Who do you think you are? Have you been asked this question from another human while trying to exercise your skills in a new place at completing an assigned task? When the questioner sees your paperwork and credentials and realizes you have been sent to do the very thing you are doing, then comprehension, understanding and less first impression judgement takes place. We go on about the work assigned knowing who we are and what we are supposed to do. It’s all good.
What happens when we ask God the same question? Who are you, Lord? What happens when God responds to that question by turning the tables and asks us who do we think we are? We don’t like that, do we? Whether we ask or not, God will step into our world that we think we control to ask who we think we are, so we can finally realize who we are not.
Do we know who we are? Do we really know what we are doing? The only thing we can know for sure is we are NOT God. Only God is God.
Yesterday, Habakkuk pummeled questions at God about their current situation of living in a land of sin. Humans far from God also questioned God about their circumstances. They lived in a world where the rich got richer by exploiting the poor. Peace was non-existent. No one could be trusted. Soul empty, self-important people had turned to lifestyles that hurt, maimed, abused, tortured, manipulated, and murdered each other. Amid these circumstances, God’s people question God. In this chapter, God begins his response with;
“Who do you think YOU are?”
Habakkuk 2, The Message
What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
how he’ll answer my complaint.
Full of Self, but Soul-Empty
2-3 And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
* * *
4 “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
through loyal and steady believing
is fully alive, really alive.
5-6 “Note well: Money deceives.
The arrogant rich don’t last.
They are more hungry for wealth
than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations,
graveyards filled with corpses.
Don’t give people like this a second thought.
Soon the whole world will be taunting them:
6-8 “‘Who do you think you are—
getting rich by stealing and extortion?
How long do you think
you can get away with this?’
Indeed, how long before your victims wake up,
stand up and make you the victim?
You’ve plundered nation after nation.
Now you’ll get a taste of your own medicine.
All the survivors are out to plunder you,
a payback for all your murders and massacres.
9-11 “Who do you think you are—
recklessly grabbing and looting,
Living it up, acting like king of the mountain,
acting above it all, above trials and troubles?
You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house.
In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself.
You’ve undermined your foundations,
rotted out your own soul.
The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you.
The woodwork will step forward with evidence.
12-14 “Who do you think you are—
building a town by murder, a city with crime?
Don’t you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies
makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes,
Makes sure the harder you work
at that kind of thing, the less you are?
Meanwhile the earth fills up
with awareness of God’s glory
as the waters cover the sea.
15-17 “Who do you think you are—
inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties,
Giving them too much to drink,
roping them into your sexual orgies?
You thought you were having the time of your life.
Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace.
All the time you were drinking,
you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath.
You’ll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over—
hung over from Lebanon violence,
Hung over from animal massacres,
hung over from murder and mayhem,
From multiple violations
of place and people.
18-19 “What’s the use of a carved god
so skillfully carved by its sculptor?
What good is a fancy cast god
when all it tells is lies?
What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker
who makes gods that can’t even talk?
Who do you think you are—
saying to a stick of wood, ‘Wake up,’
Or to a dumb stone, ‘Get up’?
Can they teach you anything about anything?
There’s nothing to them but surface.
There’s nothing on the inside.
20 “But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
God is God. We are not.
God wants us to really listen to Him. When Jesus, God Son, was transfigured on the mountain in the astonished view of Peter, James and John, a voice from heaven spoke—“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
When the wedding feast ran low of wine, Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water to wine at his mother’s request. His mother, knowing who He was and trusted Him, told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” The servants obeyed and the miracle was complete.
In Exodus 5:2, Pharoah asks, “Who is the Lord that I should listen to Him?” The rest of the verse in NIV states, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” We all know how that went. So listening is an important, life-altering, life dependent habit to have! Pharoah didn’t know the Lord, had no relationship with Him, so he didn’t obey. So, it seems really knowing God has a lot to do with listening to God.
Jesus clarifies this truth for us. People who say they know Him but do not really believe in what He says and have no intention of doing what he says are not really listening to God either. Jesus, while on earth, points out the difference in true and false disciples so there is no misunderstanding:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” Matthew 7:21-23, NIV
We can do good works but if God is not in it and we do it for self and not in His will for His Glory, our works are done in vain. Listen to Him!
Habakkuk’s last words of this chapter strike a chord in me this morning.
“But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”
Take time right now to be quiet, be still, and let go of who we think we are. Let us surround ourselves with a holy silence so we can really hear God’s Spirit speak words of wisdom to our hearts for this day. May His words transform our thinking and fill our empty souls with all of who He is and wants to be in us.
I think of young Samuel who woke up from sleep to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” taught to him by his elder. Cleanse my heart, renew my mind, refresh my soul, while restoring the joy of your salvation in me. Thank you for the lesson in listening. I’m yours. And I’m listening. Lead me.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen