Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Chapel at Michigan Lutheran Seminary (January 14, 2015)

This comes a week late, but this was the chapel devotion at Michigan Lutheran Seminary on Wednesday, January 14, 2015.


            The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
            O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?  Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.  So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

In the name + of Jesus.

     Habakkuk was a prophet in Israel for the people of Israel.
     When Habakkuk looked around at those who were supposed to be the people of God, he saw wickedness, violence, and oppression.  This was in Jerusalem, in the shadow of the temple, among God’s people.  These were people who had been set apart for better and should have known better.  Habakkuk issued his complaint before God, and then further complained, “And you will not hear.”
     The wicked surrounded the righteous.  They got away with everything.  God’s Commandments were overthrown.  The people flaunted their sins.  They reveled in their evil.  And Habakkuk complained, “You will not save.  You idly look at wrong.  You do nothing.”
     Our sense of injustice is offended.  The guilty should pay for his crimes!
     Our desire for righteousness is frustrated.  When are the good rewarded?
     Our motives to persevere are shot.  Why do good when the wicked can do all they want and there is no judgment against them?  No price to pay.  No consequences to their actions.  “And you will not hear.  You idly look at wrong.  You do nothing.”
     Beware!  Your sense of justice is perverted.  You want lightning bolts from heaven to crush the wicked?  Do you think you have not contributed to the world’s evil?  What about petty squabbles?  Bitter rivalries?  Sarcastic put-downs?  Betraying confidences?  Building yourself up by tearing someone else down?
     Forget the world “out there.”  It’s right here in your own dorm, isn’t it?  It is right there in your own heart, isn’t it?  While you may be disgusted by the world, you also ought to be equally disgusted by yourself.  Repent.
     The world is broken and you cannot fix it.  Your heart is corrupt, and you cannot fix that, either.  You may be disgusted by it, but you cannot escape it.  You must be saved from it.
     The fact is that God has not stood by idly.  He has sent a Savior to deliver you from a world which is cursed and from your heart which is corrupt.
     And in that Savior, the guilty has been punished.  Jesus has become sin for you.  He has made himself the sin offering to die in your place and for your sake.
     Jesus hung on a cross, and he asked his own grieving question: “Why have you forsaken me?”  There was no answer.  No one saved him.  God did nothing.  Jesus died for all the world’s sin; for your sin.  By his death, Jesus has delivered you so that you will not perish.
     So, Jesus does not fix the world.  Rather, he delivers you from it.  He sets you apart so that you will not perish, but will live.  He sets you apart to live no longer under the curse of sin, no longer ruled by sin.  He sets you apart to live for him, to live in righteousness, and to live without fear.
     But God does not stand by idly.  To you, it may seem like God is doing nothing.  That, however, is God’s patience.  He wants all to repent, for he died for all.  He acts not with lightning bolts, but with mercy.  He does not strike down, but grants time for more and more to repent and be saved.
     While the Lord’s patience is held out and the world goes on, you continue to pray with Habakkuk and with the Church, “Deliver us from evil.”  And recognize that he will.  Just has he has delivered you from your sin and its curse, so he will deliver you from evil and everything that disgusts you.  He will deliver you completely at the resurrection of the dead.
     Then, you will enjoy a life without problems, a life without temptations, a life without squabbles and rivalries, violence and frustration, a life without death or mourning or crying or pain.
     If you are disgusted by the world, that’s okay.  This is not your home.  Jesus has set you apart so that you will not perish with this world.  You have been set apart for what is to come.
     Your comfort until then comes from the lips of Jesus.  He reminds you who you are by reminding you of who he is.  He is your blessed Savior, and you are his beloved redeemed.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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