NEW PROVIDENCE BAPTIST CHURCH

WHERE GOD IS CALLING YOU OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sunday School Lesson

October 5

Lesson 5

Yet I Will Rejoice

Devotional Reading: Psalm 56:8-13

Background Scripture: Job 1; Psalm 56; Habakkuk 1-3

Habakkuk 2:1-5

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

2 And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Key Verse

I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. —Habakkuk 3:18

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Describe the dialogue between Habakkuk and God.

2. Paraphrase Habakkuk 3:17, 18 using nonagricultural terms.

3. Identify some seemingly negative condition in his or her life and make a statement of commitment of “yet I will rejoice in the Lord” in spite of that condition.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Silent Nights

B. Lesson Background

I. Overview (Habakkuk 2:1-3)

A. Prophet’s Expectations (v. 1)

Of Watchtowers and Warnings

B. God’s Response (vv. 2, 3)

II. The Two Paths (Habakkuk 2:4, 5)

A. Pride, Part 1 (v. 4a)

B. Faith (v. 4b)

C. Pride, Part 2 (v. 5)

III. The Way of Faith (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

A. Times of Scarcity (v. 17)

B. Times of Rejoicing (vv. 18, 19)

Rejoicing in Bad Times

Conclusion

A. Pride or Faith?

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember

Introduction
A. Silent Nights

Still living with mom and dad three years after graduating from college. Didn’t get that raise—again. Chronic pain persists. Expenses still exceeding income. Rejected by another potential employer. Reconciliation with an estranged relative seems impossible. The rich seem to keep getting richer, and the poor seem to keep getting poorer. Where is the light load and abundant life that Jesus promised?

Most people feel that way at one time or another. For some, it happens only periodically. For others, it feels like the very rhythm of their lives. We who follow Jesus know that we have eternal life. But how should we process our earthly woes in the meantime? What might God say were He to speak directly to us during times of frustration and doubt?

Though God may seem silent during our darkest nights, we realize when we open the Bible that He is not. God speaks to us through prophets such as Habakkuk. That man stared doubt in the face, questioned God, and received answers. In today’s lesson we sample a slice of that conversation and discuss its abiding relevance.

B. Lesson Background

Habakkuk probably ministered in the final decade of the seventh century BC, although some date his prophetic ministry to as early as 630 BC. Those closing decades of the seventh century BC saw God’s people under stress. The northern kingdom of Israel had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 BC as God’s judgment on His people’s idolatry, social injustice, and unholy political alliances came to fruition. The people of the southern kingdom of Judah did not learn from that “visual aid,” and the same sinful patterns became their norm.

In Habakkuk 1:2-4, the prophet cries out about the violence, injustice, and wide-scale abandonment of God’s laws that resulted in the trampling of Israelites by the wicked. The prophet pleaded as one who had been crying out to God for a long time without receiving an answer. In Habakkuk 1:5-11, God answered. Not only was He aware of the sins of His people, He planned to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to level the southern kingdom of Judah just as the Assyrians had done to the northern kingdom of Israel.

Habakkuk was not comforted by that answer. He complained that the Chaldeans were far more treacherous than the Israelites, and that they were known for trampling the righteous (Habakkuk 1:12-17). How could a holy God use such a wicked people as His instrument of correction? As our text opens, we find Habakkuk awaiting an answer to that question.

I. Overview

                                                                           (Habakkuk 2:1-3)

A. Prophet’s Expectations (v. 1)

1. I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

Habakkuk 1 ends with the prophet complaining that it seems beneath God to use a very unrighteous empire like Babylon to punish the Israelites, who are relatively less unrighteous. The prophet brings this complaint to a close in the verse before us as he stations and braces himself for God’s response.

The language here is that of military defense. For surveillance purposes, ancient cities rely on watchmen stationed on high towers that may or may not be part of city walls. These elevated positions offer the best view of the distant horizon from which invading armies might approach.

Habakkuk addresses God with boldness in chapter 1, and God’s response in verses 5-11 (see the Lesson Background) is jolting. As far as the prophet is concerned, however, this issue is not settled, and his counterresponse appeals to God’s holy character (1:12, 13). Habakkuk is no fool—he knows that God’s rejoinder will be equally bold, if not more so. So the prophet braces himself as he awaits to be reproved.

Of Watchtowers and Warnings

In 2003, archeologists found a rare treasure about 22 miles southeast of Amsterdam. It was the foundation of a wooden watchtower that the Romans had built along the Rhine River, perhaps about AD 50. The tower may have been one of many such structures, built at intervals as a means of spotting trouble along the river. Soldiers stationed in the towers could signal each other for reinforcements to meet threats to Rome’s control over the region. The tower’s foundation survived because a Roman road was built over it later.

