FAITH AGAINST EVIL
Scripture: Book of Habakkuk
Memory verse: Habakkuk 3:18
"I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour."
Distribute paper and pencils to everyone in class. Introduce the lesson by reading the following situations aloud. After each story, instruct the students to write their responses to the questions.
- Solomon’s friends at school made plans to put their money together and ask some older boys to buy some beer for them. Solomon did not want to go along with their idea. Even though his friends pressured him, Solomon did not participate in the beer party. Now Solomon’s friends will not have anything to do with him.
Does Solomon deserve to be treated that way? What kind of response should Solomon receive for his actions?
- Ruth did not study for a big math test. She was too busy watching a movie on TV. During the exam, she realized she did not know the answers. In desperation, she copied off the girl’s paper in front of her. When the papers were graded, Ruth made an A.
Does Ruth deserve the good grade? What should Ruth receive for her actions?
Now ask for the students’ responses. Discuss how Solomon did what was right, yet he was snubbed by his friends. Ruth, on the other hand, did what was wrong. She did not get caught. In fact, she was rewarded by receiving an A for something she did not earn.
Explain that sometimes in our society things are not fair. Ask the students if they have ever wondered why some people can do wrong yet they never get caught. They may even prosper for it. Then there are those who do what is right yet they never get rewarded.
Tell the students the prophet Habakkuk struggled with the same situation back in Bible days. Encourage them to listen carefully and learn what God showed Habakkuk.
Hearing God’s Word
The Book of Habakkuk (ha-BACK-uk) was directed toward the people living in the southern kingdom of Judah. Many of the kings of Judah were evil. They wanted the people to serve idols. However, Judah did have a few kings who truly loved God and wanted the people to serve Him as they should. They destroyed all the idols in the land and told the people to follow God’s laws. But in spite of all their good intentions, no inward change took place in the people’s lives. Many of the people of Judah simply acted as if they wanted to obey God but did not follow His precepts.
Habakkuk was a man of God. He did not play religion as others did. Not only did the sins of God’s people trouble him, he also wondered why the people got away with their wrongdoing. It seemed as if they could do whatever they pleased and God would not care.
(Ask a student to read Habakkuk 1:2-4.) Where is God’s justice? Habakkuk wondered.
Even today, many people seem to get away with playing religion. Have you ever known someone who came to church every Sunday, knew all the answers to the questions the teacher asked, learned all the memory verses, but was totally different at school? Maybe he was a cheat, a thief, or used foul language. These are the kinds of people Habakkuk was writing about. These people have not made Jesus the Lord of their lives. They have never let Him change them inside.
God Knows What is Happening
But God reassured Habakkuk that He was not ignoring the actions of those who played religion. Although it would not happen immediately, punishment was sure to come. In Judah’s case, this punishment would be given by another nation—the fierce Babylonians.
At first Habakkuk was satisfied with God’s assurance of justice, but then he thought of the evil Babylonians. Why would Judah’s punishment come at the hands of cruel, wicked people who cared nothing about God and His laws? Should not the Babylonians also be punished?
Sometimes parents have to correct their children because they love them and want them to do what is right. Likewise, God often corrects His people, not because He wants to destroy them. God corrects people because He wants them to repent, change their sinful ways, and begin to do what is right so they can someday live in heaven with Him. If people are wise, they will let God change their lives. They will stop doing what is wrong. Then God will forgive their sins and help them stay on the path toward heaven. If they refuse to listen to God and change their ways, their sins will lead to their destruction. The ungodly may not always be thrown into jail or punished as we might expect, but they will be punished nonetheless. If we could look into the future, we would see that God never tolerates evil. (Have a student read Revelation 20:11–15.)
Finding True Satisfaction
What were the people like who refused to serve God in Habakkuk’s day? They were much the same as people today. For example, they were never satisfied. (Ask a student to read Habakkuk 2:5.) Success to the wicked is like an addicting drug. What he has never satisfied him; it just makes him want more. Those who break God’s laws never find peace, rest, or satisfaction. The student who puts his own interests or having friends ahead of God will find he is never satisfied with his present situation. He will always want more.
Contrast this with the attitude of the true Christian. Paul shows us this in Philippians 4:11. (Ask a student to read this verse.) A Christian can be at peace with himself. As long as he is following God, he will find contentment even in his problems.
