By Femi Aribisala
Everyone who believes in the word of God must be committed to its fulfilment; whether good or bad.
When I started editing my book, “Doctor Strangelove” in 2005, I had over thirty chapters to work with. But then the Lord said to me: “Femi, this book will have eighteen chapters.” I took that as a prophecy. I kept my eye on it and was excited when, through editorial work, the book finally shrank to eighteen chapters. I had run with the vision and fulfilled it. Or so I thought.
However, I later discovered that two of the chapters did not work. It appeared I had squeezed them in just for the sake of fulfilling the prophecy. So I was caught on the horns of a little dilemma. Should I ignore the prophecy and make the book sixteen chapters, or insist on its fulfilment, and keep the book as eighteen chapters?
In the end, I decided to remove the two “inappropriate” chapters, even at the expense of the prophecy. After all, I reasoned, it was my business to be faithful to the writing of my book and not to fulfil God’s prophecy. The two chapters did not work, so I said goodbye to them. Then, and only then, the Holy Spirit spoke.
The Lord showed me two other “chapters” I had written a long time before then that were just perfect for my book. There they were, tucked away neatly in the inner recesses of my computer. And suddenly, out of the blue, the prophecy was fulfilled. “Doctor Strangelove” ended up as an eighteen-chapter book, just exactly as the Lord had said it would.
Back to Habakkuk
I then began to wonder what the Lord was trying to show me in all this. So I went back to him: “What is this all about? Habakkuk says when you have a vision, run with it: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” (Habakkuk 2:2). And yet, the vision you gave me was fulfilled when I decided to ignore it.”
The Lord used a question to answer my question. He asked me: “What was the vision I gave to Habakkuk?” I took my time to study the text again in the bible. What I found was even more baffling. God told Habakkuk he was going to raise a fearsome people to decimate the nation of Israel. He said: “I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people. They are marching out across the world to conquer other lands. They spread fear and terror, and in their pride they are a law to themselves. Their horses are faster than leopards, fiercer than hungry wolves. Their horsemen come riding from distant lands; their horses paw the ground. They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey. Their armies advance in violent conquest, and everyone is terrified as they approach. Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand.” (Habakkuk 1:6-9).
My next question followed logically. How does one run with a vision of impending calamity? Immediately, it became clear to me that the Habakkuk text has been largely misunderstood. You do not run with this kind of a vision: you run away from it. You run, because you are determined to avoid it. Of course it will be fulfilled whether you run or not. But you have to make sure in its fulfilment, it is inapplicable to you.
Wait and run
When God gives a prophecy, he does not depend on man to fulfil it. He fulfils it himself. But when God gives us a vision and tells us to run, he intends that we should run away from it. This is because, as in the case of Habakkuk, the vision is a “burden.” (Habakkuk 1:1). It is about impending calamity. But with every calamity, God makes provision for the salvation of a few. (Isaiah 10:21-22).
Whenever we see God’s prophecies of gloom and doom in the bible, we better believe and run away from them. We must not just say: “God forbid bad thing.” God will not forbid his own prophecies. Thus, Job asks: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” (Job 2:10). But then God says to Habakkuk: “These things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:3).
We are knee-deep in kingdom dynamics here. Why would anybody wait patiently for calamity? Do we wait or do we run away? We wait because God says we should. We wait because everyone who believes in the word of God must be committed to its fulfilment; whether good or bad. We wait because our salvation is in the very calamity itself. But even as we wait for the calamity, so must we run away from it. There is salvation for those who run from God’s impending calamities.
“Therefore wait for me,” says the LORD, “until the day I rise up for plunder; my determination is to gather the nations to my assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them my indignation, all my fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy. For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the LORD, to serve him with one accord.” (Zephaniah 3:8-9).
A living parable
In 1995, the Lord told me to break up my business partnership with my brother, so I set up a meeting with him. On the way, the Lord said to me: “Femi, you will get to your brother’s place at 12 p.m.” I did not know the significance of this but I believed it. But suddenly, I realised it did not make sense. There was no traffic on the way. At the speed we were going, we would get there before twelve.
Then something strange happened. The driver took a wrong turning. I looked up to find him driving on an unfamiliar road. We had to go round and double back before getting back on track. As we stopped the car in front of my brother’s house, the digital clock in the car switched to 12 p.m. The Lord himself had fulfilled his vision by his own power.
“Then the LORD said to me: ‘Even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before me, my heart would not go out to this people. Send them away from my presence! Let them go! And if they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: Those destined for death, to death; those for the sword, to the sword; those for starvation, to starvation; those for captivity, to captivity.’” (Jeremiah 15:1-2).
We must run from such prophecies, determined to be part of the few God has earmarked for salvation. There is always salvation in God’s proclaimed calamities. Indeed, without the calamities there would be no salvation. God says: “I will spare a few of their men from the sword, from famine, and from pestilence, that they may declare all their abominations among the Gentiles wherever they go. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 12:16).