Today: [Habakkuk 3] Faith Ends in Sight. In the final chapter of Habakkuk the prophet stands corrected by the voice of God. Habakkuk has charged God will malfeasance for not forestalling the Babylonian invasion, but God has challenged him for his questioning and exhorted him to hold his peace and wait for deliverance. When we face challenges and it seems that God is far off, our place is not to doubt the Father but to question ourselves and examine ourselves as we faithfulness wait on His delivering hand.
[Hab 3:1-19 KJV] 1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, [and] was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. 3 God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4 And [his] brightness was as the light; he had horns [coming] out of his hand: and there [was] the hiding of his power. 5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. 6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways [are] everlasting. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: [and] the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? [was] thine anger against the rivers? [was] thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses [and] thy chariots of salvation? 9 Thy bow was made quite naked, [according] to the oaths of the tribes, [even thy] word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. 10 The mountains saw thee, [and] they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, [and] lifted up his hands on high. 11 The sun [and] moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, [and] at the shining of thy glittering spear. 12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. 13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, [even] for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. 14 Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing [was] as to devour the poor secretly. 15 Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, [through] the heap of great waters. 16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. 17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall 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, and he will make my feet like hinds’ [feet], and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
The book of Habakkuk consists of three parts in which Habakkuk asks a question, God answers and in chapter 3 Habakkuk responds. The questioning of Habakkuk concerns his frustration that Babylon is invading and the overthrow of Jerusalem is immanent. Habakkuk is offended that God would allow this brutal and savage empire to take the southern kingdom into captivity and he questions how God could consider Himself faith to the promises of Abraham if He allows this to happen. In chapter 2, God answers Habakkuk, declaring to the prophet that even to ask the question indicates his heart is not right and exhorts him to keep silence and to continue to walk in faith. Now, in chapter three Habakkuk declares that he has heard what God is telling him and concludes with intercession for the nation and for himself that God will remember mercy and extend lovingkindness once again to the fallen nation.
The chapter opens with notations about music that is to accompany the reading of the prayer of Habakkuk as he replies to God’s answer to him in chapter 2. A “shigionoth” is understood to have been a rambling poem which is the form not just of chapter 3 but the entire book. Habakkuk has heard the answer of heaven regarding his complaint and stand in fear of God for his presumption of calling God into account for what he considered a breach of His covenant with Israel. He asks God to revive His works now in the advanced years of His promises to Abraham and to remember mercy at a time of justifiable wrath against the rebellious and idolatrous nation of Judah.
The phrasing regarding the word “revive” is interesting because it shows us God’s response to those He is in covenant with when they breach His commands. Habakkuk understood God to have allowed His close watchfulness over the nation to have lapsed, not for any unfaithfulness on His own part but because the nation had neglected and in many cases outright rejected the commands of the law contained in the covenants of promise. When we disobey, God does not necessarily actively seek our hurt, but rather lifts His presence and protection from our lives, allowing us to an extent to experience the consequences of our own unfaithfulness. Habakkuk sees this and asks God to revive His work that He has allowed to go dormant among the people because of their disobedience.
In verse 3 the response of heaven to Habakkuk’s prayer is that the Lord “comes from Teman…” Teman means “south”. Psalm 42:2 says that God dwells in the north as a judge but in v. 3 of our chapter He is depicted as coming from the south in deliverance. North is a direction with denotes judgment. The tribe of Dan (representing judgment) camped on the northern side of the tabernacle of Moses. The south on the other hand represents blessing, deliverance and reward. Habakkuk is depicting God coming to deliver and free the people from Babylonian captivity.
In verse 6 God comes and measures the earth to bring the nations into accountability to His word. He is displeased (v. 8) with the rivers and his wrath is revealed against the sea. Isa. 57:20 says that the wicked, or lost humanity is like the raging sea and the rivers as the thoughts and intents of unredeemed man that are fed by the lusts that drive them. V. 9 depicts the bow of God being made bare as He prepares to make good on the oath of His covenant to the tribes of Israel. Even though the people of God have been unfaithful, God will yet be faithful because while they have denied Him, He cannot deny Himself, as Paul declares in 2 Timothy:
[2Ti 2:11-13 KJV] 11 [It is] a faithful saying: For if we be dead with [him], we shall also live with [him]: 12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with [him]: if we deny [him], he also will deny us: 13 If we believe not, [yet] he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
The rivers, the mountains and the sun and moon are seen as standing still in deference to the hand of God moving to establish His judgments in the earth. This is so described because all of the pagan deities worshipped by Judah and Babylon together were river gods, gods of the high places as well as sun gods and moon goddesses. V. 12 says that God will thresh the godless in His indignation and go forth to be the salvation of His people. This is good to remember because as in Habakkuk’s time, it may seem that evil triumphs and the cause of the people of God is trodden under, but it will not be so forever. God will spare His people and He will spare you as an individual if you persevere as Habakkuk has been instructed, not questioning foolishly God’s faithfulness but faithfully trusting His promises and waiting on His deliverance.
In verse 16 Habakkuk is shaken to his core because he sees that God is at work, just not on a scale or in a manner of his choosing. He has questioned God’s faithfulness and accused God of being an absentee landlord, or a dead-beat dad but nothing could be further from the truth. Habakkuk now sees the broader truth in the timeline of God’s purposes and knows that while his people have been deeply unfaithful, God has been unswervingly diligent to perform His word in their regard. God is ever faithful this is without question. The only question is, will we be faithful to the end of our situation at which time we will surely see the hand of God moving that to us seems so still at the present time.
Habakkuk’s conclusion in verse 17 is that even if there seem to be now answers, and deliverance is not forthcoming for his people or himself personally, yet he will (v. 18) rejoices in the Lord who is the joy of his salvation. He anticipates that though he is in the low place, the Lord is yet his strength who will give him grace to walk nonetheless on the high places of the earth. This is the lesson that each one of us must glean from the book of Habakkuk. There are times that it seems God is not coming through according to His promise. Yet even though we experience divine delay, we are not to question God’s word, but rather keep silence and wait patiently in a posture of self-examination, to identify in ourselves those things that are an offence to God’s character as we faithfully await the deliverance by His hand that will inexorably be visited upon us.
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