1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.
5 Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.
6 He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed—
but he marches on forever.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode your horses
and your chariots to victory?
9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
VERSION ®. NIV®. COPYRIGHT © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Habakkuk spends a lot of time recalling the historic events of God saving Israel. Why do you think history is an important instructor for learning to live by faith? How can that help you deal with hard times and patient waiting?
- Based on what God has done before, Habakkuk is confident that the Lord will come again. How does that expectation help him and others to wait patiently on God? What does this mean for you?
- Habakkuk is confident that God will turn the tables on the enemies of God’s people. How does God’s future justice help to settle people? We often take matters into our own hands. What happens when we try to get vengeance instead of waiting for the Lord?
- It is interesting that this passage is a Psalm that is meant to be sung, prayed, and recited in a worship service. How important do you think church should be in helping you become a resilient faith-filled person?
- In this chapter, we are given glimpses into the splendor of the Lord’s return. How does the glory of the Lord’s return help us to wait patiently?
The Splendor of the Lord
*This transcript is generated from the sermon audio. This document has not been edited for spelling, grammar, or exactness.
If you’re able to locate a Bible, and we have Bibles here in the book racks in front of you, if you would turn to Habakkuk, chapter three, and that would be on page 807 in the Bibles that we have here. 80 seven. We’re in Habakkuk, chapter three. I’m going to read the passage which we’ll also put up on the screen behind me. I’m going to read the passage from verses one all the way through 15. And then we’ll pray and we will get to work. This is Habakkuk’s prayer, chapter three, starting verse one. It reads like this
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet on shagionoth. Lord, I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds. Lord, repeat them in our day, in our time. Make them known in wrath. Remember mercy. God came from Taman. The Holy One from Mount Quran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise. Rays flashed from his hand where his power was hidden. Plague went before him. Pestilence followed his steps. He stood and shook the earth. He looked and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled, and the age old hills collapsed, but he marches on forever. I saw the tents of shonen in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory? You uncovered your bow. You called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers. The mountains saw you and writhe. Horns of water swept by the deep, roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lighting of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth, and in anger you threshed the nation. You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness. You stripped him from head to foot with his own spear. You pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding, you trampled the sea with your horses, turning the great water. This is the word of the Lord.
Let’s Pray: Lord, as we’ve opened Your word together, we’re praying that by Your spirit, through Your word, we would hear Your voice. We pray that you would help us to become a people who have a resilient faith for troubling times. We ask God that you would shape and mold this community of faith into a people who can live beautifully in a world that is broken and in distress. The Lord, would you please help? We ask in Jesus name.
We’ve been doing this series now for multiple weeks. It’s kind of a strange one because we’re in an obscure book of the Bible. Many of you have never heard of Habakkuk and most of us don’t really know how to pronounce it. And we even say it differently around here. I’ll say it one way, someone else will say it differently. But what we’re doing is we’re looking at this Book of the Bible that helps us figure out how to live faithfully in the midst of a broken and disappointing world. And Habakkuk is a good guide for us in this process. But what we’re finding, and this is true from a lot of places in Scripture what we find is that difficult times, troubling times, hardship, those sorts of things will come. In fact, the Lord himself said, in this world, you will have trouble. It’s not a matter of if you will, but it is a matter of when it happens. What are you going to do in this world? You will have trouble. One of the things that we found as we’ve walked our way through this with Habakkuk is we find that some people go through difficult things and it improves [them]. They are beautified by going through that experience and clinging by faith to the Lord through that. And they come out on the other side and they have a more tender faith, a more resilient commitment to