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SURPRISE!

Sermon discussion questions

1. Have you ever been surprised by how God has answered one of your prayers? Is it because you told God how to answer your prayer?

2. What imagery does God use to describe the power of the coming forces? How does the Babylonians’ power compare to God’s power?

3. Does it surprise you that God is sovereign over even the bad and sad events in our lives? How does the story of Ruth in the Old Testament help you to see God the king’s goodness even when He allows suffering in our lives?

sermon outline

Scripture: Habakkuk 1:5-11

I. God uses a surprising instrument to answer our prayers.

A. Revival would not be the instrument that God would use to answer Habakkuk’s prayers. The Chaldeans, more commonly known as the Babylonians, would be the surprising instrument that God would use to answer Habakkuk’s prayers (vs. 6). God does not disagree with Habakkuk’s assessment of Israel’s wickedness. He shared Habakkuk’s concern for the lack of godliness and morality in Israel. But he did not share Habakkuk’s preferred means of fixing the problem: revival. No. God had a surprising means for dealing with Israel’s sin. The Babylonians.

B. Babylon had for years been a small state. But in less than 20 years the Babylonian army began to alarm both Assyria and Egypt, the two major world powers. In 605 BC the Babylonian army smashed the armies of both Assyria and Egypt at Carchemish. The Babylonians had seemingly come out of nowhere to be this world power. The second thing that must have been surprising to Habakkuk about God using the Babylonians to discipline Israel was that the Babylonians were morally worse than the Israelites (see vs. 6-11).

II. God uses a surprising intense judgment to answer our prayers.

A. Habakkuk’s prayer for Israel is found in verse 2. It was a prayer for God to save Israel. But Habakkuk would see Israel receive an intense judgment at the hands of the Babylonians which would eventually bring Israel to repentance and back to God. It was a judgment that was prophesied 100 years earlier. Isaiah 39:6: “Behold, the days are coming, when all that is in your house, and that which your fathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord.

B. Why was God going to judge His chosen people so intensely? Isn’t God a God of love? Yes. 1 John 4:8 says so. And God’s intense discipline is one of the ways that He loves His people. God uses any and all means necessary to bring His people back to Him. God will stop at nothing to bring those He loves back into a loving relationship with Him. That is how much He loves us! The heart of God for His children who are lost is found in Jesus’ words in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

III. God uses Himself to bring judgment on our lives and our country.

A. Notice in vs. 5 who God says is responsible for bringing this intense judgment against Israel. God says in the middle of that verse, “For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” Who is responsible then for the Babylonians defeating and destroying Israel? God is responsible. This was God’s plan. God was not just the King over the events that took place in Israel in Habakkuk’s day. God is also the king over every event that happens today. If God the King could stop bad things from happening, but He does not, doesn’t that mean that God is bad? Absolutely not! Lamentations 3:32-33: “Though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love;for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” Does God sometimes grieve us? Yes. But God does not grieve us from His heart. God’s heart is good. He has an abundance of steadfast love for you.

Application:
Don’t be surprised if God sends you either grief or joy in responding to your prayers. He is King!

Sources:
The prophecy of Habakkuk


Commentaries on Habakkuk by Walter Chantry, O. Palmer Robertson and Camden Bucey
Sermon by Alistair Begg

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