Alfred Place Baptist Church

1:12-2:1 I will stand at my watch

Habakkuk 1:12- 2:1 “O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his drag-net; and so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his drag-net, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy? I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”

Habakkuk was living at a time when evil flourished, and though he’d cried to God, “Pay attention and take action,” nothing changed for many years. Why was wickedness always paramount even amongst the people of God in the land of promise? Habakkuk was deeply perplexed; “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (v.2). God’s first answer was for Habakkuk to look outside his own borders. God wasn’t simply the Lord of Israel; he is the God of the nations, and if only Habakkuk would observe what was happening outside the Promised Land he’d notice that God at that moment was in the process of raising up the Babylonians and soon he’d be using them to punish his own people for their sin. Now this shocking truth created another problem for Habakkuk and it was this, that the cure seemed worse than the sickness. The evil of the Babylonians was much worse than the wickedness of the Jews. So where does the man of God go from here?

  1. THE PROPHET WORSHIPS THE ETERNAL HOLY ONE.

Habakkuk affirms, “O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” (v.12). Why does he begin like this? Dr. Lloyd-Jones is helpful as he considers these words. When we’re perplexed at the Lord’s strange dealings with us then, he says, it is essential to have the right approach to God. The Doctor phrases it like this, “It is much more important that we should know the method of approach that that we should have pat answers to particular problems” (Fear to Faith, I.V.P, 1953, p.25). When God seems to be crushing us or bewildering us with life-threatening providences, how should we respond? What can we learn from Habakkuk this Old Testament Messiahist? He’s been long burdened for the glory of God. He’s had to face constant discouragement and he’s been crying to God for help. “What is happening? Why isn’t God doing anything?” The answer is that God is really doing something and it is quite extraordinary; he is giving the order for the merciless Babylonian army to invade the land and chastise his own defiant people. When God announces something like this it makes any Christian stagger; Habakkuk has been given the wine of astonishment to drink.

In the particular words before us we are reading the next response of Habakkuk, how he reacted to the news of the forthcoming calamity.  Notice that Habakkuk doesn’t panic; he doesn’t curse God; he doesn’t give up the faith. He begins by using his mind and his understanding, and he thinks about the God he knows. Habakkuk is doing well; he is displaying the right approach to God. We see that Habakkuk begins by affirming some fundamental convictions about the nature of God. These are truths of which he has absolute confidence. In other words he is going to approach the invasion of the Babylonians, the future siege of Jerusalem, and a future exile in Babylonian slavery with these theological certainties that begin our text. I am saying that this is the purpose behind these opening words of his; “O LORD. Are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” (v.12).

Let me try to bring this home to us by a very simple anecdote. Last week a Christian woman who had had a pain under her arm for a couple of years saw a specialist because her own doctor had said there was nothing to worry about. She was unhappy with his response. She pointed out to the specialist exactly where the pain and lump was located and he found it. He said to her, “Oh . . . when there is a lump there it usually is linked to breast cancer.” He told her that ‘in her face’ and she was shocked to hear his words. She later wept as she thought ahead, and considered her little children. She spoke emotionally to her husband and to her mother about all this; she couldn’t have spoken to anyone better as I judge them to be the most sensible Christians in the whole world.

Then what do you do next as a Christian on occasions like that? You know what we are saying at this moment, at the beginning of this sermon? We are insisting that you must have the right method of approach, even if you don’t have the pat answers. This dear woman did what Habakkuk did, she took the great doctrines of God – that are the warp and woof of our existence – and she went to the Lord with them. She said the sort of thing that Habakkuk says here, “O LORD. Are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” (v.12). In other words, she stayed her heart on Jehovah. Remember how the Lord Jesus taught us when to pray to begin by saying, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed by Thy name . . .” In our distresses we pour out our hearts to God and we begin by worshipping the Lord. Now that story has a happy ending; they scanned the lump and it was revealed later this past week that the lump was a mere cyst, quite non-malignant.

