Since we have observed some practical lessons from the thirty-third and thirty-fourth books of the Bible, let us now move on to the thirty-fifth through thirty-seventh books, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, & Haggai.
1. GOD CAN USE A WICKED NATION TO PUNISH ANOTHER WICKED NATION.
God declared in Habakkuk 1:5 - "Look among the nations and watch--Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you." Habakkuk 1:13 records the prophet's response to God - "You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do you look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he?"
Habakkuk has many questions for God. He's not pointing fingers at the Almighty as much as he is trying to comprehend. Habakkuk cannot fathom how a just God could use a nation more wicked than Judah to punish her--and yet that is precisely what God has predicted! Today, we must cling to God in faith, no matter what trials and punishments come our way and no matter how much the wicked prosper. The scales of justice are not balanced in this life and to doubt God because of inequalities that exist in this realm is not wise.
2. THE TRUE GOD IS NOT MUTE; WE MUST LISTEN TO HIM.
Habakkuk 2:18-20 - "What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molded image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, 'Awake!' To silent stone, 'Arise! It shall teach!' Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all. But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."
Idols offer hope of what they can never deliver. They are not alive and therefore cannot speak! One might talk to an idol and plead with it all day, but such is vanity. On the other hand, the followers of the true God should listen to Him, silently submitting to His rule.
3. GOD WILL PUNISH THE COMPLACENT.
Zephaniah 1:12 - "And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish the men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, 'The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.'"
When God judges, no one can hide. Those who are self-satisfied and not mindful of the Lord (i.e., complacent) will be punished. To think that God will never judge, simply because He has given us free will and is very merciful, is a serious mistake.
4. TO SEEK THE LORD IS TO SEEK RIGHTEOUSNESS & HUMILITY.
Zephaniah 2:3 - "Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD's anger."
Jesus spoke on these topics with a different emphasis in Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
5. THE TIME TO DO A GOOD WORK IS NOW.
Haggai 1:2 - "Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying: 'This people says, "The time has not come, the time that the Lord's house should be built."'"
The people put off doing what they should have been doing. The best time for obedience is always now.
6. IT IS A GREAT MISTAKE TO FOCUS ON PERSONAL PLEASURE INSTEAD OF WHAT WOULD PLEASE GOD.
"'Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?' Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Consider your ways! You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.' Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,' says the LORD. 'You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?' says the LORD of hosts. 'Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house. Therefore the heavens above you withhold the dew, and the earth withholds its fruit. For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and the oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.'"
When we focus on personal pleasure & luxury instead of what would please the LORD, God will not bless us in the way we desire. We should not live in fine dwellings while the Lord's work lies in ruin!