Daily Reflections December 8, 2017
The prophet has been wrestling with questions about the justice and goodness of God in the first two chapters. Will God let the wickedness of the Israelites go unpunished? How is it just to use the Babylonian pagans to conquer them – will that not just cause more evil to abound? These are honest and bold questions that Habakkuk brings before God. And unlike the questioning of Job, God answers Habakkuk on both accounts. He proclaims that Israel’s covenant unfaithfulness will be punished soon by the Babylonians. And the Babylonians will be held accountable as well for their evil deeds. God reassures Habakkuk that He is still God and will righteously intervene. With a renewed confidence and hope in God, Habakkuk presents a psalm in the last chapter. This was likely used in the liturgical services and would be sung as a musical prayer to God while also being a reminder to all who sang it.
The prayer is simple in that it primarily exalts God’s in his coming and conquest. We notice that the language and places that it discusses are from when God was delivering Israel from Egypt or bringing them into the Promised Land. God intervened in the darkness of their slavery and wickedness. He came in radiance, power, and majesty so that everyone knew that He was God. Even nature trembled and moved at his command to carry out his will. He had come for his people, but he also fought for his people. He was a mighty warrior fighting on their behalf and defeating their terrifying foes. The battles that seemed impossible to man were easily won with God.
How easily we forget who God is and what he has done! This is a stark reminder that our prayers ought to be filled with reminders. Praise God for how he has revealed himself, how he has moved in your midst to show his loving care for you, and how he has shown that there is nothing too big in your life that he can't handle. Do not quickly rush to your needs and those things that seem impossible until you remind yourself of our Mighty God. Perhaps some of your requests will melt away before you even get to express them.
Because of his reflection and praise of God, the prayer ends with one of the most powerful expressions of faith. Although everything might be hopeless, the prophet says,
“yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
This ought to be the mantra of every believer. But let's be careful not to have these words on our lips before we first take the time to exalt God for who he is and what he has done as the prophet did. If we do, then they will be thin words, lacking in substance. So let us have a high view of God, eager to see him, acknowledge him, praise him, rejoice in what he has done, and proclaim loudly his deed. Then the object of our hope and faith will be solidified in our hearts so that we can stand firmly like the prophet and utter these words.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Luke 22 is a very long chapter that is rich in content. The chapter begins by connecting the Passover Feast with the desire of the chief priests to put Jesus to death, and it ends with Jesus as a prisoner being put to trial.
Before getting from point A to point B we read of Jesus’ last evening of freedom with his disciples and how he spent that time. Throughout the chapter, we could stop at any number of places and spend significant time plunging into its significance. Limited word count, however, means that we will be best served by narrowing in on one of these events and seeing what we can learn from it. With this purpose in mind let’s look intently at verses 24-37:
“A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
At this point in the gospel narrative, we should no longer be surprised by the disciples’ capacity for ignorance. This scene, however, takes the cake. Jesus has just finished inaugurating the Lord’s Supper where he spoke of his soon coming suffering and death. At the end of this he mentions that the one who is to betray him is sitting at the table.
This leads the disciples into a conversation about who that person might be, and the denial that it would ever be them. Incredibly, this conversation quickly shifts into a dispute over who is the greatest disciple. This isn’t the first time that the disciples had this dispute, for we also witnessed it earlier in Luke 9:46-48.
What makes the reoccurrence of this argument all the more amazing is the context in which it happened. Not only did Jesus just finish telling them that his murder was soon at hand, but he also just finished showing them a wonderful act of servanthood. Though it isn't found in Luke’s gospel, we know from the Gospel of John that Jesus washed the disciples’ feet during this meal (John 13). When we compare the two narratives, it appears as though this washing of the disciples’ feet would have occurred prior to the disciples’ argument over greatness. That means that prior to beginning this dispute the disciples would have just heard Jesus say:
“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:14-16)
The first thing that we need to learn from this is that we must listen and trust the words of Jesus. Don’t follow the disciples’ example in this story. It's apparent that they were so full of their own esteem that they allowed Jesus’ words to go in one ear and out the other. Don’t do that! Remember that Jesus’ word leads to life, and do everything in your power to listen intently to every word that He speaks. Secondly, we must put to death our desire for worldly greatness. Two thousand years later, these words of Christ concerning greatness still remain completely counter cultural.
Don’t believe the lies of this world, but rather listen to the One who created the world!
Finally, seek to serve one another in love. Never think that you're too busy or too dignified to help those in need.
Look for opportunities to fulfill those tasks that nobody else wants to do, for that is the example that Christ provides in the washing of the disciples’ feet.
Director of Youth Ministries Ryan Shevalier