The principle I am seeking to establish is that in times of trouble, when your life seems to be falling apart, you must get hold of every piece of faith you possess and set it all on the all-providing love and power of God. We restate our deepest convictions of trust and hope in God as we pray. We buttress our requests with our knowledge of who God is. In the inquest of Princess Diana last week there were harrowing details of people gathering round the badly damaged car in the tunnel. They were helpless at the extent of the injuries of the four people in the car. Princess Diana was saying again and again, “Oh my God . . . My God . . .” Who would have dreamed that her life would end like that? Where now the glamour and the glitter? What does it profit a woman to gain the whole world and perhaps lose her soul? She cried, “My God!” When you are desperate to whom do you turn? You cast yourself on God. Is he a God you know? Is he worth knowing only at desperate times? Is there any reality in that pronoun, “My God”? If not why not? Why are you ignoring God in these days of health? They will not last for ever. They cannot last for ever. Habakkuk turns to a God he knows and he lays hold of the eternal holiness of the Lord. That is not simply ‘good psychology’; because prayer is not a remedial exercise for ourselves. We are going to wrestle with God about our greatest concerns. We intend to raise urgent fearful providences in his presence and we begin this way, in laying a proper foundation of submission, trust and hope in the relationship.

George Muller of Bristol would pray to God pleading with him, laying his concerns and hopes before him, one after another. There was one time of great need in his orphanage and I read that he actually pleaded eleven different arguments why God should send help. There was this reason and that reason, each one was like a great knock on the rapper of the door to heaven. Muller was saying to God that this matter was so important to him and he could think of all these reasons why God should hear and answer. The rapper on the door was becoming a battering ram! It was not that God needed to be convinced. It was not that God had to be reminded that he was holy and eternal. It was not that God needed to be told how cruel was the Babylonian war machine. It was not that God was slow to give. It was not that we can change God’s purpose – the Babylonians certainly were coming! The reason for pleading and arguing, asking, seeking and knocking, is that this is the God-appointed way that blessing comes.  As we argue with God our desires are more earnest and more fervent, and we are given encouragement to believe we shall obtain what we are asking for.

Let me remind you of an incident when the early church was confronted by one of the forms of the Babylonians which God was permitting to threaten their very existence at that time. In this case it was the Sanhedrin, the supreme court in Jerusalem. The Jews had arrested Peter and John, threatened them and released them commanding them “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). For the early Christians that was quite impossible; their response was, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). What did they do? The gospel fire was burning in their bones; they simply couldn’t contain it, but if they released it this would result in fires of persecution. So they went to the congregation and they reported what these ‘Babylonians’ had threatened to do to them. So the congregation prayed, and how did they begin? Just as Habakkuk began here; it is the identical approach of a calm mind staying itself on Jehovah and worshiping him.

“‘Sovereign Lord,’ they said, ‘you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.” Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:24-31).

Do you see their response? It was not to summon the churches to a night of prayer. Let us occasionally have days with special emphasis on prayer, but there is no magical quality to praying all night. The early church did not pray all night, indeed on this occasion they do not seem to have spent a long time in praying. From the natural reading of Acts chapter four we gather that they came together and then one man led in prayer. The whole congregation was agreed in what they heard as they listened to that prayer. When they had finished they breathed out their Amens and God certainly breathed his Amen by shaking the building in which they were gathered and he gave them a new measure of the Spirit to face their ‘Babylonian’ attackers. Then they went to their homes.

I have been saying to you that that is what happens in your life at a very personal level when you discover a lump. You instinctively pray in your hearts, then and there, “Lord may it not be so! Grant that it is not malignant!” Then you tell your friends, and later you formally and thoughtfully go to God when you have gathered your feelings and thoughts and you pray about it. It is then that you worship the God; “O LORD. Are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” (v.12). You have moved from the initial praying, “Lord, help me. O Lord, help me” to a more considered praying.

