Lucia's Blog: HABAKKUK: IN GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL HANDS
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Saturday, November 21, 2015

HABAKKUK: IN GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL HANDS

For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, Neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labor of the olive shall fail, And the fields shall yield no food; The flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; And he maketh my feet like hinds' feet, And will make me to walk upon my high places.  
Habakkuk 3:17-19



I am reposting this discussion because of the recent shootings at San Bernardino, California, which once again remind us that there are powerful forces at play that we cannot stop without the providential hand of God.  Our message from the prophet Habakkuk reminds us of how important it is that we rest in our confidence in God to fix all the evil forces of this earth through His world government.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords, and He reigns forever!

Habakkuk is one those prophecies that give panoramic insight into the way our God governs the kingdoms of men.  His words are medicine for our troubled souls. Let us see if we can make a practical application of the message to our times.

The brutal Paris bombings and slaughter and now the new slaughter at San Bernardino, CA reminded me that the Enemy is at work with an unbridled rage that is putting many stumbling blocks in the path of world evangelism, the furthering of the glorious gospel of Christ.  Those bloody images tell me that the world needs us to proclaim the gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus more than ever.  We must pray for our leaders as well as their political adversaries that they might humbly seek and make wise decisions in the days to come to promote justice and peace rather than revenge.  I pray that we as Christians can reach out to those affected (families, friends, and neighbors) by this horrible massacre and help them to rebuild their lives but mostly to come to know the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Although the Muslim peoples perform indiscriminate acts of revenge that lead to much worse and threatening violence, my prayer is that the gospel of grace might reach out to them in kindness with a message of peace.

Many Muslims do not identify with these outrageous acts committed in the name of Islam.  Some of them by the grace of God have been drawn to faith in Jesus Christ.  Evil exists.  It abounds in the face of inconceivable and indiscriminate violence.  And that is why more than ever we must proclaim the gospel of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I look at our nation and our world, I feel a heavy weight in my heart.  It afflicts me.  Every long-standing foundation seems to be collapsing.   Everyone is turning away from their faith, questioning the efficacy of the Scriptures more than ever.  Many are expressing doubts even unbelief.  Many just simply say there is no God and won't bother seeking the Truth.  They think chance put the world together. They don’t bother to know Him who made us and governs our universe.  They are blind to the working of God in the affairs of men.  That was exactly what afflicted the prophet Habakkuk.  He was puzzled by God's silence.  And in his ignorance, the prophet cried out to God for an answer as to why He was apparently unaware and not concerned about the unrighteousness of men.   What he did not know and found out later is that in God's time the unrighteous (the wicked) will be judged, and the righteous (the faithful) will be vindicated (Hab. 2:4).

Like Habakkuk, some call into question God's sovereignty, justice, and holiness.  The apparent inactivity of God in the face of wickedness (lawlessness and unrighteousness) troubles those who struggle to do what is right.  Some become bewildered and angered by God's supposed unwillingness to intervene on behalf of the righteous and judge the unrighteous.  We become anxious and discouraged because of God's lack of attention to our present situation.  Let us take heed lest we sin and be judged by the Almighty because of our lack of faith in His righteous government of the world.

We live in a world where evil seems to prevail.  We see a broad range of injustices:  
  • Abortion.
  • Oppressive governments. 
  • Terrorism and so on.  
So what can the faithful do when wrongs are not corrected?  

Theodicy (the vindication of divine goodness and providence given the existence of evil) has never been more crucial since the infamous 9/11 terrorist attack on our nation (the World Trade Center). Some wondered:  
  • Where was God?  
  • Why did He allow such an atrocity to happen?  
  • Was it His will or an act of His judgment?  

Sadly, both skeptics and ignorant Christians asked these questions.  Habakkuk experienced the same anxiety.  I sometimes wonder if our worries are not even worse than those of the prophet.  Our expectations of God do not match those of God's plan.  We are telling God when and how He should act.  How dare we do such a thing!  The church at times portrays God as the "big butler in the sky" waiting to attend to all our carnal and capricious impulses.  This theology suggests that if one asks God in faith, God is bound to give him what he asks.  We often respond the way Habakkuk did. Why?  Because when we pray that God may judge the wickedness of men (correcting the injustices) without getting an instant answer, we respond with a wavering doubting faith.  We start to question God's goodness and sovereignty over His creation as in Habakkuk's case.  There are many truths in Habakkuk that can be applied to the church today.

I am perplexed to see the reaction of many Christians on Facebook. Some express how they feel without using wisdom and common sense. They love to talk politics.  If I were to recollect all of their comments, links, comics and memes on Facebook, it would sound like this:

  1. "America is a Chrisitan nation."
  2. "We have lost our moral influence."
  3. "Political liberals are to blame."
  4. "But if the American people were to elect the right politically conservative (or libertarian) candidate, they would restore America's power, respect, success, and leadership.  Perhaps come to another great awakening."  

Let us be wise and not put stumbling blocks before the gospel of Christ.

Let us remember that we as Christians must never render to Caesar what is owed to God alone. Why?  Because we must reject the false gospel of American exceptionalism: the belief that America is special and unique.  A concept that can be useful but also problematic. To place our hope in any particular human government is at odds with the gospel of Christ.  American exceptionalism is a characteristic of civil religion whose primary purpose is to unite citizens with a common cause.  It is presumptuous to say that our nation is God’s chosen people like ancient Israel.  Civil religion must never be combined with revealed religion (God's sovereign plan) lest it be used to corrupt the Gospel. The most appropriate form of patriotism rejoices in our nation's strengths, acknowledging her shortcomings without conflicting with the teachings of Christ.

Therefore, we must reject all idolatrous forms of exceptionalism as false gospel especially when they appear to be religious.  Exceptionalism must be righteous and committed to the full authority of the revealed Scriptures as well as the transforming power of the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ.  

I encourage you to put your trust in God's providential hands.  Let us not lean on our flesh, our human resources.  They are not strong enough to hold us.  Only God is our Rock.  Only He is strong enough to help us bear our heavy burdens and traumas.  He is our Rock of strength from everlasting to everlasting.   

Let us focus for a moment on the faith of a man called Habakkuk,  a man who learned to take every problem to God in prayer and who rejoiced in spite of the evil around him.  He, like Jeremiah, was disturbed and distraught over the sins of his people.  

The name Habakkuk means "embrace or embracer."  It is to me a book of comfort when I need it. It deepens my faith, understanding, and prayer, helping me find joy and strength in our Almighty God.


I.  The Theme of the Book

The book of Habakkuk begins by addressing the subject of God's righteousness in the face of man's unrighteousness.  This prophet struggled to understand God's lack of immediate judgment over sin. His affliction blinded him to God's longsuffering.  Habakkuk thought it was a sign of injustice that contradicted God's goodness, holiness, and righteousness.  He believed that God's silence was encouraging continued sin and weakening all law and justice (Habakkuk 1:3-4;13). 

As we read this short book, we cannot help but notice how Habakkuk moves from burden to blessing. From worry to worship.  From restlessness to rest.  From wrongly focusing on God being the problem to a focus on the Person of God.  And finally from a complaint to a consolation.  In the end, the prophet acknowledged that God can turn sighing into singing.  But we must be willing to wait on Him with constant prayer and meditation on His Word.

Habakkuk presents to us a conversation and prayer between the prophet and Jehovah God.  As the book opens, he asks God when He will respond to Judah's oppression of its poor.  Notice that the Law of Moses regarding protection for the poor and the weak was no longer practiced, so he cried out to God saying, 

"O Jehovah, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear? I cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save.  Why dost thou show me iniquity, and look upon perverseness? for destruction and violence are before me; and there is strife, and contention riseth up."  (Habakkuk 1:1-3).

Then the LORD responds explaining to Habakkuk that He has a plan.  He will raise up the Chaldeans (Babylonians):

"For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, that march through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling-places that are not theirs.  They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves." (Habakkuk 1:6-7).

When Habakkuk heard God's answer, he was shocked.  No matter how bad Judah had become, Babylon was certainly worse.  God told Habakkuk that in His time, justice would prevail for the wicked, of both Judah and Babylon.  God would use the Babylonians ("terrible and dreadful") to reprimand the evil of His chosen people.  Judah would not get away with her sin.  Habakkuk struggled to understand how a just and righteous God could use such a wicked nation as Babylon to accomplish His will.

  • The Babylonians (Chaldeans) were full of pride (Hab. 1:9-11; 2:4; Jer. 50:29-31).  
  • They worshiped the god of might (Hab. 1:10-11).   
  • A nation who killed, conquered and plundered other nations for "evil gain."  (Hab. 2:9).  

