Focal Passage: Habakkuk 3:1-6, 11-13, 16-19
Habakkuk comes to terms with God doing what He wants to do in the world. At one level Habakkuk’s problem is a human problem. We want to be God and we want to be in control. However, God is His own interpreter and orchestrator of His work. God has creator rights and that includes judgment of His creation. Habakkuk submits to the plan of God which leads to awe of the Lord and His deeds.
Habakkuk in the previous two chapters has a series of complaints and the Lord answers him. Habakkuk is concerned about the sin and destruction of the community around him. God responds by pronouncing judgment on the people of God by using a pagan and evil nation. Habakkuk in chapter three recognizes the impending judgment and only asks the Lord, “In your wrath remember mercy!” He appeals to and worships the Lord out of a state of humility and ultimately joy.
Habakkuk spends the middle section of chapter three proclaiming God is great and God is in control. He uses illustrations from nature, history, and judgment. Habakkuk recognizes in the Lord’s display of power that He will save His people, the anointed of God. Judgment is coming, devastation is upon the land, and the wicked are about to be crushed. But the righteous that live by faith will be preserved and ultimately rewarded. Habakkuk’s faith and praise is rooted in historical truth with a forward perspective.
We want to respond like Habakkuk at the end of the book. He comes to embrace the plan of God even though it means justice will be delayed. “Now I must quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.” Habakkuk is taking the long view in mind. He will walk through the shadow of death where food, drink, and livestock will be scarce. Yet Habakkuk will rejoice because God will not only save him, but will give him renewed strength. Habakkuk’s situation did not change through his pleading with the Lord.
Habakkuk changed his perspective and it led to him not only surviving, but thriving in joy.
Habakkuk’s joy can be our joy. This world can beat us to death. We carry burdens for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and even our nation. Joy comes from a change of mindset. Change begins with acknowledging, “Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Psalm 115:3).” Wonder at His glorious work leads to awe-filled praise. We want to be like Hannah who proclaimed, “There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God (I Samuel 2:2).”
We want to worship. Worshipping the Lord in spirit and in truth leads to rejoicing. We are called not to passively wait for joy to come, but to pursue it. The hour has come where we do not worship on some mountain or in Jerusalem. We pursue joy in Christ “who is, who was, and who is coming (Revelation 1:8).” It is a quest for joy. The implications are endless.
We are the people who go out to a lost and dying world with our heads held high. The battle has already been won; we are simply waiting like Habakkuk for the consummation of all things. While we wait we call others to join in our quest.
Joy is not meant to be contained, but spread. So that others can say along with us no matter the situation, “yet I will triumph in Yahweh; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”
— Moore is pastor to adults at First Baptist Church, Clarksville.