Habakkuk begins by filling his mind with the wonderful vision of the eternity of God and blessing him that he is no fly-by-night. As Dr. Lloyd-Jones says, “God is the eternal God, the everlasting God, from ever­lasting to everlasting. He is not like the gods whom men worship; He is not like the god of the proud Babylonian army; He is God from eternity to eternity, the everlasting God. There is nothing more consoling or reassuring when oppressed by the problems of history, and when wondering what is to happen in the world, than to remember that the God whom we worship is outside the flux of history. He has preceded history; He has created history. His throne is above the world and outside time. He reigns in eternity, the everlasting God” (D.M. Lloyd-Jones, From Fear to Faith, IVP, 1953, p.29).

Our opponents rise in a day and by the end of that day they are nothing, the Spanish Armada, Napoleon, the Kaiser, Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao, and so on, who worries about such men today? But our forefathers thought their freedom, the whole life of their nations and the cause of the gospel itself was being threatened because of these ‘Babylonians.’ Yet those men were raised up in the morning; they reigned for a few hours in the afternoon, and by the evening they were dead and buried. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church. How different is the living God; when we turn to him we acknowledge, “Are you not from everlasting?” God’s sovereignty reaches back to eternity. His purposes, even to the appointment of wild, heathen Babylonians to attack and dismantle Judah, were no impetuous decisions of the moment. In eternity God purposed to call out a people to himself through the seed of the woman – the seed of Abraham, the line of David, the Messiah, the Lamb of God. He then permitted the serpent to bruise Christ’s heel. This is what the God who is from everlasting had determined and this is what he did. That is why we, the people of God, will not die.

Then notice that it is not only on the everlastingness of God that Habakkuk stays his heart, it is on God’s holiness. He was utterly confident that whatever God will do proceeds from his holiness. All his decrees are holy decrees. The decree to permit the fall of man; the crucifixion of his blessed Son, the Day of Judgment and the eternity of hell – all these come forth from the holiness of God. So did the raising up of the Babylonians. So it is with everything God sends into our lives, our good seasons, our bad seasons, our winter times and summer times, our sickness and health, our malignant lumps and our benign lumps, our riches and poverty, our best days and our worst days, our gains and our losses are all traced on our dials by the Sun of Righteousness. Nothing is permitted to touch the church except as the holy God permits. What comfort this is when God’s enemies are around us.

See how Habakkuk refers to him – “My God, my Holy One” (v.12). There is no doubt that one of the most crucial attributes of God is his holiness. You notice that in the very name given to the third member of the Godhead; he is not called the loving Spirit, though he is, or the omnipotent Spirit, though he is that too, but he is the Holy Spirit. But am I personally convinced that God is holy so that I can say with Habakkuk, “My God, my Holy One”? Has he changed my heart and made me holy also? Does my conduct respond to the fact that his Spirit is holy? In my private life, my business transactions, in my student life, my family life, in every single aspect of my life, is it imprinted upon my heart that the Holy God is a consuming fire, and that his word runs, “Be ye holy for I am holy”? When I read a book, when I surf the web, when I watch television, when I engage in conversation, talking to other people at work, at college, does this fact imprint itself upon me that in me and with me and alongside me always is “My God, my Holy One”? I fear to grieve him, to lose his operations and his sanctifying energy in my life. “As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” So the first thing Habakkuk does at the news that the Babylonians are coming in, is to worship the eternal holy one.

 

  1. THE PROPHET BOLDLY CHALLENGES THE LORD.

So Habakkuk worships, reassuring his heart with the truths of the eternal holiness of a personal God. But then he expresses his perplexity. “O Lord, you [the eternally holy one]have appointed them [the godless Babylonians] to execute judgment; O Rock, you [the Rock of Ages] have ordained them [mere grains of sand] to punish.” Maybe it’s a question because there are no exclamation marks in the Hebrew. He is challenging God, “Have you appointed such people as these to execute judgment and punish? Then Habakkuk goes on and reminds the Lord of his utter perfection, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” (v.13).

