Habakkuk: The Source of the Believer’s Joy!

“I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:16-18)

In Habakkuk 3:2 the prophet said, “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.”  In Habakkuk 3; 16 the prophet provides a bookend which compliments 3:2. ““I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.”

God’s revelation to the prophet has resulted in Habakkuk experiencing extreme physical exhaustion. He understands what God is going to do in bringing judgment upon Judah through an invasion by the Babylonians. In response, his body trembles with fear, his lips quiver in stunned astonishment and confusion, and his bones feel as if they are going to break into pieces and his legs tremble in anguish. The prophet is overcome by his circumstances. Yet, he resolves to quietly wait for the trouble he knows will come.

Have you ever felt this way a time or two about your circumstances? You are completely and utterly exhausted by what has happened, is happening and what you fear will happen. You are exhausted not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. In short, you are overwhelmed.

The question now is what do you do? Where do you turn? Where do you go for help? The obvious answer, and the biblical one, is to the LORD. This involves saturating your mind by reading His Word. The Psalms are a good place to begin because they so often communicate the raw emotions of the psalmists. Psalm 27 comes immediately to mind.

Following the reading and meditation of Scripture, take time for prayer. If necessary, a considerable amount of time. This involves not only your petitions or requests, but also adoration of God, thanksgiving to God and confession of sin before God.

Following this, reaffirm your love trust in the LORD. This is what Habakkuk does. He does not ignore his situation or the problems that will occur as a direct result of the impending invasion by Babylon. Rather, he remains focused on the faithfulness of God and affirms his trust in God who is faithful. Meditate upon Habakkuk’s words.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Upon closer examination, we see that Habakkuk explores the essence of life and living in Israel. It is a land of fig trees and fig tree farmers. It is a land of grapes and olives. It is a country filled with fertile land and crops. It is also a land dominated by grazing sheep.

Yet what will happen if and when all these natural resources are destroyed or stolen. What will the prophet do? What will we do when all we have known and depended upon is taken away from us? The prophet provides the answer: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

My joy and security is not to be found in the things or circumstances of life but rather in LORD, my God. The God of my salvation. In Him I will trust.

It is not easy sometimes to focus upon the Lord rather than our situations. Sometimes, it may even be a battle but it is a battle worth waging.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk: The Divine Savior!

“You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah! You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors, who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.” (Habakkuk 3:13-15)

In acknowledging the wrath of God, the Scriptures balance this attribute and action of God with His divine and gracious prerogative to save sinners. God is under no obligation to save any soul, but does so on the basis of the good pleasure of His will.

Throughout Israel’s history, God had proven to be a faithful deliverer. Habakkuk remembered the faithfulness of God in going before His people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day (Exodus 13:21-22) as He delivered His people from their bondage in Egypt. The reference to “crushing the house of the wicked” harkens back to either the pharaoh of the exodus, whose firstborn was slain, or to Nebuchadnezzar the king of the Chaldeans, whose house was built by unjust gain (Hab. 2:9–11).

Dr. R. C. Sproul explains, “In the past, the LORD came out of His sanctuary for the salvation of His people in distress. This is what Habakkuk is expecting Him to do again.” The LORD not only did this in Israel’s history in saving His people from physical bondage in Egypt, but also in saving His people from their spiritual bondage to sin.

Habakkuk used the word “anointed” to perhaps not only refer to the people of Israel (Psalm 105:15) but most likely to refer to the Divine Savior and King,  the Messiah (Psalm 132:10).

“You trampled the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters” is a reference to the LORD’s providential work in parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:1-9). Dr. John MacArthur writes that “You trampled the sea, is another reference to God’s miraculous, protective intervention on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea. The historical event demonstrates his sovereign rulership of the universe and provides assurance to the troubled prophet that the Lord could be counted on to save his people once more.”

In his lecture on Habakkuk 3:13-15, John Calvin prayed this concluding and recorded prayer. “Grant, Almighty God, that as You have so often and in such various ways testified formerly how much care and solicitude You have for the salvation of those who rely and call on You,–O grant, that we this day may experience the same: and though Your face is justly hid from us, may we yet never hesitate to flee to You, since You have made a covenant through Your Son, which is founded in Your infinite mercy. Grant then, that we, being humbled in true penitence, may so surrender ourselves to Your Son, that we may be led to You and find You to be no less a Father to us than to the faithful of old, as You everywhere testifies to us in Your Word, until at length being freed from all troubles and dangers, we come to that blessed rest which Your Son has purchased for us by His own blood. Amen.”

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Habakkuk: The Divine Warrior.

