For a few days a couple of weeks ago, I had a snatch of scripture rattling around in my mind.
Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines,…
Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Hab 3:17-18)
I’m not sure how this snippet got lodged in my brain—Habakkuk is not a familiar haunt for me! I guess it was something about contemplating bare shelves in the grocery store, and thinking how much barer the cupboards are in many other parts of the world. Would I have the faith to “exult in the Lord and rejoice in my God” if my pantry were as threadbare as the locust-stripped fields outside my front door?
By now, a too-familiar sight!
I went back and read Habakkuk’s little book. What I found there sent a chill through me.
The prophet had questions too, you see. “How long, oh Lord, will I call for help and You will not hear? I cry out to You ‘Violence!’ yet You do not save.” (Hab 1:2) He was mortally outraged at the injustice he saw around him. Why didn’t God swoop in to set things right?
Translating this to today, why does the Lord allow Christians to be slaughtered, abused, jailed and starved with impunity in much of the world? And why is the outcry against it so faint?
Since black lives do matter–as do all lives–where is the global outrage over the genocide of black Christians in Nigeria? Six hundred dead so far this year, including a three-year-old girl and nine others hacked to death with machetes last week! And their government does nothing to defend them.
Please don’t misunderstand me. George Floyd’s death was also an outrage, from all we can see, and those who deprived him of his life should be prosecuted and punished. But why is there no detectable concern over 600? Where is their global outcry?
Why does a whole industry thrive on the murder of the unborn? According to Dr. Ben Carson, abortion is the leading cause of death in black America. (Numbers I pulled support his view–by a league. 🙁 🙁 )
Here are a few more questions for today. Do these lives matter? Can we say their names?
Facebook post mourning David Dorn, 38-year retired African American police captain, murdered attempting to defend a friend’s pawn shop.
Black lives matter. But to some, it seems they only matter when they can be used to fan a divisive narrative.
Racism is a great evil God’s church should stand against. But is the self-destructive viciousness of these “largely peaceful protests”** (as the media is careful to chorus) a solution?
Yes, there have been heart-stirring moments when some protesters stood up to those who agitated for violence. Still, literally hundreds of police, and others, have been injured in the violence, many critically. U.S. deaths number at least 17 now. (See details below.**)
Why do “peaceful protests” have a death toll?
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure…. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3:1-13)
“Deceiving and being deceived.” Oh, the spin on everything these days!!
We may not always get our questions answered. But in this case, Habakkuk did. And God’s answer to him is clearly instructive to us.
God gave His prophet a vivid depiction of the severe judgment that was about to fall on the land. The Chaldeans (Babylonians) were coming, “dreaded and feared.” They would plunge to devour like eagles and gather captives like a desert wind collects sand. (Hab 1:7-9)
This answer raised another round of heart-wrenching questions. Habakkuk wanted to see God judge evil…. BUT! Would He really use a pitiless invasion to judge His own people? Would God, whose “eyes are too pure to approve evil,” remain silent when “the wicked swallow up those more righteous”? (Hab 1:13) (Sadly, that sure sounds like some video footage I’ve watched in the past few days! 🙁 )
When the Lord’s answer came, it was another stunner. God promised Habakkuk there was a bigger picture. The Chaldeans would be judged in turn.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time;… It will certainly come, it will not delay. Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. (Hab 2:3-4) [One of the most impactful verses in Christian history!]
The vision of a future where things have been set right WILL come. We can bank on it.
God expands on the picture of the “proud one.” Again, the words could have been penned today. They rush after evil gain so they can establish themselves and their dynasties. Think today’s billionaire global elite. They set their nest on high—or perch their mansion on the California hills. Manipulating world events in their favor. “Never letting a crisis go to waste.”
They carry on with outrageous drinking and lewdness. They build cities with bloodshed—the abortion industry comes to mind, or despots who sit in their enclaves, ordering the murders of all who disagree with them. (Hab 2:9-15)
But they have miscalculated!
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Hab 2:14)
This reminds me of Jesus’s parables in Luke 12. Here’s what He says to powerful “proud ones” who live with no regard for Him:
But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat the slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect… (Luke 12:45-46)
And needless to say, it doesn’t end well for that abusive slave! But on the other hand:
Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will gird himself to serve,… and wait on them. Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves. (Luke 12:37-38)
Do I live like I believe this? My Lord is on an extended journey, but He will return soon and very soon. And when He does, and finds me busy about His work, He’ll bless me beyond any fleeting reward this sad world has to offer!
Do I live like I believe Luke 12:37? My Lord is on an extended journey, but when He returns and finds me busy about His work, He’ll bless me beyond any fleeting reward this sad world has to offer! – @lthompsonbooks Click To Tweet
We know God’s word to Habakkuk was fulfilled. Jerusalem fell to Babylon, which fell in turn to the Persians. (Remember Daniel and that dramatic handwriting on the wall!)
Belshazzar’s Feast as depicted by Rembrandt, National Gallery, London
And according to Heb 10:37-38, that vision–the one that will not tarry–finds its ultimate fulfillment in the second coming of Christ. So there’s an even bigger bigger picture.
We’ve been put on alert in so many ways. Pestilence. Famine. Locusts. Seismic activity. Nations raging against Israel. Massive unrest. If you aren’t feeling the Matt 24:8 birth pangs, I would suggest you need to pay closer attention.
But none of that had happened when Habakkuk offered his glorious hymn of praise in Chapter 3. “Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines…”, Habakkuk had to anchor his faith in the knowledge that God has a bigger plan, and the ultimate gain will be worth the pain. Our Master invites us to do the same.
** The toll is still being reckoned. U.S. deaths number at least 17 now. In Chicago alone, 85 people were shot during the first weekend of riots, and 132 officers injured. More than 40 police have been injured in NYC, and more than 50 Secret Service agents sustained injuries defending the White House from rioters attempting to breach the barricades. In Georgia, police were tracked and targeted at home. And 27 officers in the U.K. have been injured as protests spread around the globe
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), if you’ve never invited Him to save you from sin and death, please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23) that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now.
(Expanded from original post on ChristianFictionAuthors.com)
Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves—stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an O.C.W. Cascade Award winner and a finalist for several 2019 awards: Christy and Carol Awards, plus the International Book Award in two categories. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, one mostly-grown-up kid, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn’t writing, you’ll find her rollerblading—yes, that does make her a throwback!—enjoying their first grandchild, or taking in a majestic desert moonrise.
He made aviation history in WWII’s daring Doolittle Raid. Now he’s downed and on the run.
She wants to bury a knife in him. Can her victim offer redemption instead?
“A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it’s a stay-up-all-night read.” –Jerry B. Jenkins, 21-time New York Times bestselling author
Winner, 2019 Cascade Award |
Finalist, 2019 Christy and Carol Awards |
Inspired by Actual Events
1942. Pilot Dave Delham revels at the success of his historic Japanese bombing mission. Until he’s caught and endures years of torture at the hands of cruel captors. Despairing that he’ll survive, Dave vows if he escapes, he’ll answer God’s call on his life.
Osaka, Japan, 1948. Miyako Matsuura longs to restore her family’s shattered honor. After watching her little brother die in a horrific American air raid, she was reduced to selling her body to survive. When the pilot whose bomb stole her brother’s life returns as a missionary, her thirst for revenge consumes her.
Two damaged people race along a collision course that could bring eternal change. Can Dave and Miyako transform their tragic histories and surrender to forgiveness and faith?