February 20th 2010

Listen

7th of a series of studies from Habakkuk

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”

Habakkuk 2:20 (NIV UK)

As much as God wants to listen to us, sometimes we should stop talking and listen to him.

Habakkuk knew that his country was about to be destroyed by the Babylonians. What would happen to his people? What about Jerusalem? And, especially, what about the temple? Most writers suggest that Habakkuk was a choirmaster in the temple. He would have known the building intimately, and to him it would have been the centre of the presence of God. In 586 BC the armies of Nebuchadnezzar ransacked Jerusalem and set fire to Solomon’s temple.

In other cultures the destruction of a temple would have meant the defeat of the deity that was worshipped there. God had already explained to Habakkuk the emptiness of worshipping idols. The Lord God Almighty, however, is everywhere, and is not confined by walls and buildings. The first Christian martyr, Stephen, was later to proclaim, “the Most High does not live in houses made by men” (Acts 7:48). Solomon knew this: “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). God did not rely on the temple for his dwelling place, and even the fall of Jerusalem was under his sovereignty.

God was helping Habakkuk understand these things. No matter what happened, God was still on his throne and those who live by faith would still inherit the promises.

At the time of Habakkuk believers went to the temple to receive God’s word. It was a place to listen to God. In his writings Paul explained that we have a new spiritual temple, which is the church (Ephesians 2:21-22). Believers now go to this spiritual temple to listen, to be silent before God, and to receive the message of faith through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). The church is our temple where we can listen today.

The noise of Habakkuk’s fears and concerns was getting in the way of his being silent before God. That can happen to us as well. All our anxieties, real as they are, can crowd out the voice of God.

Hush! Listen. God is in his temple: be silent before him.

Prayer

Our Father, when I go to church, your spiritual temple, help me listen to the word of Christ. In the hustle and bustle of my life, help me to be silent before you. You are still in your temple and it is well with my soul.  In Jesus’ name.

Amen

Study by James Henderson

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