Groaning with Habakkuk

Habakkuk  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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Asking “how long?” is an act of faith because the question reveals that we believe at least four things about God that can only be accepted by faith.

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April 23, 2023 – Habakkuk 1:1-11 – Groaning with Habakkuk
In order to establish the social and political context of the book of Habakkuk, let me begin with a brief overview of about 500 years of Israelite history. After the period of the judges, Saul was established as the first king of Israel in 1050 BC. Saul reigned for 40 years and was succeeded by David, who also reigned for 40 years. In 970 BC, Solomon became the king of Israel and he reigned for 40 years. This 120-year period is known as the time of the United Kingdom. It’s called the United Kingdom because there was one king ruling over all twelve of the tribes of Israel.
But that changed in 930 BC. When the Solomon’s son Rehoboam ascended to the throne, there was strife and tension within the United Kingdom of Israel, and Rehoboam didn’t handle those challenges very well. So the kingdom split into two. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin remained under the rule of Rehoboam—they made up the southern kingdom of Judah—and the remaining 10 tribes opted to have a man named Jeroboam be their king—they made up the northern kingdom of Israel.
The northern kingdom had 20 kings who ruled during the time of the divided kingdom. What’s notable is that all 20 of them were bad kings. Which is to say, not a single one of them honored God and ruled His people according to His law. So after 208 years of sending prophets to the northern kingdom, telling them of their sins and warning them about the judgement God will bring upon them if they refuse to repent, the Lord made good on His threat. In 722 BC, He brought judgment on the northern the kingdom of Israel. He used the Assyrian army to invade and conquer the northern kingdom of Israel. The Assyrians displaced the Israelites from their homes and dispersed them all throughout the Assyrian empire. Those 10 tribes of Israel were assimilated into the Assyrian culture. They married foreigners and they ceased to maintain their identify as the people God had separated from the world.
In the New Testament, we’re introduced to a group of people who called the Samaritans. You’ve probably been taught that the Samaritans were half-Jews. Well, the best biblical scholarship tells us that they came from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who were taken into Assyrian captivity. I don’t know if we can really say the Samaritans were “half-Jews,” meaning they were 50% Jewish and 50% Assyrian. After 700 years of intermarriage, they may have been a lot more Assyrian than they were Jewish, nevertheless, the Samaritans had a Jewish heritage dating all the way back to the northern kingdom. And we learn from Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well that they still possessed a knowledge of Jehovah and worshipped Him in a temple they built on Mt. Gerizim.
The southern kingdom of Judah also had 20 kings, but not all of them were bad. There were a few good ones who honored God and ruled according to His law, but the majority of the kings were bad. So after 344 years of sending prophets to the southern kingdom, telling them of their sins and warning them about the judgement God will bring upon them if they refuse to repent, the Lord made good on His threat. He brought judgment upon the southern kingdom, like He did the northern kingdom. In 605 BC, God used the Babylonian army to begin invading and conquering the southern kingdom of Judah. Over the course of the next 70 years, the Jews from the southern kingdom were displaced from their land and exiled to Babylon. But unlike the northern kingdom, God preserved a remnant from the southern kingdom who left Babylon to return to Jerusalem, and began rebuilding the city, rebuilding the temple, and reestablishing a life of worship and service to God as the people He has separated from the world.
The book of Habakkuk was written right around 605 BC, just before the Babylonian army began to take the southern kingdom captive. This timing is important for us to know because the book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet asking God how long He’s going to allow wickedness and violence to continue without a divine response. In his question to God, Habakkuk doesn’t identify who’s performing the wickedness. Habakkuk knows who’s performing and the wickedness, and he knows that God knows who’s performing the wickedness, so he simply cries out the God in verse 2…
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save.
Notice two expectations that Habakkuk has of God. First, he expects that when he prays to God, that God will hear his prayer and respond in a timely manner. And second, Habakkuk expects that when God does respond, the response will bring salvation. In other words, the response will bring relief from the wicked. Look again at verse 2 and notice how both of these expectations are present…
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save.
So who are these wicked people that Habakkuk is crying out to God about? It’s the Jews. It’s the Jewish leaders and aristocracy in the southern kingdom of Judah. Let me show you more of the social and political context of the book of Habakkuk so you can see more clearly what Habakkuk was crying out about. Let’s zoom in on our timeline here.