“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. 8:72 Kings 13:7Isa. 21:10; 25:10Dan. 7:23Amos 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!

 

 

Habakkuk: O Worship the Lord of Creation.

“He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways. I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Was your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horses, on your chariot of salvation?” (Habakkuk 3:6-8)

As I sit at my computer this morning, I am reveling in the advent of the Spring season. Spring is my wife’s favorite season. Autumn has always been mine. However, I have to admit that Spring is growing on me: no pun intended.

I marvel and am in awe as I witness the budding of the trees, the bright yellow of daffodils, and the whiteness of the magnolia flower. It is amazing that one day the trees are barren and the next they filled with new buds ready to explode in new life. I even enjoy the first mowing of my lawn and the scent of freshly cut grass. 70 degree temperatures

However, it is possible that basking in the wonder of this season of new birth may lead to an honoring and worshiping of creation rather than the creator. The Apostle Paul warned of such behavior when he wrote, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:18-25)

Israel was guilty of this creation worship. Often they exchanged the truth of God for a lie (Exodus 32). 

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “Habakkuk’s vision of God coming from the distance and marching across the land rose to a climax. Having reached the place from which He would execute judgment, God stopped, stood, and shook the earth. His very presence caused the earth to shake. Furthermore, by a mere glance at the nations He caused them to tremble (lit., “leap in terror”) and even the framework of nature was shattered. The primeval mountains and age-old hills, the firmest constituents of the globe, crumbled into dust. He came down on Mount Sinai with thunder, lightning, and fire amidst shaking mountains (Ex. 19:16–19). Though the age-old (lit., “eternal”) hills collapsed, God’s everlasting ways go on. Here is a stark warning to those who honor the creation over the Creator! (Cf. Hab. 2:19–20).

Are you often tempted to worship the Lord’s creation rather than worship the Lord of creation? It is very easy to attempt to create your own reality instead of recognizing how the Lord reveals Himself in the reality which He has created. The latter practice is truth while the former is living a lie.

Bask in the truth of God and His creation which declares His glory (Psalm 19). Do not exchange the truth of God for any kind of lie.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!    

         

Habakkuk: The Sense of God’s Presence.

“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah! His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power. Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.” (Habakkuk 3:3-5)

Throughout the Old and New Testament, there are times when God’s spokespersons review the history of God’s work among His people. These occasions offer a panorama of biblical history, particularly regarding God’s work in the Old Testament. Specific examples of these songs and messages of remembrance include The Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32), The Covenant Renewal at Shechem (Joshua 24), and Stephen’s Sermon (Acts 7).

Another fitting example is found in Habakkuk 3:3-16. In this next to final section of this prophetical book, the prophet outlines the faithfulness of God through the centuries of Israel’s history since their Exodus from Egypt. Though Israel became faithless on many occasions, the LORD remained trustworthy, committed to His people, dependable and worthy of worship, honor and praise.

Habakkuk 3:3 says, “God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah! His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.” The word “splendor” in the Hebrews literally means weight, power, majesty and authority. In other words, splendor refers to the Shekinah glory of God. Shekinah is the English transliteration of a Hebrew word meaning “dwelling” or “settling” and means the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God.

Teman, named after a grandson of Esau, was an Edomite city (Amos 1:12Obad. 9). Mount Paran was located in the Sinai Peninsula. Both refer to the places where God displayed great power when He brought Israel into the Land of Canaan (cf. Deut. 33:2Judg. 5:4).

Habakkuk 3:4 says, His brightness was like the light; rays flashed from his hand; and there he veiled his power.” It is interesting to note that Teman and Paran are barren dessert regions in which there is very little growth or shade to block the sun’s brightness. However, the glory of the LORD surpasses even the created brightness and glory of the sun.

Habakkuk 3:5 says, Before him went pestilence, and plague followed at his heels.” Habakkuk recalled the judgment following Israel’s disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant God gave at Mt. Sinai (Ex. 5:3Num. 14:12Deut. 28:21–22; 32:24), Habakkuk emphasized the sovereignty of God’s judgments. Both the LORD’s glory and judgment were a part of His divine presence.

Are you consciously aware of the glory of God throughout your day? Are you conscious of the substantiveness of His divine being? If not, then ask the God to give you an increasing sense of His presence as you contend with the world, the flesh and the devil. Do not allow the attractive temptations to sin dull your senses to the glorious presence of God.

May the LORD’s grace and truth be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Habakkuk: In Wrath, Remember Mercy!