The prophet Habakkuk recognized his role in Judah as a spiritual watchman on a tower, ready to signal God’s desires for, and warnings to, the people of Judah (compare Ezekiel 3:17; Hosea 9:8). While God did not tell Habakkuk the day or hour of Judah’s demise, He gave the prophet a clear vision of what was to come.

Habakkuk’s message comes from a time even more ancient than that of the Roman ruins, yet the message remains intact in a way the ruins do not. The message reminds us that God has plans, and He expects us to watch for those plans to unfold. See Matthew 24:42; 25:13.—C. R. B.

B. God’s Response (vv. 2, 3)

2. And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

The nature of God’s response reveals that He does not regard Habakkuk as a foe. God has a message that the prophet is to write in such a way that a courier may run to deliver it to others. Runners or couriers in a military context do not bear weapons, but news. They move quickly from the battlefront to the homeland to provide status updates to those anxiously awaiting reports. Without the wireless communication we have today, such runners are a vital element for communication in the ancient world.

3. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

The courier of verse 2 is to bring good news for God’s people. The vision at issue should not be thought of as ordinary sight or as the kind of forward thinking we associate with “visionary” leaders. This is a prophetic vision, a word from God.

God’s judgment (explained below) will be decisive. Its timing might not be as people expect or desire, but it will come at just the right time. When it does come, it will be clear that God is keeping His word. Though that word may seem to delay, giving the impression that God isn’t paying attention, it will certainly come at just the right time.

This is often a hard truth for God’s people to accept. We trust that God is in control and that He works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), but we want results now! Yet God’s Word to us is the same as to Habakkuk: be patient and trust that God will act at just the right time in just the right way (compare Hebrews 10:37; 2 Peter 3:9). Certainly God can act in ways that conform to our desired timetables. But that would not be in our best interest, since God has knowledge of things that we do not. God always works in the best interest of the greater good of His people. We may not be able to see it now, but in the end it will be clear that God’s ways are higher and better than ours.

What Do You Think?

When was an occasion that 20/20 hind sight
demonstrated God’s timetable to be superior to yours? What did this experience teach you?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

When planning a career change

When planning a family event

Other

II. The Two Paths

                                                                       (Habakkuk 2:4, 5)

A. Pride, Part 1 (v. 4a)

4a. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him:

God distinguishes between two types of people, who represent two ways of living. One type walks the path of pride. Those on this path strive to elevate themselves regardless of what that might mean for others. There are few empty seats of power in this world (compare Mark 10:42), and those in such seats exercise authority over many areas of life.

To exalt oneself often involves taking power away from another who currently exercises it. Sometimes vacancies open up as others move on, die, etc. In such cases, there are usually several persons who are suitable replacements, so they jockey for the winning position.

Those who focus on winning the proverbial rat race above all else appear to be on top of the world, at least for a little while. Yet they are not right with God. In exalting themselves to places of prominence, they may have had to abandon God’s justice. They may regard their neighbors as competitors for resources rather than as fellow image bearers of God—image bearers they have been sent to serve. Unbeknownst to the power-grabbers, they are doomed to come crashing down from whatever height they have managed to achieve by their own strength. These self-exalted ones are obviously not God’s people.

B. Faith (v. 4b)

4b. But the just shall live by his faith.

God’s true people are described as the just, which refers to their life of righteousness. They are the ones who are in a right standing with God because they live according to the standards that God has established. It is not as if they have earned their right standing through works; rather, it is that they seek first God’s standards. They have dedicated their lives to God’s justice—a justice that has to do with how one treats one’s neighbors, cares for the poor, and makes decisions that affect the wider community. To be that kind of person requires faith.

It is interesting to note that here the opposite of pride is not humility, as one might expect. Rather, the opposite of prideful people are those who live by faith (compare Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). The word faith includes a wide range of dispositions, including belief, trust, and godly actions. The Hebrew word for faith in this verse is often translated faithfulness elsewhere (examples: 1 Samuel 26:23; Psalms 36:5; 40:10; Isaiah 11:5; 25:1; Hosea 2:20). This implies a steadfastness that demonstrates unwavering commitment over time, regardless of the external pressures. Steadfast faithfulness is the life to which God calls His people.

Such faith or faithfulness is therefore characterized by patient endurance. Pride and patience are also contrasted as opposites in Ecclesiastes 7:8. The proud rush to get results for themselves, regardless of the costs.