Josiah was the last good king of the southern kingdom. During his 31 year reign, a great reform happened in the southern kingdom. While the temple was being repaired, Hilkiah the high priest found the Book of the Law and had it read to Josiah. Josiah was so moved by God’s declarations of judgment upon sin that he ordered for the book of the law to be read publicly. Then he destroyed the vessels used for Baal worship and other idolatries. He tore down the pagan shrines and high places in all the towns of Judah, including those shrines that had been built by Solomon and were still in use in Josiah’s day. He put an end to the homosexual prostitution that was practiced in the temple of God. He made it so nobody can make their son or daughter pass through the fire to Molech. And Josiah accomplished other reforms, as well, all with the goal of ruling the southern kingdom in according with God’s law.
When Josiah died in 609 BC, his son Jehoahaz took the throne. Jehoahaz was a bad king; he not committed to the reforms his father had made. However, he only reigned for three months before he was imprisoned and deported by the Egyptian Pharaoh, Necho. The throne then passed to another one of Josiah’s sons, Jehoiakim. 2 Chronicles 36:5 summarizes Jehoiakim’s reign in two sentences…
Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
It was under Jehoiakim that Habakkuk was crying out to the Lord. This is because Jehoiakim didn’t maintain the reforms his father had put in place. Sin and idolatry were so deeply entrenched in Jehoiakim’s heart, as well as the hearts of other leaders and prominent people in Judah, that Josiah’s reforms didn’t survive. Once Josiah was no longer there to enforce the reforms, Judah quickly reverted back to all the evil practices that had preceded the reforms. And Habakkuk was watching this happen. He saw the idolatry returning. He saw the shrines and high paces returning. He saw homosexual prostitution being practiced in the temple. He saw people sacrificing their children to Molech. He saw the rampant return of all forms of immorality and decadence.
When you read the grievance Habakkuk brings to God in verses 2 and 3, you’ll see that he uses six different nouns to describe what he was witnessing: (1) violence, (2) iniquity, (3) trouble, (4) plundering, (5) strife, and (6) contention. Then in verse 4, he laments how the law of God has become ineffective in society. It’s ineffective because the leaders of Judah won’t enforce it. Nobody wants to govern according to God’s statutes. Nobody wants to submit themselves to God’s standard of justice and righteousness. They only want to do what is right in their own eyes. So Habakkuk prays to the Lord…
… the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
Brothers and sisters, can you relate to what Habakkuk was experiencing? Only four years earlier, Josiah was on the throne and he was ruling righteously. Under Josiah, Habakkuk was experiencing the joys and blessings described in Proverbs 29:2a
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice;
Then four years later, under the reign of Jehoiakim, Habakkuk was experiencing the turmoil and sorrow described in Proverbs 29:2b
But when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
Do you know this form of groaning? Have you ever said to yourself, “Wow, what a difference four years can make? What a difference a change in the administration can make?”
When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.
Habakkuk was groaning. Understand that there’s a difference between groaning and grumbling. Grumbling is complaining. Grumbling is venting one’s frustration about something that’s disagreeable. It typically takes the form of frustration, annoyance, resentment, or unrighteous anger. It’s a way of expressing negative feeling without directly confronting the situation or pursuing a solution. Grumbling is always sinful and it’s always unproductive.
Habakkuk was not grumbling; he was groaning. Groaning is the expression of sadness, grief, frustration, or righteous indignation. It flows out of an emotional weariness because of persist exposure to some form of oppression or unrighteousness. 2 Peter 2:7 says that when Lot was living amongst the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, he was “oppressed” by the filthy conduct of the wicked. A more literal translation of 2 Peter 2:7 says that Lot was “worn down by the conduct of the impious.” That’s a wonderful description of what groaning is. It’s being worn down; emotionally, physically, even spiritually worn down by persistent exposure to the sins of the impious.
We live in a world today where there’s a lot of persistent exposure to the sins of impious people. If you consider the six nouns Habakkuk uses in verses 2 and 3 to describe the wickedness in his day, I think you’ll see that the reasons he was groaning are not all that different from the reasons we groan today.
