Of late I have been memorizing and praying back to God the great prayer of Habakkuk 3:17-19. But during much of that time I’ve also had in my Bible a 3×5 card upon which I wrote, some time ago, the text of Genesis 32:26b. Recently, as I was praying back the former to God, I happened upon the card in my Bible. In an instant, seeing them side by side, I realized the contrast between the faith of Jacob and that of Habakkuk.
“I will not let you go unless you bless me.” (Genesis 32:26b). These are, of course, Jacob’s words while wrestling with “the angel” through the night. He says, “I’m not letting go of you, Lord, until you bless me.”
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 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. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). This is the prophet’s prayer of faith as he surrendered to God’s sovereignty over the nations and over his own life. This is Habakkuk saying, “I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.”
See them side by side:
- I will not let you go unless you bless me.
- I will not let you go even if you don’t bless me.
So which one is it?
Or, is it both?
For the blessing for which Jacob holds out is God’s own presence with him. And that of which Habakkuk will not let go, no matter his earthly state of blessedness, is the presence of God with him.
Bless me or bless me not, you, O Lord, are the one essential. You are the one thing I cannot live without. Amen.
bumbling through life
I encounter a
T in the road
What to make of this T?
An impasse? The end of my road?
A signal I should QUIT?
Or does the T signal, not a Termination, but a Transition?
As I consider my options something Emerges, standing between me and that fateful T …
Exaltation of the King who rules my journey
Examination of my heart as part of my journey
Exploration of the King’s leading for the next stage of the journey
In fact, I discover the E is not just one thing, but many things
Yet it is not Everything
No, that is the Exclusive domain of my King
Him alone in that place between me and the T
Embracing Him as my Everything Transforms my journey
opening new options as I stand there before that great T in my road
there, with Him the T no longer demands I QUIT, but invites me to become QUIET
for, says my King, “in Quietness and in Trust is your strength” for this journey
“History is but the unrolled scroll of Prophecy.” — President James A. Garfield
“This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord …” (Ephesians 3:11)
“… according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will …” (Ephesians 1:11)
“… remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.'” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
“… the King of the ages …” (1 Timothy 1:17)
“Known to God from eternity are all His works.” (Acts 15:18, NKJV)
“… God desired to show … the unchangeable character of his purpose …” (Hebrews 6:17)
On August 31, 1894 a firestorm swept across the woodlands of northeast Minnesota, swallowing the thriving town of Hinckley and several other smaller burgs as it cut a swath thirty miles wide as it plunged northeastward. As the inferno hit Hinckley temperatures soared to as high as 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit and the wall of flame soared up to one hundred fifty feet high. The heat vortex may have ascended as much as 30,000 feet into the sky. Under the intense heat steel wheels on train cars and the tracks upon which they once ran melted and ran into pools like water seeking its lowest level. Hundreds of lives were consumed by the flames as people frantically tried to outpace the driving firestorm.
Daniel James Brown in his account of the tragedy in Under a Flaming Sky recounts the story of one particularly fortunate group of the endangered from the tiny village of Partridge.
“A few of the villagers commandeered handcars and stated pumping their way up the tracks; others simply ran along the rails behind them. The largest group, though, remaining remarkably clearheaded, set out on a road toward a logging camp where a hundred acres had previously been burned over by another fire. It was three miles away—a long haul—and there was no chance to pause or rest, as a survivor later remembered: ‘All the time the fire was right behind us. The smoke had gathered again and thickened into a grayish-black mass which rolled forward at an incredible speed with a deafening roar, whining and rumbling. We had barely reached our place of refuge when the great wall of smoke behind us split, or rather was flung asunder, and a blood-red flame of fire shot out like a flash of lighting. In a moment, every particle of smoke had disappeared and in its place we saw a sea of fire as far as the eye could scan.’” (p.122)
Jesus echoed the prophets before Him in promising a judgment by fire. On the last day He separate the peoples and “will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Matt. 25:41).
Indeed, the end of the Book tells us all, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
But there is hope, for Jesus bore the judgment of God against our sins in His own body on the cross. In those moments the fires of God’s holy wrath swept over Jesus who stood in our place, His death accounted as ours that we might be free.
This act in which Jesus satisfied the just wrath of God against us is called “propitiation.”
- “Therefore [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Heb. 2:17).
- Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
- “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10)
- “God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (Rom. 3:25a).
Jesus is the only safe ground from the coming wrath of God. When we flee in faith to Him we find ground where the fiery wrath of God has already burned over and where the fires of judgment will never again be visited. Flee to Jesus and be saved!
Live wisely today, for you are making tomorrow’s memories. And memories are powerful things, for good or ill.
“The memory of the righteous is a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot.” (Prov. 10:7)
“Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13)