This fact puts into proper perspective the impatience that Christians sometimes demonstrate. “I hate waiting,” we may complain (inwardly if not outwardly) when others are slowing us down on the road or in the checkout line at the store. We are unhappy that others are ahead of us, messing up our timetable! If we resort to driving on the shoulder in a traffic jam, we are further saying that our “need” to get through is more important than that of others stuck in the same situation.

The righteous serve faithfully and diligently, even when they can see no positive results, whether immediately before them or on the distant horizon. God promises to exalt the faithful in due time.

What Do You Think?

How has God confirmed His presence and strength for you during hardships when others might have questioned both?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

In a family matter

In a church conflict

In your job

Psalm 23

Other

C. Pride, Part 2 (v. 5)

5. Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.

After pausing to describe righteous living, God returns to a discussion of the nature of those who are proud. Such people are attracted to intoxicating beverages. This attraction may be most evident at parties hosted and attended by those who are upwardly mobile and striving to make names for themselves (compare 1 Samuel 25:2-11, 36; Esther 1:1-11; Daniel 5:1-4). We should not automatically equate this with the kind of drinking typical of those who misuse alcohol to numb themselves to their troubles.

Prideful people are never satisfied. Their desires are as all-consuming as death itself seems to be. The word hell translates a vague word that probably signifies “the abode of the dead” in a general sense (see Ezekiel 31:15; Hosea 13:14; etc., where the same Hebrew word is translated “grave”).Therefore, the word hell as translated here is not necessarily the place of eternal torment for the wicked as we understand today. The Jews of Habakkuk’s day do not have as clear a view of the afterlife as we now possess with the full resources of the New Testament.

Death never seems to have its fill. It wants and expects to consume everything; it will not be satisfied until it does! So it is with proud people. “Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied” (Proverbs 27:20). Whatever name prideful people manage to make for themselves will not be enough; they will eventually want to make it greater still. As with the wine they choose to misuse, the proud eventually become addicted to glory grabbing.

In the same way, the kings and kingdoms of this world want to conquer more and more, until all people belong to their dominion. Imperialism cannot tolerate a fixed border. It is by expanding their borders that kingdoms acquire new wealth that enables them to keep building and expanding. The Greek historian Plutarch (AD 46-120) notes that “Alexander [the Great] wept when he heard ... that there was an infinite number of worlds, and to his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: ‘Do not you think it a matter worthy of lamentation, that, when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?’”

Such kingdoms eventually overreach, spreading themselves too thin. This inevitably leads to their downfall because they lack the resources to protect their ever-expanding boundaries. Pride often seems to be its own death sentence, although God also punishes self-ambition. That punishment is spelled out in the fivefold woes in Habakkuk 2:6-20 (not in today’s text).

What Do You Think?

When was a time you saw pride end up being “its own death sentence”? How did you grow spiritually from that experience?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Regarding pride of accomplishment (Daniel 4:28-33)

Regarding pride of position (Acts 12:21-23)

Regarding national pride (Jeremiah 48:29, 30)

Other

III. The Way of Faith

                                                                       (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

A. Times of Scarcity (v. 17)

17. Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls.

As we leap forward to verse 17, we see that Habakkuk has received God’s message loud and clear. So the prophet drops his inquiry and submits to God’s timing.

Habakkuk recognizes that there will be times in life when nothing appears to be going well. He illustrates such times with reference to the primary indicators of economic well-being in his day: the status of crops and livestock. When these falter, nothing else seems to go well. Borrowing will ensue as loans have to be taken out. Property ownership will be on the line as it serves as a guarantee against a loan gone bad. A succession of bad years creates a downward spiral in this regard.

We may experience the same thing today in the form of rising bills coupled with declining purchasing power due to inflation, rising responsibility coupled with declining health, etc. In marital vows we symbolize the ups and downs of life in terms of “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” Whatever terms one uses, Habakkuk acknowledges the reality that even under God, life does not always go well for us. The next two verses reveal the prophet’s attitude toward this reality.

B. Times of Rejoicing (vv. 18, 19)

18, 19. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Habakkuk has moved from complaint to praise. He recognizes that God alone is the source of salvation and strength, and this is good news indeed. What strength do we have against the storms of this life, whether of financial ruin, natural disasters, overpowering enemies, or pending death? God triumphs over them, and He extends that victory to those who call on Him.

What Do You Think?

What spiritual help can your church provide to those facing physical hardship? What will be your part in this?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

Counseling resources within your church

Counseling resources among neighboring churches

Prayer chains vs. personal availability for prayer support

Proper use of Romans 8:28

Other

Jesus was born into a life of poverty, was tossed about by a raging sea, was assailed by religious and political enemies, and stared death in the face all the way to the cross. Yet He submitted to the conditions of humanity, trusted in God, and waited for God’s deliverance. His victory is ours as well.

