This sermon is number 7 in series of 7
"When God Works"
by David Legge | Copyright © 1999 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Turn with me to chapter 3 of Habakkuk, chapter 3, and we thought in the last study in Habakkuk of verses 1 and 2 - the first two verses of chapter 3. This is our seventh study, our seventh week, in the book of Habakkuk, and we're finishing it off - and we're going to look, hopefully, if we get through it all, from verses 3 to 19. This is not the last Bible study before Christmas - you don't get off that easily! - but there's another series that we're going to commence next Monday evening in the book of Haggai. So please come back again, we're still on the same subject: 'Majoring on the Minors' - and we're looking at this little minor prophet, the book of Haggai.
You'll all know by now, I hope, that the book of Habakkuk was before the children of Judah went into captivity in Babylon. The book of Haggai is just after they come out of Babylon. So, we're seeing both sides of their tribulation, of their trial, and their captivities - so come along next week again, as we start on chapter 1 of the book of Haggai. It would be great if everyone read - it's only two chapters - everyone read the book of Haggai before next week.
Let's look at chapter 3, this evening, and verse 3 - we'll read from verse 1 just to get the whole flow of the thing: "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 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. 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. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. 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. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 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? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. 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. 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. Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. 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. 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. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. 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. 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: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 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". Amen.
There is a world of difference between knowing the word of God and knowing the God of the word. From Genesis to the book of Revelation we have what is commonly termed 'the revelation' - the word of God is the revelation, but the revelation of what? The revelation of God Himself. A. W. Tozer said on one occasion: 'So often we get taken up with the gems of the word of God, and we forget that it is the method whereby we get through its pages, its words, its metaphors, its types, and its descriptions, to get to the gems, the beauties, the jewels, of the God of the word'.
Of course, the only way to know God is by faith. How many times have we been in the prayer meeting, and we hear brethren getting to their feet and they pray: 'Lord, we ask You that You will do such-and-such, and Lord, we know that Thou canst do it'? Is that faith? What type of faith is that? I would venture to say this evening that real faith is faith in the knowledge of God's word, faith in the knowledge of what God wants to do. We have thought about this in weeks past, and services past, where we have seen that faith is taking the promises of God - things that we know God says He will do if we claim them - and not saying: 'Lord, we know Thou canst do it', but, 'Lord, we know Thou wilt do it'! That's the difference.
Faith is always in relation to what God knows our need is. 'My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus'. In other words, God knows what we need - not what we want, but what we need - and when we come to God with God's word, God's promises that He will provide our need, we have no need to say: 'Lord, we know that Thou canst' - but 'Lord, we know that Thou will'. We must realise that the word of God teaches: 'All things', listen child of God, 'all things are yours, and we are Christ's, and Christ is God'! What does the word of God say? 'All things' - all things! - 'are possible to him who believes'. What does the book of Hebrews say? 'Without faith it is impossible to please God'.
I would say, arguably, that the hour in which we live is an hour in which we have a wealth of knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ, about the word of God - now I'm not talking about spirituality here, but a wealth of knowledge about the things of God, theologically speaking, and even archaeologically speaking. We have made discoveries in our century and in our time that are second to none - yet with all this knowledge that we can heap upon ourselves, we are probably one of the most poor, sickly church of believers ever! Now, how can that be? If we know so much about Christ, if we know in our heads so much about God, how can Christ say to us that we are poor, we are blind, we are wretched, we are naked? Do you know why? God honours not wisdom, God honours not personality, but God honours faith. God honours it! And God is honoured by it!
What's so special about faith? Well, some people say: 'Faith, hope, and charity, and the greatest of these is charity' - therefore they concentrate on charity but they ignore, they depreciate, the other two. But the word of God is categoric, that we need as believers to have faith - like the Hebrews, if we're going to get through to the promised land of deliverance and a victorious Christian life in the Lord Jesus Christ, the land of Canaan, we must have faith! Now, I don't want to be irreverent this evening, but I want to say this: I believe God is sovereign, but God goes wherever faith puts Him, because God has bound Himself to a covenant, that when we have faith in what He has said, He is obliged, He is covenanted, to go. Faith localises deity! Wherever faith is, God is. It links our impotence to His omnipotence.