The prophet acknowledged that God has "ordained him (Babylon) for judgment and has established him for correction."  (Hab. 1:12).  God answered the prophet by explaining His sovereign power and control over the kingdoms of men, and all of His creation.  In Habakkuk 2:18-19, God explicitly warned Habakkuk about the man-made idols that His people were still trusting in.  Through Habakkuk, God continued to reveal Himself and His Laws to His chosen people.

The question remains:  Can a righteous God use a more wicked people to judge a people that is more righteous than their enemies?  (Hab. 1:3).  It seems to make more sense that Judah (a less wicked nation) should be the one to be used by God to punish a more wicked people (the Babylonians) and not vice versa.  Habakkuk saw God's plan as a conflict with His holiness and righteousness.  He thought it unjust (Hab. 1:13).  However, God reassured Him that Babylon would also be judged and punished for her sins only after He had used them as His vessel of punishment of Judah for her sins (Hab. 2:6-19).  All of God's creation is at His disposal to punish the wicked and his lawlessness, but He is a just God, who rewards the faithful.  The righteous who live by faith will be rewarded.  

"And Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tablets, that he may run that readeth it.  For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it hasteth toward the end, and shall not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.   Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous shall live by his faith."  (Hab. 2:2-4).

The purpose of the prophecy is to prove God's sovereignty and wisdom in His judgment and mercy in history.  That purpose is perceived only by those who walk in faith.  God's holiness and righteousness (justice) cannot be questioned!


II.  The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

Toward the end of the chapter, Habakkuk understood God's plan as well as His holiness and righteousness.  That understanding led him to compose a beautiful psalm of faith because of God's justice and what He had done in the past for His people.  The final chapter of Habakkuk (ch. 3) is his prayer to God.  Habakkuk's conversation with God was profitable.  As a result of his fervent prayer to God, he began to understand God's sovereignty as well as His care for the righteous.  He acknowledged that God's will was to destroy the wicked of Judah using a nation whose wickedness was much greater than theirs.  His conclusion is one of great faith.  Despite the approaching tribulation that was coming to God's chosen people, Habakkuk concluded with confidence, knowing that his God would keep His word and would demonstrate His righteousness as He had foretold.

"I heard, and my body trembled, My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entereth into my bones, and I tremble in my place; Because I must wait quietly for the day of trouble, For the coming up of the people that invadeth us.  For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, Neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labor of the olive shall fail, And the fields shall yield no food; The flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; And he maketh my feet like hinds' feet, And will make me to walk upon my high places."  (Hab. 3:16-19).

How comforting is this passage to me in that it proves over and over God's everlasting promises, keeping us afloat in this wicked and godless world that we live in!  So let the righteous today "live by his faith" and hope on God's eternal promises (Hab. 2:4).  The strength of our faith is through Jesus our Lord (Phil. 4:13).  Lest we forget, God is aware of all unrighteousness (injustices) and will judge in His time and in His way all lawlessness of the wicked.  He has shown us in history that He will demonstrate His justice on all the nations.  The wicked will never go unpunished.  The righteous will be vindicated and rewarded!  

So, when you find yourself discouraged and your faith seems to be wavering, carry your struggles before the throne of the Almighty like Habakkuk did.  And no matter how awful things appear, we must rejoice in the God of our salvation with hope.  Why not have the courage to approach God with your doubt and confusion as well as your unbelief?  Why not seek our Heavenly Father in faith and understanding of His Word?  It is the faithful who dares to come near the throne of God in prayer for answers when his faith is weakened.  Let us not make the terrible mistake of keeping them to ourselves because Satan will take advantage of our doubt. Let us not put our understanding of the Word of God in a box.  His Words help us in our times of distress, confusion, doubt, and calamity. Therefore, let us trust in God and not in any systematic theology that we have invented about Him. The danger is that it will lead us to misunderstand Him and lead us to error.  I guarantee that if we do all this, you and I will come out victorious!

Consider how we can overcome our doubts, deepen our understanding, our faith, prayer and find joy and hope in our Almighty God in the midst of our distress, confusion, doubt, and calamity.


1.    All Christians have to wrestle with the problem of evil:

One of the most common questions among skeptics and even Christians is the problem of evil. Indeed, we live in a world where crime, war, disease and terror seems to dominate.  Some have mistakenly concluded that since we live in an imperfect world, there is nothing supreme and intelligent in the universe.  Otherwise, if there is a supreme and divine being out there, He would not be indifferent to good and evil.  Therefore, God lacks goodness and power over His creation.  What they don't realize is that they are making a god of their own understanding of what God should be. Some want a grandfather in heaven whose purpose is to see all His creation enjoy themselves without any consequence whatsoever.

