WRITE THE VISION
Habakkuk 1:12-13; 2:1-4
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I appreciate a lot of things about scripture. As much respect as I have for how God is revealed in scripture, I am grateful that the Bible does not simply record one long statement from God to us from Genesis to Revelation. I have heard some describe the Bible as one long love letter to us and while I understand that sentiment, I think it in some way oversimplifies the complexities of the text – particularly the honest expressions of the human condition.
For example, I have often told people, when you do not know what to read – no matter how you are feeling – you can always find a Psalm that can address your joy and also validate your anger. I have read a division of Psalms when I was grateful for what the Lord was doing in my life and I have also read a Psalm when I needed the Lord to handle my enemies for me. It is all in the book.
In today’s scripture, I have included two very familiar verses:
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Many have heard these verses from the King James Version of the Bible many times. However, today, as we continue our fast, I invite you to briefly explore these verses in context with me. We will use the NIV.
As I just stated, I do appreciate the honest expressions of the human condition in scripture. I am glad that there are people in the Bible who just keep it real! And the prophet Habakkuk is one of those people. As often as you may have heard these verses from chapter two, have you ever read chapter one? Did you know that the book of Habakkuk opens with a prophetic complaint? Did you know that Habakkuk is obviously NOT pleased with God? Did you know that Habakkuk is trying to figure out what is really going on that God would appear to allow the wicked to prosper?
Before these glorious words of vision from the Lord God in heaven, Habakkuk honestly expresses his frustration to the Lord God for this mess he sees in the earth. Habakkuk opens with a complaint and the Lord responds and then Habakkuk complains again –
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?
And after he finishes saying what he has to say, the prophet waits, and then the Lord replies with a word about vision. Now, friends, before we go any further, I am not saying that we should only go to the Lord with our complaints but I am saying that the Lord can handle it. I am saying that I appreciate that there are examples of individuals in the Bible who sought the Lord on matters that were not so easy to resolve and that while we must prioritize our thanksgiving to the One who created us, I am glad I can also go to my Creator and ask – What’s up with this?
Lord, Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
And I am so glad that Habakkuk exemplifies a person in the Bible who is keeping it real! But I also appreciate that Habakkuk does not simply express his frustration, this prophet is seeking to be in conversation with the Holy One and so he then waits for a revelation from the One to whom he has complained.
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Friends, I bet you have the complaining part down. You know how to complain, fuss, fight, get your point across, and have the last word with the best of them, including with the Lord. You have that part down. So, perhaps during this season, the Lord is teaching you to WAIT.
The Lord has heard your cry, your call, and your complaint. So, now it is time for you to wait for the Lord to speak. Are you listening? How are you preparing your heart, your mind, your spirit to receive a word from the Lord? Are you in position to hear what the Spirit may be speaking to you? OR have you already made up your mind, impatiently moved on and have thereby rejected a divine revelation about your situation? BlogFam, the prophet spoke his peace, shared his complaint and then he waited to hear a word from the Lord.
Then the LORD replied:
“Write down the revelation/vision
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation/vision awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
Now keeping this in context, Habakkuk, has just complained about the enemy. Habakkuk has a desire that the Lord God do something about this horrible situation. He does not understand why the Lord God is allowing the enemy to get away with his evil tactics. He is expressing his frustration and wondering how long the Lord God will allow this to last and then the Lord replies. And in so many words, the Lord, says, Habakkuk, I have heard your cry and I have a response. Write what I say down because what I say will happen at the appointed time and it will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Now, this is where most of us end our reading of this passage. I agree, that is a good word. It is good to be reminded that whatever the Lord says will happen and it will happen at the appointed time. It is good to know that the word of the Lord will not prove false. It is good to know that we are not waiting in vain! That is a good word!
However, in response to Habakkuk’s complaint, the Lord just does not give a promise of a word to come –as we often take these two verses. These two verses are instructions to Habakkuk and his word comes after the two verses we shout about! In other words, Habakkuk, go get some paper and write down my response to your complaint and what I tell you to write down, will happen at the right time. AND I will not go into the entirety of the Lord’s response but I will share with you the very beginning -
See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
My sistas and brothas, the Lord God says to Habakkuk - and I believe to us on today – I have heard your cry, your call and your complaint. AND I see your situation. I see the tactics and what appears to be the triumph of your enemies. Your enemy is full of pride and his desires are not upright.
Can I pause just to encourage you by saying that the Lord sees EVERYTHING? There is not a word that your enemies speak that is not heard by God. There is not an action that your enemy takes to kill, to steal or to destroy you that is not seen by God. Be encouraged! And if you are, in fact, a man or a woman whose words and actions are not on the Lord’s side, then please know that the Lord hears and the Lord sees and the Lord is not pleased.
Friends, the Lord has heard your cry, your call and your complaint and the Lord will reply with a word of hope to address your frustration which will give you a revelation about your situation. AND after the Lord has assured you that the Lord has not been blind to the ways of the enemy or deaf to the words of the enemy, the Lord puts those who call on him in check.
But the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
In other words, BlogFam, as we seek the Lord expressing our frustration about the enemies in our lives and as we get excited about the vision that God has shared with us, the Lord also wants to do a heart inspection to ensure that our lives are distinctly different from those about whom we complain!
See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
BUT the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
The words that we often shout about were words of instruction to Habakkuk and the revelation/vision that the Lord God shares with Habakkuk opens with a brief expression about the character of the enemy as well as a sharp reminder that those who seek a revelation/vision from God must live lives that are contrary to the ways and words of the enemy. Friends, we must be in right standing with God and faithful to the service of God. Our lives must be different.
Have you ever considered that you are your own worst enemy? Have you ever considered that your pride and your selfish desires are keeping you from having a clear revelation of the Lord’s vision for your life? Have you ever considered that the evil you see in others is a direct reflection of how you treat others?
My sistas and brothas, the Lord has heard your cry, your call and your complaint. The Lord will respond with a word of revelation/vision for your life. However, we must also be striving to live a life that is set apart from what we complain about in our enemies. We must be in right standing with God and faithful in our service to the Kingdom of God. This is the key to the revelation/vision the Lord God will share with us.
BlogFam, I pray that today we would all confess our impatience while we wait on a word from the Lord. I pray that we would all honestly express our own ways and words that may be keeping us from being in conversation and receiving a revelation from the Lord. I pray that we would seek to be righteous and faithful men and women who are ready to hear the instructions that the Lord has for us and that we would obey them. I pray that we would all be encouraged to know that whatever the revelation/vision God has for our lives, it will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. Lastly, I pray that this time of fasting will be a time of purposeful conversation between you and the Creator so that you can receive a clear vision for your life.
Ancient Irish hymn, possibly from the 8th Century, tr. by Mary E. Byrne
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Black History Month – Quote of the Day:
In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hope. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe.
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I WRITE by faith and NOT by Sight...