You know, the Bible doesn't say: 'If thou canst explain the Scriptures all things are possible to him that explaineth', but the Bible does say: 'If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth' - not what you know, but Who you know! I hope I don't just preach the word, I hope I don't just preach the word - because the word of God itself says that the letter killeth - and I ask the question: shall we add death to death? If you stand and preach the word of God, and I stand, and any pulpit is there where the word of God is preached, and it's only the word of God - there's no power in it, there's no Holy Ghost in it - it will bring death! But Romans 14 and verse 23 says that that which is not of faith is sin. But Daniel says that the people that do know their God, shall be strong and do exploits. If you know your God this evening, the devil will have to beware! If you know your God tonight, the devil will be shaking in his boots, and hell will know that you're alive and well, and that you're on your knees and you're opening your mouth, and that you're going all and all for God!
Habakkuk learned, just as we have learnt in all our knowledge to get through the sound barrier, Habakkuk learned get through the doubt barrier. Right from the very start he was asking questions of God: 'God, why are You not listening to me? Why is there only a silence from heaven? God, now that You've answered me and You've told me that the Chaldeans - the Babylonians - are going to come and destroy Your own people, Lord, how can You do this?' - another question. 'Lord, how can You use a more wicked people to punish, yes, Your wicked people - but we're not as bad as they are - how can You do this? You're a righteous God!'. Habakkuk posed question after question, you remember he got on his watchtower and he cried upon God, and he waited for God to answer him. Oh, it's a glorious passage that we're looking at this evening, because there's three things I want to share with you that Habakkuk learnt. He broke through the doubt barrier.
The first thing is this: Habakkuk was confronted by their God, someone else's God, that was the past God of Israel - verses 3 to 7. Memory is a wonderful thing, isn't it? But memory can do one of two things: memory can either be a burden or a blessing. You can remember bad things in the past, they can trouble your conscience, can't they? But you can remember good things in the past, and that can trouble your conscience also, because you remember the way that you used to be and you see the way you ought to be now! Of course, memory can be a blessing, because you can look at blessings where God has moved in your life, where God has touched you in a time of need, and you can rejoice over past blessings. But not only can it be a blessing in that sense, but you can look back at past blessings and you can learn from them today, and more importantly you can get lit by them!
If you look at verse 3 you see this - remember last week we were studying in the book that Habakkuk was in intense prayer for a revival amongst God's people, and in verse 3 we read these glorious words: 'God came'! Hallelujah! The word that's used for 'God' there is the word 'Eloah' (sp?), and it means 'God The Holy One'. What is being stressed here is that God is absolutely holy. This is in the spirit of the book - if you turn back to chapter 1 and verses 12 and 13, you remember that Habakkuk, in a fit of perplexity and frustration, reminded God: 'Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One?'. Later on he says, in verse 13: 'Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity...therefore, God, how can You use the Chaldeans an even more evil people?'.
It says: 'God, the Holy One, came from Teman'. Teman's mentioned, and then later on in the verse a place called Paran is mentioned. Teman, geographically speaking, is in Edom - the land of Edom. It's east of the Arabat, it's between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Elat. Paran is a mountainous desert area west of Edom in the Sinai Peninsula, and if you were to look at a map this evening you would see that this was the geography whereby God delivered the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. What is God revealing to Habakkuk here? Well, first of all, He's showing him a map - and He shows, stepping onto the map, Himself, God Almighty, the Holy One. Habakkuk, at this moment, is seeing, he is picturing God in all His glory, in all His power, being manifested to the nation of Israel who were delivered from Egypt, and who received the law at Mount Sinai.
It's interesting at the end of this verse, even before the end of the verse, right in the middle, there is this word 'Selah'. God has just said: 'God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran'. In other words: 'Remember, Habakkuk, that your God was their God! That your God was the God who came from Teman and Paran, who took you out of Egypt, out of slavery, out of bondage. He was the God, remember, that delivered you...Selah'. We learnt a few weeks ago that 'Selah' was a pause - we're not quite sure what it means, it may have been a musical pause, but whatever it was, it was simply for this purpose: that the people who were listening or singing this Psalm would stop for a moment and would consider what was said. Now, I have a conviction that when the word of God is preached that is what we ought to. We ought not to think of all our other business that we can be occupied in, we ought not to quickly form chat about this that and the other, but just for a few moments after the word of God is preached we ought to sit where we are before God, if He is speaking to us, and listen - and if He's not speaking to us, be aware that He's speaking to others. Do we meditate on what God has done? Do we think about His blessings?
