How long, O LORD, will I call for help, and you will not hear? I cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness, Yes, destruction and violence are before me, strife exists and contention arises. – Habakkuk 1:2, 3
All of us can relate to the prophet Habakkuk, who lived in the tumultuous days before the Babylonian invasion of Judah. Habakkuk’s world did not look that much different from our own: it was full of strife, full of evil, full of hate, full of violence. Full of the consequences of sin: death. Like Habakkuk, we wonder what sort of purpose God can have when we look around us. Today civil wars frequently erupt while economies spiral out of control. Those who profess hate and destruction for followers of Jesus Christ are ever closer to gaining a nuclear weapon. The slaughter of Christians on various continents continues All this in a time when nations throughout the globe increasingly surrender their sovereignty to treaty-making bodies like the United Nations or the Council of Europe – bodies that openly seek to shift power from those whose concepts of law and liberty are informed by sacred moral standards, to those whose concepts of law and liberty are informed by the immorally-relative agendas of those holding power. And all this at a time when American courts, often authoritatively citing contemporary treaties, replace policies informed by the sacred, (and enacted pursuant to the will of the people), with transnational secular norms favored by an unelected judge.
It is enough to make us never read a newspaper again, bury our heads in the sand, and barricade ourselves in our homes, away from any contact with world events or politics. Why bother to understand the world of international affairs, when its content brings such heartache and sorrow?
Yes, some aspects of world events are confusing and horrific at times. Yet our world is full of such complexities every day – as believers, we cannot ignore this reality. Our world groans under the burden of sin, and some of the most newsworthy events are prime examples of that load.
For this reason alone, God could have easily decided to take every Christian off the earth after he or she was saved – yet He did not. He left each and every one of us here for a purpose, and a noble one: to bring Him honor and glory and to help bring about His kingdom by proclaiming the gospel to the lost. At the end of Matthew, Jesus gave this direction to us:
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Christ gave a huge mission to a handful of followers on a windy mountaintop in Israel. Yet look at the impact this handful had: they faced a world full of horrific worldviews and events, and turned the world upside down, bringing the light of God’s truth to a very dark world. Today we have directly benefited from their dedication, carrying on this tradition of being a light to the peoples. God is with us all along the way, strengthening us, caring for us, protecting us, even in the midst of a fallen world. Yet, when it seems like the world is falling apart to evils we can hardly understand, it is so easy to, like Habakkuk, fall into despair.
However, God has a plan and purpose through it all:
Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days – you would not believe if you were told. (Habakkuk 1:5)
God in response to Habakkuk’s cries responded that He was at work – He was not ignoring His creation. He was well aware of the sins of Judah, of the turmoil His chosen people were experiencing, how their hearts were breaking. As He explains to Habakkuk, more trials would come, a people would conquer and destroy God’s chosen city, yet He would be faithful and preserve His chosen people. Even in the midst of death, He would deliver them.
By the end of his prophecy, Habakkuk was well aware of the terrors that would soon be inflicted on Judah, terrors that chilled him to the bone (3:16). Yet, by the end, he expressed these thoughts:
Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the LORD, in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)
As Habakkuk penned these words, he could have easily lost hope in God. He could have easily believed that all was lost, that God could do nothing to save His people. But instead he took hope that the days of famine and sorrow were not forever. He took heart in the promises of God rather than falling in fear to the pains of this world.
Today we, like Habakkuk, can take heart in God’s great promises. The Lord assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20), He works all things for good (Romans 8:28), and He will create a new heaven and a new earth, where there is no sorrow, no pain (Revelation 21:1-4). Scripture demonstrates to us that we can rest in God and His faithfulness. We may not understand why He allows wormwood and bitterness in this world, why economic crises occur, why innocent people are massacred daily, but God has a purpose through it all. For this reason, we can look at today’s news stories not with fear and trembling, but in hope and peace that God is at work.
This is why we as believers need to understand international relations and affairs. By understanding these events, we equip ourselves to respond in a way that brings God glory and expands His Kingdom. Through this section of the Salt & Light Global website, we hope you will learn how we as Christians should relate to people, organizations, and ideologies in the arena of international affairs and how God is at work within this unique field. In the end, a greater understanding of the international arena will allow you to examine today’s events with clarity and wisdom and to respond in a winsomely attractive manner.
Like Habakkuk, when we understand what God is doing in this world, and what He will continue to do, we can take joy in the Lord and thus be a light to the nations who are in need of the Savior. Habakkuk’s claim can then be ours:
I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18)
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