Great Hinds Think Alike (Habakkuk 3v1-19)

The Sundance Kid looks at Butch Cassidy and asks, tongue-in-cheek, “Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?”

While they are getting their bearings after the explosion, a second train arrives carrying a six-man team of super-lawmen to pursue Butch and Sundance.  They learn that the posse has been paid by Union Pacific head E. H. Harriman and is to remain on their trail until Butch and Sundance are dead.

In the chase, the posse forces the two outlaws higher-and-higher, up into the rugged mountain terrain, until there is no place else to go.

In desperation, Butch suggests they jump into the rushing river below – acknowledging that the fall would probably kill them.

I’m going to leave Butch and Sundance on that ledge.  You either know what happens next, or you’re going to have to watch the movie.

Their flight up into into the mountains, higher-and-higher, pursued by those wanting to see them dead, reminded me, to a certain extent, of the prophet, Habakkuk.

He ends his book by picturing himself as a mountain hind, climbing ever higher in order to evade the danger that is stalking him.

There is, however, a big difference between Habakkuk and Butch and Sundance.  Habakkuk’s climb takes him to spiritual heights where he can rejoice in the Lord, despite the danger.  There’s no leap of faith into uncharted waters; only a settled confidence in the God of our salvation.

There is going to be a time, or times, when you are the hind.  God will give you hind’s feet on your high places, from which you may rejoice in Him as you climb, despite the danger or the disaster.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 If You Look Behind History, You’ll See God On The Move, and #2 If You Look Beyond Adversity, You’ll See Yourself On The Mountain.

#1    If You Look Behind History,
    You’ll See God On The Move

In the classic children’s story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the characters and creatures sense that something profoundly spiritual is happening behind the scenes, they sometimes say, “Aslan is on the move.”

For example, in Narnia it was always winter but never Christmas.  Unexpectedly Father Christmas arrived with sleigh bells jingling.  At once the children and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver suspected that the White Witch was losing her powers.

“I’ve come at last,” says Father Christmas. “She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last.  Aslan is on the move.”

Habakkuk lived just prior to the southern kingdom of Judah being overrun, overthrown, and its citizens taken away captive by the Chaldeans who ruled Babylon.  God was orchestrating this, after many less invasive warnings, in order to punish and discipline His chosen nation for their heinous sins.

The goal of His discipline was their restoration – first, to relationship with God, and second, to their land.

Habakkuk looked out over the situation and saw behind history that God was on the move for His people.

Hab 3:1  A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

This “prayer of Habakkuk” was meant to be sung as a hymn of praise.

As we work through it you see three pauses, marked by the notation Selah, which marks a musical pause or an instrumental  interlude.
Then, at the end, you see the instruction, “To the Chief Musician, with my stringed instruments.”

It is in the form of a song known as a “Shigionoth.”  There is some debate over the exact meaning of this musical term, with some scholars saying it is a lament, and others translating the Hebrew as “a highly emotional poetic form.”  If you look at it’s last verses, you get the idea it is anything but a lament.

Shigionoth is a high form of praise – wild, rhythmic and exuberant.  It is praise with pumped-up volume and no limits; it is WOW worship punctuated with exclamation marks!

Do you sing, with exuberance, to the Lord?  You say you don’t have a good voice; you can’t carry a tune in a bucket.  Moses was “slow of speech.”  That didn’t stop him from writing and singing a song.

If you can’t sing very well, you’re like Jim Nabors.  As TV’s Gomer Pyle, he had a crazy, everyday voice.  But when he’d sing, it was like he was another person.

That’s how God hears you; sing to the Lord!

Hab 3:2  O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

Habakkuk was understandably “afraid.”  No one could be anything other than “afraid” at the announcement that Judah was to be taken captive to Babylon.

Habakkuk spoke of Judah, and the captivity, as being “in the midst of the years.”  He may not have known the exact amount of years the captivity would last, which was seventy, but he was praying that, in the midst of them, God’s discipline of His people would give way to mercy, and that He would “revive [His] work” with them.

What work?  The work of delivering them, and establishing them as His special nation, through whom the Savior of the world would be born.

In verses three through fifteen Habakkuk remembers the work of God among His people as He was on the move behind their history to deliver them – and especially their deliverance from Egypt in the Exodus, and their conquest of the Promised Land.

Hab 3:3  God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.

“Teman” in Hebrew can mean south and it is also the name of a city of Edom, the country lying south of Judah.  “Mount Paran” is the desert region south of Judah extending to Sinai.  God is poetically depicted as coming up from these regions.  Habakkuk is recalling God’s covenant with Israel, made at Mount Sinai.

Hab 3:4  His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.

God’s revelation of Himself to Israel is being compared to the sunrise – coming slowly, then bursting over the horizon, sending its rays upon the earth.

This might be a description of God’s appearance to the nation at Mount Sinai.  I say “might be,” because the language, being poetic, is somewhat vague.  We’re not 100% certain of some of the references.

The gist of this section, however, is easy to see – God was moving to save and establish His people.

Hab 3:5  Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

God had delivered Israel from Egypt by ten plagues, summarized as “the pestilence” and “fever.”

Hab 3:6  He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

God is pictured as surveying Israel’s march to the Promised Land.  He Himself would “startle the nations” that stood in their way.  Nothing could halt their advance, not even “the…mountains and the hills.”