Atheists have not failed to make known this problem either.  In fact, some go so far as to say the problem of evil proves that God does not exist.  They say that if something is right and good, that does not prove the existence of God.

  • So, how is it that when things go wrong, that proves that God does not exist, but then if something goes right, that also proves there is no God?  
  • So if there is no God, why is there so much good?  
  • If there is a God, why is there so much evil?"  

The question is not philosophical.  It is moral.  Read Psalm 14.

Psalm 73 wrestles with this problem of evil.  The Psalmist raises the question:  If there is a righteous and powerful God in heaven, why do evil men seem to prosper, but the godly suffer?  We see this portrayed in the NT with John the Baptist and Stephen.


Other skeptics outrageously say,

"If God is all powerful and loving, He would put a stop to evil and suffering.  Evil has not stopped.  Therefore, either God is not all powerful or He is not loving."

It is vital to know God accurately through His Word that one may understand the problem of evil. Many make the mistake of assuming that God is obligated to explain all that He does.  They expect to know God without examining the Scriptures carefully.  In Proverbs 25:2 we read that "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing; But the glory of kings is to search out a matter."  Again in Isaiah 55:8-9 we are told that, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."  

Indeed, it is hard to grasp all of God's ways.  There will be times when circumstances will not make sense to us and are hard to comprehend.  It is common to question God when one experiences evil and suffering.  Job felt this agony in Job 23:2-9.  David also did. (Psalm 13:1; Psalm 77:7-8).  Even our Lord Jesus felt this anguish on the cross (Mark 15:35).  Most of us have experienced some grief in our lives.  When evil or hardship afflict us, we feel as if God has let us down.  I have!!  But it is then that one must be careful not to allow Satan to take advantage of the moment to discourage us and make us abandon our trust in God.  It is crucial to recognize that trials, evil and sufferings are all part of the human experience.  The Bible is full of examples of heroes of the faith who underwent similar hardships.  Jesus told His disciples that even they should anticipate sufferings in John 16:33. The apostle Peter asserts this in I Peter 4:12-13.

When God created the universe, He acted freely and without compulsion.  We did not deserve to be created in His image.  Creation was an act of God's own free will.  We know this from Genesis 2:7. God provided life and a lush garden for man.  Likewise, God provided a special tree that offered eternal communion in His presence (Genesis 2:9).  He entrusted man with the care of His garden (Genesis 1:28-30).  He also gave man free will to choose between good and evil when He placed the forbidden tree in the middle of the garden.  He was not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17)  God sees value in choice.  It gives us the freedom to express our love for God that we may have a relationship with Him.  God does not want to force us to love Him.

Now, there is a risk when we are given the power to choose.  We can choose the desire of the eyes, the desire of the flesh and the pride of life over a fellowship with God.  In other words, God will not prevent us from choosing evil (Romans 1:18-32).  It is when man rebels against God that he brings upon himself the wrath of God (Gen, 3:15-19; Romans 5:12l I Cor. 15:22).  Adam and Even rejected God's offer of communion when they asserted moral independence.  When God acts against sin, even the innocent suffer.  In Gen. 3 we see Satan as an evil alien force in God's creation.  He, Satan, is always opposing and frustrating  God's purposes.  He seeks to destroy God's harmony with His creation.  Therefore, there is always a contest over the hearts of men.

It is Satan who inflicts us with evil and suffering (Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38).  But God limits and controls his power.  Therefore, we must always pray that He not lead us into temptation and that He may keep us from all evil (Matt. 6:13).  Moreover, the Word of God teaches us that God's righteousness and holiness cannot commune with evil (Psalm 54).  God is faithful to His promises and warnings!  


2.   Use your struggles along with the problem of evil to go deeper in your understanding of God rather than withdrawing from Him.

Let’s learn from Habakkuk's example.  He learned to take his questions and complaints to God through prayer, waiting on God to answer.  We must proceed with caution when we are faced with doubts and the problem of evil.  Many often withdraw from God and His people in depression and with a pouting expression.  Others prefer to be angry with God going back to the world, convincing themselves that God does not exist because if He did He wouldn't allow evil to happen.  Others hang on to their faith without going to God in prayer to help them solve their doubts and disturbing questions.  We must learn to live according to God's Word and let it work through our difficulties with prayer and hope in Him.  That is what  Habakkuk did.  He kept crying out to God in prayer for an answer.  When God's answer came, he said,

"I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will look forth to see what he will speak with me, and what I shall answer concerning my complaint."  (Hab. 2:1).  