the Lord, a willingness to interact with the world in a different way. Some people do that, but that’s not a given. It’s not a mechanical thing where if you go through difficulty, you for sure come out on the other side a better person. In fact, some people walk away from the faith or they become hardened to the things of God. I was thinking about in Pilgrim’s Progress. In my household, I’ve got young children, so you read the kids version. It’s called little Pilgrim’s, Big Journey. And it’s interesting because in Little Pilgrim’s Big Journey, it’s the story of Christian on his way to the City of God. And at the front end of the book, we find him reading a document and he finds out that judgment is coming to his city. And he says, I need to leave. And he tries to convince his family and they will not come with him. And so he decides, well, then I’ll go alone. He leaves the City of Destruction and he heads off for the City of God. And along the way, right away, there’s a young man named Pliable who says, I’d like to see what this path is all about. Joins them in the journey, and they’re walking and they’re talking and they’re trying to head toward the king’s city. And right away, after leaving the City of Destruction, they fall into a mud pit. It’s called the Bog of Despond. They fall into a pit and they’re stuck. They’re stuck in the mud. And the one boy, Pliable, he says, Are you kidding me? Like, is this what it’s like to follow your king? And he’s able to get himself out of the Bog of Despond complaining along the way. And he says, I’m not following that King. This is what it’s like. No thank you. And he pieces out. He takes off, heads back home to the City of Destruction, and Christian is stuck and he can’t get out. So his situation is a little more dire and he has to ask for help. And a man named Help comes along and rescues him. But isn’t it interesting that two people go through the same thing and the one says, I’m going home, I’m not signing up for this. I’m not going to keep on this path. This sounds like trouble. And he leaves. And the other person becomes more resilient in his commitment to follow the King’s path. Christian then recognizes this will not be easy. This journey to the city of God will not come easily for him. And so he heads off in that direction with a new commitment to the Lord. So my question is, what’s the difference? Like, as a pastor, I want to know that. I want to know how can I help you guys go through health situations and relational situations and difficulties of life and economic downturns and loss of job and those sorts of things. And how can you come through that on the other side with a more resilient faith in who God is and what he’s done? I think Habakkuk helps us here. He gives us five aspects of living by faith in troubling times. Five aspects of living by faith in troubling times. They’re here in our chapter. They go like this. They are history, prophecy, irony, liturgy, and glory. History, prophecy, irony, liturgy, and glory. And we’ll walk our way through them one at a time. And I’ll help you along the way. Here’s the first one. History.
If you want to be a person who has resilient faith, one of the things that you have to learn to do is to draw upon history. You have to be willing to look back at what God has done and then draw strength from that so that you’re confident that he will accomplish his promises in the future. And by doing that, by drawing on history, what you’re actually doing is you’re strengthening your faith for today. Let’s look at it. Verse two. He says it like this. Lord, I have heard of your fame. There was a report about you. I’ve heard about it. I’ve heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. He’s looking back at these historic things that have happened and then he prays like this. Repeat them in our day, in our time, make them known in wrath. Remember mercy. He’s looking back through human history at the events that God has performed for his people, and he’s drawing strength from them. Now, I’m going to show them to you along the way. There are actually quite a few of them here, so I’m just going to give you three because otherwise I feel like it would be overwhelming, but let’s look at a few of these different references that he’s making to real events that happened in human history. The first one comes in verse three. What he does is he’s looking back and he’s referencing God’s leadership when God brought them out of slavery into Egypt and through the desert wilderness and to the Promised Land. Look at verse three. God came from Taman, the Holy One from Mount Peran. You go, what? You got all of that from that verse, right? It’s weird. And where are those places and what are we talking about? Well, those were actual places and they designate kind of the boundary markers of the desert wilderness. In Deuteronomy 33, verse two, just so you know, I’m not making this up, moses said, this is at the end of his life. And he’s recounting how God had rescued them and led them, and they’re about to go into the Promised Land. So he’s kind of retelling the story to say, when we