God’s message to his people

On a recent trip to Pennsylvania we visited the First Church of the Brethren in Harrisburg. The text for the message was taken from the little-used book of the Prophet Habakkuk. This ancient preacher had been complaining to God about all the violence from his people, the Jews. After all, they were his relatives but they had forgotten who God was and what he expected of them. According to Habakkuk, God appeared to be indifferent to this injustice as his eyes seemed to be closed. The wealthy and powerful folks were robbing and killing the weaker just to get more land and wealth. The justice system of Israel had broken down and there was complete chaos in the land. When Habakkuk was through complaining, he rested and waited for God to give his answer. That was how the ancient people knew what God wanted; he spoke through the legitimate prayers of the preacher. I am not so sure Habakkuk wanted to hear what God had to say but none-the-less, the answer came. God said, “Just wait and watch the countries around you. I am gathering all those folks and they are a mean bunch of hombres.” Most people today believe that God will not cause unjust events to happen to them; after all, they have proclaimed some measure of belief in him. But God is not interested in lukewarm attitudes of acceptance; he wants our whole heart and focus. The message of correction to these people is not new, it was the same that God spoke to all the Prophets – tell the people how sinful they are and they can’t get away with it forever. Just as Habakkuk had to “wait and watch,” all prophets were called to be “Watchers” of the nation’s spiritual condition. Habakkuk was doing just that when he saw how wicked his relatives were. Now let’s bring God’s challenge to Israel, down to our day: who are the watchers of America’s spiritual condition? Better yet, who would you want that watcher to be? I am suggesting that every Christian is a watcher and we are to be aware of our own waywardness. In every age and generation, God has always provided ‘words of correction’ to be spoken to his people. His words are always, “to repent and return – change our ways.” History shows us that Israel failed to return; what about the America we live in?