A TALK ON HABBAKUK
ON OCT 7, the Rev Dr Gordon Wong, who teaches Old Testament and Hebrew at Trinity Theological College and is an author, gave a talk on Habakkuk, the first of a series on Old Testament characters, for members of the TRAC Board of Seniors Ministry. Sixty-one members attended the talk.
The Rev Dr Wong then gave the second talk on Nov 4, 2008 – on Daniel. Sixty-five members were present.
Here are the summaries of the two talks. The prophetic writings of Habakkuk
are as relevant today as they were 2,600 years ago.
The prophet Habakkuk, not known outside his book, wrote the book around the year 625 BC, before the conquest of Judah by the Babylonians in 605 BC. He was unique among the prophets because he spoke to God, expressed his frustrations with God and asked God why He was silent regarding his questions and slow to act regarding the injustices suffered by the righteous rather than delivering God’s oracles to the people.
God responded by revealing that He was going to deal with Judah with the help of the Babylonians. This shocked Habakkuk who questioned God, “How could you do it?” But he was told to be patient, to know that everyone would face judgment for his offences and to believe that the righteous would live by faith.
God then gave Habakkuk a vision of His infinite glory and these responses from God restored his faith in God and produced the beautiful expression in Chapter 3 verses 16-19 at the end of the book.
Chapter 1 helps us to learn about the nature of prayer. The God we trust and worship is also a God who wants us to talk to Him, to question Him, and a God who listens to our problems, doubts and frustrations. He wants believers to pour out their hearts, just as most psalmists do.
Thus, true worship requires worshippers to be honest in expressing their praises as well as their sadness and problems.
Chapter 2 helps us to understand and accept that God is in full control of all situations despite our heartbreaking experiences and circumstances.
God wants us to be patient, to wait on Him, to be faithful to Him and to remain righteous in the midst of rampant evils, terrible tragedies and seeming delays in actions on God’s part. He says in Chapter 2 verse 4, “ … the righteous shall live by faith”.
Chapter 3 helps us to realise finally, like Habakkuk, that we can trust God for our salvation and praise Him even “though the fig tree does not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines … and there be no herd in the stalls”.
In other words, we can praise God even in tears because we are sure that life on earth is difficult, that God’s love is eternal, even beyond this life on earth, and that Jesus Christ will return and bring all believers to heaven to be with Him forever more.
Chan Kai Yau, a member of Barker Road Methodist Church, is a member of the TRAC Board of Seniors Ministry.
A TALK ON DANIEL
Daniel’s messages still relevant today
DANIEL’S messages are as relevant today as they were when the Book of Daniel was written about 2,500 years ago. The first six chapters show how Daniel and his friends were faithful to God to the end. They were not living in Judah but in Babylon (the present-day Iraq) where the God they loved and worshipped was unknown to the majority of people in power and in the market places.
Daniel and his friends were even given Babylonian names and they accepted them. They served in the king’s office even though he was instrumental in conquering Jerusalem, but they refused to worship idols or the king. They continued to pray to the God of Israel.
In other words, they walked a tight rope and took a stand for their belief under all circumstances, many of which were very adverse.
Jut before being thrown into a much-heated furnace, they could say to the king: “ … and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:17,18). They influenced the king eventually.
Today many Christians are similarly living in “their Babylon”, that is, among people and under bosses who do not believe in Jesus Christ.
Thus, we as Christians, need to pray to the living God through Jesus Christ for wisdom to know what to do and for courage to do what is right to do.
The second six chapters describe the rule of monsters and evil men, how deceitful people prospered and how God’s people suffered ill treatment and were killed.
There was a time of war and violence, of intrigue and hypocrisy, a time when God seemed to be absent. However, in the end, and this could be after death, the faithful to God “shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to eternal life … Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”. (Dan. 12:1-3).
Thus, as we look at the whole picture of Daniel’s writings, which included the delivery for God’s people who then succeeded in life and were honoured on earth, and the suffering and death of God’s people on earth and then honoured after death, we see the main theme of Daniel to be that God is sovereign over all the earth and throughout eternity, and the people of God must be faithful to Him all the time.
Today, many Christians also live under very trying, difficult and evil situations, and are therefore encouraged to persevere in their trust and belief that God reigns supreme in all circumstances.