The extent of worship about the deliverance, we see it in verse 3, verse 9, and verse 13 - three times throughout this Psalm of faith they stop to consider what God has done. They were reflecting on two things, we're going to look at them. The first thing was God's glory. The second thing was God's power. Look at the first: God's glory. It says in verse 3, the second half: 'His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise'. God is reminding Habakkuk - now remember, he's now looking at the land of Sinai, he's looking at how the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, and now they are receiving the law of God from the hands of Moses - he is remembering that at that moment in time, when they received the law, glory covered the heavens. There was a song, there was a canopy of praise that came from all the Israelites at Sinai for what God had done. Then in verse 4 it says: 'And his brightness was as the light' - the brightness of God, the holiness of God, was so great, His power was so inexplicable, you remember that Moses had to cover his face because of the glory that shone like a mirror, because he had seen God!
How can we think of God? We can't think of God. It's like comparing a candle with the sun. We can't think of Him, and what we're told in the word of God - although we take it literally - it can never, even within His word, really give us a true picture of what God is like. It says in verse 4 that: 'He had horns coming out of his hand' - horns coming out of His hand. That's what's called, theologically speaking and throughout the word of God, an anthropomorphism, an anthro...pro...fa...morphism I can nearly say it! I'm going to break it up! 'Anthro' is the Latin name for man - anthropology. A 'morphism' is a form - and this word means 'a form of man speaking of God'. So whenever you're in the Scriptures and you see God described as having hands, having feet, having eyes, having a mouth - He doesn't have a mouth, He doesn't have hands, he doesn't have feet or eyes or ears, He is a spirit. But this is a description in which we can understand what He is doing, where He is going, how He is judging. This particular description means simply this: that God's power is emitted in all directions. God is powerful everywhere! His power is universal, His power is all-embracing, encompassing, God is in power, in control of everything - and in fact, at the end of verse 4, you can see: 'and there was the hiding of his power'. He was so powerful that when He was showing and revealing His glory to Moses on Mount Sinai, He had to hide the majority of it because Moses couldn't take it!
Did you know that no man can see God and live? God is all-powerful, all-consuming, and even when God passed by Moses and He showed him His back in Exodus 33, he had to be hid in the cleft of the rock! Isn't that beautiful? My friend, you and I, if we're saved this evening, you and I - if we ever saw God we would be destroyed outright, extinguished by the light of His countenance and His holiness. We would be destroyed, if I can even say it, even if He didn't want to happen, it would happen because it's His nature! But praise God, we're in the cleft of the rock - and that is how we come to God, and if you're not saved realise it this evening: that you can only come to God in Christ! You've got to be in the cleft of the rock, you've got to be sheltered in Christ. As those Israelites were at the bottom of Mount Sinai, God revealed to them something of Himself and it's described in the Pentateuch as a devouring fire on the top of the Mount in the eyes of the children of Israel - they had seen it, they had been given a glimpse of the glory, the majesty of God.
Remember He presented it to them in the Holy of holies in the tabernacle? They weren't allowed in, but only the High Priest - the Shekinah brightness, the glory, the light of God that was so all-encompassing and awful. You remember how we read that it was this glory that filled Solomon's Temple - it filled the whole temple where they fell and worshipped. It was this glory that was revealed to the three disciples as they were on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the glory in Christ came out, the glory of God. It was revealed to John on the Isle of Patmos, when he saw the glorified Lord and he fell on his face as dead.
