Pastor Bob Reid September 16, 2001. Friendship Baptist Church, Warwick, R.I.
Habakkuk 2:5 - 20
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THE CUTTING EDGE
In one of those amazing & Divine "accidental and circumstantial" happenings, we just happened to arrive at Habakkuk chapter 2, verse 5 and following on this Sunday morning.
In Habakkuk, Israel was coming under attack and this past week America, of course, has come under attack. In ancient Judah God had been abandoned. The Word of God had been set aside. The civil leadership had failed. The religious leadership had failed. Morality, honesty and honor had failed. But injustice, strife, anger, violence, lust, iniquity and idolatry had not failed - it abounded.
Sound familiar? In modern America the newspapers have daily reported the same kind of apostasy and failures for years. The godly Habakkuk had been praying for revival for the people of God for many years. He had been warning the people of the error of their ways. The people could have looked in their Scriptures and read, "Be sure your sin will find you out" or,
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts", or
"Let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy on him and abundantly pardon", or
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart..…and turn from your wicked paths." or,
"Return unto me and I will return to you." or,
"If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.", or
"He will make even your enemies to be at peace with you."
But neither did they read, nor did they respond.
We have the Divine answer to Habakkuk’s prayers recorded in his book and the answer is that in the absence of their repentance, not revival, but judgment was coming. God will be sending the evil Babylonians to execute His judgment upon Israel.
When God speaks, when God reveals, when God warns, the response He is looking for from His people is repentance. We say we have faith but faith without repentance is nothing.
When John the Baptist appeared on the scene, his first words were, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When Jesus first began His public ministry His first words were, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." When He spoke to the 7 churches of Revelation, 5 of the letters said that they must repent.
When some people came to the Lord and asked him about all the people who died when a certain tower collapsed - it was called the Tower of Siloam - He said nothing about those people, but to the ones who asked the question, He said, "Except ye repent ye all shall likewise perish."
Faith without repentance is nothing.
The Bible says that judgment must begin at the house of God. So we have a choice. We can judge ourselves and repent or we can wait for God’s judgment to come. Godly Christians today have been praying for revival in America for many years. For years the people have been warned of the error of our ways. I remember 30 years ago when Billy Graham preached that if God did not send His judgment upon us soon, He would have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorra.
We have the same Scriptures as the people of Habakkuk’s day,
Neither do we read, nor do we respond.
We have buried the word, outlawed prayer, and turned away from God. Marriage and the family are failing. Scriptural abominations [Liberal Apostasy] and the things God hates abound.
We do not have a Divine record of God’s answer to the prayers of our day, but we have not seen repentance and we have not seen revival. What have we seen?
Catastrophic tragedies! Further fallings away from God. Earthquakes, floods, fires, tornadoes, aids, the falling economy, Waco, Oklahoma City, and now the Twin Towers and the Pentagon attacked.
What does it mean?
Are they warnings? Or are they the beginning of judgment?
Now we have the terrorists & the cowardly attack of 9/11. On Tuesday morning people went to work and their businesses.
300 firemen went to work in New York City;
35 policemen went to their assignments in New York;
4972 white collar workers went to work at the Twin Towers;
200 people went to the Pentagon to begin their labors;
250 people boarded 4 airplanes in 3 different cities;
Not one knew that by high noon, they would be blasted into eternity to stand before God. I wonder how many were ready. I wonder how many that are here this morning are ready.
None of us ever dreamed that two, 110 story buildings, could be leveled to rubbish in less than an hour. No one thought that the Pentagon could be touched.
What does it mean?
Was it a warning? Or was it judgment? The heavens are silent.
If it was a warning there may or may not be more of the same. It may depend on what we do next. If it was judgment, then it’s the beginning of sorrows for the sins of America and more will be on the horizon - you can count on it.
Habakkuk chapter 2 beginning with verse 5 describes the course and dismal end of the ungodly. In just a few years, Babylon did level the southern kingdom and the 70 year captivity began. In Habakkuk’s day, God didn’t at all mind telling why that judgment was coming. The explanation is revealed in the 5 woes of Habakkuk chapter 2.
