Today we’re continuing in the book of Habakkuk, in chapter 3 of this great book. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of conversations between the prophet and our God. It’s just so real and so down to earth, as we see Habakkuk grieving over the condition of his nation. He’s just sick of the sin, the suffering, the evil, and the injustice of it all. You know if he lived in our day he would probably sue for the emotional trauma they had inflicted upon him. But anyway, he’s frustrated, and he brings his requests to God.
Now that’s a good place to go when things aren’t going the way you have prayerfully thought they should go isn’t it? You know, when you’ve confirmed what you believe to be the will of God and you ask God “Aren’t you getting tired of it? What are you going to do about this?” And so God answers Habakkuk and says, “I’ve got a plan. You know those nasty, wicked people that live next door? Those people called the Babylonians? Well, they’ve been wanting to attack you for a long time and I’ve been protecting you. But now your people keep sinning, they’re rebellious, and disobedient so I’m going to let them rough you up.”
Now of course, Habakkuk didn’t like what he heard and so he’s like “Isn’t there a plan B? Can’t we work this out another way?” But God told him in chapter 2, “I’ve given them plenty of time to repent of their sins and return to me. Just trust me, I’m a good God, and I know what I’m doing. Just watch and wait.” So Habakkuk does, he trusts God and he goes to that quiet place, he stands at his watch, he stations himself on the ramparts, and in solitude he draws near to God and watches God work. Now the result of this time of prayer and meditation was a song, like an opera. That’s what we find here in chapter 3, Habakkuk is inspired to write this song of worship and praise. And the first thing we’re going to see is that he remembers what God has done.
Let’s read. Habakkuk 3:1 “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. 4 His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. 5 Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. 6 He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, O Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots? 9 You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers; 10 the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. 12 In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. 13 You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. 15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters…” NIV
Habakkuk remembers what God has done. He looks back and remembers the faithfulness, the character, and the goodness of God. He’s like, “I’ve read these things, but I’ve never seen them. In my day people sin and there is no justice. In my day the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.” So he remembers the goodness and the glory of God. He remembers a day when the people of God were in the zone. When everything seemed to go their way, you know they would mess up, and God would jump right up and fix things for them.
And maybe you know people like that? You know where everything seems to go their way. Every team they root for wins the championship. Every goal they set is realized. Their kids come home with straight A’s. And when they drop a piece of bread it always lands butter side up. Have you ever known anyone like that?
But this morning, maybe your experience is more like Habakkuk’s. You know, you’ve read the Bible and you see God showing up in amazing ways, and you wonder, “How come I’ve never seen that? How come I’ve never seen a miracle… never seen a revival… never seen God’s just judgment on a godless nation… never seen a plague… never seen the sea part… never seen anybody walk on water. Habakkuk says, “I’ve read of these things but I’ve never, never seen them.
Maybe like Habakkuk your team didn’t win the championship; in fact the coach just got fired. Your kid didn’t come home with straight A’s; he came home with detention. Your boss didn’t offer to give you a raise; but instead said “Don’t bother taking your coat off.” You see that’s what it’s like to be out of the zone. And that’s where Habakkuk found himself. You know that’s where life is best described by the song they used to sing on Hee Haw: "If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."
Have you ever felt that way? You know, like it’s just your bad luck, it’s your lot in life, to constantly live in lack… always the underachiever… always getting the bad break. And there’s nothing funny about that, because it’s like every day you’re going thru the fire. There’s nothing funny about feeling beat down by life… to go months without closing a deal… weeks without making a sale… wondering if our best days are behind us for good… if God has forgotten who we are… or maybe where we live.
If that’s you today, let me assure you you’re not the first person or even the first believer to have these feelings. Even King David who was described as being a man after God’s own heart… a man with an anointing… a man with a calling on his life… Even David cried out in the Psalms, “How long, O Lord?” He knew what it was like to find himself out of the zone and walking thru the fire. And in Psalms 44 he cries out to God,
“My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge. All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path” (Psalms 44:15-18).
In other words, David says, “Times are tough, we did nothing to deserve it, but it just came out of the blue.” Now Habakkuk on the other hand, speaks of the trouble that Israel endured, because of their rebellion to the ways of God, and the inevitable consequences of their behavior. But you know, sometimes life’s most difficult seasons aren’t correction… they’re preparation… and what we learn from Habakkuk is to accept what God is doing.
Now that doesn’t mean that you just roll over and play dead… that doesn’t mean that you don’t pray for your miracle, but what that means is that it’s time to acknowledge the truth. Or if God had spoken directly to you like he did with Habakkuk then you accept what God has said. Sometimes it’s a simple as trusting in the knowledge, presence, and power of our sovereign God.
So, if the doctor says that your health is not very good and you need to make some changes, you embrace the truth. When your marriage is in trouble and your spouse says “We need counseling” you go. You work it out. Sometimes when finances are bad you don’t buy that new car or a new house, but you get a second job and you save. When you see the storm coming you face the truth.