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:1-2)

It is a good thing to always approach the LORD with a spirit of reverence and respect. The Bible calls this fear. It means to stand in awe and to revere the LORD.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 9:10 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Psalm 111:10 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! It is therefore right to conclude that the fear of the LORD is central to wisdom, or a proper understanding of applying Scripture to one’s life situations.

Habakkuk, who could be accused of approaching the LORD with a spirit of arrogance and pride, now does so with reverence. He fears the LORD: not only because of who He is but also because of what He does and has promised to do.

Habakkuk then prays that as the years continue that the LORD would revive this spirit of fear. Habakkuk does not want to forget what it means to reverence and to stand in awe of the LORD. To revive means to keep the spirit of fear alive and to recover it from the ill condition of forgetfulness.

Habakkuk also requests that God would make such fear and reverence known. The prophet asks that God would reveal and bring forth such awe in the lives of His people.

Finally, Habakkuk asks the LORD that He would remember mercy in His display of wrath. Within the context, wrath is God’s divine displeasure towards sinners and their sin. In this particular case, with the Nation of Judah. Mercy is God’s love and compassion. Habakkuk asked God to combine His righteous wrath and divine judgement with His love and compassion.

This is what God did at Calvary. He poured out His righteous wrath upon Jesus and then extended His loving and compassionate mercy towards us who deserved His wrath. When the LORD brought me to an understanding of this divine initiative, I was filled with reverential fear and awe.

As one commentator explains, “The LORD has determined that no one who does evil impenitently can stand forever. We must hear this word in our day. A nation that has experienced great blessing, such as the United States, will not endure if it rejects the Lord of hosts, even if God has used that nation to do good for the world.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Habakkuk: When in Doubt, Pray!

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:1-2)

Have you ever been confused as to what God is doing in your life? Perhaps you have felt that God was strangely silent when difficulties came and struggles continued with temptation to sin. You found yourself doubting God and becoming weak in your trust, commitment, dependence and worship of Him.

Let’s be honest! We’ve all been there in the so-called “dark night of the soul” when doubts arise and fears give way. As one missionary explains that the dark night of the soul, is from the perspective of doubting faith as a follower of Christ, not as a nonbeliever.”

This is the situation that we find the Prophet Habakkuk. He is a man of God. He is a believer in God. He is a prophet of and for God. However, he has struggled with God and His will for the nation of Judah in the 7th century B.C. What ultimately did Habakkuk do to resolve this conflict within his soul when he found himself in conflict with the person and work of God? What are we to do when we find ourselves in a similar situation? Pray and praise the LORD. Praying and praising the LORD is what Habakkuk eventually resolved to do when faced with the sovereign will of God being in conflict with his own.

Habakkuk 3:1 introduces not only the third chapter of Habakkuk, but also diretcs the reader to prophet’s perspective in this prophetical book of Scripture. “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. The Hebrew word for prayer “tepilah” means the act of speaking and making requests to God. Questions by the prophet of God have given way to prayers by the same prophet to God.

The text says that the prayer was according to Shigionoth. A Shigionoth comes the root word “shiggaion” meaning a type of cultic song or a lamentation and dirge. While its precise meaning is unknown, the term may also refer to a psalm set to an irregular musical rhythm or beat. The only other biblical reference to a Shigionoth is found in Psalm 7:1 where the title says A Meditation of David, which he sang to the LORD.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, “the reference to “Habakkuk the prophet” (cf. 1:1) marks a transition. The argumentative tone of the previous chapters, in which he cried for divine interference, is transformed into a plea for God’s mercy (3:2), a review of God’s power (vv. 3–15), and a chorus of praise for God’s sustaining grace and sufficiency (vv. 16–19). But while the tone changes, a strong, thematic connection remains. Having been informed of God’s plan of judgment, Habakkuk returns to the matter of Judah’s judgment, pleading for mercy.”

The hymn writer Joseph Scriven was born in Ireland in 1820. He studied at Trinity College in Dublin and was soon engaged to be married. The evening before their wedding, Scriven’s fiancé drowned. This tragedy coupled with difficult family relationships, caused Joseph to begin following the practices and teaches of the Plymouth Brethren. Shortly after moving to Canada to become a teacher, Scriven became engaged to Eliza Roche. Tragedy struck again and Eliza passed away from illness shortly before their marriage.

Joseph used the tragedies and hardships in life to identify with the elderly and poor. Scriven also used this time to saw wood for the stoves of those who were handicapped or elderly. 

Joseph wrote his famous hymn in 1855 to comfort his mother who still lived in Ireland. He did not seek to be noticed for it, and his authorship was only discovered by accident shortly before his death. What some would say was an accidental discovery was a providential act of God.  