Hab 3:7  I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

The nations east and west of the Red Sea, represented by “Cushan” and “Midian,” trembled in fear as God’s people marched.
Hab 3:8  O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

God was revealed in mighty and miraculous works as He turned the Nile River into blood, and as He parted the Red Sea and later dried up the Jordan River.  These physical obstacles to the deliverance and advance of His people became instead “chariots” of their salvation.

Hab 3:9  Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah You divided the earth with rivers.

God is pictured as a bowman, ready to strike-out against the enemies of the Jews.  Think Legolas in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies.  He never misses and has an endless supply of arrows.

“Oaths… sworn over [His] arrows” was a reminder that God had made oaths – promises – to protect His people.

He also provided for them; He “divided the earth with rivers” could be a reference to the bringing forth of water from the Rock that Moses struck in the wilderness, providing a gusher of water for both man and beast.

Hab 3:10  The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.

All of creation was understood as being in submission to God on behalf of His people.

Hab 3:11  The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

God caused the sun and the moon, literally, to “stand still” for Joshua during the conquest of the Promised Land.

The “light of Your arrows” and the “shining of Your glittering spear” are references to the flight of Joshua’s enemies as a result of hailstorms, perhaps accompanied by lightnings.

Hab 3:12  You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

Verse twelve could be on the book jacket of Joshua; it is exactly what happened, as Joshua led the Jews to conquest.

This summarizes the past works of God on Israel’s behalf.  The next several verses might summarize the prophesied works of God on Israel’s behalf in overthrowing Babylon:

Hab 3:13  You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

Hab 3:14  You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

Hab 3:15  You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.

“For salvation with Your Anointed” means God would deliver the Jews, and establish them, because it was through them that Jesus Christ was to be born to save mankind from sin.

Notice the mention in verse thirteen, “You struck the head…”  Babylon  is depicted in Scripture as the head of gold atop the kingdoms of the world.

God would “walk through the sea with [His] horses…”  History records that Babylon fell as the Medes and Persians blocked the Euphrates River and came in under the walls.

Hab 3:16  When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.

The only possible physical response to God’s mighty and miraculous works is trembling; but the only possible spiritual response is resting.

Verse sixteen – it’s a mini-sermon on suffering.  It draws dramatic, seemingly contradictory, contrasts:

While in the worst possible trouble, such that you tremble, you can nevertheless rest.

While being totally overwhelmed, you can confidently declare God will conquer your enemy.

How does that make sense?  It makes spiritual sense, in your experience of the Lord.

Let me provide an example.  One of the dear sisters here in our fellowship just came through a terrifying medical ordeal.  She spoke to me about it on Wednesday night, letting me know that, as it was unfolding, she experienced God’s perfect peace.  She was at “rest in the day of trouble.”

Because of God’s mighty works to deliver them, Habakkuk was confident He was on the move, and that in the midst of their trouble, He had a plan He was working out – to His glory, and for their good.

We are not Judah; we are not Jews.  We are the church, and God has a plan for us – a plan no less dear to His heart for a people no less loved by Him.

His plan is for us to go into the world and, as we are going, to share the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men – especially those who believe.

He has promised that the gates of Hell cannot prevail against His church on earth.

He told us He would return for us, to resurrect us or rapture us, and bring us to the homes He has been preparing for us in Heaven.

But Jesus also promised us that, in the world, we would have tribulation.  Some of us more than others; but, for all of us, trouble of various sorts will be our lot in life.

Whatever you or I must endure, we know, do we not, that God is on the move?  We tremble, but rest; we are troubled, but our enemies are conquered.

#2    If You Look Beyond Adversity,
    You’ll See Yourself On The Mountain

A few years ago, it became popular to hang framed motivational posters in your office.  They feature a single word, with an inspiring photo above it, and a clever saying under it.

I prefer what came next: the demotivators.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Believe in Yourself: The rest of us think you’re an idiot.

Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

Meetings: None of us is as dumb as all of us.

And my all-time favorite, showing a grizzly about to snag a salmon swimming upstream, Ambition: The journey of a thousand miles sometimes ends very, very badly.

The reason the demotivators work is because we all recognize that simply having a positive outlook, captured by a saying, isn’t enough in a world whose prince and ruler is the devil.

These last verses in Habakkuk are not wishful, positive motivators.  They aren’t an attempt to turn lemons into lemonade.

They are a description of the imminent and unrelenting danger you will encounter that drives you to deeper and deeper spiritual devotion.

More than that: They describe how God, if you will co-operate, will give you hind’s feet on high places.

They are about Him giving you the strength, the spiritual strength, for the climb – no matter how high up you might be required to ascend.

Things were not going to get better for Habakkuk and those in Judah and Jerusalem.

Hab 3:17  Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls –

If your life and livelihood depended on agriculture, this would be the worst headline you could read.  It meant you would be destitute.

I’m ignorant when it comes to economics.  I’ve been taking notice, however, of a trend lately, of articles warning us of another economic collapse.  Headlines like, Ten Key Events that Preceded the Last Financial Crisis are Happening Again; and, How Plunging Oil Prices Could Lead to World War lll.

I sure hope those are exaggerations.  But whether or not lower prices at the pumps is a sign we are headed for trouble, I think we all know that trouble is always at the door.

Habakkuk, and the Jews, would, in fact, experience a total collapse.  Worse, they would be carried away as captives to the rivers of Babylon, where they would weep.

How should they live?