The first noun he uses is violence. Sinful societies are often characterized by violence. This is because sinful societies have the attitude that “might makes right.” Wicked people feel justified in using power and force to impose their will on others. Coercion is seen as a legitimate means of achieving one's goals and ambitions, and different forms of violence are imposed on anybody who resists or threatens those goals and ambitions. Violence, therefore, is consider a legitimate means to an end.
If a court of law rules in opposition to a special interest group, there’s rioting in the streets. If a police officer is thought to abuse his authority, there’s rioting in the streets. If a particular sports team either wins or doesn’t win an important game, then there’s rioting the streets, or rioting in the stands, or rioting on the field.
If you don’t agree with a person’s identity politics, then you’re shouted down. You’re maligned. You’re canceled. You’re accosted. There’s no shortage of people who are willing to carry out acts of violence against you, either on your person, or on your family, or on your car, or your house, or your livelihood, or your reputation, or in a myriad of other ways.
If an unplanned pregnancy gets in the way of a person’s goals and ambitions, then the solution our society offers is violence against the unborn. Kill, crush, dismember, and dispose of the person who stands in the way.
The second noun is iniquity. This noun literally means “misfortune.” It occurs about 80 times in the Old Testament and almost exclusively in prophetic language. The “misfortune” is that which is experienced in the devices of the wicked against the righteous. In other words, it’s what the righteous person experiences when the wicked plot against God or against God’s people. So in Psalm 41:6, the psalmist describes how he expected “misfortune” to come upon him when his enemies speak evil lies about him. And in Isaiah 32:6, the word is used to describe how those who act against God end up inflicting “misfortune” upon people in need…
For the foolish person will speak foolishness, and his heart will work iniquity: To practice ungodliness, to utter error against the LORD, to keep the hungry unsatisfied, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.
The point here is that the type of “iniquity” Habakkuk is groaning about is the misfortune believers experience because of the foolish and wicked decisions God-haters make. It might be that the God-haters are intentionally bringing misfortune upon God’s people, or it might be that the misfortune we suffer is an unintended consequences of the God-hater’s foolish decisions. Either way, the iniquity that Habakkuk is groaning about in verse 3 of our sermon text is the misfortune we experience when the God-haters make foolish and wicked plans. So when they tell us that they’re “following the science,” that brings forth iniquity. That brings forth “misfortune” for God’s people. And when God-haters create oppressive legislation in the name of climate change, that brings forth iniquity. That brings forth “misfortune” for God’s people. And when God-haters plot to disarms citizens and make us defenseless against tyranny and oppressive forces, that brings forth iniquity. That brings forth “misfortune” for God’s people. Are you groaning because of the iniquity in our society, brothers and sisters? Are you growing weary of suffering under the foolish plans and wicked decisions of Godless people?
The third noun Habakkuk uses in his groaning to God is trouble. This word means to get tired from hard work. Habakkuk is saying that it’s hard work to resist the wicked while promoting righteousness… and he’s has grown tired. Hence Habakkuk’s question, “How long, O Lord?” “How much longer do I need to toil in this seemingly unending labor? I work hard, yet it doesn’t seem like I’m making any progress.” Have you ever questioned whether all your efforts for the kingdom of Christ are worth the toll it takes on you? Have you labored in prayer over a particular situation, only to wondered whether the hours you spent on your knees was a waste of time? Are you laboring to train up your children in the way they should go, and you’re seriously questioning whether you have the strength to continue that work until the day they spread their wings and fly the nest? Does punching a time clock to bring home the bacon for the next 40 years seem like an unbearable burden? Do you have a challenging person in your life? No matter how hard you try, no matter how many times you talk about it, no matter how many apologies are made, it just seems like you’re never going to make any progress? Are you experiencing chronic health issues? Are you tired of going to doctors? Are you tired of treatment plans? Are you tired of taking medications? Are you questioning whether you have the strength to stay the course?
There’s a lot of trouble in life, brothers and sisters. I think many of us have experienced the type of trouble that Habakkuk is groaning about, and I think many of us are quick to join our voices with his when asking the Lord, “How long?”