Woe #1 - verses 6-8 Woe to those who are enslaved by a never ending obsession with greed - greed that can never be satisfied.
Notice the words here like "never satisfied", "gathers to himself", "makes himself rich." But, greed will never supply all your needs, no matter how much you can get. The Bible says, "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
The Bible says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you."
God wants His people coming to Him and He wants to care for them. If a person trusts God, then why does he need to filled with greed? Greed leads to dishonesty, bribes, robbery, extortion, con jobs, and racketeering.
When people are motivated by material desires rather than by spiritual realities, they need revival.
Woe #2 - Verses 9-11 - Woe to those who tolerate injustice in their own hearts.
The Scripture says that this person has plotted the ruin of many others. Someone else’s loss was okay as long as it benefited him. This person can take your company, your property, your wife and never once think of the fairness of it. It’s the survival of the fittest.
We’ve all read of plots against the elderly in our times through telephone sales, false promises and sweepstakes to get their money. Unscrupulous brokers have put many in the poor house. A fake Baptist charity in California was exposed 10 days ago. They had swindled many Christians out of millions of dollars.
Relief donation scams in connection with last Tuesday have already been discovered. That is unconscionable!
When people have this attitude and care nothing of others, they need revival.
Woe #3 - Verses 12-14 - Woe to those who practice violence.
Here are people who have gone from greed - to injustice - to violence- so great are their lustful hearts. We all know about the violence in our society. Few of us however would put ourselves into the violent pictures that we read about -
The wife who is spitting out blood from the anger of her husband -
The child who sits all bruised in the doctor’s office -
The pre-born child in his mother’s womb not able to run from the surgeon’s knife.
Drive by shootings, house invasions and street muggings.
But there are other forms of violence.
The cutting apart of a marriage through divorce.
The cutting up of the Body of Christ through gossip & maliciousness.
Words which destroy a child’s self esteem.
When violence mars a person’s life, that person needs revival.
Woe #4 - Verses 15,16 - Woe to those who practice seduction - who lead others astray.
Seduction is far far along the slippery slope of moral decline. The Scripture speaks of those who give others drink - God’s curse is upon them. Today the Bible would add drugs such as ecstasy which are used for date rape. Here is a person who doesn’t know how to love - all he can do is beguile someone else.
Such a person desperately needs revival.
Woe #5 - Verses 18-20 - Woe to those who practice idolatry.
The religious system of Babylon is under the lamp of God’s Word here, along with its practices of divination, sorcery, spiritism, demonism drugs and astrology.
Sound familiar? The same is all around us. It would be a mystery why sophisticated, educated and scientifically minded Americans of 2001 are so intrigued by the occult; but this chapter explains it - it’s the end result of a people who have rejected God and fallen into spiritual apostasy.
People today love astrology, for example. It’s right out of Babylon!
And we’ve even had it for 16 of the last 20 years right in the White House. Astrology offers religion without moral responsibility and so they like it.It offers salvation without accountability to a Savior and so they like it.It offers knowledge of the future and so they like it.
I wonder how many duped people realize that money is what drives this tool of the devil. In a recent year, 25 million people spent over 200 million dollars on personal horoscope materials - all to find out what fate a certain future day has for them.
Astrology has no credibility but it’s still an idol for many.
But idolatry could be many things - a sports team, a person, a painting, a collection, anything that takes the rightful place of God.
False religions which will never get anyone to heaven abound in our world, such as Islam. I appreciated Muhammad Ali’s statement this past week which was released almost immediately following Tuesday’s tragedy. He said, "I am a Muslim. I am an American. I deplore the violent acts of 9/11." We need to remember that not all Islamic peoples are violent terrorists. Most are loyal citizens just as we are.
But we also need to remember that there is "No other name given under heaven amongst men whereby we must be saved…I am the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
There is no salvation apart from faith in Jesus Christ. There is no salvation, no Savior and no forgiveness of sins in Islam. Those suicide bombers didn’t wake up Tuesday afternoon drinking milk and honey in a harem of beautiful women.
