Wednesday Wake-Up – Romans 1

My oldest son began asking, “Are we there yet?”  I thought I had so much more time, yet here we are.  The question leaves his lips so quickly that the end is immediately replaced by its inverse.  And the repetition continues for what seems like an eternity.  If only he could see from my perspective.  If only he knew that its rush hour and it will take 5 minutes longer to get to Chick-fil-a. But he doesn’t.  Likewise, we can not see from God’s perspective.  Only he knows what lies ahead.  So he asks one thing: trust me.  Trust that I am good and I have your best interest in mind.  Faith is a response to his action or seeming inaction.  Today, I want to remind you to trust God.

I hope our start in Paul’s letter to the Roman Church has encouraged you.  I want to take this opportunity to hit on the OT background for our WOW.  Paul gives a literary hyperlink connecting us with the great book of Habakkuk.  It is quite a small.  It might even be hard to find.  But reading the entirety of this small book gives Paul’s writing so much more depth.  Paul’s reference is in Romans, Chapter 1, Verse 17.

17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

When Paul quotes from the Old Testament, read and reread to get a contextual handle of the reference.  Because Paul assumes his readers know the books he is referencing.  So let us take a quick look at the book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk begins with a complaint.  Side note: don’t begin your prayers with a complaint, or you might get an answer…yeesh.  Habakkuk’s complaint was simply, “How long…”.  How long Lord will you let evil prosper, violence spread?  Think about the church in Rome.  The church is surrounded by a culture accusing, charging the congregation of treason, because they participate in a kingdom and have a king that is not Rome and not Caesar.  In fact, christians were extracted from Rome in 49 A.D.  Do you think they had a right to ask the question, “How long?”

The LORD responded to Habakkuk, “For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”  God was already working.  Like my son in the backseat, Habakkuk could not grasp God’s ostensible action. But God works in ways and at times that we can not begin to comprehend.  

Habakkuk’s second complaint:  If you are so good and you hate evil, then why not blow these no-good lousy evil people up and be done!

The LORD responds with wisdom and juxtaposition,

Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald[b] may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.                                                                                                                  See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—                                                but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness”.

First, God calls us to “wait for it”.  God’s wisdom is not our wisdom, nor is his time our time.  Does this mean we just sit in a bunker for God’s return.  Nope.  Each day he gives us a gift for a purpose.  He may have given you a gift of enthusiasm, money, inspired thoughts or time.  He asks that we faithfully trust him and wait, all the while, use what he has given for his kingdom.  What will you do with the gift while you have it?  Will you give it to others, or keep it for your own gain?  What did Jesus do?

Second, God contrasts the unrighteous and righteous.  The righteous are the ones that trust God.  The unrighteous, he goes on to describe, absorb life like food.  To the unrighteous, people and things are just plunder absorbed as a greedy man hordes gold, a drunkard sloshes his drink or a glutton engorges himself with food.  The righteous will not put their trust in these, because they are all temporary.  The righteous will put their faith in God and trust that he is working in our best interest.

As we learn to have faith in God’s love and act accordingly we will worship just like Habakkuk at the end of Chapter 3.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

Poetic language can be difficult for us to grasp.  But the writer is saying, no matter how difficult the situation God will be his joy.  Be brave.  Don’t let life’s circumstances get you down.  God is working in and through you.  Have faith and put your trust in him.  God does not need another backseat driver.

JP

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