September Reading from The Message
Habakkuk has just cried out to God, pouring out his sorrow and indignation at the injustice all around him. He asks “where are you God!?” But then, at the start of chapter 2, Habakkuk stops… and recognizes that the Lord will answer and he needs to be ready for God’s response to his complaints… and God indeed replies…
1 What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I’ll wait to see what God says, how he’ll answer my complaint.
FULL OF SELF, BUT SOUL-EMPTY
2-3 And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
4 “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive.
5-6 “Note well: Money deceives. The arrogant rich don’t last. They are more hungry for wealth than the grave is for cadavers. Like death, they always want more, but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies. They are cemeteries filled with dead nations, graveyards filled with corpses. Don’t give people like this a second thought. Soon the whole world will be taunting them:
6-8 “‘Who do you think you are— getting rich by stealing and extortion? How long do you think you can get away with this?’ Indeed, how long before your victims wake up, stand up and make you the victim? You’ve plundered nation after nation. Now you’ll get a taste of your own medicine. All the survivors are out to plunder you, a payback for all your murders and massacres.
9-11 “Who do you think you are— recklessly grabbing and looting, Living it up, acting like king of the mountain, acting above it all, above trials and troubles? You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house. In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself. You’ve undermined your foundations, rotted out your own soul. The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you. The woodwork will step forward with evidence.
12-14 “Who do you think you are— building a town by murder, a city with crime? Don’t you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes, Makes sure the harder you work at that kind of thing, the less you are? Meanwhile the earth fills up with awareness of God’s glory as the waters cover the sea.
15-17 “Who do you think you are— inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties, Giving them too much to drink, roping them into your sexual orgies? You thought you were having the time of your life. Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace. All the time you were drinking, you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. You’ll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over— hung over from Lebanon violence, Hung over from animal massacres, hung over from murder and mayhem, From multiple violations of place and people.
18-19 “What’s the use of a carved god so skillfully carved by its sculptor? What good is a fancy cast god when all it tells is lies? What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker who makes gods that can’t even talk? Who do you think you are— saying to a stick of wood, ‘Wake up,’ Or to a dumb stone, ‘Get up’? Can they teach you anything about anything? There’s nothing to them but surface. There’s nothing on the inside.
20 “But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”
God Wants Us to Get the Message
When God reveals his Word to us, he does so because he wants us to get the message. As Habakkuk prepared to receive God’s Word so he could give it to the people, the instructions were simple: “Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run” (Habakkuk 2:2).
It’s the kind of communication that a third-base coach is concerned with in a ball game, when the base runner is coming full speed into third, and he’s unsure whether he should slide or keep running for home. This is a time for sweeping gestures, either waving the arms in a windmill motion to signal the runner to keep running or pushing out the hands in a frantic motion to signal him to slide.
In 1:5-11, God told Habakkuk what was coming, and in 2:4-19, God told him why, listing specific sins that provoked judgment. God wasn’t warning the people so they could run for their lives; he was warning them so they could repent of their sins.
Slow down and connect with God with The Message Prayerful Reading Bible portions. The Bible in contemporary language is placed here alongside the ancient Christian practice of lectio divina, or sacred reading. There is an OT and NT portion with a full Bible coming soon.
The prayerful reading Bibles provide guided reflection. There is also ample space for journaling your observations, reflections, and prayers. Here are the steps of lectio divina to help you slow down and meet God:
- Stop: Take a moment to stop and prepare to encounter God.
- Read: Do a first reading and make observations of the text.
- Ponder: Read the text again and meditate on its meaning.
- Pray: Begin a conversation with God about this Scripture.
- Reflect: Take note of what this time with God has brought to the surface for you.
- Live: Consider how this time with God translates into our life with God.