We are living in changing, traumatic, and uncertain times, I trust that these studies in Habakkuk will still our hearts in the Divine Presence. Remember the key verse is Habakkuk 2:4, “… but the just shall live by his faith”. As we move on from our consideration of God Himself, Silent, Speaking and Sovereign; our focus now turns to the Prophet Habakkuk himself. Here we find a man who reveals his heart through his prayers. Remember he is not saying or reciting prayers: but praying! It has been said that Habakkuk could mean either Embracer or Wrestler (William McDonald). If we include both, this is a man who…
Embracing… takes God’s people to his heart!
Wrestling… takes God’s people to the Throne!
Outline A Prayer for the Condition of God’s People Chapter 1:1-4.What Habakkuk saw! Habakkuk, seeing the moral and spiritual decline in the land of Judah, cried to God in his perplexity. This is increased, as there is no answer, causing him to conclude that God has not heard. As we observe the moral and spiritual decline in our day, are we concerned? Do we just pass it off as last day conditions, and accept everything as being fatalistic? Before the Chaldean’s could touch the Temple in Jerusalem, the Glory of God departed out of it, Ezekiel 9:3, 10:4, 10:18, 10:19, & 11:23. Even though the Captivity was Prophesied, God said to the man clothed in linen who had the writer’s inkhorn, “… Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof” (Ezekiel 9:4). There were those who had a deep concern for the conditions of the day and were specially marked out by God. I often wonder would the man with the writer’s inkhorn mark me out!
A Prayer for the Preservation of God’s People. Chapter 1:12-17.What Habakkuk heard! Habakkuk hearing from God that the Chaldean’s are coming, lifts his voice another time, with the preservation of God’s people uppermost on his mind. In this prayer he addresses God:
V 12. Art Thou not from everlasting? He knows this is true. We shall not die! He knows this is true! This Nation cannot be wiped out because God has given promises that cannot be broken. He also knows that God is going to do this for judgment and correction! In addressing God, he uses four Divine Titles…
Lord… Jehovah… the existing One.
God… Triune God… “In the beginning God…” (Gen 1:1). “…Let us make man…” (Gen 1:26).
Holy One… Sacred… “… the Holy One of Israel…” (Isaiah 1:4)
Mighty God… The Rock… “He is the Rock… a God of truth…" (Deut 32:4).
V 13. God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (approve evil, NASB). God cannot look on iniquity (look on wickedness with favour, NASB).
V 13. The Wherefore in the middle of verse 13, begins a question that continues until the end of verse 14. God looks on… and holds His tongue, "the wicked (Chaldean… Idolater) devoureth the man that is more righteous" (men of Judah… God’s covenant people). V 14. Thou makest… is the force here… (Thou is always a singular). That is God has allowed it! "Men as fishes of the sea"… Plucked out. "As creeping things"… Stepped upon. Vs 15-16. Men are left as if they had no God (men of Judah… God’s covenant people). Men act as if there was no God (Chaldean… Idolater).
V 17. Question. "Shall… empty, not spare… slay". (Compares the World to the Sea… men to fish… Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman). This was no vague prayer, but a Holy Boldness in the Divine Presence. Note his grasp of God!!! Eternal (1:12), Pure (1:13), Sovereignly lets (1:14 and is really Thou), Approachable (2:1 waiting upon God).
A Prayer for the Deliverance of God’s People. Chapter 3:1-19. What Habakkuk anticipates! In this chapter we have Habakkuk’s prayer divided into three parts:
V 2. His Appeal - The Mercy of the LORD Desired!
With humility stands in awe of God. Revive Thy work! Reveal Thy power! Remember mercy!
Vs 3-15. His Anticipation - The Glory of the LORD Recounted!