You understand this Christian dilemma, as Walter Chantry expresses it, “How can God see and hold his tongue when the evil devour those more righteous than they? At this point the grappler, Habakkuk, is taking hold of God’s holiness to argue against the Lord’s plan to use the defiled Babylonian army to ravage Judah. What a bold statement to be made in the very face of the Almighty! It seemed to Habakkuk that God’s tolerance of Babylon was inconsistent with his holiness. The Lord was allowing the more wicked to swallow up the lesser. Where is God’s holiness in such an action, especially God’s intention to be silent as the Babylonian troops march into the land? One who witnesses a sin and remains silent partakes of the guilt of the sin (Lev. 5:1). How could God keep quiet as Nebuchadnezzar swallowed Jerusalem and marched righteous Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and Ezekiel off into exile? Silent, while holy Jeremiah poured out lamentations?

“The prophet in prayer then poetically elaborated the holocaust which Judah would soon endure. (Because of our short-sightedness toward the sweep of history we refer to the atrocities of Hitler’s third Reich against the Jews as ‘the holocaust.’ It was only one of many. There was a holocaust for the Jews under Assyria, one under Babylon, one under Rome, and another perpetrated during the Second World War. It remains true in our day that shrill anti-Semitism threatens the Jews of Israel and elsewhere.) Habakkuk gives us a vivid and accurate description of Babylonian conquest. “You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his drag-net; and so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his drag-net, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?” (vv. 14-17). Men made in the image of God would be caught like fish, with hooks and dragnets. Babylonian art pictured these aftermaths of victory in the same terms. Those captured and marched off into captivity were strung together with literal hooks thrust through each person’s lower lip. Such cruelty was proudly celebrated by the captors. No pity was shown to the defeated. False gods were worshipped as giving Babylon remarkable power over a multitude of nations as they relentlessly ‘fished’ for more victims. Habakkuk is praying against the worst of human depravity that was crushing the civilized world.” (Walter Chantry, Banner of Truth magazine, April 2007, “Great Prayers in Devastating Times,” pp. 32&33).

O LORD you have appointed them to execute judgment”? Arguing with God is very strange, because we know that God is really right all the time. He knows more than we do; he sees more than we can – the very end of a matter far off into the future. He can take into consideration things we never could know, and yet he encourages us to plead with him as Habaakkuk does, or as Abraham pleaded with him about his decision to destroy the people of Sodom. “You are not going to destroy the city if it has fifty righteous men, or forty, or twenty, or ten, are you?” and God listens kindly and answers Abraham point by point because he knows Abraham’s heart and appreciates Abraham’s concern. It is like Jesus addressing Jerusalem which is becoming Sodom-like and reproaching those people, ‘I would take you under my wings and protect you, but you wouldn’t come.’ Jesus even wept over this doomed city though he knew it was going to be destroyed by the Romans sent there by God. The fact of a predestinated destruction was no basis even for Jesus to be indifferent to their punishment. Let him weep. Let us Habakkuk weep. Let us weep.

So I am saying that personal integrity and love for people is the spirit with which we fill our mouths with arguments when we present our petitions to God. Making ‘nice-face’ to God is foolish; trying to hide what we’re thinking from him when our hearts are broken or seething or smashed flat is folly. When you read the Scriptures you don’t conclude that God expects or wants fakery, not if the Psalms or the Prophets are any indication. God wants integrity on our lips and in our hearts. I’m thinking of such instances as Moses telling God, “Then the Egyptians shall hear about this.” He asks God if joy in Egypt over the destruction of Jehovah’s people is what God wants. Joshua says, “Have you brought us all the way here simply to be delivered into the hands of the Amorites?” The psalmist says, “Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1) “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1). “O you hope of Israel, its Saviour in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?” (Jeremiah 14:8) “O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me” (Jeremiah 20:7). Here is argumentation which has been inspired by God the Spirit. That is the way we are to intercede with God. Has that note disappeared from our mid-week Prayer Meeting? We feel one with Moses and Joshua and David and Jeremiah as they prayed seeing evil prevailing and sinners ignoring God, then let us pray like those men prayed. I am simply pleading with you, let’s be honest with God.

