How often our spiritual vision of God's redemptive work simply does not match  what we see with our eyes as we look around us.


”God so loved this world that he gave his only begotten Son.”

Yet when look around us, where's the salvation?

We see a world that is sick unto death.


"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all they diseases."

Yet we continue to struggle.


Sometimes this discrepancy between our vision of God’s purpose and the sea of despair which surrounds us is so great that we just can’t handle it.  We have arrived at a turning point.  It's either abandon the vision and sink into the confusion of this world, or cry out to God for an answer.


The prophet Habakkuk had reached this juncture, and he turned to God for light.  No false praise.  No, “Hallelujah, thank you Lord.  Everything is wonderful!”


This man cried out to God in anguish.  The discrepancy between his faith in Israel's God and the chaos visiting Israel itself was tearing at his heart. “God, what’s wrong? Things don’t make any sense. Sure, we haven’t done all the things we’re supposed to, but those Chaldean armies are evil!  They're  destroying your people! And you’re letting it happen. How come?”


The oracle of God which Habakkuk the prophet saw. O, Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and thou wilt not hear? Or cry to thee, “Violence!” and thou wilt not save? Why dost thou make me see wrongs and look upon trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contentions arise. So the law is slacked and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous, so justice goes forth perverted.                                                          Habakkuk 1: 1-4


I will take my stand to watch, and station myself on the tower, and look forth to see what he (God) will say to me, and what he will answer concerning my complaint. And the Lord answered me, “Write the vision; make it plain upon tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay. Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.                                                                                                                                 Habakkuk 2: 1-4


Habakkuk climbs up on his watchtower to wait for God to come through with an answer. And the answer comes. God says to him, “All right Habakkuk, I’m going to give you a vision. And I want you to hold onto that vision no matter what happens, because it will be fulfilled. It hastens to its end. It’s going to be done.”


Now Habakkuk begins to see, above all the bloodshed, the chaos, the confusion, the injustice and the horrible things that are unfolding beneath his eyes---the glory of God arising, and drawing near from the southeast. 


Such brightness and such glory that the mountains begins to shake and tremble, the hills sink down, the rivers and oceans start to boil. With the eye of the Spirit Habakkuk sees the nations fall under God’s judgment. The sun and the moon stand still. His own body begins to tremble and grow weak before God’s glory.


After the vision, Habakkuk remembers what he has seen.  He has seen, in the midst of the confusion, the hand of God working; and understands that there is nothing he can do but to keep going through the turmoil. Greatly strengthened by this vision, Habakkuk rises up and walks forward, trusting God.


The day may soon come that we too will see the armies of the "Chaldeans" marching, sweeping over the earth for the last time. And we may find ourselves uttering Habakkuk's cry to God.


Meanwhile, there is a more immediate discrepancy for us to deal with – the gap between our vision of God’s purpose and what we are actually accomplishing in his name.


Our gospel is a gospel of healing. Yet when we actually open our eyes and look around us, we see sickness which our gospel has not begun to touch:


Sickness of body, sickness of mind, sickness in the family, sickness in the city and the nation.


Is there no Balm in Gilead?  Is there no Physician there?


Surely we are hearing the voice of our Lord telling us to go out and find those people that this world is rejecting.


"Go find the poor, the maimed, the halt and the blind. Go to the people that nobody wants and bring them to me."


The minute we obey this command, we get a response so great that we can’t cope with it.


Suddenly it's no longer a matter of trying to persuade people to come to fellowship.  There is no time to waste trying to rouse the apathetic.  When we get down to the bottom of our city’s "barrel" and scrape it with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we suddenly find ourselves surrounded with outstretched arms, pressing in on us with needs we can’t begin to handle.


We are no longer sitting in some well-furnished parlor discussing whether Jesus Christ still heals -- we’re walking down an alley, and people are standing in doorways on either side saying, “Come in here and heal my child.” “Come over here and deliver me from this addiction.”  “Do something for me!  Help me!”


Now the validity of our gospel is being put to the test. 


“Don’t just talk about how the blood of Jesus wipes away guilt. Prove it.”


“Don't just be talking about how God heals through Oral Roberts – let Him heal through you, or shut up.”


“Don't just talk to me about how the Holy Spirit moves – bring the Spirit to me or go away!”


It’s all very well for us to be driving folks to meetings (and we should be doing this) and having them over for dinner (we ought to be doing this too) spending time in their homes, talking, discussing the things of God, getting into the Word – that’s beautiful.