Scriven then began to experience poor health, financial struggles and depression during the last years of his life. To this day, no one knows for sure if Joseph Scriven’s death was an accident or suicide. He was in serious depression at the time. A friend of Scriven explained, “We left him about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait. You may imagine my surprise and dismay when on visiting the room I found it empty. All search failed to find a trace of the missing man, until a little after noon the body was discovered in the water nearby, lifeless and cold in death.”

The hymn Scriven wrote was entitled What a Friend We Have in Jesus.

What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge—
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised
Thou wilt all our burdens bear;
May we ever, Lord, be bringing
All to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright, unclouded,
There will be no need for prayer—
Rapture, praise, and endless worship
Will be our sweet portion there.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Habakkuk: Five Woes, Part 5.

“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Habakkuk 2:18-20)

The LORD revealed to Habakkuk a series of woes which the prophet was not only to receive but also prophesy to the people. The “five woes” is structured in five stanzas with three verses contained in each stanza. Today’s text contains the fifth and final stanza, which was God’s concluding announcement of woe upon the Babylonians. Each woe contained a particular sin for which God judged the Chaldeans as guilty. The first sin was extortion. The second sin was exploitation. The third sin condemned Babylon for being bloodthirsty killers and despots. The fourth sin was debauchery. The final woe concerned idolatry.

The final pronouncement of “woe” does not occur until the middle of the final stanza. Rather, what begins God’s concluding oracle against Babylon is a thought provoking question: “What profit an idol?”

An idol is often called a graven image carved out of stone or wood or molten metal. These figures then, and now, have no benefit whatsoever. What affection the individual had, or has, for these objects, they still are blocks of wood, stone, or shaped metal. It represents a lie and not the truth.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, To trust in such an idol was to trust in an object that teaches lies, for people were deceived and deluded by it, thinking it could help them. But idols and images were lifeless. Since they were the worshipers’ own creations, idols could not aid them (cf. v. 19). Carved or cast, they were dumb objects. The oracles attributed to them were obvious lies, for idols cannot speak.”

The Prophet Isaiah writes, “To whom then will you liken God, or what likeness compare with him? An idol! A craftsman casts it, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts for it silver chains. He who is too impoverished for an offering chooses wood that will not rot; he seeks out a skillful craftsman to set up an idol that will not move. Do you not know? Do you not hear? Has it not been told you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in; who brings princes to nothing, and makes the rulers of the earth as emptiness.” (Isaiah 40:18-23).

R. C. Sproul, Jr. writes, “The root of idolatry, however, is here—images move us at a basic level, and evoke worship in us, worship that God abhors. I first felt this watching a movie that presented an image of Christ—The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. When Aslan first appeared on the screen my heart swelled and like a teetotaler taking his first drink, a health nut tasting his first Twinky, I thought, “Oh, so this is what He warned us about.” I was taken up, enraptured, spellbound because of the sheer majestic beauty of the Lion.

Dr. Roy Zuck explains that, “No help or guidance comes from a lifeless object even if it is encased in gold and silver (cf. Isa. 40:19). It has no breath or spirit and therefore no life (cf. Gen. 2:7). Isaiah frequently taunted the Babylonians for their trust in numerous false gods, which were nothing but man-made idols (Isa. 41:7; 44:9–20; 45:16, 20; 46:1–2, 6–7; cf. Jer. 10:8–16). Idols are valueless for they cannot talk, come alive, guide, or breathe. And idolatry-worshiping man’s carvings rather than the Creator-stands condemned under God’s woe.”

The final woe contains a concluding statement summarizing the entire five stanzas. In effect God told Habakkuk, and others who would question Him, to be quiet. God is on the throne. He knows what He is doing far better than we in our limited knowledge and understanding can comprehend. Therefore, we are to be silent before Him (Job 40:3-5).

What objects in your life compete with God for your worship and affection? It could be another person, place or thing. It could be an idea, achievement or position of power and responsibility. Whatever it may be that competes for God’s worship, honor and glory, immediately repent of that the sin of idolatry.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!  

Habakkuk: Five Woes, Part 4.

“Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the LORD’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory! The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.” (Habakkuk 2:15-17)

The LORD revealed to Habakkuk a series of woes which the prophet was not only to receive but also prophesy to the people. The “five woes” is structured in five stanzas with three verses contained in each stanza. Today’s text contains the fourth stanza, which was God’s fourth announcement of woe upon the Babylonians. Each woe contained a particular sin for which God judged the Chaldeans as guilty. The first sin was extortion. The second sin was exploitation. The third sin condemned Babylon for being bloodthirsty killers and despots. The fourth sin was debauchery.