Moreover, God's second response included the famous verse, "the righteous shall live by his faith." (Hab. 2:4).  So when Habakkuk reaches his final prayer of joy (Hab. 3:1-19), he still does not have all the answers, yet he rejoiced since he had grown in his understanding, faith, and prayer, acknowledging that God was his salvation and strength.  Let us always remember that our struggles will lead us to victory if we trust in God and His eternal Word.  There is a lot to gain from our struggles and calamities!


3.   God is Sovereign over all evil, and He uses evil to accomplish His purposes while holding the wicked accountable for their sins.

God's purposes are higher than any human being and our problems.  God explicitly told Habakkuk that He was raising up the Chaldeans and bringing Judah to judgment because of her sins.  He is the God of history, who raises up kings and peoples, taking them down again and again according to His sovereign purposes.  

I know that it is easy to lose our bearings when we are facing hardship, evil, pain, and suffering.  It was difficult for Habakkuk to grasp this when the Chaldeans were destroying the nation of Judah, leveling the city of Jerusalem and the Temple and slaughtering his nation.  The Babylonians had deported by force many of his people as slaves leaving behind a weak remnant in the land to care for it.  But he and the rest (the godly remnant) learned that they had to submit to God's greater purpose in kingdom history.  Likewise, we must view our lives within God's bigger picture and purpose in history.


4.   God is aware of all evil, and no evil person or nation will escape His judgment.

In an answer to the prophet's second question (How could God use an evil people like the Chaldeans to punish His people?) God shows the prophet that the Chaldean’s victims could take up a taunt song against them (Hab. 2:6).  There are five woes against the wicked that demonstrate that God is aware of their evil and that He will judge them for it.  Consider those woes:

  1. Woes against illegal gain (Hab. 2:6-8).
  2. Woes against trusting in illegal gain for security (Hab. 2:9-11).
  3. Woes against violence (Hab.2:12-14).
  4. Woes against seduction and rape (Hab. 2:15-17).
  5. Woes against idolatry (Hab. 2:18-20).

Take note that verse 20 says,  "But Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."  In His time, God will trample all evil nations and save His people (Hab. 3:12-13).  Therefore, let this be our confidence and not fear all evildoers since they cannot escape God's judgment and justice.  They will not!!!


5.  No evil person or wicked nation can thwart God's plans.  Rather God will use them to fulfill His plans is His time.

Habakkuk states,
"Art not thou from everlasting, O Jehovah my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Jehovah, thou hast ordained him for judgment; and thou, O Rock, hast established him for correction."  (Hab. 1:12).  
Also,
"For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it hasteth toward the end, and shall not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay."  (Hab. 2:3).

Let us keep in mind that God has directed all history to bring His purpose to fruition in judging all nations and evil.  We must trust Him in our troubling current events, even if these events have adverse consequences on our lives and the lives of our loved ones.


6.   Even though God can use evil people and nations in His plans, He is completely apart from evil, and He is not responsible for it.

As Habakkuk 2:14 expresses it well, "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea."  He shows in his prayer (Hab. 3:14-15) how God was going to "woundest the head out of the house of the wicked man, Laying bare the foundation even unto the neck."  Dig deeply into this thought!

The point of the matter is that although we must wrestle with the problem of evil, it is vital for us to go deeper in our understanding of God's Word, His ways and thoughts as revealed in the Scriptures.


7.  We must pray in faith whenever we cannot understand evil.  We will find joy in God.

Although Habakkuk could not comprehend why God was going to use the Chaldeans against His people, he submitted to God's will by faith (Hab. 2:4,20).  His faith is expressed in joyful prayer in Hab. 3:1-19.  There are three lessons we can learn from all this.

  • Faith is vital to have communion with God.
"Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous shall live by his faith."  (Hab. 2:4).  