get in, let’s be faithful. When you guys go in, let’s live according to God in his ways. But at the end of his life, he said, god came from Sinai, he dawned on them from Seer. He shone forth from Mount Peron. There it is, that mountain. He came with a myriad of holy ones from the south, from the mountain slope. So he’s referencing some of these same locations, and he’s saying, these were real places that we traversed, these were real places that we went through. And by calling them to memory, he’s saying, this is how God acted. His awesome deeds occurred in real time. He led us out of slavery into Egypt. He rescued us. He was a redeeming god. And then he brought us to Mount Sinai or Mount Peran, which has those multiple names, and that’s where the mountain trembled. Moses goes up, the glory of God comes down, everything quakes, and God gives him the Ten Commandments, the covenant of here’s how we’re going to live in a covenantal relationship, one to another. He says, I am the Lord your God, who saves you. I’m the one who rescued you, who brought you out of slavery in Egypt. Therefore, here’s how we live. Here’s how you should live. And so when Habakkuk is writing this song, which I’m going to show you here in a minute, he includes this feature. He says, this is the God who took a people from slavery in Egypt and led them into the Promised Land. He did that. That was one of his awesome deeds. And he’s reminding himself then of God’s goodness, his faithfulness and his ability to save. Then he references another event in verse seven. He says, “I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish.” And again, these are kind of veiled references, but if you think through what is he talking about? Mean, this is a lyric now to a song, and the people are going to sing it. What are they meant to feel when they sing that? It’s not meant to just be some babble, like some strange phrase that we just open our mouths and we say this because it sounds good. No, this is a real thing that God did. And so we call this to mind and we sing about it. What is he talking about? These tents of Cushan in distress. You may have heard about it in Sunday school. It’s a fun story. It’s the story of Gideon and the Midianites. If you’ve ever been in Sunday school and you learn about this leader named Gideon and the enemy of the people of God, this army surrounding them, God says to Gideon, I know you’re fearful. Gideon is always hiding. God gives him an assignment, even when he does the heroic stuff, he goes right back into hiding. He’s fearful. He’s uncertain of God’s leadership. And God says you’re my guy and he co-ops him in, and he says, I’m going to use you. And he tells him, here’s what’s going to happen. And Gideon goes, Wait, you sure you want me to do this? He says, I’m not sure I can trust you, God. How about if I pray this way and you answer me accordingly? And God does that, by the way. And then he goes, Humor me, God, let’s do it the exact opposite. I’ll put something out, I’ll pray about it, and if you do things the exact opposite, then maybe I’ll trust you. Well, anyways, Gideon’s very fearful, and God says, I’m going to use you. And so Gideon goes, okay, well, I better recruit a pretty big army because we’re going up against the Midianites, and they have a huge army. So he drafts as many people as he can into his mission, into this fight that they’re going to have. And he has this big army. And then God goes, I don’t like this. You have too many people. Which, by the way, if you’re in a fight, this is never like a normal thing to say. Like, hey, you’re too strong, so let’s send some people home. And they whittle the army down. They get it down to what, 600 people? And then God goes, yeah, now we’re ready. Now he’s going to go against this expansive army. And he says, you’re not going to take credit for this one. The battle belongs to the Lord. And he goes, okay, God, but what are you signing me up for? Because this doesn’t make sense. God goes, okay, I got a special for you. I want you to sneak up on their camp tonight and see what you see. Listen to what you hear happening. Hey, so this is Judges, chapter seven. And he and his partner wander down. They sneak up to the edge of the camp, and they’re listening to the Midianites, the Kushite army. They’re listening to them. And right as they arrive, he hears this interaction between two of them. And the one says, I just had a nightmare. I had a vision. And it’s super weird, but let me tell it to you. There was this giant loaf of barley bread that came down out of the mountain, just tumbling down the mountain and into our camp and knocked down all of our tents, just wrecked our entire camp. And he said it could be nothing other than the sword of Gideon. And Gideon hears that, and he’s like, what? Are you kidding me? Because God was giving him confidence that God was going to perform this incredible thing. And if you know the story, sure enough, gideon defeats the Midianites in an unconventional way. They surround the camp. They’ve got torches and jars, and they break the jars and they have the torches, and they