Hab 3:18  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Habakkuk speaks of “joy” and “rejoicing.”  It was because he had joy that he could rejoice; so let’s look at his joy first.

He joyed “in the God of my salvation.”  Salvation, in the Bible, is really three things:

It is the moment you receive the Lord by grace, through faith, and are saved.

It is the on-going growth of your life with God as He keeps you and completes the work He has begun in you.

It is your final arrival into His presence.

Habakkuk had joy realizing and resting in his salvation.  Despite circumstances that were awful, nothing and no-one could affect his salvation on any of those three levels.

I would expand this idea of salvation to include God’s desire to save the lost.  The apostle Peter wrote, “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (Second Peter 3:15).  It means God goes to great lengths, even delaying judgment, in order to reach-out to sinners.

If you start with Habakkuk, and read about God’s plan to punish and discipline the Jews using the wicked Chaldeans, God can come across as cruel.

Start instead with Israel’s history, and see God’s deliverance and protection and provision.

Hear Him promise them He would bless them for obedience; but that He, like any good father, must discipline them for their disobedience, when they went beyond His loving boundaries and committed sin.

See Him sending prophets and plagues to His people, to warn them they have strayed into idolatry.  See Him warning them for decades, even centuries, before He sends Babylon to conquer and capture them.

Then understand that, even in Babylon, His intention was to restore them to Himself and to their land – which He does!

Our God saves.  While His longsuffering waits, wickedness and evil are allowed to continue.  But more-and-more men, women, and kids are being saved.

I hope you see, now, how Habakkuk could, in his trouble, “rejoice in the Lord.”

I prefer verse nineteen in its more poetic KJV translation:

Hab 3:19  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.

One of the first devotional books I read as a brand-new believer was Hind’s Feet on High Places, by Hannah Hurnard.  It’s just my observation, and not very scientific, but it seems that Christian authors used to talk more about joy and rejoicing despite trouble, whereas now all the popular books are more about finding personal happiness.

The thing to note about verse nineteen is that God does all the heavy lifting.  He is “my strength,” and “He will make my feet like” those of the hind.

It is more of a promise than it is a preparation.  It is what God can and will do – not what I must find the strength to do.

Hey, I really can’t wake up tomorrow and deal with the total collapse of the economy and our society.  I can’t even handle the aches and pains of my old age in a strong economy.

The Christian life is God living in me, and then through me.  I need His strength, His empowering, 100% of the time.  Only then can I enjoy the places I find myself as “my high places,” as I am in fellowship with Him.

I’m not saying we simply “let go and let God.”  That isn’t what Habakkuk did.

He prayed; he watched; ultimately, he submitted to God.

That is our part, our co-operation.  To pursue spiritual disciplines, like prayer; and to submit to God, in every area.

Then my life, and your life, can become His song.  Here is what I mean.

The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah wrote, “the LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (3:17).

Zephaniah was describing Jesus in His Second Coming to the earth, during the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

But since Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever, we can confidently say He rejoices over His followers with singing.

In the New Testament book of Ephesians there’s a description of believers as “God’s workmanship,” where the word “workmanship” is our English word, poem.

You and I are God’s poems, and it isn’t really a stretch to say we are poems set to music.

What would your life sound like if it were set to music?

It should – it can – be Shigionoth!

Days Of Wine And Woeses

Country music knows how to glorify a drunkard.

Back in 2011, CMT named the forty greatest drinking songs of country music.  On the list are songs with playful titles like, I’m Gonna Hire a Wino to Decorate Our Home (David Frizzell), You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quit Drinkin’ (Toby Keith), and It’s Five-o’clock Somewhere (Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet).

Number one on the list was Garth Brooks with Friends in Low Places, who sings,

‘Cause I’ve got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away

It might surprise you that God wrote a drinking song.  It was for the nation of Babylon; but, as is really the case with the abuse of alcohol, it wasn’t all fun and games.

Hab 2:15  “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!

Hab 2:16  You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also -drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.

God’s take on drunkenness is a lot more graphic and realistic.

Drunkenness was, in fact, a characteristic of the Chaldean’s who ruled Babylon.  Those of you familiar with biblical history will remember that the night Babylon fell to the invading Medo-Persian armies, its king and its leaders were attending a drunken party.

God will use the Chaldean’s lust for drunkenness to describe their seemingly insatiable lust for power, leading to their conquest and cruel treatment of lesser nations, for which God will hold them accountable, and see them overthrown.

That’s all well and good; but while waiting for God to overthrow Babylon, Habakkuk and his fellow Judeans were going to be subject to them – held captive by them, in exile, in Babylon.

How should they live?  We’ll see that “the just shall live by his faith” (verse 4).

The “just,” meaning those who have faith in Jesus Christ, are always to “live by [their] faith,” in every generation, in every country, in every circumstance.

I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 You Live By Faith Because You’ve Seen The Father, and #2 You Live By Faith Because You’ve Seen The Future.

#1    You Live By Faith
    Because You’ve Seen The Father

Habakkuk was writing in the seventh century BC.  He was concerned about his nation, Judah, because its people, the Jews, had abandoned God.  They still went to the Temple and offered their sacrifices; but they also worshipped idols, in some cases offering their own babies as human sacrifices.

Everywhere he looked, Habakkuk saw “violence” of one one type or another.  He wanted God to do something to bring the Jews back to their spiritual senses.