But let’s never forget what Habakkuk also shows us from the way he begins his prayer that we have to be honest about God. The Scriptures, beyond earnest argument, portray God as merciful, kind, all-powerful, all-wise and faithful. He is so committed to the good of his people, that he is incapable of allowing anything finally harmful to befall them. So any Christian is not going to deny those Divine qualities in his praying. That is not an option.

So here’s the deal; Habakkuk is standing at the overture of a nauseating, horrible disaster. What does he do? He tells God honestly what it looks like to him, and he reminds himself of the eternity of God and the holiness of God. Habakkuk is a creature of time, limited in his grasp of things, his mind tainted by sin. He is aware that he never sees anything exactly as God sees it. Never. Ever. Things are the way God sees them, not the way we see them. So we have to remind ourselves that Jehovah still is whom he says he is, not the way a horrible invasion by the Babylonian army seems to say he is. Humbling, isn’t it? But true. Don’t we want the truth? Ah, yes; we just wish it were different. But there it is. The Babylonians with their cruel nets and hooks are coming and they are coming at the time and in the way God decrees, and we break our hearts.

3. THE PROPHET STANDS AT HIS WATCH.

Habakkuk says, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Hab. 2:1). So Habakkuk has boldly challenged God to face up to what God has decided to do. The prophet has nailed his complaint to the mercy seat, and now he tells us he will look at it from that perspective. In his Daily Bible Readings James Philip thinks that this is referring to the ancient practice of ascending a high place like a watch-tower in order to secure an extensive view; the watchman can see from his vantage point the approach of the enemy, or of a messen­ger bringing news from the front, or the army commander can obtain a bird’s eye view of the deployment of his forces. The important point is that in viewing any situation from a vantage point perspective is gained, and you can’t get this when you are up too close to the situation. This is as true in the spiritual life as anywhere else. It is essential to stand back from spiritual problems, and become detach­ed from them, in order to see them as God sees them. Near at hand, and inextricably involved in them, one tends to have a distorted view of them.

You build a watchtower for yourself by knowing the Bible. You build one by knowing the history and the confessions of faith of the church. You build one by familiarizing yourself with the state of the church around the world, but above all you stand at your watch by going into the secret presence of God and pouring over things with him. You see things in a new way when you have talked them over with the God the Wonderful Counsellor. That is the highest perspective of all.

God in this prophecy is taking Habakkuk up high and letting him look at things from that perspective. That is the privileged place of watch for every prophet. From the presence of God we can assess the church and the world more clearly. From there we can see how God is working, what answers we’re getting from our complaint. We are back where we started aren’t we? We are discussing the importance of having a right approach to God, having a viewpoint from which to see what God has to say about these problems. We look at the lump in our armpit, or the odd behaviour of a member of our family from the perspective of the mercy seat of God.

Do you have a watchtower, a place above the meeting places of the chattering classes, the politicians, and media men, and journalists, and columnists? Do you have the place of eternal perspective where you can hide away and think and judge the passing fancies and trendy opinions of the world? Habakkuk in his distressed state of mind could go to a quiet place and close the door. The God whom he met there in secret rewarded him openly with wisdom. Habakkuk is determined not to leave that place until God answers and solves his perplexities.

So Habakkuk has prayed presenting two complaints to God, and now he watches and waits for the reply. What can we learn from him? Three comforting conclusions;

i] Standing at our watch makes us courageous. Habakkuk was courageous with God and loving to the people of God. Both qualities are indispensable. Christians are called to be strong in the Lord, to stand in the evil day, to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. Whatever happens to the person who confesses God as “My God, my Holy One,” even when the Babylonian war machine comes rolling into the nation, he will not fear, because none of those chariots and horsemen will alter his ground of confidence. If Habakkuk’s confidence had been in himself, in his fellow men, in money, in his goods, in prosperity or anything material, what the Babylonians might do to him and his family might scare him stiff. But what soldiers can do to a man who has confidence in God can never affect the ground of his confidence. No calamity changes God’s love for His people.

