Habakkuk: A Message of Faith
Habakkuk 1:1-3,5-6,13;2:1,4-6;3: 2,17-19 January 13 2013
The subject of this prophecy is the destruction of Judea and Jerusalem for the sins of the people, and the consolation of the faithful under national calamities.
1.The wickedness of the land. The fearful vengeance to be executed. (Habakkuk 1:1-3,13;Habakkuk 2:1)
Habakkuk 1:1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw. 2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. 3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?
Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand my watch. And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. The Heb. concept of “listen” means more than simply hear. There “to listen” implies “to respond.” Habakkuk knows that God hears his complaint. What he cannot understand is why God does not act in response to his plea.
In this case God explains to the prophet—for our instruction. You and I typically will not know just why when there seems to be no answer to our prayers. But we can be sure that God does hear and has reasons for any apparent delay.When these terms are used in the O.T. without reference to some specific foreign enemy, they typically characterize conditions among God’s people. Despite Josiah’s religious reforms, there had been no moral and social transformation. Habakkuk has been driven to a conclusion that we should remember: Conversion with transformation is imitation.Habakkuk determines to wait until God answers his second complaint . And answer God does!
2. Habakkuk must wait in faith.(Habakkuk:1:5-6;2:4-6)
Habakkuk 1: 5 “Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you. 6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation. Which marches through the breadth of the earth,To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
Habakkuk 2: 4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith. 5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine,He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations. And heaps up for himself all peoples. 6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases.What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?
When tossed and perplexed with doubts about the methods of Providence, we must watch against temptations to be impatient. When we have poured out complaints and requests before God, we must observe the answers God gives by his word, his Spirit, and providences; what the Lord will say to our case. God will not disappoint the believing expectations of those who wait to hear what he will say unto them. All are concerned in the truths of God’s word. Though the promised favour be deferred long, it will come at last, and abundantly recompense us for waiting. The humble, broken-hearted, repenting sinner, alone seeks to obtain an interest in this salvation. He will rest his soul on the promise, and on Christ, in and through whom it is given. Thus he walks and works, as well as lives by faith, perseveres to the end, and is exalted to glory; while those who distrust or despise God’s all-sufficiency will not walk uprightly with him. The just shall live by faith in these precious promises, while the performance of them is deferred. Only those made just by faith, shall live, shall be happy here and for ever.
3.His firm trust in the Divine mercy.(Habakkuk 3:2,17-19)
Habakkuk 3:2 O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. in the stalls—
Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.
When we see a day of trouble approach, it concerns us to prepare. A good hope through grace is founded in holy fear. The prophet looked back upon the experiences of the church in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them, and so was not only recovered, but filled with holy joy. He resolved to delight and triumph in the Lord; for when all is gone, his God is not gone. Destroy the vines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a carnal heart to cease. But those who, when full, enjoyed God in all, when emptied and poor, can enjoy all in God. They can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their creature-comforts, and even then praise the Lord, as the God of their salvation, the salvation of the soul, and rejoice in him as such, in their greatest distresses. Joy in the Lord is especially seasonable when we meet with losses and crosses in the world. Even when provisions are cut off, to make it appear that man lives not by bread alone, we may be supplied by the graces and comforts of God’s Spirit. Then we shall be strong for spiritual warfare and work, and with enlargement of heart may run the way of his commandments, and outrun our troubles. And we shall be successful in spiritual undertakings. Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph. And thus faith in Christ prepares for every event. The name of Jesus, when we can speak of Him as ours, is balm for every wound, a cordial for every care. It is as ointment poured forth, shedding fragrance through the whole soul. In the hope of a heavenly crown, let us sit loose to earthly possessions and comforts, and cheerfully bear up under crosses. Yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and where he is, we shall be also
Habakkuk, who calls himself “the prophet,” may also have been a Levite who eagerly participated in Josiah’s reforms, but was troubled by the moral laxity that he continued to observe. While his work is not dated, his reference to the unexpected emergence of Babylon as a great power even then taking place persuasively suggests he ministered during Josiah’s reign. Habakkuk retreated to one of the mountaintop stations from which guards watched for the approach of enemy armies. But Habakkuk looked back over his own nation’s countryside, determined to explore the reasons why God permitted the injustice that was rife in Judah’s society. We too need to take time out to meditate and to struggle with life’s important issues.
Robert G OHaver