The fourth noun is plundering. This refers to goods and property that are taken by force. Habakkuk saw people’s wealth and productivity being taken from them by force. I don’t think it’s difficult for us to comprehend this word. We live in California, after all. When you consider our overall tax burden, the only other US state that might have higher taxation is New York. Most of us know what it means to have our wealth and productivity taken by force. We’re forced to pay for public assistance programs that are unbiblical. We’re forced to pay for an education system that’s unbiblical. We’re forced to pay for so-called “health services” that are unbiblical. We’re forced to pay for foreign aid programs that are unbiblical. We’re forced to pay interest on government debt that’s unbiblical. And our wealth is being plundered as the Federal Reserve continues to devalue our currency by inflating the money supply. “How long, O Lord? How long must this plundering go on? How long will my wealth by taken from me? How long will the fruit of my labor be taken by force?”
The fifth and sixth nouns are strife and contention. Strife refers to physical combat, whereas contention refers to quarrels, arguments, and other non-physical forms of dissension. Habakkuk mentions strife and contention together because where one is found, the other is usually not far behind. In a society of sinners who have no regard for the moral law of God, it’s not uncommon for a verbal altercation to develop into a physical altercation. What started off as a quarrel might end in a fist fight, or even worse, in a gun fight.
Habakkuk is groaning to God that strife and contention were prevalent in Judah. And it’s that way in the United States, as well. Turn on the evening news and you’ll be bombarded with strife and contention. There are contentions over immigration, contentions over race, contentions over marriage and gender, economics, gun control, vaccines, social justice, environmental policy, free speech and censorship, wealth distribution, and so on, and so on. We live in a such a contentious society that you can get into serious trouble simply by sharing an opinion that offends somebody.
The unpardonable sin in the 21st century is to offend people. The “I’m offended” rhetoric has great power in our society. Notice, for example, how some of the guest speakers are treated on university campuses.
About two weeks ago, a female swimmer named Riley Gaines spoke at the campus of San Francisco State University. She said it isn’t fair that female swimmers have to compete against male swimmers. This opinion offended the audience, so a crowd of protestors rose up against her. A man in a dress struck her twice, hitting her in the shoulder and hitting her in face. As the rest of the mob was pushing her into a corner, the campus police were able to escorted her to an empty room where she barricaded herself for three hours. It took that long for the violent mob of protestors to be dispersed.
That, brothers and sisters, is the type of thing we should be groaning over. That’s the violence, iniquity, trouble, plundering, strife, and contention that we should be crying out to God about, asking, “How long, O Lord?” Understand, it’s not a sin to ask God this type of question. A quick survey of the Psalms shows that this is a question the psalmists frequently asked of God.
Psalm 13:1-2 – How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart daily? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Psalm 35:17 – Lord, how long will You look on? Rescue me from their destructions, My precious life from the lions.
Psalm 74:10-11 – O God, how long will the adversary reproach? Will the enemy blaspheme Your name forever? Why do You withdraw Your hand, even Your right hand? Take it out of Your bosom and destroy them.
Psalm 89:46 – How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever?
Psalm 94:3 – LORD, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?
Even in the book of Revelation, as the fifth seal is being opened, verse 10 of chapter 6 explains how the martyrs under the altar are asking, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?”
Asking “how long?” is actually an act of faith. I say it’s an act of faith because asking the question reveals that we believe at least four things about God that can only be accepted by faith.
First, it reveals our belief that God sees the wickedness of the wicked, even more clearly than we see the wickedness of the wicked.
Second, it reveals our belief that God has the power and authority to subdue the wicked.
Third, the “how long?” question reveals our belief that God has a plan—a schedule; a timetable—by which He will subdue the wicked.
And fourth, it reveals our belief that when God does subdue the wicked, He’ll do it effectively and judiciously so as to avenge all the wrongs that the wicked have committed against the Lord and His people.
So it’s not a sin to groan, as Habakkuk is groaning. It’s not a sin to ask “how long,” as Habakkuk is asking. But it is a sin to grumble. And it is a sin to accuse God of wrongdoing. We should understand that when we get to the point where we’re our soul is so burdened that we’re crying out to God, asking Him “how long?”, we need to tread cautiously because we can very easily step over the line into sinful forms of grumbling complaining against God.
