This concluding part in our tw0-part study of Habakkuk was given by pastor Barry Forder at Calvary Portsmouth on 6th March 2022.
In chapter one, Habakkuk begins by crying out to God regarding the violence, oppression and immorality that filled Judah, that God was seemingly not dealing with. “How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” (Hab 1:”) The iniquity that filled the land was overwhelming to this righteous and God-fearing man.
God’s response was that He was not going to let it continue. As we see time and again in the Bible, God will only allow things to go on for so long before bringing judgment. That, in itself, was good news to Habakkuk, but then God tells him something startling: “For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs” (Hab 1:6). Yes, God’s method of judgment on Judah was to let the Babylonians loose on them!
“But how can you use the Babylonians?” Habakkuk asks, “They are worse than we are!”.
In Habakkuk chapter 2, God explains that Israel’s sin is great so is deserving of great judgment, nevertheless, Babylon’s pride would be their undoing. God was raising them up as His instrument of judgment, but they would go far beyond their remit, and under Nebuchadnezzar they would, at times, resemble the Assyrians that God allowed to be destroyed for their cruelty. As a result, God would judge the pride of Babylon, exposing their deceit and treachery by which they intoxicated their enemies with lies before overthrowing them.
Though, no doubt, still somewhat bemused, in chapter 3, Habakkuk breaks out into a song of praise. He might not fully understand what God is doing, and even why He would uses Israel’s enemies to bring them to repentance, but Habakkuk knows enough by now to know that God is God. He calls us to trust Him through what we do understand, and through what we don’t.
Job, in the midst of his sufferings, once uttered this incredible statement of faith:
“For I know that my redeemer liveth,
and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body,
yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall see for myself,
and mine eyes shall behold,”
Habakkuk’s closing three verses resemble Job’s remarkable faith for their resolve and bold statement of trust in a Sovereign and all-powerful God. Habakkuk declares:
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, (the fig tree being an emblem of Israel, which prophetically we are told here, from this time, will not blossom)
neither shall fruit be in the vines; (Israel were as God’s vineyard, but, because of the coming judgments, would cease to be fruitful in the land))
the labour of the olive shall fail, (much olive oil was produced in the land, but that would fail also)
and the fields shall yield no meat; (just as prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, on account of Israel’s sin the land would cease to produce)
the flock shall be cut off from the fold, (the people also would be removed from the land)
and there shall be no herd in the stalls: (the land would become desolate)
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, (even so, despite the dark times the nation was heading into, Habakkuk now knows enough to walk through this ‘valley of the shadow of death’ by faith)
I will joy in the God of my salvation. (his joy would not be found in the false hope from the mouths of the false prophets, nor in any other thing, but in the LORD alone)
The Lord God is my strength, (His strength would not be in Israel’s might, or a sense of courage, but his strength would be in God alone. God who is faithful and never abandons His own)
and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, (There was hope! He was not going to be downcast, but free like a deer)
and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk knew that God would, one day, once again bring the Children of Israel back into their own land, and they will walk on the mountains of Judea, into the gates of Jerusalem!).
If you are facing a challenge you cannot see a way through, be encouraged by this book of Habakkuk that reassures us that God is good and in control, and all things work together for good for those who love God.
The just shall live by FAITH!
May you be blessed and encouraged by this study.