Getting Versus Giving
Habakkuk also described the wicked as those who are always trying to become more powerful. (Ask volunteers to read Habakkuk 2:6–8.) The rich people made a practice of stealing from the poor. They participated in suspicious dealings and offered bribes to officials if they would rule only in their favour. The poor were helpless against them. God said these actions would one day be returned upon them.
True Christians give instead of getting. (Ask a student to read Luke 6:38.) They build relationships based upon love and compassion. In return God will give them His blessings and help.
The Consequences of Sin
Habakkuk saw people doing evil all around him, but God showed him what the outcome of these actions would be. (Ask a student to read Habakkuk 2:12–14.) Someday Babylon would overthrow Judah and take them away into captivity. The Babylonians would build great cities with the wealth of conquered nations and slave labour. But God saw the greed of the Babylonians, just as He saw the actions of Judah. Eventually, the Babylonian empire would be destroyed and its great cities would be burned just as God promised Habakkuk.
Refusing God’s Help
The people in Habakkuk’s day refused to serve God. Instead they looked to false gods and their own abilities for help. They consulted false prophets and even tried to find direction for their lives by studying the lives of animals! But these things were powerless compared to the power of the one true God.
Many people today trust in their own wealth. Some worship power, fame, success, or pleasure. But thee things do not last. Fortunes are lost, power diminishes, fame fades, success turns to failure, and pleasure sours. Those who trust in the things of this world are left with little to help when trouble comes. The Christian whose relationship with God means everything to him still has the source of peace when trouble and problems come to his life.
God Rewards the Faithful
Perhaps you have become discouraged as you have struggled to do right. You may have thought what’s the use? Meanwhile, others continue to do wrong and get by with it. They may even seem to prosper for it. Now you know how Habakkuk felt. But like Habakkuk, you can be assured that God knows what is happening. One day He will reward all those who have served Him faithfully. The wicked will never be truly happy or at peace. The consequences of their sins will result in eternal punishment.
Habakkuk knew the right way to live. He was determined to serve God. His words of commitment are our memory verse this week. (Repeat the verse with the students several times.)
God gives us strength to stand against the evil in our world and not give in to sin. The girl who cheats to get a better grade is not getting away with anything. The boy who gains friends by compromising his Christian morals is giving up far more than what he is getting. A day of judgement is coming. We must make the choice to do what is right. Always remember, the rewards of heaven will be worth any sacrifice we make now. Have you made a commitment to love and obey God? Do not get tired of doing right. You will be rewarded.
Accepting God’s Word
Ask the students to consider their own lives. Perhaps they come to church every Sunday and know all the right things to say and do. However, if they have never admitted their sin and let Jesus change their lives, they are just “playing religion.” Playing religion will never bring peace and determination to serve God. Ask if anyone would like to accept Jesus.
Tell the students that God’s message to His people today is the same as it was when Habakkuk lived. He does not want us to get tired of doing what is right. A day of recognition is coming. Whether that recognition is positive or negative will depend on the way we have lived here on earth. At that time, earthly wealth or fame will not matter. Every person will be rewarded for what he has done—good or bad.
Visit the People
Upon our arrival, we were led immediately to the village chairman’s house. As we sat with him on short stools about six inches high, I explained the purpose of our visit. The chairman was open to our moving through the village to visit with people and take a few photographs. A young man from his yard volunteered to give us a tour.
The first stop was for pictures at an old man’s house and watching children play. Their homemade toys were simple to construct, yet they provided great enjoyment. Next we took a look at fishing boats that were used for the village’s primary source of income. Two hours slipped by while we visited with craftsmen, shop owners and families, and drank tea at the village restaurant.
Muslims lived on one side of the village while Christians and pagans lived on the opposite side. We learned that when someone converted to Islam, they moved to the Muslim side of the village and took a Muslim name.
We spoke to a Muslim youth and asked if he was from the Makonde tribe. He responded, “I am a Muslim.” Islam taught him to reject his Makonde heritage because his people group was “unclean.” This is vastly different from a Christian believer whose faith teaches that Jesus reveals himself through an individual’s culture.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Makonde Children
1. Children to receive a good education.
2. Immunizations made available to all Makonde children.
3. Every child to hear the name of Jesus and learn to serve Him.
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Romans 10:13).
Remember: FAITH AGAINST EVIL
Memory verse: Habakkuk 3:18
"I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour."
1. Life is not fair, but God is faithful.
2. God's punishment of sin is sure to come.
3. God rewards those who walk faithfully before Him.
Pray for Makonde Children.
Study 13 | All Peoples/The Prophets | africaatts.org/go-teach