The Chaldeans were proud.  Their pride led them to their downfall.  But the faithful or righteous will always live by their faith.  This statement is quoted three times in the NT (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).  Paul uses this statement to show that God justifies sinners through faith in His Son. The Hebrew word "emunah" is otherwise translated "faithfulness."  To be justified is to be made righteous by God.  No one is righteous before God since all have sinned and are in need of the blood of Christ. It is when we obey to the gospel of Christ (repenting, confessing and be baptized) that God forgives us and reconciles us back to Him.  To commune with God, we must live according to the teaching of His Son (1 John 1:7) remaining faithful even when evil things happen to us.  If we trust God completely and submit to His Son's Lordship and rule, He will reward us and bring punishment upon the wicked, if not in this life in eternity.

  • Faith and prayer are essential and helpful, but our strong emotions remain.
Habakkuk heeded God's words and submitted to the same Word by faith. He never prayed saying, "I see, LORD.  You are going to use these wicked terrorists to destroy our nation.  So be it!"  Instead, his prayer was "according to Shigionioth" (literally to fall back or stagger) (Hab. 3:1) even though he prayed in an emotionally poetic form.  Habakkuk affirms that when "I heard, and my body trembled, My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entereth into my bones, and I tremble in my place; Because I must wait quietly for the day of trouble, For the coming up of the people that invadeth us."  (Hab. 3:16).  Therefore he prays, "O Jehovah, I have heard the report of thee, and am afraid: O Jehovah, revive thy work in the midst of the years; In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy."  (Hab. 3:2).

It is easy to see that the prophet was in terror, but nevertheless, he put his trust in the Almighty.  He honestly poured out all his strong emotions along with his fears before the throne of God.  He humbly and submissively trusted in His God.  Nowhere do we see the prophet railing in anger against His God.  He acknowledged that God is faithful and just, even when He is pouring out His wrath on the sinning people.  At the same time, he pled for God to revive his work and remember mercy in His wrath (Hab. 3:2).  He still trembled with fear about what was going to happen, even though he was trusting in God.  What is the application for us today?  That even when we go through calamities and severe trials, we can confidently approach God's throne with our struggles and intense emotions and still be submissive trusting all of His excellent ways.

  • We must find joy in the LORD in spite of current circumstances or events.  It is this joy that reflects the truth of our faith. 
Habakkuk had resolved to say, "Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation.   Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; And he maketh my feet like hinds' feet, And will make me to walk upon my high places."  (Hab. 3:18-19).  This reminds me of Paul's triumphant words in the closing words of Romans 8:24-39.  Paul affirms that absolutely nothing would separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (including evil, or death itself).  Such comforting words of hope!!

Habakkuk has just rehearsed for us how God has acted in history.  This book helps us understand God's hand in history.  God shows us that "all history was hastening to a conclusion that was certain as it was satisfying."  God was working behind the scenes as He has always been.  He was raising up a nation (the Chaldeans or Babylons) to punish (judge) Judah for her sins.   Take note that our God is not unaware of our circumstances nor of what is happening around us.  He is fully conscious of them and is always working to bring everything to a conclusion that fulfills His divine purpose.  And although we do not know what He has in store for us in the future, we know for sure that He will bring everything to a satisfying end where He and His faithful ones will triumph.

Habakkuk recites all the events that happened before the exodus of God's people.

  • The plagues (Hab. 3:5).
  • The crossing of the wilderness (Hab. 3:6).
  • The crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan River (Hab. 3:8-10) and 
  • Joshua's long day when the moon and the sun stood still (Hab. 3:11).  

The prophet looked back to these events of the exodus and the conquest, remembering how God took part in past victories and exploits.  Habakkuk could not help but to see God's providential hand in all of history.  

Therefore, he resolved to trust confidently in His God to act again in his day like He had done in the past with Israel.  It is a great lesson for us today in the church, our nation, and our lives.  We too can have confidence in God's sovereignty and goodness.  Remember that God's ways and thoughts and timing are not the same as ours.  Did you know that the theme of the book of Revelation is the same: victory for those who trust in God and leave it to Him to avenge them?

Our present is uncertain and scary, but we must also trust in our God Almighty.  Looking back at the past, we have the assurance that He will show His sovereignty and righteousness and bring all nations under His feet.  We know this because we read it in His beloved book.  I am fully confident that those who follow Him, walking in righteousness will be vindicated, and the unrighteous will be judged. Don't lose hope!  Wait on the God of our salvation!  We must remember that when doubts cloud our minds and hearts because of hardship, tragedies, pain, suffering and so on, we must go back to the truth of how God has worked in history.  His greatest work was in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  When we stand in the God of our salvation, we can firmly stand since He is our Rock and hiding place.

