“You stripped the sheath from your bow, calling for many arrows. Selah! You split the earth with rivers. The mountains saw you and writhed; the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their place at the light of your arrows as they sped, at the flash of your glittering spear. You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger.” (Habakkuk 3:9-12).
One of the familiar hymns of the church is entitled O Worship the King by Robert Grant. It begins,
O worship the King, all-glorious above, O gratefully sing his power and his love: Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days, Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.
From a general anthem of praise and worship, the hymn writer then explores in the second stanza an often forgotten and frequently overlooked attribute of God and His attitude towards sin.
O tell of his might and sing of his grace, Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space. His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form, and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.
People are often uncomfortable with the notion that God is a God of wrath. They tend to focus more on His attribute of love, even more so than His holiness. However, the Scriptures do speak, and often, about God’s wrath and is filled with imagery of the same. Case in point is Habakkuk 3:9-12.
Habakkuk acknowledged God as possessing a bow and arrows and a glittering spear. Mountains thrashed at the sight of God. The water raged. The sun and the moon stood still. The prophet says that God is furious and angry. Hardly the idea of God that is communicated by parents when they are getting their children ready for bed. The idea set forth by parents to their children would be, “You better go to sleep or God is going to come with bow and arrows and a glittering spear and you’ll be sorry.”
Habakkuk speaks of God as being the invincible and divine warrior who is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Several texts of Scripture address His authority and power over rivers (Exodus 7:14-24; Joshua 3:14-17; Exodus 14:27-30) along with the sun and the moon (Joshua 10-1-13). These prominent symbols of God’s creation bow in submission to His command.
The concept of threshing the nations in anger is a common theme about God in the Old Testament narratives depicting military invasions and divine judgment (cf. Judg. 8:7; 2 Kings 13:7; Isa. 21:10; 25:10; Dan. 7:23; Amos 1:3).
Another striking image is “the raging waters swept on; the deep gave forth its voice; it lifted its hands on high.” In this personification, Habakkuk explains that as men indicate by their voice or a gesture of their hand that they will do what they are commanded, so these various examples from nature testify of their obedience to God’s will (Ex 14:22; Jos 3:16; Ps 77:17, 18; 114:4).
God will not allow Himself to be trivialized and sentimentalized. He hates sin and is angry with those who pursue it. Therefore, the sinner is covered only by the righteousness of Christ. Repent of your sins today and flee to the reconciliation with God that is only found in Jesus (Romans 5:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!