I see a parallel here to what the Lord says about anger. In Psalm 4:4, God says, “Be angry, and do not sin.” We understand this to be telling us that there’s a righteous form of anger that God says we need to possess. For example, we should be righteously angry when we see people being treated with injustice. We should be righteously angry when we see a man push an elderly woman to the ground so he can run off with her purse. We should be righteously angry when we discover that a young child is being abused by an adult family member. But we need to tread very cautiously in our righteous anger because it evokes powerful emotions that can very easily morph into sinful forms of anger. So we need to be on guard with our anger. We need to be angry, but not sin in our anger.
And so it is with groaning to God. Groaning is done within the context of powerful emotions. Righteous groaning happens when our heart, soul, and body are worn down by the persistent sin and oppression of the wicked and impious. So we cry out to God for His deliverance. We cry out to God for His salvation. And it’s not wrong, as we’ve just seen from the Scriptures, to ask the Lord how long before He subdues the wicked. But we need to be careful not to go from groaning to grumbling, or for an expression of our faith in God to an expression of our criticism of God. We need to exercise the same cautions with righteous groaning that we do with righteous anger, because both of them are charged with powerful emotions.
Habakkuk is righteously groaning, and the questions he’s asking are an expression of his faith. The fact that he’s coming to God with his questions demonstrates that (1) he knows God sees the wickedness, (2) he knows God has the power and authority to subdue the wicked, (3) he knows God has a schedule for subduing the wicked, and (4) he knows that when God does subdue the wicked, it will be effective and judicious.
Habakkuk, therefore, has given us a model for groaning. He has shown us how faith turns us to the Lord for answers when our hearts, souls, and bodies are worn down by the persistent sin and oppression of the wicked and impious. If Habakkuk didn’t have faith in God, he would have turned elsewhere for answers. He would have turned to the strength of man rather than the strength of God. Or he would have turned to wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of God. Or he would have turned to the devices of man rather than the devices of God. Or even worse, Habakkuk could have grumbled against God and accused Him of wrongdoing. Like Job’s wicked wife, Habakkuk could have cursed God and given up on living in this world. But Habakkuk did none of those things. Rather, his faith drove him to God for answers. Habakkuk, therefore, serves as a model for us to emulate in our own groaning.
I noted earlier in the sermon that Habakkuk had two expectations of God. First, he expected that when he prays to God, that God will hear his prayer and respond in a timely manner. And second, Habakkuk expected that when God does respond, the response will bring salvation; that is, it will bring relief from the wicked.
As far as the first expectation goes, God did hear and respond to Habakkuk’s prayer in a timely manner. In verse 5, God tells Habakkuk to look among the nations and watch, for God is going to do something utterly astounding! God goes on to say that He’s going to work a work which Habakkuk would not believe, even if it somebody were to have explained it him beforehand. What is this astounding work the Lord is about to do? Verse 6…
For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
The Chaldeans are the Babylonians. From verse 6 to verse 11, God is describing to Habakkuk how cruel and wicked the Babylonians are. They’re terrible and dreadful, He says. They’re more fierce than evening wolves. They all come for violence. They gather captives like the sand. They defeat every stronghold. They transgress. They commit offense. And then God concludes by telling Habakkuk that after the Babylonians have successfully overpowered their enemies, they give credit for their success to the power of their false god.
So as it pertains to Habakkuk’s second expectation of God, that He would respond by bringing salvation from wickedness, Habakkuk was truly astounded to hear that God is about send the Babylonians to conquer the southern kingdom of Judah. It must have seemed to Habakkuk that the cure was worse than the disease. He came to God with the concern that the people of Judah have become wicked, and God essentially said, “Yeah, I know, that’s why I’m sending the Babylonians, who are even more wicked than the people of Judah.” Has the Lord ever responded to your groanings in ways that astound you? Do His responses to your prayers ever challenge your expectations of God?
Habakkuk is not finished asking questions of God. Beginning in verse 12, he asks the Lord how He can use evil to suppress evil. That’s a valid question. And God has a valid answer. We’ll be looking at that question and answer next week, Lord willing. But let it be understood right now that when Habakkuk prayed for the Lord to save His people from wickedness, he didn’t expect that God would send a wicked superpower to capture the people of Judah and deport them into exile. But that’s exactly what God did in 605 BC.
