Jerusalem_valley_by_David_ShankboneJerusalem Valley

Photo by:  http://shankbone.org/

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.

Psalm 125:2

 

I love the image of God surrounding me. It makes me feel protected and loved. One of my favorite verses is the one just below, Psalm 3:3, because he not only surrounds me but when my head is bowed in sorrow or defeat. he lifts it up! 

 

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,

my glory, the One who lifts my head high.

I call out to the Lord,

and he answers me from his holy mountain.

Psalm 3:3,4

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.

Psalm 32:7

 

Many are the woes of the wicked,

but the Lord’s unfailing love

surrounds the one who trusts in him.

Psalm 32:10

 

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.

Psalm 5:12

 

For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him.

Psalm 34:7