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Seeds of the Kingdom

How Long?

by John Sainsbury

How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Habakkuk 1:2, NIV

If you were to read the opening verses of the little book of Habakkuk, I suspect you might well identify with some of Habakkuk’s complaints to God:
‘Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds’ (Habakkuk 1:3).

The same might be said after we watch any news bulletin. Why, O LORD, is the world such a mess; and why, O LORD, aren’t you doing something about it? That was the essence of Habakkuk’s cry to God.

But God responded to Habakkuk’s cries with an answer that left him even more mystified.

‘Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians …’ (Habakkuk 1:5-6). God was going to bring justice, but to do so He was going to use a ‘ruthless and impetuous people’, the Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6)!

Habakkuk had complained to God that He wasn’t acting against injustice. But God’s answer wasn’t at all what he might have expected. God was about to act, but by using fire to fight fire.

And God did indeed send the Babylonians to bring His judgement against Judah when the city of Jerusalem fell to them in 586 BC. However, it wasn’t so long afterwards that Babylon itself was defeated and its great empire fell.

As for Habakkuk, he was absolutely right to call out injustice and to bring this to God. And this little book tells us that God sees it all and, in His good time, He will act, but often in ways that we would never imagine.

Who could possibly have envisaged that God’s ultimate answer to the wrongs of this world would be to take them upon himself and receive in Himself the consequence of our sin? What a shock and surprise Jesus was!

John Sainsbury and his wife Sue are part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange. John has served as a church leader for many years, most recently as Lead Pastor of the Garstang Free Methodist Church. He has a passion for seeing many brought into the fulness of life that following Christ brings.


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