Is your prayer like Moses? 'Lord, show me Thy glory'. You know, I used to travail in prayer that God would show me His glory. Do you know what the Lord said to me? He said to me these words: 'The glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, is in Christ'. Isn't that marvellous? Do you want to see God in your life? Do you want to see God in your marriage, in your home? Do you want to see God in your personality, in your walk, in your job, in your business? See God in Christ! For Christ is God! Christ is God in flesh - He is the express image, literally meaning he is the very stamp of God - that we may see God's glory in Him. If you want to get to know God study the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will know God.
If you turn with me, you can see in chapter 2 and verse 14, again he thinks of this - and I'm sure that his mind went back to this when he was confronted with the glory of God - that one day, one day the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. It's interesting that they were horns that came out of God's hand. We look at the book of Exodus, we see that the Ark of the Covenant had horns on it - do you know what they were for? Holding on to - do you hold onto the glory of God? When you're going through troubles, like the Judeans facing the Babylonians, when there's trials entering your life, when your life is shaken by Satan, or your selfish flesh, or circumstances, or illness - when there's a storm that comes in do you hold onto the glory of God? Because that's what it's for.
Secondly: they saw God's power - and we've got to go quickly because I've a lot to get through. In verse 5 they saw God's power: 'Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals' - and that really should be 'the burning diseases', that's what it means literally: 'the burning diseases and pestilence went forth at his feet'. What is he thinking about? He's thinking about Egypt and the plagues. He's thinking about the children of Israel in the wilderness, in the desert, and they murmured against Moses, and they murmured against God - and what happened? They were struck with a plague! What this means is this: that the pestilence and the plagues and the diseases are God's attendants. God is in control of even those things, and that same glory, and that same power - God is saying through Habakkuk to the people of Judah - you're going to see it again, that glory that was in the past to the children of Israel in the wilderness, to them at Egypt, to them going into the conquest of the promised land in Canaan. What God is doing for Habakkuk is painting this picture: that God one day will destroy their enemies!
He will deliver them, and he pictures God in verse 6, that He stood and measured the earth. It pictures Him stepping, like a great giant off the earth, off the country that He is about to judge, and measuring the length of it, the breadth of it, the height of it, all its iniquity and all of its sin, all of its affliction to the people of God - so that one day when He judges them, He will judge righteous judgement. And at a gaze He beheld, verse 6, at one gaze He beheld - God looked - and as He looked at the nations He drove them away, He destroyed them with one look. It says, verse 6, the mountains and the hills they trembled, they were scattered, they did bow before God. Mountains and hills, they're described here as perpetual - that means they go from year to year, from time to time, and they are symbols of everlastingness, they are symbols of stability and permanence. But God is saying here that even the symbols of men, and even of nature that are permanent, God will move, God will crumble - and nothing can stand before God, whether they be nations or nature!
Verse 6 ends: 'His ways are everlasting'. What that was simply saying to Habakkuk was, what their God has done in the past, the God of Israel, He will do in the future! It's significant that Habakkuk, right throughout this whole passage, puts his verbs in the future tense. Yes, it's something that happened in the past, but verse 3 really could read: 'God will, He shall, come' - boy, God's coming! Verse 7 shows us this: 'I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble'. If the hills and the mountains are symbols of permanence, the tents and the curtains speak of frailty and non-permanence before God - that all things, whether in heaven, earth, or hell, are subdued by God.
Let's look secondly at how Habakkuk was presented with our God - the present God for Judah. Verse 8 to 15, look at verse 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?'. Now, I want you to notice - you can't see it, but in verse 8 there is a change in the passage. Habakkuk no longer talks in the past about what God did to the children of Israel, but he now addresses God in prayer about what He did. So by doing that, addressing God, he's acknowledging that that God of the past is the God of now, is the God of the present. Do you know that? The God of the past, the God of the Reformation, the God of 1859 revival, the God of W.P. Nicholson, the God of every mission in this church where men and women were born-again - that God is alive and well today! He is our God, and therefore that is why he could say, in chapter 3 and verse 2: 'Revive thy work in the midst of the years, for I have known thy reputation. God, I know who You are; and God, I know that You've still the power; and God, I know that You can do it; and that You're the God of today'.