just scream. And then the whole army goes nuts. The whole Midianite army draws swords and starts to kill each other. And God gives them an incredible victory. So Habakkuk says, let’s sing about that one. Let’s let that be a part of our song that we sing. I saw the tents of Kashan in distress. There was a day when God said, I will beat that army for you. You don’t have to be strong to do this one. You don’t even have to be confident to do this one. I will do it for you. Well, let’s sing about that. I saw the tents of Kashan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Or how about in verse eleven in our passage here, god provides for Joshua. There was an event, and I’ll read it here. It says, sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the flashing of your flashing spear. Again, this is a real thing that happened in Joshua, chapter ten in the Bible. Joshua is the leader of the army of God, and he’s going to battle. They’re in pursuit of the enemy, but the sun’s about to go down. He’s like, man, we’re going to lose them because we’re just getting to the point where we can catch up with them, but we’re going to lose them. So he prays. He says, God, hey, can you do me a solid here and just put the sun on pause so it doesn’t go down today? Which is an audacious prayer, right? Like, hey, God, why don’t you just stop that big ball of light in the sky so we can get them? And the Bible says, that’s exactly what God did. And the sun stood still for about a half a day, or for about a full day is what it says in Joshua 1013. And it goes on to say, there has never been a day like it before or since. Surely the Lord was fighting for Israel. Habakkuk, what is he doing? He’s looking through human history and he’s saying, these are the things that God did for his people. These things really happened. Habakkuk wasn’t there for them, but he heard about them. He heard the fame. He knows of these awesome deeds of the Lord and he’s now using them as a way to boost his own faith. If God did that, if he did these sorts of things and he promises that one day he’s going to return and he’s going to make good on all of his promises, I can trust that that’s going to come true. How? Because look at the kind of stuff he did before. Look at the kind of God that he is. So if that really happened and the future then is certain, then no matter what happens today, if I’m trusting in Him, it’s going to be okay. It might be awful, it might be incredibly hard, but I’m drawing faith from the historic realities of what God has done in human history. This is how Paul puts it. In Romans 15, he’s telling us we need to learn how to do this. In Romans chapter 15, verse four, Paul tells us everything that was written in the past. Your whole Bible, all these stories back here that most of us look at with that side eye and we’re like, this stuff is weird. Like, I like the New Testament because feels a little bit better. But all of the things that were written, Paul says in the past, these were written to teach us so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement that they provide, we might have hope. Here’s what I would say to you. Learn to plunder your Bible for faith. Learn to look at these historic things that God has done and recognize that we’re following a God who is more than able to save and deliver and rescue. We need to learn how to live by faith by looking to these historic events. Martin Lloyd Jones, a British preacher, he did a series on Habakkuk in the going through all these really difficult things and he brings out the Book of Habakkuk and he says, guys, we need to study our faith. And this is what he said. “If God did not actually do the things recorded in the Old Testament for Israel, then the whole Bible may just be a piece of psychology meant to keep me happy. The Bible, however, plainly shows that my comfort and consolation lie. In fact, the fact that God has done certain things and that they have literally happened. Habakkuk is not just comforting himself by playing with ideas. He is speaking of the things that God has actually done. Our faith is founded on things that really happened.” And so we can take confidence and consolation from that and listen, if they didn’t happen, then we can just go home. I can just dismiss you now. If the historic realities of Christianity are untrue, we depend on a faith system that says there was a man named Jesus of Nazareth and he really lived and he really died and he really rose from the grave. And if those things that I just said aren’t true, game over. Like, it doesn’t matter. You can’t be confident that you’re forgiven. You can’t be confident that you’re going to be okay with God. In fact, Paul puts it like this in first Corinthians 15. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then Christians are the most pitiable people on earth. It’s sad. But if they did happen, if the faith that we profess is a historic faith with real things that happened in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then game on. We can be confident that God is at work for our good. So first, learn to draw on history.
