Though the fig tree does not bud and there is no fruit 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 triumph in Yahweh, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Habakkuk 3:17-18 HCSB
Over the years in ministry, I have encountered many people who have faced difficult situations: the death of a child or spouse, a serious illness, a wayward child, etc. All of these are painful situations that sometimes causes one to ask, “Where is God?” or “Why is God allowing this to happen to me?” or “What good can possibly come from this tragedy?” But often I have found these people to have some of the strongest faith in God. Many have even been drawn closer to God as a result of the situation and praised Him in the storms of life.
Habakkuk is expressing the same type of faith in God as when Job said, “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him.” (Job 13:15) The prophet Habakkuk knew the results of the impending attack on his people. There would be no fruit or crops and there would be no sheep or cattle – yet Habakkuk expresses his praise for God.
Challenge: Set the example for others by praising God even when the storms of life come your way. Know that God can and is working His will in every situation, even in those situations that are difficult to endure. God loves you and only wants the best for you. Listen to Casting Crowns sing “Praise You in this Storm” on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCpP0mFD9F0
Sun and moon stand still in their lofty residence, at the flash of Your flying arrows, at the brightness of Your shining spear. You march across the earth with indignation. You trample down the nations in wrath. You come out to save Your people, to save Your anointed. You crush the leader of the house of the wicked and strip him from foot to neck. Habakkuk 3:11-13 HCSB
According to Dictionary.com the word “indignation” means to have great displeasure at something considered to be unjust, offensive, insulting, or base; righteous anger. Miriam-Webster defines indignation as anger caused by something that is unfair or wrong.
In these verses, Habakkuk celebrated God’s victory over sin. We usually consider anger to be a negative trait, but in these verses we see that God was angry toward the injustice in the world. God will save His people from wickedness and evil.
Challenge: It is acceptable for you to feel anger toward the injustice and evil in our world. Do you reach out and try to help those who are oppressed by evil? Psalm 103 declares that the Lord executes righteousness to those who are oppressed. Praise God that He has already won the victory over sin and wickedness through His Son, Jesus Christ.
God comes from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His brilliance is like light; rays are flashing from His hand.This is where His power is hidden. Plague goes before Him, and pestilence follows in His steps. Habakkuk 3:3-5 HCSB
In Exodus we read the story of how God revealed Himself to Moses through the burning bush. Later in Exodus we read how God revealed His greatness and power as He brought the ten plagues on the Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God used several miracles such as the parting of the Red Sea to deliver the children of Israel from the Egyptians. He then miraculously provided food and water for them as they made their way to the Promised Land.
God is a great and awesome God. Habakkuk noted God’s coming from Teman and Mount Peran to express anticipation of His arrival. The rays flashing from His hand symbolizes His control of every situation and that He is working out His plan. God at times uses plagues and pestilence just as He did to deliver the Israelite to accomplish His plan. Even though we are subject to God’s judgment, we can confidently count on His grace and mercy.
Challenge: God is all-knowing and all-powerful. Stand in awe of how great He is. Expect God to use difficulties in your life to accomplish His will. Worship God and praise Him for all He has done in your life.
Lord, I have heard the report about You; Lord, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive Your work in these years; make it known in these years. In your wrath remember mercy! Habakkuk 3:2 HCSB
Mercy hospital ships provide free lifesaving surgeries for people where medical care is nearly non-existent. Nearly 50% of all people in Africa have no access to a hospital or doctor. So the Africa Mercy ship brings volunteer medical teams and sterile operating rooms directly to people who would otherwise go without care. It’s the world’s largest civilian hospital ship providing state-of-the-art care to those in desperate need—free of charge.
The Africa Mercy ship provides hope for many who seemingly have no hope. Habakkuk realized and accepted that the people of Judah deserved some discipline from God. In this verse Habakkuk is asking God for help and mercy. Just like a good parent disciplines his children, God disciplines those He loves. The discipline is designed to bring His children back to Him. Just as the Africa Mercy ship is the only hope for many children with medical conditions, God is our only hope for any mercy. We deserve the wrath of a holy God but because of His great love for us, He has mercy and provides a way for us to have eternal life through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Challenge: When God’s discipline comes your way, gladly accept it and ask Him to help you change. Understand that God’s discipline is an expression of His love for you. Pray that God will show mercy toward you. Read Hebrews 12:5-6.
For the vision is yet for the appointed time, it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late. Habakkuk 2:3 HCSB
At times I become impatient with other drivers. When the light turns green and the person in front of me is not moving, I usually will not honk but I will grumble inwardly, “It isn’t going to get any greener!” Of course the other person cannot hear me, but it is a way for me to voice my impatience.
Habakkuk complained vigorously to God about the evil and the situation that the people of Judah were in. God’s answer is the same answer He would probably give to us today – Wait patiently. God hates sin more than we do and in due time He will punish sin. God is in control and He will accomplish His will in His masterful timing.
Challenge: We must wait patiently. God’s timing is always perfect. Punishment for sin will certainly come. Trust God even when you do not understand why events occur as they do.