God had already been doing quite a lot to reach the hearts of His chosen nation.  He had sent prophets to Judah, for example.  He had allowed the northern kingdom of Jews, called Israel, to be overrun and taken captive by the Assyrian Empire, as a stern warning to Judah that He could do the same to them, if they failed to repent.

Now God was revealing to Habakkuk that He was, definitely, preparing to allow the nation of Babylon to overthrow Judah.

We saw, last week, from a passage in Jeremiah that God warns all nations that, if they grow wicked, He will intervene in judgment; and often He judges nations by raising up other nations to conquer them.

Habakkuk was understandably disturbed by this news.  He took it seriously, and assumed the role of a watchman on the walls, looking out to see the approaching invaders.

Hab 2:1  I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

I wonder if Habakkuk physically went up to the ramparts?  These Old Testament prophets often acted-out their prophecies.  We tend to think of this only as a metaphor; but I’d wager Habakkuk was up on the wall, for all to see.

Habakkuk understood that, in light of God’s plan to punish and discipline Judah, he would need to proclaim a message to those among the minority of Jews who were following the Lord – the remnant – giving them spiritual strength to stand in a time when the majority of Jews were sinning.

Hab 2:2  Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

The “vision” was the message God was about to give Habakkuk – mostly for the remnant of godly believers who would be affected by Babylon’s conquest.
They would suffer the same national disgrace that the majority brought upon Judah, even though they were true and sincere followers of God.

Keep that in mind in these verses, and in this book.  It is especially for believers who are caught in awful circumstances, but still called upon to represent the Lord.

“Make it plain on tablets” meant just that – Habakkuk was to commit the message to “tablets.”  He was to write it down; to publish it for all to not just hear, but to read.

“That he may run who reads it” could mean it was to be in large print, so someone going by even running would be able to read it.  Think freeway sign.

It more likely means that, having read it, the message will fuel your spiritual walk in such a way that you, yourself, become its messenger, running swiftly to proclaim it to others, and so on.

Jeremiah, who was contemporary with Habakkuk, said something along these same lines.  Or, rather, God said it to him:

Jer 12:5  If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?

The message God was about to give is what keeps believers running with horses in terms of spiritual endurance.

One more verse to set it up before God gives it to His prophet:

Hab 2:3  For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

The first thing to note, about this verse, is the seeming contradiction, where God says, “it tarries,” then He says “it will not tarry.”

It’s not a contradiction.  It has to do with God’s timing, and how we experience time as human beings.  As will become clear in the remaining verses, God will Himself overthrow the Babylonian empire.  But not until what He called “the end.”

The “end” of what?  Well, in context, God would overthrow the Babylonian empire at the “end” of seventy-years of discipline and punishment He had in store for Judah.

Further out, in the future, at the end of the Great Tribulation, the Book of the Revelation says that Babylon will rise to prominence again, only to be finally, ultimately, overthrown by God at the very “end.”

Verse three is putting the believing Jews in Judah, and believers in all ages, on notice that God’s plan for history will unfold according to His timing; but, in the mean time, at any given moment, those who are godly may be caught-up in circumstances that are less than desirable.

How should we then live as God’s representatives?

Hab 2:4  “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

God draws a contrast between “the proud” and “the just.”  Think nonbeliever versus believer.

The first part, describing the nonbeliever, should be translated, “look at the proud; his soul which is lifted up is not straight or right within him.”  It’s a description of what we would call the natural man, who has not surrendered his pride and humbled himself to be saved by the grace of God.

“The just shall live by his faith” should read, “the justified-ones shall live by faith.”

Do you know how a person is saved?  They are saved when they are declared righteous by God on account of their faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior and source of righteousness.  When a person trusts Jesus Christ, God sees them as justified, meaning He sees them just-as-if-they’d never sinned.

I must pause for a moment to mention how important these few words are – “the just shall live by… faith.”  John Walvoord said that, not only were they central to the Book of Habakkuk, but they were the central focus of the entire Bible.

This great principle – “the just shall live by faith” – was the Scripture that so inflamed the soul of Martin Luther that it became the watchword of the Reformation.

The apostle Paul quoted them three times in the New Testament:

In Romans 1:17 Paul quoted them with an emphasis on what it means to be justified.

In Galatians 3:11 he quoted them in a context of telling the justified ones how to live, comparing and contrasting our life in Christ to legalistic works that have no value.

In Hebrews 10:38 he quoted them to encourage the justified to go on living by faith despite even the most severe circumstances.

The vision, or the message, that God gave Habakkuk to proclaim, especially to the believing remnant in Judah, was to go on living by faith, enduring their terrible circumstances, because despite the Babylonian captivity, God was working all things together for the good, and would providentially bring history to its prophesied conclusion.

As we often mention, we, as believers, are living in-between the two comings of Jesus Christ:

He came the first time offering to establish the promised kingdom on the earth, but was rejected by the nation of Israel.

He is coming a second time to establish the kingdom and will be received by the Jews who survive the Great Tribulation.

“In the mean time… In-between time… Ain’t we got fun” is not always the case.  In fact, we suffer in many ways – often on account of what nonbelievers are doing.

We are the justified ones who can, in those circumstances, live by faith, because we have seen the Father.

What?  When have we seen the Father?

You might recognize those words from a discussion Jesus once had with His disciples.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 14:7 “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him.”

John 14:8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us.”

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

Have we seen Jesus, and, therefore, the Father?

