Tags: Biblical wrestling, commentary on Habakkuk, embrace, God, knowledge of God, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk, the prophet Habakkuk, wrestling
The prophet Habakkuk reminds me of Jacob in a way. Not that Habakkuk was a devious schemer, but that both seemed to be willing to get very close to God, even if it meant “mixing it up” a little concerning their struggles to know Him better. Both men were spiritual “wrestlers,” in a sense. One thing about wrestling is that, when it gets intense, it involves a very personal “grabbing hold of.” This will sound weird, but, sometimes, the only difference between wrestling and hugging is the mental disposition of the participants. Habakkuk teaches us that, what may start out as a struggle to understand things about God that we can never fully fathom, may still end up as a loving embrace as we draw near to His majesty, grace, mercy, and assurance.
Here are links to the previous posts on the Book of Habakkuk:
* most-viewed post in category
Tags: CCM, commentary on Habakkuk, contemporary worship, Habakkuk 3, Romans 11, Savior, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk, theology, theology of worship
Habakkuk Chapter 3 is a great psalm that the Holy Spirit authored through Habakkuk. It shows so clearly – because it is a prayer and a psalm of worship – what is missing in so much of our contemporary worship.
We are not missing talent – we’ve got plenty of that. We are not missing enthusiasm – enthusiasm can be manufactured fairly consistently. We are not missing “freshness” – you can’t swing a dead cat by the tail without hitting a church congregation which “has broken free of the bonds of dead religion” and has gotten “free” in worship. Anything that was forbidden by the old folks, we’re all about it. No, what’s missing is the theology – the depth of knowledge about God’s works.
Habakkuk traces the history of the Old Testament – deliverance from Egypt, water turning to blood, anointed judges delivering God’s people, the battles in Canaan – as he brings out the mystery of God’s workings.
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:
What will we do when we’ve run out of everything we’ve been led to believe is our sustenance – our income, our security, even our food?
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
My God is a Savior. People who aren’t in trouble don’t need a savior. When I am empty – when I can’t do one thing to help myself – then God shows up.
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.
Habakkuk says, “Now, tell the worship leaders to sing about that!”
Don’t listen to the false prophets who say “peace, peace,” when destruction is at the doorstep. When we aren’t really motivated to obey God, it is often because we don’t see His greatness. We love to say, “God is good – all the time, and all the time – God is good,” and He is. But we must not forget, not only is God good, but God is also great. His ways are not our ways. His ways are superior to our ways. Realizing His greatness and our dependence is step one in moving from wrestling with God to worshiping God.
His judgments are unsearchable and His ways are past finding out (Romans 11:33). We won’t truly worship God until we stop trying to figure out what He’s doing or why He’s doing it, and start meditating on Who He is.
Tags: commentary on Habakkuk, faith alone, feelings, Galatians 3, Habakkuk 2, Habakkuk 3, Hebrews 10, Romans 1, sola fide, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
The doctrine of faith as the doorway to salvation did not originate in the New Testament.
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
However, the New Testament clearly refutes the false belief that keeping God’s law can save.
Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
So, what about after salvation? We are saved through faith, but how do we please God after He saves us?
Faith is the means of salvation because God has declared that by faith will man be justified. “The just” are those whom God, by His grace, has declared righteous, and who, therefore, have a perfect standing before Him in Christ Jesus. Does that scare you? It shouldn’t – it put Habakkuk right into a spirit of worship. How I wish that modern Christians didn’t have such a tendency to surrender their brains to their feelings in worship!
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.
Dear Lord, the basis for our worship is Your Word. We fear You, Lord. Your Word has convicted us where we stand – and we admit it. We want a revival – not of wordly “success” – but Your work. Even if not right now, but in the midst of years – in Your time. We trust You – we even trust Your wrath. We call on You to remember mercy, not because we deserve it, but because of Who You are. Keep Your promises, O God. In the name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.
Tags: Biblical explanations, commentary on Habakkuk, compartmentalization, faith, faith in God, Habakkuk 2, promises of God, sovereignty of God, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk, will of God
But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
He is on the throne and in complete control of all events and people in the world. Once we realize this, we can stop fearing the future – the fear of the unknown.