These verses are not the easiest understood. Some of the historical events are easily picked out… others not so! Here the prophet is rehearsing God’s mighty acts, what God did in the past for His people, and with the verb structure is anticipating that He can do it again. Historically God brought them up out of Egypt, through the wilderness, into the land, and defeated their enemies for them. This is not about the Chaldean invasion for it came from the North. Here the prophet anticipates God coming from the south to deliver, with a literal fulfilment in the coming of the Messiah as foretold in Isaiah… Question: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? This that is glorious in His apparel, travelling in the greatness of His strength?” Answer: “I that speak in righteousness, ready to save” (Isaiah 63:1).
Vs 16-19. His Assurance - He The Salvation of the LORD Enjoyed!
V 16. Lord… This is how I felt! When I heard. The Chaldean’s are coming! “Belly trembled…” butterflies… when one gets bad news.[GW1][AC2] “Lips quivered…” unable to speak as the tidings unfold. “Rottenness entered into my bones…” weak… unable to stand… need to sit down… too much to bear. V 17. Lord… This is what I expect! When they come… Although! For the Nation… three forms of Witness all gone.
The Fig Tree, not blossom or put forth figs… No fruitfulness! Israel Nationally? Testimony?
The Vine, no grapes, winepress empty… No Joyfulness! Israel Spiritually? Condition of heart?
The Olive, the labour, the fruit… No Holiness! Israel Religiously? Physical observance/Temple?
For the Nation… three forms of Worship all gone.
No grain… linked with the meat offering in Lev 2:1. Meat used as food not animal flesh, so fine flour.
No flock… again see offerings in Lev 1:2, 10 & 3:6, 5:6.
No herd… again see offerings in Lev 1:2, 3:1, 4:3 etc.
V 18. Lord… Yet! I will rejoice in Thee. Joy in the God of my salvation! Notice… not in the salvation of God… the Blesser is first… the Blessing secondary. “Those who are full enjoy God in all. When they are emptied, enjoy all in God” (Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible). V 19. Lord… Thou hast brought me from being burdened to skipping like a hind! The secret of it all… The Lord God!
Two poems for reading and encouragement based on Habakkuk 3:17-18!
Though never a blossom the fig-tree shall wear, Though the vines in their season are blasted and bear, Though the olive-tree only be labour in vain, And no meat shall be found in the field or the plain, Though the last of the flocks be cut off from the fold And there be not a herd in the stalls to behold, Yet, the prophet declares, I’ll rejoice in the Lord; Yet the God of Salvation can pleasure afford; Yet my strength in Jehovah my Lord I shall find, And I’ll leap on the mountains of truth like the hind. In the day of adversity never forget Habakkuk’s “Though” and Habakkuk’s “Yet”.
Though the day may be dark and the road may be rough, And the troubles increase when there’s trouble enough, Though the best of intentions are misunderstood, And the harvest of hope be but evil for good, Though the smiles become frosty that used to be fair, And the winter sets in with a nip in the air, Yet rejoice in the Lord, and remember it well, That you would have been but for His mercy in Hell. So rejoice in the Lord amid famine and dearth; He’s the Maker and Owner of Heaven and Earth. Yea, rejoice in rejection unkind and uncouth Till you leap like the hind on the mountains of truth. In the day of adversity never forget Habakkuk’s “Though” and Habakkuk’s “Yet”. (Though and Yet, by I.Y. Ewan).
Sometimes a light surprises The Christian while he sings; It is the Lord who rises With healing in His wings; When comforts are declining, He grants the soul again A season of clear shining, To cheer it after rain.
In holy contemplation We sweetly then pursue The theme of God’s salvation, And find it ever new; Set free from present sorrow, We cheerfully can say-- E’en let the unknown morrow Bring with it what it may.
It can bring with it nothing, But He will bear us through; Who gives the lilies clothing, Will clothe His people too: Beneath the spreading heavens No creature but is fed; And He, who feeds the ravens, Will give His children bread.
Though vine nor fig tree neither Their wonted fruit shall bear; Though all the fields should wither Nor flocks nor herds be there; Yet God the same abiding, His praise shall tune my voice, For, while in Him confiding, I cannot but rejoice. (Sometime a Light Surprises, by William Cowper).