Though Habakkuk never knew Jesus, he knew Jesus’ Father and trusted Him. Habakkuk confessed God’s unique ability to grant the sure-footedness like that of hinds (deer) that tread the mountainous high places, places that Habakkuk could never ascend by himself.

What Do You Think?

When was a time you sensed God strengthening you spiritually to look beyond a shortfall of life? What did you learn from this experience?

Talking Points for Your Discussion

During a time when you lacked a necessity (food, clothing, housing, transportation)

During a time when you lacked something you desired but didn’t really need

Rejoicing in Bad Times

The summer of 2012 was a time when so-called global warming became real to many people. The scientific fact or fiction of global warming will continue to be debated for some time, but that summer was unquestionably among the hottest and driest that most Americans had ever seen.

Some feared that the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s might be repeating itself. The year 2012 wasn’t as bad at that, but the extreme heat and drought raised the specter that a time of extended scarcity lay ahead. Farmers lost crops and livestock, others whose livelihoods depend on the farming industry suffered, and the general populace experienced higher food prices as a result.

It is natural, of course, to ask “Where is God?” during such times. Of greater importance, however, is the question “How will I praise God?” when disaster looms. The answer Habakkuk proposed is still valid. Those who trust God can rejoice in the midst of trials, because they know God is their refuge. Even when life brings us low, God will give us the strength to walk in the “high places” of faith.—C. R. B.

Conclusion
A. Pride or Faith?

The battle was over before it began. Yet, Habakkuk was never truly at war with God, though the prophet directed frustrations to Him. That itself was an act of faith. Rather than brood over Israel’s misfortunes, Habakkuk verbalized his concerns to the only one powerful enough to do something about them.

God was not threatened by Habakkuk’s complaint. He responded with grace, with good news. In our day, God has spoken good news to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:1, 2).

Jesus lived out the perfect example of patiently trusting in God alone. We see such trust in His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42), and in His final words on the cross, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (23:46). Before that, Jesus had encouraged people not to strive to elevate themselves by taking seats of honor at banquets, but to wait for the host’s invitation (14:7-11). How much better it is to be elevated by God than by one’s own pride!

The Babylonians of this world will continue to elevate themselves. May we model for them a better way, the better way that Habakkuk learned and Jesus exemplified. It is the way that looks up in faith, no matter the circumstances.

B. Prayer

Powerful God, we voice to You our concerns because we know You care. We thank You for tolerating our prideful impatience; please replace it with a godly faithfulness that looks up to You during every storm of life. We ask this in Jesus’ name; amen.

C. Thought to Remember

Patiently rely on God’s strength.

Visual for Lesson 5. Use this visual as a discussion starter by pointing to it as you ask, “What other images of ‘lack’ could you put here?”

How to Say It

Assyrians Uh-sear-ee-unz.

Babylonians Bab-ih-low-nee-unz.

Gethsemane Geth-sem-uh-nee (G as in get).

Habakkuk Huh-back-kuk.

Plutarch Plu-tark.


October 12

Lesson 6

I Know That My Redeemer Liveth

Devotional Reading: 1 Chronicles 16:28-34

Background Scripture: Job 19; Psalm 57

Job 19:1-7, 23-29

1 Then Job answered and said,

2 How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?

3 These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange to me.

4 And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.

5 If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:

6 Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.

7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.

 

23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!

24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!

25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:

26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:

27 Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

28 But ye should say, Why persecute we him, seeing the root of the matter is found in me?

29 Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment.

Key Verse

I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. —Job 19:25

Lesson Aims

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

1. Summarize Job’s reply to Bildad.

2. Explain how Job’s confidence in his “redeemer” affects our understanding of his complaint.

3. Express faith in the Redeemer, Jesus, and tell how that faith helps in times of trial.

Lesson Outline

Introduction

A. Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

B. Lesson Background

I. Job’s Complaint (Job 19:1-7)

A. Repeated Reproach (vv. 1-3)

Friends Like ... You?

B. Remaining Innocent (vv. 4-7)

II. Job’s Hope (Job 19:23-27)

A. Written Record (vv. 23, 24)

Let the Record Show ...

B. Living Redeemer (vv. 25-27)

III. Job’s Warning (Job 19:28, 29)

A. Continued Blame (v. 28)

B. Eventual Judgment (v. 29)

Conclusion

A. Hope

B. Prayer

C. Thought to Remember


Standard Lesson Commentary 2014-2015 (KJV).

"Suggestions for families are taken from Standardlesson.com,

Standard Publishing Group, LLC. Used with permission. More resources for families are available at Standardpub.com.


God Bless