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person…

This translates the Greek term used for the impression made by a die or stamp on a seal, or the engraving on a coin.  The design on the die is reproduced on the wax or metal.  Jesus Christ is the reproduction of God.  He is the perfect, personal imprint of God in time and space.

You absolutely can make the argument that we’ve seen Jesus, and therefore have seen the Father, in terms of the character and nature of our gracious and merciful God.

Remember I said that Habakkuk’s words were quoted three times in the New Testament?  And that one of the times is in Hebrews 10:38?
Here are the words (again) in Habakkuk:

Hab 2:3  For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

Hab 2:4  “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

Here is the quote in Hebrews:

Hebrews 10:37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

Did you notice a slight but incredible change?  Habakkuk said “it will not tarry.”  “It” is changed in Hebrews to “He who is coming will come and not tarry.”

The “He” is, of course, Jesus, at the end, in His Second Coming.  The Hebrew believers, the justified ones who were suffering extreme persecution, were to “see,” by faith, Jesus in His Second Coming.

We can, and should, live by faith, despite circumstances, because we “see” Jesus, and thereby “see” the Father – as loving and gracious and merciful, despite what we must sometimes endure as His longsuffering waits on sinners to repent.

#2    You Live By Faith
    Because You’ve Seen The Future

There are a series of five “woes” in this section of verses.  They are each a type of song called a lament, sung against Babylon, predicting its overthrow.

They had their immediate fulfillment when the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon.  They will have their ultimate fulfillment when, at the end of the seven year Great Tribulation, God destroys a future, revived Babylon:

Revelation 17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,

Revelation 17:2 “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”

Once a drunk, always a drunk, it seems, for Babylon.

Hab 2:5  “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.

These verses aren’t about alcohol.  I’m not going to get off on a rabbit trail about drinking, and your liberty in Christ – except to say that you should “be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Holy Spirit”; and to remind you of your obligation, in all liberties, to never stumble weaker believers.

The Chaldeans were notorious drunkards; and God used that to describe their lust for power.  They could be described as drunk on conquest.

Woe #1:

Hab 2:6  “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his – how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?

Hab 2:7  Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.

Hab 2:8  Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

It’s interesting that, the night Babylon fell during their drunken party, they had brought out the goblets that had been plundered from the Temple at Jerusalem.  They were drinking out of them, mocking God.

Here is the story, from Daniel:

Dan 5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Dan 5:5 In the same hour the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote opposite the lampstand on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.

Dan 5:6 Then the king’s countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other.

One possible application for us: Don’t we have a hard enough struggle against the flesh already?  Why get drunk, so that you have fewer inhibitions to temptation?

Woe #2:

Hab 2:9  “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

Hab 2:10  You give shameful counsel to your house, Cutting off many peoples, And sin against your soul.

Hab 2:11  For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

Babylon thought of itself as an eagle, secure in its lofty nest.  Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon during the Judean captivity, would learn something about being an eagle:

Dan 3:30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”

Dan 3:31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!

Dan 3:32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”

Dan 3:33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Why do we always think of Nebuchadnezzar as wolf-like, when God says he was made eagle-like?

The Chaldeans thought they could ascend on high and secure themselves.  Sounds a lot like the man who builds bigger barns to hold all his possessions, only to lose what is truly of value, his soul.

Be vigilant to value what God values.

Woe #3:

Hab 2:12  “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!

Hab 2:13  Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain?

Hab 2:14  For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

The cities of the Babylonian empire were built by the blood and sweat of enslaved peoples.  Murder, bloodshed, oppression, and tyranny were the tools used in their building projects.

The word translated “iniquity” summarizes this type of injustice towards others.  God would judge Babylon: Those whom they enslaved to build for them are depicted as stoking the fires of the inevitable judgment upon Babylon.  The Babylonians thought they were building, but their injustices would leave them burning.

Future Babylon is described, in Revelation eighteen, as trafficking in “the bodies and souls of men” (v13).  I’m sure you are aware that women and children are being sold as sex-slaves all over the world.

God is concerned that societies care for the poor, the widows, the children, and the elderly.  We must do what we can.  Just remember that all our efforts at social justice will fall short until Jesus is on earth, ruling and reigning, for only then will “the earth… be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.”

Woe #4:

Hab 2:15  “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!

Hab 2:16  You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also -drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.

Hab 2:17  For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, And the plunder of beasts which made them afraid, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

Those taken captive by Babylon were forced to adopt the Babylonian’s immoral practices, and were forced upon to bring sordid pleasure to them.  Both figuratively and literally, they got their captives “drunk” in order to take sinful and perverse advantage of them.

Our society today is pouring its own wine, and it is vintage immorality.  You are bombarded with ideas and images to intoxicate you into accepting the immorality of the times.

Societies all over the world are hard at work blurring gender differences, and encouraging the abandonment of biblical morality.

It will one day be exposed as the sordid, shameful expressions of the natural man, opposed to that which God intended.

Woe #5:

Hab 2:18  “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?

Hab 2:19  Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all.

Babylon was notorious for its idols.  Nebuchadnezzar got into the act, having a huge golden image cast of himself and demanding that everyone bow down to it.

The Bible is straightforward about the stupidity of idols.  Since they are man-made, they are less than man – yet men look up to them!

Our society carefully carves its idols.  Whether they be people or possessions, we look up to them.

Is anything, or anyone, standing between you and a closer, deeper, relationship with Jesus?  It’s an idol.

These five woes all combine to prophesy the demise of mighty Babylon – both then and in the future.