Secondly, learn to use prophecy. Learn to use prophecy. Now, prophecy is a weird word used in a lot of different ways, some that are not true or helpful at all. Prophecy really means God speaks and he gives us an indication of what he’s up to. But somewhere along the line, people got obsessed with the predictive elements of prophecy. So you’ve got people like Nostradamus, French philosopher, who wrote his book of prophecies in 1555, and people go, wow, this guy could predict the future. And they read these things and they’re like, what’s going to happen? And in fact, I Googled it this week and he predicted COVID-19. Surprise surprise. He did that one too. So I read it, the prophecy about it, and I was like, what a leap to go from what he said, which was weird and obscure, to the historic events that happened more recently. But that’s how people sometimes read the Bible, just like Nostradamus would, trying to figure, hmm, what are all the things that are going to happen and how can I predict them? But the way that Habakkuk draws on prophecy is different. He doesn’t have all the details. He’s not trying to predict exactly how things are going to unfold, but he has the word of God, and he’s been given enough that he’s drawing on that for his faith for the day. In fact, let me just remind you of what God has said in this book, the prophecy of Habakkuk. God said, Habakkuk, the people of God are evil and wicked and violent, and I’m going to punish them. I’m going to judge them for their sin. I’m going to do that by sending the Babylonians. And Habakkuk says, I don’t like that plan. Babylonians are awful. Why would you do that, God? I thought you were a holy God. And God says, Well, I’m also aware that the Babylonians are evil, so I’m going to judge them too one day. I’m going to settle all accounts, actually. I’m going to make all things right in this world. And Habakkuk hears that. He has the content now of what God is going to do, he doesn’t have a lot of timestamps though. In fact, the one timestamp that he has comes from chapter two. If you remember God said this. These things will happen at the appointed time when the end comes. He’s saying, it’s going to happen. God is saying, you can bank your life on this one. These things will come true. But then he says, but if they feel like they’re a long ways off, if they delay, if they tarry, here’s your job. Wait for it. They’re going to come true. You don’t know exactly when they’re going to come true. I mean, Habakkuk would love to know. When do the Babylonians show up? What’s the date on that one? Okay, when do they leave? I want to know when I can get back to life as usual. God doesn’t give Him any of that information, but he shows Him here’s enough that you can live by faith in the meantime. And that becomes the thesis of the whole book. The righteous will live by faith. God, we wait in faith for the promises of God to come true, and that is enough. We need to learn how to draw on the prophecy of God, the word of God, to steady us in the moment that we’re in. And when we do that, it actually does help us. In The Hiding Place. It’s a book by Corrie Ten Boom about her experience in Holland. She and her family had a watch shop, and they assisted Jews during the time of Nazi Germany. They hid them away, but they also got them food and provisions, and they did all sorts of things for them. But Corrie and her sister were arrested for that work. They were taken to Ravensbruck concentration camp and they lived through some of the most awful of circumstances. But one of the things that Betsy says in that story is so incredible, and it really does transform her. Betsy goes through hell on Earth, but somehow she becomes one of the most beautiful individuals. Like if you read the story and you read how she interacts with the enemy soldiers and the other prisoners, you will be inspired by her faith. But one of the things that she says relatively, I suppose, early on in the experience, she says, “If God has shown us bad times ahead, it’s enough for me just to know that he knows about this. That’s why he sometimes shows us these things—to tell us that this too is in his hand.” I don’t know what’s really going to happen. I don’t know when the end of this is coming. I know it’s going to get worse. God has given us insights into that from her perspective, and she says, and that’s enough, because it reminds me that this too is in his hand. God is on his throne and he’s at work and the world is broken, but he’s well aware of that. He is going to do something about it. He has told us as much. He’s going to make all things right. But in the meantime, I’m going to wait in faith knowing it will come true. I know that for sure. But in the meantime, I’m going to wait in faith. So secondly, let’s lean on the prophecy of God. Let’s learn to look at the Bible and what God has said as a way to draw strength. For the moment.
