2014.01.26.「哈巴谷:新年新希望」.施台德牧師

講道:施台德牧師
經文:哈巴谷書三章17-19節
新聖詩:175 193 391
啟應:新聖詩10篇 詩27

  農曆新年是一個慶祝的節期,一個收紅包送紅包的節期,拜訪人也被人拜訪,也是一個回顧與展望的節期,更是一個有希望的節期。

  哈巴谷被稱為先知,除了他的名字,以及他在大約主前六世紀初期寫下這先知書之外,我們對他一無所知。這卷短短的、如詩一般的先知書以哀歌開始,以歌頌盼望的詩詞做結束,這是上帝給祂百姓的紅包。

第一章 哀歌

  耶和華阿!我呼求你,你不應允,要到幾時呢?我因強暴哀求你,你還不拯救,你為何使我看見罪孽?你為何看著奸惡而不理呢?毀滅和強暴在我面前,又起了爭端和相鬥的事。因此律法放鬆,公理也不顯明,惡人圍困義人,所以公理顯然顛倒(1:2-4)。

  那是一個艱難的時代,對心存關懷憐憫的人來說會很煎熬,為什麼壞人興旺好人受苦?通常權力都是被濫用的,當權力被濫用時,會使人懼怕,心中沒有真神可依靠,當權力沒有站在我們這一邊時,我們什麼也不能做,一切都掌控在當權的那一方。罪惡竄流,原本緊扣有序的,都鬆散了,即使是鑼鼓和鞭炮,也無法把罪惡趕走。

  我讀過中國人寫的《孫子兵法》,大約與哈巴谷同一個時代,孫子認為要站在峰頂上才會贏,哈巴谷卻說,在低谷中仍有善的力量,這低谷中有絕望也有希望。

  第一章表達了不公義的問題,第二章則是談歷史中的上帝以及信心與希望。上帝用這些話語來回應哈巴谷的問題。

  ”將這默示明明的寫在版上,使讀的人容易讀,因為這默示有一定的日期,快要應驗,並不虛謊,雖然遲延,還要等候,因為必然臨到,不再遲延。迦勒底人自高自大,心不正直,惟義人因信得生。”(2:2b-4)

  「義人因信得生」,要人活出信心的呼召,這在新約裡引用了三次。對保羅來說,這句話像是福音的總結,信心與忠實是互屬的,我們言語的宣告和真實的生活要一致,羅馬書(談信心)和雅各書(談行為)並存在同一本新約裡。

  第二章也羅列許多的災禍和羞辱,罪惡可能帶著微笑快樂的唱歌,但其實也自己帶著毀滅的種子。若沒有上帝,我們看似富有卻窮乏,但有上帝同在,我們則看似窮窘卻富足。

  與舊約裡其他地方相同,哈巴谷書也有許多話語表現出不應該崇拜人手所造的偶像:

  雕刻的偶像,人將它刻出來,有什麼益處呢?鑄造的偶像,就是虛謊的師傅。鑄造者倚靠這啞巴偶像,有什麼益處呢?對木偶說”醒起”,對啞巴石像說”起來!”那人有禍了!這個還能教訓人嗎?看哪!是包裹金銀的,其中毫無氣息。惟耶和華在祂的聖殿中,全地的人,都當在祂面前肅敬靜默。(2:18-20)

  的確,生命不都是成功的,也不都是好消息,自欺欺人不去面對也不好,耶穌全然傳達了上帝對我們的愛,祂激勵我們,也為我們設立了榜樣,要我們無論遭遇任何情況,都當知道上帝會負責,一如諾威奇的朱利安所說 :
  一切都會變好
  每一件事都會變好

  戴夫帕特爾的電影《金盞花大酒店》裡對朱利安這句話的回應還更深入,

  一切結局都會變好,
  如果沒有變好,是因為結局還沒到。

  我說的希望,希伯來文和希臘文的意思是”持續地相信”,也是先知哈巴谷詩句中的涵意 :

  雖然無花果樹不發旺,葡萄樹不結果,橄欖樹也不效力,

  田地不出糧食,圈中絕了羊,棚內也沒有牛,
  然而,我要因耶和華歡欣,因救我的神喜樂。
  主耶和華是我的力量,祂使我的腳快如母鹿的蹄,
  又使我穩行在高處。(3:17-19)