Suppose we did face an invasion, and a nuclear war, what then? None of those things will separate God’s people from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Those things have no power, no influence whatever on the unchangeable love of God. We don’t know what this 21st century holds, but God does. Suppose it does hold the most dreadful things, wouldn’t they happen exactly according to God’s decree? God has told Habakkuk what the prophet already knew, but now in a vital way, that the Lord was in charge of the universe. We are serving a God who orders all things “after the counsel of his own will”. Do you think he has left anything out? Do you think he has forgotten something? Do you think God has left one or two things to chance, that he’s not sure what is going to happen? Is there anything outside the circle of God’s decree and God’s control? Nothing happens but what God ordains. You may approve, you may disapprove of what he ordains, but nothing happens apart from what God ordains. That being so, and the Lord who is from everlasting, the one I call my God, my Holy One who will not let us die, then why give into fear? Christians are courageous people.

ii] Standing at our watch gives us hope. The Babylonians could do nothing at all by themselves – absolutely nothing – they couldn’t even do the most basic thing of all, take a single breath by themselves, because their breathing was in God’s hand. If Babylonians could do nothing by themselves how much more is it true for us who love to be in God’s hand? Sometimes God’s hand is in everything in mercy and sometimes his hand is in everything in judgment. Who shapes the earth but God? Who makes the mountains vomit smoke and fire but the one who made the mountains? We grieve over some things he does, but he does them nonetheless. Nothing occurs but his power is in it.

We don’t know what awaits us in the coming days but we do know that there is divine appointment God has made with each one of us – it is appointed unto men once to die. It is unavoidable. As we read the book of the Revelation we know beyond dispute that the day is coming in which all things sha1l be shaken. We know that the glories of earth and its treasures will all melt away. We know that the very stars will fall from heaven. We know that terrible things are to come, but nothing without the will of God. Men and women, some people live in fear, even some Christians seem to be constantly looking for something to be afraid of. That is not the Christian point of view. That is not the way that those who say, “O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” should anticipate the century ahead. The Christian view is given us in the words of the apostle Paul in the epistle to the Romans, “Whether we wake or sleep” (whether we live or die) “we are the Lord’s.” I know no softer pillow at night for anyone than that. If we die we shall be for ever with the Lord and to be with him is to be beyond the reach of all fear. The day will come when the trumpet will sound and the dead shall rise. The Lord’s children have no fear of the resurrection. They are secure in Christ. They have resources that the world knows nothing of and, with those resources, they can go into the unknown future.

iii] Standing at our watch is the most practical place to be. To station ourselves on the ramparts, and look to see what God will say to our complaints is a very helpful activity in every practical way. When men are frightened they tend to act in haste and when they act in haste they very often do the wrong thing. When a man stands at his watch and does his duty, he doesn’t usually rush into folly. Many absurd actions have been done under the influence of panic. How valuable in the hour of crisis and need is the right method of approach, the presence of mind we get from knowing God, the calmness, that ability to weigh up the situation from the perspective of the high place of communion with God and handle it and act accordingly. “I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (Hab. 2:1). People ask you about your future, what are you going to do as you near retirement, and get older, and you say to them, “I will look to him to see what he will say to me.” My friends, the very best presence of mind flows from standing at your watch with God, and waiting to receive his directives – though the answer may take some time. Lose your head and you’ve lost the battle; lose your heart and you have lost everything. Oh to lay hold of the prophet’s expectancy, “I will look to see what he will say to me.” The Lord bless his Word and give us this simple, wholesome confidence and courage for the glory of his great name. Amen.

28th October 2007       GEOFF THOMAS