In the fourth year of Jehoiakim’s reign, the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, took control of Judah and immediately began deporting Jews to Babylon. The first deportation was in 605 BC. This is when Daniel, along with his three friends, and thousands of other Jews were deported to Babylon. Jehoiakim died in 598 BC. He was succeeded by his son, Jehoiachin, who was taken captive by the Babylonians exactly three months and ten days after ascending to the throne. Jehoiachin was replaced by Zedekiah, who was the final king of Judah. In 587 BC, near the end of Zedekiah’s reign, the second deportation of Jews were taken to Babylon. This is also when the city of Jerusalem was destroyed, along with the temple that Solomon had built. Zedekiah was taken into exile the following year and the remaining Jews in Judah were without a king.
The third and final deportation of Jews happened in 582 BC. At this point, God had effectively removed all the people of Judah from their land. God did not, however, fail to save His people from the wicked. When Habakkuk prayed for salvation from the wicked, he wasn’t expecting the answer to prayer to include 70 years of Babylonian captivity, but let us acknowledge that God did answer Habakkuk’s prayer. God did bring a faithful remnant of His people back to Judah. That remnant rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple, and they committed themselves to living as the covenant people God had separated from the world.
Notice the wisdom of God in this matter. Wickedness was prevalent in Judah. The leaders were in rebellion to God. The vast majority of the people were in rebellion to God. So how did God cleanse the land? How did He remove the wicked while preserving the righteous? He took everybody out. He brought everyone to Babylon, and then He sent a remnant back to Judah; a remnant who was committed to serving Him and doing His will.
Nobody expected that. Nobody saw that coming. And up until the 535 BC, it appeared as though the situation was a tragedy. It appeared as though the southern kingdom would go the way of the northern kingdom; that they’d assimilate into the culture of their captives and lose their Jewish identity. But when God eventually revealed the grandeur of His plan by sending a remnant of faithful Jews back to Judah, it all became clear. God answered Habakkuk’s prayer. He brought salvation to His people.
And by salvation, I’m not referring only to the remnant who returned to Jerusalem. Yes, they were delivered from Babylon and they received a sort of “salvation” when they were able to return home. But God brought salvation to all of His people, from every tongue and tribe and nation, by preserving the Messianic line. The promise God made in the Garden of Eden is that the seed of the woman will bruise the head of the serpent. God then reveals that the promised Messianic seed will pass through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and that the scepter will not depart from Judah.
So in preserving a faithful remnant from the tribe the Judah, God was preserving the seed of the woman. He was bringing forth the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who will save His people from their sins. Remember the four things that righteously groaning reveals about a person’s faith in God? The third one is that God has a plan—a schedule; a timetable—for subduing the wicked. When we ask the question, “how long?”, we’re demonstrating that we believe God has a day and hour determined for subduing the wicked. Our challenge, therefore, is not in believing that God will subdue the wicked, but in being patient for God to subdue the wicked.
Romans 8 offers us a lot of encouragement, in this regard. And the encouragement comes in a way that you may not have expected. Romans 8:20 tells how all of creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because the Lord subjected creation to futility. This happened at the fall. Adam’s sin not only brought condemnation upon all his posterity, but it also brought a curse upon the entire creation. But Romans 8:20 says something unexpected about the curse God put on creation. It says that Gods subjected the creation to futility “in hope.” The hope is described in the next verse, which says that “the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” In other words, the creation know that redemption is in store for it. I’m not sure I fully understand how creation has this consciousness, but the word of God says that it does, so I’m not going to challenge that. God says that the creation knows that a day is coming when it will be delivered from the oppressive curse that’s presently afflicting it. And then Romans 8:22 tells how the creation groans. It says…
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.
This isn’t a matter of speculation; Paul says that we know this to be true. All of creation is groaning under the curse of sin, but it’s groaning in hope. It’s patiently groaning with the eager expectation that it will be delivered from the curse according to God’s divine timetable. And this is where Paul brings the encouragement to you and me. He writes in verse 23…
Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope…
Brothers and sisters, we groan because of sin in this world. We groan because we’re consisting exposed to the persistent sins of the impious. And in our groaning, we cry out to God, “how long?” But we don’t groan as those who have been defeated. Like the rest of creation, we groan with hope. We groan while eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. And we already possess the immense blessing of knowing that we’ve been saved in this hope. Therefore, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.
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