  請不要害怕,以為沒有真神,雖然,很多的時候我們是處在低谷中,但我們可以像使徒保羅在羅馬書8:35說的,沒有任何事能使我們與基督的愛隔絕,患難、困苦、逼迫、饑餓、赤身露體、危險、刀劍,都不能使我們與基督的愛隔絕。
 
  希望意指在上帝的慈愛還沒顯明時,上帝的公義還沒彰顯時,上帝得勝的號角有如虛構的錯覺時,仍然相信祂。所以,在迎接新年時,讓我們從心裡唱出
  然而,我要因耶和華歡欣
  因救我的神喜樂。(3:18)

 

Lunar New Year, a time for celebration, for red envelopes, for visiting and being visited by family, a time of reflection and anticipation and especially, for hope.

Habakkuk is called a prophet. We know nothing of the man except his name and that he wrote perhaps early in the sixth century BC. This short poetic book begins with lament and ends with words that sing of the hope that is God's red envelope gift for his people. 

Chapter one:

1:2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not listen?
Or cry to you "Violence!"
and you will not save?
3Why do you make me see wrongdoing
and look at trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4So the law becomes slack
and justice never prevails.
The wicked surround the righteous-
therefore judgment comes forth perverted.
It was a difficult time; it always is for those who care. Why is it that the bad prosper and the good suffer? Where power is abused, as it so often is, there is a temptation to respond the atheism of fear: 'There is nothing that we can do as the powers are against us, the other side is winning, evil is running wild and everything that is fastened down is coming loose and even the drums and firecrackers don't scare away evil.'
 
I've read Sun Tzu's The Art of War written in China about the same time as Habakkuk. While Tzu observes that to win you should be at the top of the hill, Habakkuk observes that the forces of good seem to be in the valley. In that valley there is either despair or hope. 

While chapter one poses the question about injustice, chapter two speaks of the God of history and the hope that comes packaged with faith. In response to Habakkuk, God says:

2:2bWrite the vision;

make it plain on tablets,
so that a runner may read it.
3For there is still a vision for the appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and does not lie.
If it seems to tarry, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

4Look at the proud!

Their spirit is not right in them,
but the righteous live by their faith.

"…The just shall live by faith"  This call to live the faith is quoted three times in the New Testament. For Paul it is something like a of summary of the gospel.  Faith and faithfulness belong together; what we profess and who we are is to be one: Romans and James are in the same New Testament.

  
The second chapter also includes a list of woes or taunts that state that evil may wear a smile and sing a happy song but it carries within it the seeds of its own destruction. Without God we may have much but be destitute; with God we may have little but are rich.

As elsewhere in the Old Testament scorn is heaped on those whose faith is in things made with human hands:

2:18What use is an idol

once its maker has shaped it-
a cast image, a teacher of lies?
For its maker trusts in what has been made,
though the product is only an idol that cannot speak!

 19 Alas for you who say to the wood, "Wake up!"

to silent stone, "Rouse yourself!"

Can it teach?

See, it is gold and silver plated,
and there is no breath in it at all.

 20 But the Lord is in his holy temple;

let all the earth keep silence before him!

Life is not all triumph and good news to be sure; it is not good to pretend otherwise and Jesus, the very incorporation of the love of God has urged us, set an example for us, to live in such a way that whatever happens we know that God is in charge and in the words of Julian of Norwich:

And all shall be well and

All manner of thing shall be well.

To refine that statement a little, Dev Patel in the wonderful film, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, echoes Julian:

All will be well in the end;

if it isn't well, it's not yet the end.

I speak of 'hope'. The meaning that fits both Hebrew and Greek is 'enduring faith'. It means in the poetry of Habakkuk:

17 Though the fig tree does not blossom,

and no fruit is on the vines;
though the produce of the olive fails
and the fields yield no food;
though the flock is cut off from the fold
and there is no herd in the stalls,
18yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will exult in the God of my salvation.
19God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
and makes me tread upon the heights.

No atheism of fear please. Though there are times we are in the valley we can say with the apostle Paul that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ -not tribulation, persecution, distress, famine, nakedness, peril or sword.

Hope means believing in God when the mercies of God are not evident, when the justice of God is not apparent; when the triumph of God appears to some as an imaginative delusion. So for the New Year let us sing with our hearts and voices:

18yet I will rejoice in the Lord;

I will exult in the God of my salvation.