We know the future!  When the apostle Peter realized this, he wrote,

2Pet 3:11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,

2Pet 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

2Pet 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

2Pet 3:14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

2Pet 3:15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation…

We must be “looking forward to these things.”  There’s no getting around it; as justified ones, we are to live by faith in whatever circumstances we are in, looking and living forward to a better future with it’s wonders and rewards.

The “longsuffering of our Lord” that brings the offer of “salvation” to nonbelievers is, simultaneously, what brings suffering to us.

Look beyond it; live beyond it – as a citizen of Heaven who, while on earth, runs with the message that Jesus saves.

O’er The Ramparts We Watch (Habakkuk 1v1-2v1)

Stallone is definitely making Rocky 7, but not until after he does Rambo 5.

In the Rocky sequel, Apollo Creed’s privileged grandson takes up boxing, and wants Rocky as his mentor.  It’ll be a slugfest.

In the Rambo sequel, Stallone has hinted that John Rambo will “go out in a blaze of glory.”

That’s movie talk for a ton of violence.  In the first four installments, Rambo killed a total of 219 bad guys: 128 with his shirt on, and 91 with his shirt off.

I want to talk a little bit about violence; you’ll see why in a moment.

Without making any judgments, or applying any personal or political spin, I’d just like to point out that violence has been a dominant story in the United States in 2014:

We all became familiar with Ferguson, Missouri, where civil disorder, characterized by violence, began the day after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown on August 9.

Just recently, two uniformed NYPD officers – heroes – were shot dead assassination-style as they sat in their marked police car on a Brooklyn street corner.

Violence was big news in the NFL when, on September 8, TMZ Sports released a video of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his fiancée and dragging her unconscious body out of an elevator.

Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy was convicted of assaulting an ex-girlfriend in June.

Every television since I believe the year 2000 is mandated to be equipped with a V chip so parents can block violent programming.

Violence of another terrible kind is rampant in that our nation ranks number four in the world, after China, the Russian Federation, and Viet Nam, in the total number of abortions performed annually.

I’m not going to try to make the elusive connection between violence on film and in real-life.  I’m not here to tell you to boycott violent movies and TV shows.  I’m not going to try to establish that violence is at an all-time high.  I’m not going to suggest any causes for violence.

I am simply noting that violence is something that seems to characterize us more and more.

That’s not good news if you are reading the Old Testament minor prophet, Habakkuk.

His complaint, spoken to God, was that the nation of Judah had strayed far from godliness.  He summarized their backsliding by saying,

Hab 1:2  O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.

Hab 1:3  Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.

Wherever Habakkuk looked, whether it was to public policy or in private homes, he could summarize what was wrong by simply saying, “violence.”  It was a symptom of the larger problem, the spiritual problem, of abandoning God.

God will answer Habakkuk; but the prophet won’t like what he hears.  God will tell Habakkuk that He is raising up the nation of Babylon to conquer Judah, and to take its people captive.

Speaking about the invaders, God says,

Hab 1:9  “They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

When violence characterizes a nation, it’s not a good thing; and it’s likely God will eventually respond in kind.

In fact, when God brought the global flood in the days of Noah, His commentary was, “”The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth” (Genesis 6:13).

Jesus let us know, in the Olivet Discourse, that the end times would be “as the days of Noah,” which certainly includes violence.  God won’t bring another flood; instead, a terrible time of judgment is decreed.  We call it the Great Tribulation.

The question we should always ask is, “How should we then live, as Christians?”

Habakkuk gained a perspective – a spiritual perspective – as he struggled to answer that question.  By the end of his book, he could illustrate what he had realized, and he did it by comparing himself, and other godly believers, to a type of mountain deer that he called a hind.

Hab 3:19 (KJV)  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…

For Habakkuk and his countrymen, things were going to get worse-and-worse.  Judgment was coming, in the form of the Chaldeans – a people far more violent that the Jews.  The godly among them would have to ascend to heights of spirituality they had previously not been familiar with – as if they were hinds fleeing the hunter and being driven ever higher.

I have no idea God’s plans for the United States.  I pray for revival; I don’t predict judgment – although it’s possible.

Whatever happens, we need to be like the hind, driven to unfamiliar but wondrous high places in our walk with God.

We need what I’m calling Hinds’ Sight in these last days.

Hopefully, we can discover our hinds’ sight as we follow Habakkuk to his new spiritual heights.

We begin with his initial dialog with the Lord.  I’ll organize my thoughts around two points: #1 When V Is For Violence, Appeal To The Lord, and #2 When V Is For Violence, Abide In The Lord.

#1    When V Is For Violence,
    Appeal To The Lord

I want to establish one more important point before we get into the verses.  In this book, God will be dealing with the southern kingdom of Judah as a nation.  It has national application before it has personal application.

Habakkuk was a victim of the sin all around him – not a target God was aiming at.  It may not seem like much of a distinction, since his suffering was so real, but it makes all the difference in the world concerning your understanding of the character of God.

Look at it this way.  Often commentators suggest that Habakkuk is asking the “Why, God?” questions, such as, “Why, God, do You allow evil?,” or, “Why, God, do You allow the wicked to prosper?”

That’s not what this book is about.  It is about a nation defying God, and God acting appropriately (as we will see).

Let’s get into it!

Hab 1:1  The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

God’s prophets often characterized their message as their “burden.”  They certainly did not mean it in the sense it was to be despised.  Quite the opposite.