Many Christians are plagued by fear. “What if I get sick? What if people are talking negatively about me? What if I lose all my material possessions?” If we don’t really believe that God is in control – that He’s sovereign – then our anxiety has a rational basis. Or if we imagine that He needs our help – that there are some situations we’ve gotten ourselves into that He couldn’t have forseen, and therefore might not be able to rescue us. But if we act that way in a crisis – if we fall to pieces every time the car breaks down, every time the weather says a storm is showing up on the radar – then let’s at least be honest. Let’s admit that we think it’s kind of cool to be church-going people, but we only have faith in God when He’s explaining everything to us ahead of time.
God told Habakkuk, “I’m in control. I’m on the throne. I don’t owe you an explanation – and you couldn’t handle it if I gave you one.” When we grasp that – really grasp it and internalize it and not just not recognize it as a thought in our heads, but rather incorporate it into our hearts – then we will step out in true faith – a faith that goes beyond Christian CDs, Christian DVDs, key chains, bumper stickers, t-shirts, compartmentalized living. We will move from from saying, “What can Jesus do for me?” into saying, “Jesus, what would You have me to do?”
Tags: commentary on Habakkuk, glory of God, Habakkuk 2, human wisdom, idolatry, idols, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk, truth, wasting time
God is steadfast. He keeps His Word. He is also strong. He can stop iniquity at any time. He does not fret or tremble over the mightiest armies, weapons, or mass movements.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
God could flood the earth at this moment with His glory – even faster than He flooded it last time with natural water. He let Habakkuk know that Babylon’s powerful reign, although it seemed invincible, would one day be destroyed. This foreshadows the destruction of the new Babylon – the world system of the last days – which will be destroyed at the return of Christ (Revelation 17-18).
Compare the idols worshipped by the people of Judah to the idols that may be worshipped by God’s people today.
What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
Therefore, things which use our time for purposes other than the Kingdom of God would seem to be idols. Wasting time is wrong, although many people think it’s harmless. Idols, even though they can’t talk, have a way of “speaking” lies. The “wisdom” of man – found in TV programs, books, magazines, or just regular traditions – if it doesn’t originate from God’s Word, not only sucks up our valuable time, but it lies to us and deceives us.
Tags: abortion, commentary on Habakkuk, God's promises, God's will, Habakkuk 1, Sunday School lessons on Habakkuk, terrorism, theodicy
Lord, we know that there is nothing too difficult for You. We thank You for your strength. When things are easy and smooth, we know that is because of You. Thank You for those times. When things are difficult and rough, we know You haven’t forgotten Your children, and You have not lost control. Instead, You are teaching us to depend on You, and You are showing Yourself to be strong in our weakness. Thank You for those times, too. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I pray. Amen.
Habbakuk’s name meant “to embrace” or “to wrestle.” It was a fitting name because he did both. He wrestled with God figuratively and he embraced God by faith. God doesn’t mind when His servants wrestle with Him in order to know Him better. What He has a problem with is when they ignore Him.
Around 600 B.C. the Babylonians were set to invade Judah and its capital city, Jerusalem. They would destroy Jerusalem and the Temple there around 587 B.C. Habakkuk was probably a priest who was also called by God to be a prophet. When he received his vision from God concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, he questioned God – much like Job had done before him. As he questioned God, he began to accuse God of being uncaring and unfeeling, and of being double-minded, and of falling down on His job. These accusations were, of course, false, and from God’s responses we learn that God is steadfast. His promises can be trusted.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
God promises to honor faithfulness and obedience, and to punish wickedness. When we begin to ask God, “What are You going to do about all the unrighteousness going on in this world?” we must accept His divine will. We cannot prescribe for God the means that He will use to punish the wicked, or to chasten His Own children.
There is a lot of talk about terrorism these days. Many would like to see God punish the terrorists, but what if terrorism is God’s warning, or His chastening against His Own people? We don’t like to think He would use wicked heathens as His tool for correction or for punishment. Since 1970 approximately 4000 Americans have been killed by terrorists, but today – if today is an average day – 3200 Americans will be killed in one day by mothers and abortionists.
The people of Judah in the days of Habakkuk and Jeremiah and Nahum had seen plagues and droughts and military defeats, and the prophets had told them these were warnings from God to repent. God knows when to wait for repentance and when hearts have become hardened.
Tags: building materials, covetousness, Habakkuk 2, Lord Jesus, Luke 19, misunderstood teachings of Jesus, Palm Sunday, Psalm 118, stones in the Bible, triumphal entry
The Lord Jesus was moving toward Jerusalem. Those who had plotted to tempt Him, to cause Him to fall into sin, to argue against Him and to try to prove Him a to be a blasphemer, and those who had tried to kill Him, had all failed – because His time had not yet come.