"He that hath not the Son hath not life"
The one and only true God of the whole earth and all peoples has already provided the way to fellowship with Him and at the greatest cost imaginable and through the greatest act in history, the cross where Jesus died for our sins.
No wonder that the Lord is a jealous God and hates the giving of worship to anyone or anything other than Him. People involved in idolatry need revival.
There are many evidences of the need for revival: God’s own people need revival
* When we do not love the Lord as we once did.
* When we do not tremble before the Word of God.
* When we seldom think thoughts of eternity.
* When our hearts are cold and our eyes are dry.
* When we do not grieve over sin.
* When we don’t long for the fellowship of God’s people.
* When we would rather watch TV than read the Bible and pray.
* When it’s easier to stay home than come to church.
* When concerts and movies draw more interest than prayer meetings
* When our Christianity is without joy and passion.
* When we know truth in our hearts and we’re not practicing it.
* When we make little effort to witness to the lost
* When we aren’t exercising faith & believing God for the impossible.
* When we are more concerned what others think about us than what God thinks about us.
* When the fire and the power has gone out in our hearts.
Many centuries ago The Lord gave Ezekiel the prophet a vision in which he first saw his nation destroyed and his people scattered among the nations. This was the exact coming judgment revealed to Habakkuk.The dry bones of Israel lay in the valley. All hope for the future was gone. They were past life. I mean, they were nothing but bones.
No wonder Ezekiel was staggered when God asked him a question. "Can these bones live again?"
He could only answer, "Thou knowest."
We wonder, can the fires of revival burn again in our time? Can we be restored to our first love? Can our nation rise and be healed? Can our dry bones of faith be restored?
The only answer is, "Thou knowest."
Well, Ezekiel was commanded to speak the Word of God to the dry bones and they stood up - the great host became covered with flesh - the Spirit gave them breath and they became a mighty army.
Oh, if only we would humble ourselves, and pray, and seek God’s face, and turn from our sin that the Spirit of God might revive us again.
TODAY'S OUTPOURING OF FAITH IS UNSCRIPTURAL ECUMENICISM
I went to a prayer meeting the other day in front of the Warwick City Hall. I heard three Reverends pray without once using the name of Jesus. That kind of prayer will not do any good, nor will it be heard by God's Son, Jesus Christ, to whom God the Father has given all things into His hand! Jesus told us to whom this kind of prayer is prayed:
"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself ..." [Luke 18:11] These modern day ecumenicists are praying mightily right now, in response to this tragedy, but they are praying to themselves!!
I heard them singing ‘God Bless America." Is that going to move the Holy Spirit when there is no repentance, when our hands are covered with the blood of 40 million abortions, when our country has given place to what God says is an abomination, when our courts have consistently thrown out prayer and the Bible and are now putting churches and home Bible studies out of existence.
As we think about the history of our country, we remember its beginnings - founded by a group of faithful men & women who wanted God to be first in their lives, and God gave them a country where He could be first.
But right from the beginning the forces of good and evil were battling in spiritual warfare. From the viewpoint of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there were the masses who became enslaved to the evil and dark ways. And to the more educated & educated leadership of our country came Satan with different philosophies than the Word of God. Behind many of their actions was Satan. Some were deceived. Others were willing followers of the Illuminati.
This battle continues today. And so, after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we began to turn away from God, to forget the Lord and to sink into sin. The light of the churches dimmed. But then there was a great time of refreshing which spread through our land - it was called the great awakening and it was sparked by Jonathan Edwards - and the life of the Holy Spirit was moving once again.
One hundred years later, after the Civil War, the nation again sunk to a low level. Conditions were just about what they are today. Corruption was at every hand. Crimes of violence were increasing rapidly. Vice in the theater and arts was gripping a pleasure mad, entertainment seeking people.
Gambling, free love, robbery and murder were wide spread.False religious cults were on the prowl and capturing the minds of thousands. The nation was prospering & the people were living in luxury. Multitudes no longer needed the Lord. They became indifferent to spiritual matters and deserted the churches.
A great depression hit the country. Banks began failing everywhere. The wealthy became poverty stricken overnight. Thousands were thrown out of work. Crowds of unemployed men walked the streets carrying signs of protest.