Here’s the third thing that we need to learn to do. We need to learn to recognize the irony in the way that God has ordered the world that what appears to be people thriving who are disregarding God. God will turn it around. Okay, it looks like everything’s going well for them, but God is going to flip the script to look at verses 13 to 15. It says, You God crushed the leader of the land of the wicked. You stripped him from head to foot. Here’s the ironic part. Verse 14. With his own spear, you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us. Gloating. They’re so proud, they’re so arrogant. They’re gloating as though about to devour the wretched who are in hiding. But you, God, trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great water. There’s an irony here. The enemy is so strong and so formidable and has this giant spear. And then God takes that and he says, I’m going to use this on you. All this wicked, evil stuff that you’re doing is going to turn back on your own head. There’s an irony. God is able to take things that look like the evil people, the wicked, they’re thriving. And God says, that’s not how it’s always going to be. I’m going to turn this thing around. O Palmer Robertson, in his commentary on Habakkuk, he points this out. He says, and this is pretty bizarre way to view the world, but it is incredible if you can actually do it. He says, “The prophecy of Habakkuk encourages the faithful to assume a strange perspective. They must look at the strength of the enemy as the very source of their own protection. What right? We’re looking at the enemy’s strength, and you go, oh, that’s the very source of our protection. The stronger the enemy, the more sure its own self destruction. For as God sovereignly raises up powers and brings them down again, he turns the strength of the enemy against himself.” Over and over in scripture, that’s the pattern. There’s an irony. What looks evil? What is intended for evil? God uses for good the evil things in the world. God is able to overturn and overrule. I’ll share with you two examples of this in scripture. If you remember, we did a series on Esther. There was a bad guy named Haman and a good guy named Mordecai. And Haman hated Mordecai. Haman wanted to destroy him. And so he built this huge gallows, this thing, to execute Mordecai the Jew. And ironically, God protected Mordecai and just flipped the script entirely. So on the day that Haman was planning to arrest and execute Mordecai, the. Whole thing turns around and Haman gets arrested by the king. And the king says, what should I do with him? And some of his advisors go, well, there’s actually a 70 foot gallows that was built at his house. Let’s hang him there. So the instrument that he thought he was going to use to destroy Mordecai actually became his undoing. That’s the kind of thing that God is able to do. Here’s the second one. If you’re familiar with the story of Daniel, Daniel was a faithful follower of God in Babylon, actually. And there were other leaders who were so jealous of him, they hated his gut. He always did everything right. The king always favored him. So they figured out, let’s try to conspire against him and get him out of here. He’s a problem for us and for our advancement. So they came up with a way to trap him. They said he always prays. He does that every single day, three times a day. Let’s make it a law that you can’t pray and let’s have the king sign it, and then we’ll arrest him and capture him and have him thrown to the lion. And so they do that. They get him caught. The king, because he was not very wise and he didn’t see the trap that was set for him. He arrested Daniel, threw him into the lion’s den, and they closed it up and they had to wait. So they go back home. The king can’t sleep that night. He’s just all torn up about what happened to Daniel. And then he comes first thing in the morning and he yells out, daniel, are you alive? They open it up and Daniel’s in there with the lion, and he’s just fine. And the king goes, Get him out of there, pulls him up, and he says, Take these jokers, throw them down. And before they could even hit the ground, it says the lions overwhelmed them and crushed their bones. So these individuals who are using evil manipulative practices to try to do away with something that was in their way to kill Daniel turns around, the evil that they intended comes right back on their own heads. Here’s what Opalmer Robertson and Habakkuk and all of scripture is saying. There’s an irony that we need to learn to embrace when we look at the world, instead of wringing our hands and going, I don’t know what God’s going to do here. I think he messed up on this one. I think if we don’t rush to his aid, the problems are just going to mount and it’s just going to get worse and worse. And I’m not saying we were supposed to be inactive at all, but we have the eyes of faith that are able to look at real time situations and all of the evil and all the hurt and all of the pain, and we’re able to say, we serve a God who’s able to turn this thing around. I don’t know what that looks like, I don’t know what the timeline is, but we serve a God who is able to take what’s meant for evil and he can change it for good. He can ironically take what people are conspiring to do and he can turn it on their own heads. Robertson again, rather than being terrified at the strength of their enemies, god’s people ought to rest confidently in the assurance that the strength of the enemy’s power only displays their capacity to destroy themselves. We look at the brokenness of the world and we’re not all bent out of shape about it because we know God is at work.
