Today's reading didn't happen first thing in the morning. (Okay--some of it did.) Throughout this day, I've read the book of Habakkuk and Zephaniah 1:1 through 2:7. All the quotes below are from the New Living Translation. My thoughts and questions are in italics.
Habakkuk is set up like the second half of Job.
"For I [the LORD] am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it." (Hab. 1:5b)
I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the LORD will say to me and how He will answer my complaint. (Hab. 2:1) Habbie is daring God to speak to him. . .
The following passage resonates a theme I've heard for the past two days. In three unrelated places from three different voices, I've heard this phrase word for word: "Slow and steady wins the race." Then today in my Bible reading:
"But these things I plan won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely (seriously!), the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed." (Hab. 2:3) God has perfect timing. . .
For the time will come when all the earth will be filled, as the waters fill the sea, with an awareness of the glory of the LORD. (Hab. 2:14)
This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk: Oh, LORD-- teach me to sing my prayers. . .I am filled with awe by the amazing things You have done. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as You did in years gone by. Show us Your power to save us. . .remember Your mercy. (Hab. 3:1-2)
Was it in anger, LORD, that You struck the rivers and parted the sea? Were you displeased with them? No, You were sending Your chariots of salvation! (Hab. 3:8)
I was struck with some of the song lyrics we sang as a congregation this morning. I remember thinking, "Lord, I'm singing this because I know it's truth, not because I want You to test me on my commitment to it." Words like, "Let the walls around me crumble. Let the wind and rain come through. I can face it all as long as I have You. Let the earth beneath me tremble. Let the enemy pursue. I can face it all as long as I have You." Sounds suspiciously like a dare, doesn't it?
And other words like, "I will sing praise. I will sing praise. No weapon formed against me shall remain. I will rejoice! I will declare God is my victory and He is here." And "All of my life in every season, You are still God. I have a reason to sing. I have a reason to worship."
I kept myself from entertaining the thought,"I wonder what bad thing is coming." Instead, I kept it to "I wonder what's coming." Especially after I read the following scripture this evening.
"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains. (Hab. 3:17-19a)
And just like Habakkuk's prayer-song, my daily reading ended on a note of hope:
The few survivors of the tribe of Judah will pasture [in the coastal area of Canaan]. They will lie down to rest in the abandoned houses of Ashkelon. For the LORD their God will visit His people in kindness and restore their prosperity again. (Zephaniah 2:7) God always leaves a remnant. . .