They meant, by “burden,” an overwhelming sense that they had to share what God had given them.  Their message was too important to keep to themselves.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is our burden.  It’s too important to keep to ourselves.  And none of us want to; we want to share it with others.

Pray, everyday, for God to give you opportunities to share Jesus with someone.

The rest of this book is what Habakkuk “saw.”  We know very little about him, personally.  He wrote in the seventh century BC, just as Babylon was rising as a world power.  He was contemporary with Jeremiah, who was also predicting Judah’s downfall.

In fact, Jeremiah was telling the Jews to surrender to Babylon.

Hab 1:2  O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.

Hab 1:3  Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.

There was a lot wrong in Judah – a lot of “iniquity.”  If you were here for our series in Jeremiah, you got an earful.  The Jews were worshipping idols; they were involved in disgusting pagan religious rituals; there was child sacrifice; they were oppressing the poor; they took advantage of widows, “plundering” what little monies they had.

Habakkuk sums it all up by using the word “violence.”  We normally think in terms only of physical violence; but it’s a word that can have a much broader application.

I read an article whose clever title hints at this broader use of the word: California’s video game law does violence to the First Amendment.

The author contended that California’s law against selling “offensively violent” video games to minors does its own violence to free speech.

Habakkuk felt he had been appealing to the Lord a long, long time.  He could not understand why God had not acted to overcome the violence among His chosen people.  He couldn’t comprehend how, or why, God put up with it.

Too bad Habakkuk didn’t have the Book of Jeremiah to read.  There is an incredible passage that speaks directly to God’s dealings with nations.

Jer 18:7  The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,

Jer 18:8  if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.

Jer 18:9  And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it,

Jer 18:10  if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.

Jer 18:11  “Now therefore, speak to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I am fashioning a disaster and devising a plan against you. Return now every one from his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good.” ‘ ”

Straightforward.  Simple.  Obey God and He will benefit your nation.  Disobey Him, and He will see to it your nation suffers disaster, in an effort to correct your evil ways.

Habakkuk and his fellow Jews in Judah had already seen this happen to the northern kingdom of Israel, who had been overrun by the awful Assyrians.

They did not believe it could happen to them, because they had the Temple in Jerusalem, and they believed God would never allow it to be destroyed.

He would; He did.

I’m not predicting the fall of America.  I’m still praying for revival.

I will say this: no matter how hard you look in the Bible, you won’t find the United States in prophecy.  My theory (not unique to me) is that Jesus will resurrect and rapture the church prior to the Tribulation, and our country will lose so many of its leaders and citizens that it will be relegated to a much lesser position on the world stage.  After the rapture, with its devastation, the US will probably need to become part of a North American Union in order to survive.

Hab 1:4  Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

Habakkuk is suggesting, to God, that because He does not act, the Jews think His “law is powerless” over them, and they are encouraged to act unjustly.

In other words, it was sort of God’s fault for not doing something about it.  His seeming hesitation was allowing “the wicked [to] surround the righteous” and “perverse judgment [to proceed].”

God’s hesitation to act is most often, if not always, to give people a chance to repent.  He had shown Judah what would happen to them, when Assyria destroyed Israel, taking the Jews captive, and dispersing them.

He had been sending prophets to them, to warn them of coming judgment unless they repented.

At least some of those prophets had pointed out that certain physical calamities, e.g., low crop yields and droughts, were a warning of impending judgment.

They had His Law, which spoke clearly, in the Book of Deuteronomy, about the national consequences of obedience and disobedience.

In short, God was acting, and would continue to act.  But His people were not reacting by repenting.

God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to repentance.

One source I read claims that in Africa alone, everyday, 16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity.

Another source says:

Daily, 35,000 conversions occur in Latin America.

Daily, 28,000 conversions occur in China.

Missionaries in India report 100,000 conversions monthly.

God is not slack; He is longsuffering.  True, His longsuffering leads to our suffering, while He waits.  But the souls saved are precious.

His longsuffering will not always wait; and that is what God tells His prophet.

Hab 1:5  “Look among the nations and watch – Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.

Hab 1:6  For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

Hab 1:7  They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.

Hab 1:8  Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.

Hab 1:9  “They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

Hab 1:10  They scoff at kings, And princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.

Hab 1:11  Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god.”

The Chaldeans had not yet risen to prominence.  But they would.

The Chaldeans were people who lived in southern Babylonia which would be the southern part of Iraq today.

In 731BC Ukinzer, a Chaldean, became king of Babylon.  A few years later Merodach-Baladan, also a Chaldean, became king over Babylon.  Then in 626BC Nabopolassar, another Chaldean, began what would be an extended period of time during which Babylon was ruled by a Chaldean king.

During this time the word Chaldean became synonymous for Babylon, and we see many verses in Scripture where the word Chaldean was used to refer to Babylonians in general (Isaiah 13:19; 47:1, 5; 48:14, 20).

Successors to Nabopolassar were Nebuchadnezzar, Amel-Marduk, Nabonidus and then Belshazzar, “king of the Chaldeans” (Daniel 5:30).

God is at work among the nations.  Daniel, in his prophecy, spoke of the succession of nations that would be world powers.  He correctly and accurately listed Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome.

He spoke of a revived Roman Empire in the end times, yet future to us.

Nations rise; nations fall; and a great deal of it has to do with whether they obey or disobey God, which can be gauged – to an extent – by their violence.