Here’s the fourth one liturgy. Liturgy. Here’s the definition. It’s a form or formulary according to which public worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted. Liturgy. Some of us will know it because we come from more liturgical backgrounds. Many of us come from nondenominational churches. So we’re like, what are you talking about, dude? That’s a weird word. But liturgy is this thingy, wherever it is, it’s the order of service. It’s all the things that go into a public worship service, all the decisions that are made regarding the songs that are sung, the lyrics that we sing together, the melody of those songs, the announcements, the transitions, the different responsive things that we can do, all of that matters. And so what I’m talking about here, what I find from Habakkuk Chapter Three, is the importance of liturgy for learning to become people of faith. I’ll show it to you here in verse one. Look at verse one. In chapter three, it says a prayer of Habakkuk, the prophet on the gaiaknath. And you’re like, Dude, these are weird words. But look, there’s a footnote. And if you look down at the footnote, what does it say? It actually says this is probably a literary or musical term. It’s probably a literary or musical term. And the only other place that it shows up is in Psalm chapter seven. The psalms are the song book of the people of God. And in there you have all the different there are introductions on there and it talks about like these people are supposed to perform to this melody. And here are the lyrics that we use when we sing it. Well, in Psalm chapter seven, it’s a song that David drafted, and it uses the same word, slightly different there, but it’s the same word. It’s a song of David which he sang to the Lord concerning Kush, a Benjamite. And so you have this idea traveling through chapter three. This is not just the prophet writing down some things about God. This is actually a psalm that he has now drafted to be shared with the people of God. Let’s bring this thing out and let’s sing about it. Here’s what God is doing. So we’re going to incorporate it into the life of our church, and we’re going to allow this to become the language of how we organize our worship service. Let me show you another feature here. Look at verse three. God came from Taman, the Holy One from Mount Peron. But notice there’s a footnote there too. It’s another weird word that they just kind of put down in the bottom because they’re like, we don’t know what to do with this one. But if you look at the bottom, what does it say? It’s the word salah, a word of uncertain meaning here and at the middle of verse nine and at the end of verse 13, salah three different times. What’s the word? Salah. I know you guys, some of you will know this. It’s a musical term in the book of Psalm. I don’t know exactly what it means. They don’t know exactly what it means. But it’s a word that says when we’re singing, there ought to be moments where you get done with a verse and you just let I don’t know, maybe you just kind of riff for a minute because you need to think about what you just said. Like, just let the melody kind of go on, say la, but you better process what it is you’re singing about. That’s what’s happening here in chapter three. Habakkuk has written a song for us and he’s telling us this is something that we need in these sorts of environments. I’ve said this for a long, long time, but one of my convictions is that the people of God need a theology of suffering. We need to know that the world is broken and disappointing and if we don’t get that one on board, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble. So in some ways it’s inappropriate. When we come to church and the order of service is always happy clappy, right, where everything’s just upbeat and we’re like, yeah, everything’s good. No, there actually needs to be times where we come together and it’s lament and we just kind of get together and we just mourn together and we say the world is broken and this is disappointing and it’s going to get worse. God said, The Babylonians are coming, it’s going to get worse. But here’s our song. There is a faithful God who will make all things right again. So in the meantime, while we wait, we’re going to live by faith. We’re going to live by faith in the God of the promises. By presenting this is Robertson again. “By presenting his message in a form ready for rehearsal in the worshiping community, Habakkuk has prepared a way for the generations following him to enter this same life of faith. Despite awesome calamity. The overarching theme of this chapter may be seen as a poetic elaboration of chapter two, verse four. The righteous will live by faith. Faith triumphs in life by the intervening power of God.” We need to learn how to sing about that. Life is broken. It’s awful sometimes, but we live by faith, because God is a good God and will make all things right.