But these people are expecting more.  They're looking for something wonderful to happen. After all, our gospel promises that something wonderful is going to happen to them.


If weeks and months go by and nothing happens, they have a right to say that they have been misled, to complain, “Somebody has been taking me down the wrong road.”


We have to produce something!

We have to minister God’s life!

Our Lord promises that those who draw near to him are going to get life.


“If any man thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”


Living water is going to visit them.

They are going to be transformed. They are going to born all over again. Old things will pass away. All things will become new.


Our Lord promises us that if we go forth in his Name, with his gospel on our lips, the people who are drawn to us are going to experience miracles at our hands.


“These signs shall accompany those who believe. In my name shall they cast out devils. They shall speak with new tongues. They shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. ”


The same Lord who tells us to go out and seek the lost, who is giving us a vision of those lost and saying, “Go on out there and find them!” is also giving us a vision of a body of believers that has the power to manifest the cross of Christ to them with such power that they are going to be touched, and healed, and changed.


Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Preach as you go saying the kingdom of God is at hand. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Cleanse the leper. Cast out demons. You received without pay now give without pay.”


The same Lord who is telling us to seek the lost is also telling us to heal the lost.

He is giving us a vision of believers who have the power, once they find the lost, to do something for them. To touch them with healing light…not to stand before these wounded ones with empty hands, but, in the name of Jesus, to lift them out of their ruts, and out of their despair, and out of their diseases, out of their troubles, out of their prisons. That’s the vision we're receiving.


We need to pursue this vision until it's clear. We have to hang on to it until it starts to happen.


So we go up on our watchtower and we ask, just like Habakkuk. “Lord, give me an answer.” And we wait there until it comes. Until we can climb down from our watchtower empowered by the Spirit to turn the vision into reality.


At the end of the book of Ezekiel is a picture of the restored temple. Some strange things are going on in this temple. Beneath the threshold of the temple door a spring of water is bubbling up, trickling south, then eastward around the altar. The little stream crosses the courtyard toward the closed eastern gate.


Flowing under the gate, the stream keeps moving eastward. Fifteen hundred feet from the temple it’s ankle deep. Three thousand feet from the gate of the temple it’s knee deep. Forty-five hundred feet from the gate of the temple it’s waist deep. A mile from the eastern gate it’s a mighty river. On both sides of the river are trees growing in land that was once desert. The mighty river continues until it empties into the sea -- all this from a tiny spring bubbling up under the door of the temple.


The significant thing about this stream is that everything it touches is healed. It heals the land. It heals the waters. Even the trees growing on its banks have leaves that bring healing to those who touch them.


All this is the foreshadowing of a spring of water that begins at the foot of the cross of Jesus. It moves down from Calvary through Jerusalem out into Samaria across into Galilee and on into the uttermost parts of the earth.


This stream, which is the Holy Spirit, finds its channel in the human servants of God.  It is comprised of the bodies of those who follow Jesus.


Those who are touched by this water are to experience healing.


“Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Preaching as you go saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick. Raise the dead. Cleanse the lepers. Cast out demons. You have received without pay. Give without pay.”


i.e. Don't be out there to get something from these people or to make a name for yourself, or to get rich. Give freely, and leave the consequences to God.


How can we be satisfied until this vision is fulfilled in our ministries?


We need to hold on to the vision until it is fulfilled.


“It does not lie. It hastens to its end.

He whose heart is not upright in him will fail;.

But the righteous will live by their faith.


It is going to be done. And it is going to be done in the lives of those who are faithful.


God will confirm it. And may God keep us dissatisfied with everything less than this until we see it with our own eyes.





A prayer:


Father, we thank you for the way in which you are causing us to touch, in a way in which none of us has ever seen before, the lives of so many broken souls. We know what pain is because we have experienced it ourselves. We know loneliness and we know anxiety, and we know despair, and we know guilt. We know fear. We know anger and we know bitterness. None of this is foreign to us.  And we know the self-pity that accompanies all these afflictions. But Father, we’re crying out to you for the authority of your Son to do the things that he did and told us we could do.


Father, we know that you are not sending us out to these people to merely stand and look with sympathy into their faces. Anoint our tongues that they might bring forth living water, healing streams. And our hands that they may minister grace. And our hearts that they may have a love for people that comes, not from us, but from your very heart.


Confirm your word to us afresh this hour. We ask it, Father, in Jesus’ name. Amen