Let us unite our voices of joy with Paul as he sang in prison and enemies everywhere (Christians and non-Christians) he still could say,
"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your forbearance be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.   In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.   And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 4:4-7)  

Let these words sink deeply into your hearts!!


CONCLUSION

Habakkuk's journey was not just one man's journey.  Many before him had walked that path as they still do today.  It is a journey that we must walk at some point in our lives.  Like Habakkuk, we can be confident that our God will keep His promises as well as His warnings.  Our God can shake nations and destroy kingdoms.  He is sovereign and almighty.  Our God has shown us this pattern throughout history.  He is all wise, and He knows what He is doing, and we must understand this.

The book of Habakkuk highlights God's omnipotence, sovereignty and righteousness for us.  All nations are under His control.  We are at His disposal.  We must be still in faith and know that He is at work.  We can rest assured that He will judge the wicked along with their lawlessness. And even if we cannot see it now, He is still on the throne of this universe and will eventually do so.   He will defend His holiness and righteousness His way and in His own time.  

We must face all the evil in the world, adversities, calamities, pain, suffering, etc. with a deep faith and hope in Him.   Both are vital to our walk and communion with Him.  A man of faith does not live by human reasoning.  Let us be wise and not get trapped into living this way in the name of Christianity.  Many think that our job (the church) is to put political pressure on the leaders of this nation and those of the world to enforce righteousness.  This is not our Christian job; it is God's job.

Don't get me wrong here!  I am not suggesting that we should not help those in need.  God expects us to do it.  But when one depends on human forces to bring justice and peace it is wrong.  The Word of God does not teach us that.  Look at how different are the heroes of the faith that we read about in the book of Hebrews.  They changed the world because they endured as seeing one who is invisible. Their hope was not in man but God.  They waited patiently on God to work or act, and He always did the work right.  As God worked, things began to change.  History is a witness of how He worked, how He amazingly worked through men and women, how He stopped the mouths of lions, subdued kingdoms, overthrew thrones, won empires and finally changed the course of history by faith.

Habakkuk 3:2 and 3:16-29, are one of the most beautiful and poetic passages in Scriptures for me.

"O Jehovah, I have heard the report of thee, and am afraid: O Jehovah, revive thy work in the midst of the years; In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy."

I encourage you to read them to see how God acts and how God worked in the past.  I believe with all my heart Habakkuk 3:2 is what changed and convinced the prophet's heart.  He could rest because the events that had occurred in the past were governed by God's providential hand.  History as acts of God cannot be questioned, shaken or taken away.  The truth is that God has already moved in human history, and our faith must rest on this assurance.  We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). We have a supreme and almighty God, who has acted righteously in time and space.  He has recorded His will in the history of all human events.

We must always focus on Habakkuk 3:16-19,

"I heard, and my body trembled, My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entereth into my bones, and I tremble in my place; Because I must wait quietly for the day of trouble, For the coming up of the people that invadeth us.  For though the fig-tree shall not flourish, Neither shall fruit be in the vines; The labor of the olive shall fail, And the fields shall yield no food; The flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength; And he maketh my feet like hinds' feet, And will make me to walk upon my high places."

Oh, how I love this passage!  It calms my soul with trust in God enabling us to go to the heights of God:

  • Where He takes us to higher places with Him.
  • Where we are set apart from the world's suffering, adversities, tragedies, and sorrow.
  • Where we can rest with confidence and trust in our almighty God and finally, 
  • Where we can develop into what He wants us to be.

Like Habakkuk we must find our strength in our God, His Word and prayer to understand God's ways.  That does not guarantee us that our problems are going to go away.  Jesus declared that the problems would remain.  Let us walk like Habakkuk and all those who walked before him and after him with faith, prayer, and joy in the Almighty God of all.

"These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."  (John 3:16).  

This world of evil, distress, difficulties, suffering and pain is not our world since we are just passing through.  We, Christians must keep our eyes fixed on our final destination (Romans 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17). This world is just our training and preparation for eternity.  

May we always trust in God with all of our heart, soul and strength since He has shown us through His revealed Word that He is the God of history.  May He help us to lift our eyes to Him alone, rejoicing in the midst of our trials, problems, calamities, pain, and suffering.  May we always remember that He is the God of our salvation and strength, the God, who "maketh my feet like hinds' feet, And will make me to walk upon my high places."


Luci