We can certainly make a case that V is for Violence in America.  We don’t need to be the most violent nation in order to be on God’s radar for judgment.  In fact, given the light we’ve had in the form of the Bible and the Gospel, we should be held to a higher standard.

We shouldn’t be number four on the list of abortions.  We shouldn’t be on that list at all.

It hit Habakkuk in the face that God was going to judge Judah.  If it hits you in the face that America is ripe for judgment, appeal to God to bring revival.

#2    When V Is For Violence,
    Abide In The Lord

“Be careful what you pray for” could summarize the next set of verses.

Habakkuk wanted God to do something to bring the nation of Judah to its spiritual senses.  But he strongly disagreed with God’s plan.

Hab 1:12  Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.

Habakkuk did something here that is important for us to do whenever we are questioning God or His methods.  He declared what he knew to be true about God:

God is “from everlasting,” meaning He is always working, providentially, to accomplish what He has set forth in His Word.  For the Jews, that meant God would not allow them to be destroyed.  For us, it means that He Who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it.

God is “my Holy One,” meaning (among other things) that He will work all things together for the good.

“We shall not die.”  Jesus Christ has conquered death and Hades.  We will be resurrected or raptured.  It makes us more than conquerors – no matter our outward circumstances.

God has appointed nonbelievers “for judgment.”  While that comforts us – knowing the bad guys will get what is coming to them – it should also incite compassion for them as nonbelievers, because what they’ve got coming to them is an eternity separated from God, alone, suffering torment, in the Lake of Fire.

“O Rock” is a great declaration of the abiding strength of God.  He is, indeed, the Rock of Age, cleft for me…

Let me hide myself in Thee;

Let the water and the blood,

From Thy wounded side which flowed,

Be of sin the double cure

Finally, Habakkuk declares, “You have marked them for correction.”  God marking them, the Chaldeans, means He had set the boundaries of their behavior.  And “correction” means that they could not destroy the Jews, but were God’s instrument to punish and discipline them.

It’s always a good idea to rehearse what you know to be true about God when you face troublesome times.

It was a little over-simplified, but in the recent film, God’s Not Dead, the main characters reminded themselves about God’s character by saying, “God is good, all the time; and, all the time, God is good.”

Standing in the cleft of the Rock of Ages, Habakkuk was nevertheless still troubled:

Hab 1:13  You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?

Was Habakkuk talking about the Chaldeans?  Probably.  But his comments accurately described Judah at that time, too.

On one hand, the Chaldeans were far more wicked.  But, considering that the Jews had the covenants, Scriptures, and the prophets, and the priesthood, and the Temple… Who’s more wicked?

Habakkuk throws out an analogy.  Seeing the rise of pagan nations against other nations, he compares the stronger nations, the conquerors, to successful fishermen.

Hab 1:14  Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?

Hab 1:15  They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.

Hab 1:16  Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous And their food plentiful.

Hab 1:17  Shall they therefore empty their net, And continue to slay nations without pity?

Again, I would suggest that, since God was dealing with the Jews as the nation of Judah, and had already for quite some time been warning them by various unmistakable signs, His sending another nation against them was the appropriate response.

And the fact it was a godless nation was to expose their shame at failing to be His people.

What was a prophet to do in all this?

Hab 2:1  I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

By comparing himself to a watchman on the “rampart,” Habakkuk was submitting to God’s plan.  The Chaldeans were coming, so be on the lookout for them.

But Habakkuk wasn’t an average watchman.  He was a spiritual watchman.  When he saw the Chaldeans approaching, he would see God’s hand behind it all, for Judah’s good and God’s glory.

As believers, we must look behind, or beyond, what is happening, to its spiritual importance.  Our eyes may never be opened to see armies of angels surrounding our enemies; but we know there are armies of angels.

Wherever you find yourself, there is a battle for souls waging.  The eternal destiny of folks you are in contact with is more important than your temporary trials.  Look beyond the obvious to the spiritual.

“I will watch to see what he will say in me” is a possible translation.  I’m not sure what Habakkuk meant, but I take it to mean, for us as Christians, that we can be led by the indwelling Holy Spirit – listening for His still, small voice.

“When I am corrected” is better translated, “when I am reproved.”

Now, this could mean that Habakkuk expected to be corrected and reproved by God for questioning His methods.  If that is the case, we know that any correction, any reproof, that comes from God is done because He loves us as our gracious heavenly Father.

Habakkuk might also mean that he was going to be reproved by his fellow citizens, in Judah, once he began proclaiming this message – that God was raising up the Chaldeans to conquer them.

Nevertheless, he would continue to “answer,” continue to proclaim, the message he had been given.

The image of Habakkuk on the rampart isn’t one of retreat into spiritual seclusion.  Far from it.

It portrays Habakkuk as active; as watchful; as vigilant; as expectant.  Sure, he was waiting on God.  But his waiting is what I’d call abiding.  It was a disciplined waiting that involved ministering to others, not withdrawing from them.

As I said, I don’t know what is in store for the United States.  I’m going to go on making an appeal to God for revival.

I do know what I’m supposed to be doing; what we are empowered to be doing.  It’s to be sharing the Good News that Jesus died, rose from the dead, and is coming back.

The Declaration of Independence mentions “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”; and we value those as citizens.

As believers, we have a Declaration of Dependance upon God, and should value spiritual life, giving liberty to those held captive by the devil and by sin, and the pursuit of holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.