Habakkuk asked Him in verse 8: 'Lord, are You angry against the nature, the rivers? What are You angry at rivers for?' - what's he talking about? Well he's talking, I believe, about the Red Sea - because he's been talking about Egypt, and about the conquest into Canaan. Both at Egypt, exiting Egypt, and going into Canaan, waters were split, rivers were split, and the children of God walked forth. God is pictured as a mighty warrior - do you know that? God is a Man of war. God is pictured in verse 8 as riding upon the horses, in verse 9 it says: 'Thy bow...to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word'. God is on His horse as a Man of war, God is pulling the bow, ready to shoot the arrow of judgement against the Babylonians. What does it mean when it talks about 'the oath of the tribes, even thy word' - well, it means this: that God will defend His people, God will come to their aid and to their rescue, not because of their goodness, not because of their worthiness, but because of God's oath with them. Oh, isn't that great? Who can rest on anything like that but the child of God?
'Mine by covenant, mine forever,
Mine by oath, and mine by blood.
Mine, nor time the bond shall sever,
Mine as an unchanging God!'.
He has said it, and therefore I believe it! Hallelujah! We can rest on the word of God. Then 'Selah' again - we could spend the rest of our time thinking about that, couldn't we? At least I hope we could - Selah - think about it. It says in verse 9 that God cleaved the rivers - what was he talking about? 'Cleaving the earth with rivers', was he talking about creation? Is he talking about after the flood? I don't believe that, I think it's probably talking again about the Red Sea and Jordan, how God made out of the very earth a way for the children of God. Then verse 10, you see it here: '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'. Just as those walls of waves came up like a corridor around people of God, they were lifting their hands in praise to the Almighty that made them. Isn't that powerful? What a God we have.
In verse 10, the actual earth and nature is personified to show God's great power and judgement. Then in verse 11 it says: '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'. We don't have enough time to go into all this, but this again is speaking of the conquest of the promised land in Canaan. It's talking about the Old Testament account of Joshua's long day, when Joshua cried unto God - he prayed for more light, that he would be enabled to defeat the Amorites at Gibeon in Joshua 10. He was crying to God, and it says that the sun and the moon stood still, that God's man would have the victory. But then when it says in that little verse that there was light, and that lightning shot forth from heaven, if you read that account in Joshua 10 you read that that actually happened - that that spear that's talked about in verse 10, that lightning spear, glittering spear, was lightning that came from heaven. It's speaking of the storm that came and gave God's people victory over the Amorites!
What does that tell me? God delivers His people, and if it seems impossible - whether by nature, or whether by intellect - God delivers them by miracles. Do you believe in miracles? I do, because I believe in God! Look at verse 12: 'Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger'. The conquest of Israel - God's battles with Egypt, or whether it was God's battles with Canaan, going into the promised land - whatever it is, God was acting with the sovereign over-awing purpose of one simple word: salvation! He will deliver His people, He will save His own! He tells us how in verse 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'.
How does He save? He saves by His anointed. Now, this is beautiful. The Hebrew word for 'anointed' is the word 'Messiah'. The Greek word for 'Messiah' is the word 'Christ'. The word for 'salvation' that's mentioned three times in this verse, do you know what it is? It's the Hebrew word 'Yeshuah' - which is 'Jesus'! He delivers His people with the anointed Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. Literally and historically speaking, it was Cyrus the King of Persia, because Cyrus was the king that would come and deliver the children of Judah out of the captivity of Babylon - he would take them out, he may reign over them after that, but he was God's anointed. God can even anoint the evil for His own purposes, and His own will!
Listen: one day, as we find in Daniel chapter 2 and verses 44 to 45, one day the Lord's ultimate anointed, the pre-eminent one, will come! He will destroy the kingdoms of the world, He will have the victory over the armies of the nations of the Gentiles that will surround God's people Israel at that time, and He - as it literally says in verse 13 - He will crush, that word 'wounded' means He will crush the head out of the house of the wicked one. He will destroy - and just as in the Garden of Eden it was promised there, in chapter 3 and verse 15, that he would crush Satan's head, there's a day coming when He's going to do it finally. Hallelujah! He will have the victory, He will come, His glory will reign the earth.
