Episode 1. The Woes of the Wicked
You only have to turn on the evening news to see how – well, how horrible people can be to one another. Our propensity to hurt one another, never ceases to amaze me. But what if one day, there’s a day of reckoning. Well, what if? One of the things that isn’t always easy is […]
You only have to turn on the evening news to see how – well, how horrible people can be to one another. Our propensity to hurt one another, never ceases to amaze me. But what if one day, there’s a day of reckoning. Well, what if?
One of the things that isn’t always easy is deciding what to share with you each day and week on this program. It’s because there are so many different people listening. People who are living in the relative safety and comfort of the wealthy west. People in Australia and New Zealand, USA and Europe. And yet, the fact that there are so many other people listening.
In fact, so many more, many, many more, who are listening from dangerous places. From parts of the world where war is raging. From parts of the world where disease is ravaging their families. From some of the Pacific nations where gang violence is threatening.
I mean, I get before God sometimes and ask Him, “How is it that you want me to speak to all of these people at the same time? How God, can I say anything, anything that’s going to bless the wealthy business woman in Connecticut in the USA who’s listening to this program on her iPod in the gym as well as the mother who’s sitting on a dirt floor in a refugee camp somewhere in Sierra Leon wondering whether the child in her arms is going to make it through the night”.
Why am I sharing this with you? Because it’s the truth. I’m just some guy who gets up each morning. With all my failures but with a heart for God. And today I sat down in the studio with something to share with you and I don’t know how it’s going to go. But here’s the thing, every time I feel so incredibly inadequate in giving you something that will bless you, God says to me, “Just speak My word to them”. And so today that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
If you’ve been with us on the program this last week, you’ll know that we spent some time with this Old Testament prophet, Habakkuk. Who went to God with a complaint about the violence and the injustice that he saw going on amongst his people.
His heartfelt complaint to God was two-fold. “Why do you let these things happen?” And “How long O Lord, how long until you set them right?”
It doesn’t matter who we are, where we live, we’ve all felt that. And so today I want to share one of the things that God said to Habakkuk and to you and to me in fact, in response to this burden that this man laid at God’s feet. It’s about the wicked people in this world. The ones who seem to be winning today. The ones whose wickedness seems to be rewarded, in our day, rather than punished.
We look at those people from wherever it is we sit. We look and we wonder what sort of God can let this go on. Well here it is. Here it is from God’s own words through His prophet, Habakkuk. Comes from Habakkuk chapter 2, verses 12 to 17:
Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime. Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the peoples labour is only fuel for the fire. That the nations exhaust themselves for nothing. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbours, pouring it from the wineskin ‘til they are drunk so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn. Drink and be exposed. The cup from the Lords right hand is coming around to you and disgrace will cover your glory.
The violence you have done in Lebanon will overwhelm you and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed men’s blood. You have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
Listen again to what God says:
Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes his town by crime.
Do you see why, on the surface at least, this is a difficult message to share? How does this work everywhere and for everyone? But let me tell you something. Whenever I feel this, I remember once preparing a program all about the fear of God and thinking to myself, ‘Man, who wants to hear about the fear of God in this world today?’
And yet, within a few days of that program going to air, I received an email from the leader of a group of rebel fighters in Africa. For his safety I won’t tell you exactly where.
And he told me how the program changed his life. How he’d been killing people for 13 years but on that day, in that room, when he received the word of God he decided to lay down his gun. I heard from him just recently. He’s had to flee the land where he fought because those around him weren’t too pleased at his decision of accepting Jesus and to lay down his gun. He’s living as a refugee now, in another country.
There is the power of God’s word. And let me say it plainly, directly, simply and lovingly.
Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes his town by crime.
If that’s you then today you can turn away from that bloodshed and crime. Today, just like that rebel fighter, you can lay down your gun. You can turn away from the wrong that you’ve been doing:
Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbours, pouring it from the wineskin ’til they are drunk so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.
If that is you, then you can turn away from that evil, right now. Maybe it’s not easy. Maybe there’s a price to pay. But if you don’t turn, listen to what God’s word says:
You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn. Drink and be exposed. The cup from the Lords right hand is coming around to you and disgrace will cover your glory. The violence that you have done will overwhelm you and your destruction will terrify you. For you have shed men’s blood. You have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
Perhaps we are together for just a time like this. A time where God is calling someone, maybe you, to turn away from the evil things that you are doing. Because those evil things will have consequences. Those evil things will be brought to light on the day of judgement and the day of reckoning when Jesus comes again. When we stand before God and have to give an account for how we’ve lived our lives.
And perhaps, perhaps it’s not you that’s perpetrating the evil. Perhaps you’re someone who’s being harmed by bloodshed or violence or exploitation or oppression. Perhaps you’re someone who’s being hurt by someone who’s dominating you and treating you unfairly. Maybe you’re aching under the unfair treatment and pain and suffering.
Whoever we are, wherever we are, whatever it is that we’re going through, please, please listen to God’s word today. Jesus Christ is the Son of God. God sent Him to show us what God Himself is like. Loving. Powerful. Gracious. And yet, just
God sent Him to die on that cross for you and for me, to pay once and for all for our sin. God sent Him to rise again and to ascend into heaven to give you and me a new eternal life that starts right now. The moment we turn away from our evil ways and give our lives over to Him.
And this kindness is meant to lead us to do that. To turn from our evil and to honour God. If we do, we have eternal life. If we don’t, we have eternal judgement. The choice belongs to each one of us.
I have heard your word today and it has cut deep into my heart. I am sorry for all the wrong that I have done. Please forgive me. I turn away from my evil ways. And Jesus, from this moment forward you are the Lord of my life. You and you alone.
Please fill me with your Holy Spirit. Please give me this new life in Jesus name. And I pray for all those who are doing evil in this world. I pray that you would reach out to them, touch them with your love and your grace. I pray your mercy upon them. I pray that you would change them with the same love that has changed me. In Jesus Christs name I pray.
God has a time and a purpose for everything under heaven.