Debauchery is a word which is not used very often in today’s culture. It is defined as wickedness, depravity, decadence and wanton immorality. While the word debauchery may not be common in today’s world, the meaning of the word and corresponding behavior certainty is. In many ways, the world today is filled with debauchery.

So also was the world in the 7th century B.C. Babylon, and Judea, was filled with immorality and depravity. This was Habakkuk’s initial complaint to God about Judah. It was also what riled the prophet when God informed him that He would use Babylon in order to punish Judah’s depravity because Babylon was more depraved that Judah.

Babylon’s depravity involved poisoning and forcibly intoxicating other nations in order for them to become easy prey. How ironic that this is exactly what led to Babylon’s fall in Daniel 5. God said that, ““Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! You will have your fill of shame instead of glory” (Habakkuk 2:15).

The image of the cup, a common image in the drinking of wine and intoxicants, also represents the wrath and judgment of God (Luke 22:39-46). God would pour out His wrath upon the Babylonians in judgment for them pouring out their wrath upon other nations. The shame and violence done to others would be done to them.

Dr. John MacArthur writes, “Carrying out the metaphor of drunkenness, here is a reference to the humiliation of “shameful spewing.” The very thing in which they gloried would become the object of their shame. While the Lord’s glory would be “as the waters cover the sea” (v. 14), Babylon’s glory would be covered with shame.”

So too will this happen to all who refuse to repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. All sinners will receive the shameful punishment of their own sin, instead of trusting in Jesus Christ who bore our shame upon His body on the cross (Hebrews 12:1-2) and receiving His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:1-9).

If you have not responded to the message of the gospel, I encourage you to do so today. Repent of your sin and receive Jesus Christ’s righteousness, in exchange of your sinfulness, on the basis to grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Christ alone.

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!      

 

Habakkuk: Five Woes, Part 3.

“Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:12-14)

The LORD revealed to Habakkuk a series of woes which the prophet was not only to receive but also prophesy to the people. The “five woes” is structured in five stanzas with three verses contained in each stanza. This structural form is reminiscent of the Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) which we have previously studied.

Today’s text contains the third stanza, which was God’s third announcement of woe upon the Babylonians. Each woe contained a particular sin for which God judged the Chaldeans as guilty. The first sin was extortion. The second sin was exploitation. The third sin condemned Babylon for being bloodthirsty killers and despots.

I recently watched for the umpteenth time the television documentary on Nazi Germany, based upon William Shirer’s magnum opus The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The film presentation chronicles the rise of National Socialism in Germany from the birth of Adolf Hitler to the conclusion of World War II in 1945. The viewer witnesses the heights of the Nazi’s nationalistic glory which eventually gave way to the devastating destruction of not only World War II, but also the Holocaust.

Habakkuk 2:12-14 parallels in the 7th century B.C. what many witnessed firsthand in the mid-20th century A.D. Both nations founded themselves on an insatiable thirst for power based upon the destruction of all enemies: real and perceived. Ultimately, the prophet declares that such violence and bloodshed is not glorifying to God. This truth applies to even today’s violent despots.

Habakkuk 2:13 declares “nations weary themselves for nothing.”  This is comparable to Jeremiah 51:58 which says, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: The broad wall of Babylon shall be leveled to the ground, and her high gates shall be burned with fire. The peoples labor for nothing, and the nations weary themselves only for fire.”\

Habakkuk was pronouncing that nations and political philosophies come and go and eventually result in ruin. However, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” What the fallen world presently runs from, namely the LORD, it will eventually become devoted in worship to regarding the knowledge and glory belonging only to the LORD. Isaiah 11:9 which says, “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes, God’s everlasting glory will fill the entire earth! This verse is based on the declaration in Isaiah 11:9 with only minor alterations. (The earth filled with God’s glory is also spoken of in Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; and Isa. 6:3.) Isaiah closed his description of the messianic kingdom (Isa. 11:1–9) by stating that the earth would be full of the knowledge of the Lord. Habakkuk stated that the earth would be filled with the knowledge of His glory. Isaiah dealt with the essence of the kingdom, Habakkuk with the establishment of the kingdom. Isaiah presented the fact, Habakkuk the act. God will overthrow and judge future Babylon (Rev. 17–18) and all ungodly powers (Rev. 19:19) represented by Babylon. The Lord’s glory (Matt. 24:30) and majesty (2 Thess. 1:9) will be made evident in the Millennium and thereby acknowledged throughout the earth.”

Do not be dismayed at the rise and fall of violent nations. The LORD is sovereign and in control. His kingdom will last forever. Are you a member of His kingdom?  

May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!