And here’s the amazing thing about how God sometimes works in our lives. We see this in the book of Habakkuk; when there is true repentance, correction becomes preparation. Sometimes it’s necessary for God to pull back and allow us to reap the spiritual consequences of our behavior. And so when that happens we have the choice to resist God’s correction, to stay out of the zone, and to continue in the flesh. Or we can surrender to what God is telling us to do, we can turn to him in repentance, and receive his correction. Then we’re opening the door as he begins to prepare us for something bigger and better in our Christian lives. You see, what we need to understand is that even though at times it may be necessary for God to correct us, our relationship with God is not about judgment, it’s not about punishment, but it is about transformation.
And so here’s what happens to Habakkuk. He’s waiting, he’s watching, he’s in that place of solitude, he’s drawing near to God, and he has this physical reaction which he explains in verse 16. “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” You see, he’s like, “God I can’t wait to see you show up and do what you do best… to deal with sin and to save your people.” He says, “I’m so excited, my heart is pounding, my lips are quivering, and my legs are trembling.” Habakkuk’s overcome with anticipation, he’s terrified, and yet at the same time he says, “Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity.”
And you know, the reality is, sometimes things happen that we don’t like and we need to accept it. Sometimes when you feel like you’re living your life out of the zone, when everything seems to be 10 times more difficult than it should be, and when God’s blessing is just beyond your reach. You need to remember what God has done. Accept what God is doing. And then third, now here’s the power behind Habakkuk’s song. You gotta trust what God is going to do.
Let’s look at the last verses of this book. These are some of the most moving and powerful words in all of Scripture. If you going through a difficult season right now, here is a principle that will help you move from out of the zone back into the zone, from the desert to the oasis, from the fire to a life of freedom and victory.
Let’s read at verse 17, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
One simple word spoken from the prophet is the clue to the power behind this chapter… and that is the word “yet.” It can also be translated “nevertheless” or “even still”. And the ability to walk through life victoriously, to experience success in the Christian life, to get back in the zone and to live as an overcomer… rests on this one word… “Yet.” Habakkuk says, even though he has no reason to rejoice, even though the fig tree doesn’t bud… yet I will rejoice in my God. Even though there are no cattle in the barn… yet I will rejoice in my God.
You see, even though the very things you’re praying for, anticipating, longing and yearning for do not come to pass. Even though you’re alone, you’re sick, your poor, and you’re suffering. Even though at that point it becomes very hard for us to rejoice. The Bible calls us to do just that. The apostle Paul writes in the New Testament, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). And that was the revelation of Habakkuk. The key is this: You praise God for who he is and not just what he does. You praise God for what he’s done and not just for what he’s doing. And that’s where Habakkuk goes. He moves back into the zone and says, “I will rejoice because of who God is and what he’s already done.”
Why? Because now he’s closer to God… because now he trusts him by faith... and because now he says at the end of verse 18, “I will be joyful in God…” my what? “My Savior.” You see, because if God never did another thing for you other than to send his Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins and rise again… You would have enough to sing about forever. Jesus is enough to sing about forever. Because Jesus has done enough yesterday to trust him with all of your tomorrows.
Check out the last verse. Look at verse 19, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk says, “Even though I’ve had a chapter 1 type of question, even though I’ve had a chapter 2 kind of waiting, today I’ve got a chapter 3 kind of faith. And even though the fig tree doesn’t bud and there are no animals in the barn; the Lord is still in his holy temple and the righteous will live by faith. God’s word will be true… I will find my strength and my hope in the Lord my God… He will take me to new heights.”
“I will be joyful in God my Savior, because that mountain that once seemed overwhelming and intimidating is no longer.” Habakkuk says, “My God enables me to go on the heights. I climbed to the heights and I stand above it all and I can see what God sees and I love what God loves and I hate what God hates. God enables me to rise above it all.” And you see, that’s what faith does. Faith sees the strong hand of God and the promises of God. Faith sees the provision of God, not the circumstances of life, and it climbs above them. That’s why Habakkuk can worship God. He trusts him and he anticipates him showing up in a big way.
I pray that as we close that each one of us would end up where Habakkuk ends. That we would leave this building in faith, trusting Jesus as our God, dead, buried, and raised for our sins. That we would leave here with a song on our lips celebrating all that God has done for us as a people. And that we would live each day with a sense of expectancy, anticipating, and waiting patiently for God to show up in a big way. And that he would show up, that he would deal with sin, and that in his great mercy he would save people. That is our prayer, as Habakkuk says, “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” I pray, that we would see a great move of God again in our day, that we would see revival, and that we would see it transform this nation.
Pastor John Talcott
Christ's Community Church
303 West Lincoln Avenue
Emmitsburg, MD 21727
July 12, 2015