2015 started off well, but seven days into this New Year, extreme violence hit.
In our shrinking world of high technology, the massacre in Paris almost feels like it happened here. Through the media, we see the faces of those Parisians who had their loved ones mercilessly cut down and our hearts are touched. From a distance, we groan with righteous indignation and mourn with them, because we know how it feels to have senseless acts of violence perpetrated against us. We remember the horror of 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and others that fuel an ever-present fear of terrorism. Still, even without foreign influence, our country has seen escalating violence. Anger spewing out in riots, looting, and destruction over court verdicts and vicious, irrational school shootings. It’s as if violence stepped from the movie screen and made its home in our everyday life.
Although the situation in Judah, twenty-six hundred years ago, was quite different, I find myself identifying with Habakkuk’s wail.
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises.”
For years, Judah had been transgressing the law of God. Prophets, like Habakkuk, warned of coming judgment, begging the inhabitants to turn from their wickedness, but they would not listen. Violence and evil grew until God said, enough is enough. He called a terrible and dreadful people to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, and in the process, countless souls were slaughtered by the sword.
Nevertheless, the Everlasting Lord, merciful and just, who grieves when the wicked perish, spared many by sending them captive to Babylon.
Look around, our nation is just as corrupt. So, is this where we’re headed? Maybe not to a foreign land, but captive in our own country – in spiritual Babylon? The gap between the righteous and the wicked is widening and the growing disdain for preachers of God’s Word is frightening. Are we witnessing II Timothy 3 being fulfilled before our very eyes?
Yes, violence now is bad. But, it is nothing compared to what it will be when the Holy Spirit lifts His restraint on wickedness.
So, what are we supposed to do?
As true believers, we must continue in the things we’ve learned from the Holy Scriptures, for they are God-breathed – exhaled-out from God. Through His Word, God speaks love and hope, instruction and reproof, so the man or woman of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
And, even though it is the beginning of a new year, we are closer now, than ever before, to the return of Jesus.
But, how long, O Lord, holy and true…?
Jesus said we won’t know the day or the hour, but “…when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”