Was this God’s judgment on a people who had left their first love?
The healing started in New York City. A business man discovered his need of the Lord and invited others to a noontime prayer meeting. One person showed up and then it was six. In a few months 10,000 businessmen were meeting daily for prayer in New York City alone. Reports of these spread throughout the country like wild fire. Soon people everywhere were driven to prayer and noontime prayer meetings were started all over our nation from Maine to California.
In answer to this flood of prayer, a spiritual tidal wave of conviction of sin broke out all over the land and even crossed the ocean. Aged sinners, hardened skeptics, confirmed atheists were brought to the Lord. White haired penitents knelt with little children at the Throne of Grace. Deaf mutes found the Lord and their faces shone with the Glory of God. Churches from one end of the country to the other became crowded with worshippers. Many had to stand on the outside steps because there wasn’t enough room, while others looked through the windows.
It was a great day for the Lord. But, these people were pouring out their hearts directly to Jesus Christ, expressing remorse over their sin, and repentance, while asking Jesus Christ for forgiveness.
Charles Finney wrote that it was at first a revival of prayer - there were no excesses, no hysteria, no unusual disturbances - just prayer. The people had been broken and made humble before God and prayed But as they prayed the Spirit of God searched their hearts and they found that prayer alone was not enough. Conviction gripped their hearts. Repentance, wonderful deliverances and changed lives followed. And what a coincidence! When revival was spreading across our land, our nation was at the same time being healed of its woes.
Whether it be a dead bone or a dead believer or a dead church or a dead nation, The refreshing of the Spirit brings life when people repent of their sin, come back to God and mean business with the Lord.
Once again in the history of our country, we are facing a dark time. The economists, the politicians, the educators, the armed forces do not have the answer for terrorists, for a falling economy, for sin.
But God does.
If ever we needed a new coming of the Spirit of life, it is now. Only God can thwart the plans of Satan and his legions. Only His Spirit can bring the Spiritual awakening we need to turn things around, to dam the tide of evil, to reverse the trend of Apostasy, to preserve the United States of America, to make even our enemies be at peace with us, and to preserve us on the high road where God walks.
In the darkest hour, God can still revive His people and by his Spirit breathe new life, new power, and new love into the dead bones of the body of Christ and this nation.
I believe that right now we have the greatest opportunity for revival in 150 years. Already, prayer meetings, prayer groups, special services are being held after years of setting prayer and the Lord aside. For years, we watched helplessly as people burned the Stars & Stripes and protested against the government. Now there are flags everywhere being waved and carried and hung in surprising places.
BUT NO REPENTANCE!
But in all these last several days I have heard nothing about repentance. If we be willing humble ourselves - pray - seek His face - turn from our wicked ways then we’ll be on the high road for that’s His prescription for the high road of revival.
Then, our hearts can be touched by the unction of the Spirit’s presence.
Then our nation might be touched by the Spirit filled, spirit led and Spirit empowered army of Christ.
Oh friends, is there in your life the need for a new touch of the Spirit? For genuine Spiritual renewal in your own life?
Do you hunger for His joy and peace and victory?
Do you want to experience revival in your heart?
Do you yearn to see revival come to this land of ours?
If so, I want to you to come and stand up here in front of the church and we’ll have a time of prayer together. We’ll pray for you, for our church, and for our nation. Please come. Come right not. Don’t delay.
Truly, our nation needs Holy Spirit power, but no power can flow without individual repentance and repentance from our national leaders. The very fact we do not see it now is proof positive that we are in the End of the Age. Are you spiritually ready? Is your family? Are you adequately protecting your loved ones? This is the reason for this ministry, to enable you to first understand the peril facing you, and then help you develop strategies to warn and protect your loved ones. Once you have been thoroughly trained, you can also use your knowledge as a means to open the door of discussion with an unsaved person. I have been able to use it many times, and have seen people come to Jesus Christ as a result. These perilous times are also a time when we can reach many souls for Jesus Christ, making an eternal difference.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually.
If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.
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