In the Peanuts cartoon series we often find Linus clutching onto his blanket which seems to give him the promise of security. And we laugh.
And yet? Don’t we all desire to have a sense of security? When things get out of hand we naturally yearn for whatever it will take to restore that sense of security.
Where Is Our Security?
When people make promises to us, we trust them to fulfil them. When we bank our money with a guaranteed interest rate, don’t we anticipate the money to grow by the promised rate? We place our security in our finances.
In the book of Habakkuk, we see the Babylonians receiving a stern warning. Their sense of security would soon be undermined.
“Indeed, how long before your victims wake up, stand up and make you the victim?” (Habakkuk 2:7 The Message)
Habakkuk 2:8 NIV puts it this way:
‘Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.’
They had made many wrong decisions. They had shed innocent blood. And God made them a promise. He would remove their security. Those they had wrongly treated, would rise up against them.
Our Search for Security
- What are some of the areas that people concentrate on today to gain a sense of security?
- What do you think God would say about them? Are they sound investments in His sight?
For many, the source of their security is a healthy bank balance and investments. Consequently, people think that the wealth they have so carefully saved up will protect them in tough times.
Banks have promised. And they will deliver.
People may also trust in the promise of a safe and secure future ‘guaranteed’ by the ruling government.
- How often does that work out?
People believe those who make solemn promises. We want to believe them,
Retirement Nest Egg
During our working years, most of us seek to ensure that we will have an adequate pension to live off when the day comes. We rely on the promised inflation rate to provide good dividends.
But in actual fact, despite all our efforts to provide a nest egg for our future retirement years, it doesn’t always work out as we planned. The interest promised in our policies may remain the same. But they are insufficient.
Most pensioners today are finding their retirement annuities, their pensions, their savings, do not live up to the promise of former years. These are due to
- the increased cost of living
- fluctuations in the economy
- unexpected health problems
- the COVID-19 pandemic
- and so many other factors
These combine to eat away at our capital investments. Money doesn’t go as far as we anticipated in our younger days.
The Apostle Paul’s advice to the young pastor Timothy is truly relevant for us today.
“Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost.Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.” (1 Timothy 6:17 CEV)
Lack of Security
In the previous study, we looked at the chaos caused by the plunder of a number of malls and factories in South Africa. There was certainly a lack of security when the looting took place. Why?
The public placed their trust in the security personnel. The security forces were caught napping. In other words, they failed to keep their promises of maintaining control.
The Babylonians plundered the nations that they attacked. Furthermore, they destroyed lands and cities and they shed the blood of their victims.
The Babylonians were secure in their confidence that in their strength and ability they could overcome any enemy. But God warned them, “the peoples who are left will plunder you.“
As a result of them gaining their wealth through bloodshed and destruction, God’s judgment was, “Now those who survived will be as cruel to you.”(Verse 8b CEV)
Misuse and Abuse
- How are God-given resources misused or abused today?
- What other ways could we use the resources available to us? Can you name a few?
In some ways, the world has really changed very little since Habakkuk’s day. We only need to watch the TV or read the news to see the comparisons.
For instance, across the globe, we hear of fraud, embezzlement, corruption, and misappropriation of funds designated for others. Rape, bloodshed, violence, gang warfare, it’s still all happening.
Even more perplexing is how, the world over, the perpetrators seem to avoid justice.
Payback is Certain
Yet God’s Word endorses the fact that there will be a payback time for all evildoers.“…be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23b KJV) How often do you hear these words quoted?
And yet—when you take these words in the context of the chapter, they were not a warning against sin at all. They were a warning of the consequences of failure to keep a promise made to God.
En route for the Promised Land, the children of Israel conquered several nations on the eastern side of the Jordan River. At the point that they were about to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land (Palestine) two and a half of Israel’s twelve tribes requested permission to settle on the eastern side, in the territories they had recently conquered.
They received permission on one condition. They had to join the other tribes in the conquest of Palestine. Once achieved they could then return to the eastern territories.
The tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh agreed to this condition. Moses then issued this warning, “…if you do not keep your promise, I warn you that you will be sinning against the LORD.Make no mistake about it; you will be punished for your sin.” (Numbers 32:23 GNB)
Or as the KJV put it, “Be sure your sin will find you out.”
I’m sure that all of us without exception have made at least one, more likely many, promises in our lives.
We probably made a few light-hearted promises in our childhood with little intention of following through. However, as adults, the significance of a promise became more important.
- Did you make a promise to God at your confirmation or baptism?
- If you are married what promises did you make before God at your marriage ceremony?
- Have you promised to raise your children by providing a godly example?
- If you are a church leader, did you make a promise to be a faithful leader and continue to stay close to God?
- If you have changed churches, did you promise to become involved and supportive of your new church’s mission statement?
- Which of the above have you failed to keep?
- Do you need to seek forgiveness for those broken promises?
- Who do you need to speak to? God? Or others as well?
The Babylonians would face God’s discipline for their plunder of conquered nations.
God would discipline the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh if they failed to fulfil their promise.
Our situation is no different. God expects us to fulfil the promises that we make.
“Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them.” (Psalm 76:11 ESV)
Are there people you have made promises to, which you have not kept? What can you do today in an attempt to rectify it? Decide to do it now!
If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.