The Lord Jesus, Who had never allowed His followers to engage in a public demonstration for Him, allowed it this one time, and they treated Him like a triumphant King. Garments were laid on the animals and on the road. Palm tree branches were waved and spread before Him (John 12:13). He rode a “colt” (a young donkey) which had not been broken or trained by men, but which submitted to Jesus because He, as the “second Adam” and as God incarnate, had dominion over all creation.
And they brought him to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way.
The crowd was excited. Many of them had seen this Man – Jesus of Nazareth – perform miracles, heal the blind, even raise a man from the dead. Possibly others – even some of the Disciples – believed Jesus was entering Jerusalem to overthrow the Roman government there. This is indicated by their use of the messianic Psalm 118 (118:26).
And when he was come nigh, even now at the descent of the mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen; Saying, Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.
But there were also Pharisees in the crowd, and they were upset.
And some of the Pharisees from among the multitude said unto him, Master, rebuke thy disciples.
In the Lord’s response to them, you might recognize a very common modern church expression:
And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.
Luke 19:40 (emphasis added)
This expression is used to encourage and exhort people to “liven up” – to get excited in worship – to “get free” – to “loosen up” – to sing louder and with greater emotional enthusiasm. This will be the plea of song leaders and worship ministers all across America this Sunday morning: “We don’t want the rocks to put us to shame – come on, please – if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will! You don’t want us to be outdone by a rock, do you?”
One of the things that happened often in Christ’s ministry on earth is that He would speak a great truth and people would put their own stamp of perception on it. Instead of hearing what He actually said, they heard what they wanted Him to say. When He said that the temple would be torn down, and in three days He would raise it again, they thought He meant the temple building. When He said that in order to see the Kingdom of God you must be born again, they asked Him how someone could get back into his mother’s womb. When He told people that those who eat of His flesh and drink of His blood would have eternal life they were offended at the thought of eating literal flesh. I wonder if Jesus’s followers knew the deeper spiritual meaning when He said, “If these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out?”
I don’t know for sure, but I believe the Pharisees must have known. They were students of the Word. They knew the writings of the prophets. Surely they would have recognized the quote from Habakkuk:
Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
See, the followers of Christ wanted Psalm 118 – “Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord!” – but Christ’s point was, “What about Habakkuk 2:11? Thou hast brought shame to thy house! The very stones of the houses cry out!”
Is your house just a pile of stones (or bricks or wood or aluminum siding)? What is it about your house that cries out about the glory of God? About the salvation of Christ? I’m not talking about the materials out of which your home is made. I’m talking about what takes place in your home. If the praises of the Lord are not heard in our homes, we won’t have to worry about the paneling and the bricks crying out in praise. Oh, they’ll be crying out alright – but they’ll be crying, “Covetous! Covetous! I am a house full of furniture! Full of television sets! Full of computers! I am a house full of possessions – of material treasures – I am a monument to covetousness!”
Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
Let’s make sure our homes are places where the Word of God is taught. Where the fear of God is evident. Where the love of God is shown. Let’s make sure our possessions “keep silence” before Him. The “stones of covetousness” which make up our homes don’t have to cry out, but if they are crying out already, how will we respond?
Next time, we will take a look another of The Stones that Don’t Cry Out – the Stones of Condemnation.
Tags: Cross of Calvary, faith, faith alone, Habakkuk 2, imputed righteousness, Jesus Christ, justfication, justification by faith, Romans 4, sola fide
If you have no real and personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if you have never received Him as your Savior, you are in a dangerous and deadly condition. According to the Bible, when God considers your eternal soul, lifted up before Him, it is not “upright.” In other words, you are not right before God, and you may not stand before Him and live.
How can this situation be rectified? What can you do to escape from eternal death, and receive eternal life? All praise to God, He has made a way! This way is called by some “justification.” Justification is the way that God makes the unrighteous righteous before Him, through His Son, Jesus Christ.
But what is the means by which you can receive this gift from God? Must you work for it? Must you pay for it? Can you inherit it from your earthly parents? Will men grant it to you if you join an organization or perform some rite of initiation? By no means! The only way to be justified before God Almighty is through faith.
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Do you want to live? I mean live eternally? If so, you must transfer your faith from whatever it is currently in, and place it entirely on the Lord Jesus Christ, believing that He paid the price for your sins on the Cross of Calvary, and that He died and rose again.
But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.