Even in Ezekiel 38 and 21 we read that when that nation of Gog from the North comes to inhabit and to surround the children of Israel, that even then He will send confusion among them. Verse 14 describes it: 'Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me' - but God will scatter them. God says when that day comes, if it's Russia, and they come down and they surround the nation of Israel, that God will turn every man's sword against his brother and they will kill themselves! Just as Ammon, just as Moab did, just as Edom did, just as the Midianites did - God will have victory, and not only will He have victory but He'll have victory by their own hand. That's the way God delivers His people, for nothing stands in His way.
Thirdly, and finally in our study in Habakkuk: my God - he saw that this God was Habakkuk's personal God for him at this time. We know that he saw it in the past with Israel, he saw it as he addressed God in the present in prayer, that that God of the past was his God at that moment - but we see in verse 16 that he realised that that God was his God! When he realised that his belly trembled, his lips quivered at the voice, his self-righteousness was realised to him when rottenness entered into his bones, and he trembled within himself. His inner-self was wrecked, yet at the same time - like us, as we realise who God is, and we may realise how sinful and how far short we fall as believers and even unbelievers - yet he could say in verse 16: 'Even though I know all this, I might rest in the day of trouble'.
There may be a day of trouble in your life. I don't know what it is. It will shake you, and if you haven't experienced it, there is a day of trouble, obviously, in life that will come to you. Your belly may shake, rottenness might enter into your bones, and your lip may quiver, and your very inner man may shake - but if you're in Christ, and founded and anchored in Him, you can rest in the very midst of the storm. Verse 18 can literally be translated, it says: 'Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation' - do you know how it can be translated? 'I will jump for joy in the Lord. I will spin round for delight in God!'. That's the hilarity of faith. The hymnwriter put it like this:
'Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to God alone -
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries: 'It shall be done!'.
That's faith: joy at its best, with circumstances at their worst. In verse 19 we read this, Habakkuk said after all this: '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'. Did you know that a deer - that's a hind - a deer doesn't defend itself, a deer can't protect itself - but the only thing a deer can do in its swift nature is run from all harm and all trouble. What Habakkuk is saying here is that God is able to give those that wait on Him wings like eagles to soar! Did you know that often when the eagles soar, that the crows can come and give them trouble and pluck at them? Do you know how they get rid of those crows? They fly higher.
That's what God does for us: He makes our feet like hinds' feet, He takes us on to higher ground. Look at this! This is the book of Habakkuk that we have been studying - and Habakkuk had not the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, Habakkuk had not revealed to him in his twilight dispensation what the God of the ages was going to do through Christ, through the resurrection, through the second coming - but we, as Ephesians 1 says: '[God] having made known unto us the mystery of his will, that in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him'. Habakkuk didn't know that, yet he could sing in faith to God - but we know it! We have a Great High Priest, we have Christ! He was their God, He was the Judean's God, but He's your God.
Habakkuk's journey of faith and blessing is one that we will all go through. There's three things I want to say. He was honest with God about his doubt. He cried to God with his petition. He broke through in joy from God, because of blessing. It's interesting, isn't it? In chapter 1 Habakkuk is saying: 'Yes Lord, answer, but not that one!' - but at the end of the book he's saying: 'Lord, do that work, I surrender to Your will, and Your sovereignty, and Your providence. Lord, do it, and do it quickly'.
Can I leave this with you - look what happened: God came. If we admit our guilt, and we admit our doubt, and we admit our failures, and if we come before God and get on the watchtower and get on our face before God, and we cry upon Him, and we argue and we debate with God from a standpoint of faith and trust in God Almighty - God will come!
'Oh, Living Stream,
Oh, Gracious Rain,
None wait for Thee
And wait in vain'. Amen.
Our Father, we thank Thee for the truths that we have learnt from Thy servant Habakkuk. Lord, let them not be wasted on us. Lord we believe but, oh, help our unbelief - and help us to come to Thee by faith, for there is no other way but to trust and obey. Lord, we know that faith is a gift - oh, God give it to us we pray. Lord, fill us with the faith of Christ who loved us and give Himself for us. We pray that Thou wilt bless us now as we go to our homes, and that we would not lose this bread from heaven. For Christ's sake, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the seventh tape in his Habakkuk series, titled "When God Works" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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