Here’s the final thing: glory. The principle is that God is going to return. That’s showing up over and over here. God is going to come. And when he shows up, the magnitude of his glory will overwhelm everything. When God returns, how awesome he is will actually just eclipse everything that we have been through. Look at verse three. God came from Taman, the Holy One, from Mount Paran. His glory covered the earth. His glory covered the heavens. His praise filled the earth. Verse four. His splendor was like the sunrise. Rays flashed from his hand where his power was hidden. There was a glory about God that when he shows up, it has an effect on everything. When he shows up, the magnitude of who he is is incredibly overwhelming. In fact, creation itself begins to tremble at his presence. Look at verse six. He stood, God. He stood and shook the Earth. So imagine an earthquake because God is showing up and the Earth is just trembling. Here he comes, our maker. He looked. God looked and made the nations tremble. I learned this one from my dad. There’s a look, right, that you just catch it and you’re like, uhoh but when God looks at the world, the nations that were so boastful and prideful and full of hubris that thought we could beat anybody, they see God and they tremble because they recognize, oh, council are getting called right now. All of my pride is vanishing. I’m standing before God now. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age old hills collapsed, but he marches on forever. All of these features of creation that look so formidable, the biggest mountains, the Himalayans, all these mountains just bow down before God. They just crumble at his presence. That’s the effect of God and his glory. And we learn then that as awful as the world can be, when God comes again, everything will be affected by Him. Everything will be affected by Him. The world that we live in, our own hearts, everything will come trembling before our Maker, and God will settle all account. Now, a picture of that glory has the ability to steady you, has the ability to help you, because God is coming to bring about his salvation. Look at verse 13. You came out to deliver your people, to save your Anointed One. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness. You stripped Him from head to foot. God, your arrival, your coming means more than just the weight of your glory, but the purpose for which you are coming is to work a salvation in this world. You have come to deliver your people. His arrival will mean deliverance and salvation. And it is for the sake of His Anointed One, and he will crush the leader of the land of the wickedness, stripping Him from head to foot. God is going to come again. And he is going to win. And those who live by faith in these promises are aligning themselves with the greatest truth in all the world. That God sent His Son, the Anointed One, to do away with sin and pain and brokenness. And when that glory lands on you, all of a sudden it changes your perspective. If that glory lands on your heart today, if you recognize what God is ultimately going to do, and the effect of that on this world and on yourself, it will change you. That’s why the Apostle Paul would write like this for I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed. What we’re going through right now doesn’t even line up, because the glory that’s to come when when God returns and makes all things right, it will eclipse everything bad we’ve ever been and we will be able to recognize this one. God is making all things new. May that be true of us.
Let’s pray. Lord, we thank you for Habakkuk and we thank you for the way that he is instructing us on how to be people of faith. Lord, we recognize that the world is broken and disappointing. We look at our own circumstances and we see the hurt and the pain and the frustration. But in these moments, we are learning to wait in faith. We’re learning to look to you in new ways your historical saving work. Lord, we’re learning how to live by faith in the promises that You’ve given us. So steady us, Lord. Help us to be resilient in the midst of all of the pain and brokenness. Help us be people who live by faith in the Son of God. And Lord, help us to continually remind ourselves of the glory that will be revealed and how all the present suffering will not even compare to that glory. Help us to see with eyes of faith. We pray in Jesus name, amen.