I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint. Habakkuk 1:15 HCSB
I am part of the Watchman Prayer Ministry at our church. My time to “watch” and pray for the ministries of our church is on Thursdays at 7:00 am. There is a lady who prays the hour before me who calls to pass the “watch” on to me. Similarly, when I am finished with my hour of prayer I call the man who prays the hour after me to pass the “watch” on to him. We have over 120 people who are a part of this important ministry who “watch” or pray for one hour each week.
In Biblical times, stone watchtowers were usually built at each corner of a city so that watchmen could see anyone (enemies and messengers) approaching the city while still a distance away. Men would take a “watch” or period of time to “watch” in the watchtower. This was not very exciting work but very important work because it brought safety and security to the city. If an enemy was coming, the watchman would alert the townsmen so they could close the city gates and prepare for battle. Habakkuk was willing to patiently wait and “watch” for the Lord to respond to his complaint.
Challenge: Pray that God would watch over you and protect you from your enemy, the evil one, Satan. Be patient and wait on the Lord. He will guide and direct your steps if you only seek His will in your life. Consider starting or participating in a Watchman Prayer Ministry at your church. Read Proverbs 3:5-6.
Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous? Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who more righteous than himself? Habakkuk 1:13 HCSB
As a former youth pastor, there were numerous times I talked with parents who were concerned about their wayward teenager. These teens were involved in drugs, alcohol, and other disobedient behaviors. I often counseled parents to implement “tough love”. They needed to keep loving their teen but they also needed to take strong steps to establish rules and regulations with their teen to achieve a change in behavior. It is not easy to use “tough love,” but sometimes it is necessary because it is what is best for the teenager.
God has sometimes had to exhibit “tough love” with His children, the people of Judah. Habakkuk could not believe that God would use an evil nation like the Babylonians to punish Judah. The Babylonians did not know they were being used by God to accomplish His will. God used this population to help bring the people of Judah back to Him. God may and will use whatever is necessary to bring His children back to Himself.
Challenge: When we deserve punishment and need direction in life, God may use pain and suffering to bring us back to Him. We should not complain about what instrument He uses to cause us to stop and think about our sin in order to seek forgiveness and restoration.
Look at the nations and observe – be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it. Look! I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter, impetuous nation that marches across the earth’s open spaces to seize territories not its own. Habakkuk 1:5-6 HCSB
Over the last several months, I was looking for a different car. I looked on Craigslist, the internet, and even in the local paper trying to find just the right car at the right price. Several times I found a car that seemed to be a good deal but by the time I called, it had already sold. This became frustrating, but I kept telling myself that God had something better. He answered our prayers by providing a nice car at a good price. God knows what is best and is always working to accomplish His will. I believe that He “closed the door” on the other “good” deals because He had something better for me.
Sometimes God uses the bad to accomplish good. In these verses God responds to Habakkuk’s concerns by telling him to look at other nations and that they would be astounded at what God was going to do. God was going to accomplish His will by using other nations. The Chaldeans were actually the Babylonians. They made a rapid rise to power around 630 B.C. They were a wicked nations that collected prisoners and trusted in their military abilities.
Challenge: Trust God even in the bad times or when you are unable to see anything good coming from your circumstances. Know that God is in control and wants only the best for you. Be patient and wait on the Lord to accomplish His will even though it may be difficult to maintain a positive perspective amidst your current circumstances. Read Romans 8:28.
How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save? Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. Habakkuk 1:2-3 HCSB
Yesterday, April 19, 2015 we recognized the 20^th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people. It reminds us of the tragedy that took place on September 11, 2001 when over 3,000 people were killed in the attack on the Twin Towers in New York City. The news today reports that ISIS has killed more Christians in the Middle East because of their belief in Jesus Christ. All that one has to do is look around at the violence, injustice, strife, and oppression in the world to recognize that today is just as bad if not worse than in Habakkuk’s time.
The book of Habakkuk records a dialogue between God and the prophet Habakkuk. Most prophets brought a message from God, but in this book Habakkuk took the message of the people to God. Habakkuk questioned why God seemed to be indifferent towards the evil and injustice in the world. The people of Israel were being persecuted and many of God’s children had turned away from God and His laws. Habakkuk questioned why evil seemed to go unpunished.
Challenge: It seems there is more and more evil each year. We may question where God is and why He allows evil. God has given us freedom of choice. The more we choose to disobey Him, the more evil comes into the world. Pray that God will help you to make wise choices and that He will reduce the evil in our world.
In the whole land – this is the Lord’s declaration – two-thirds will be cut off and die, but a third will be left in it. I will put this third through the fire; I will refine them as silver is refined and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say: They are My people, and they will say: Yahweh is our God. Zechariah 13:8-9 HCSB
Gold and silver naturally contain impurities such as zinc, copper, and iron. To remove the impurities the gold or silver must be heated to the point that it melts. The pure gold or silver can then be extracted from the impurities and can then be molded and shaped into whatever is needed.
Zechariah used this as a metaphor because the people would understand the process of refining gold and silver to make something. At times God allows us to go through the fires of life to help refine us and shape us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus was also tested and tempted. The example of His dedication by not falling into temptation and remaining sinless reveals how the act of refining is essential in order to purge the impurities from our lives and make us more like Him.
Challenge: God can use the trials and troubles of our lives to build our character and teach us to embrace the fires that we face as a way for our lives to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. As you face difficulties, ask God to use them to teach you and make you more like His Son, Jesus.