I started last week’s blog with the statement, “another week and another tragedy”, and unfortunately it would appear that we could well repeat it yet again this week. Not surprisingly, I read many commentaries this week where people were asking the same types of questions that Habakkuk asked of God. I began teaching eschatology almost twenty years ago now and have often asked the question of those to whom I spoke as to just how perilous would the world have to become before mankind acknowledged that something very unusual was going on?
We are told by Peter that mockers in the last days will use the excuse that things are continuing the same as they have forever, (2 Peter 3:3-4). Really? My question to them today would be just how blind are you willing to become in order to ignore what we all see happening before our very eyes? Yet for those of us who believe, just like Habakkuk we understand that the world is proceeding according to the plan laid out by God and the time is very near where He will assert His control over it. Here is the final installment of Jack Kelley’s commentary on Habakkuk.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. (Habakkuk 3:1)
Having finally realized the wisdom of God’s plan, Habakkuk breaks forth in a passionate prayer of apology. To capture the spirit in which Habakkuk offered this prayer, chapter three was set to a type of music called Shigionoth and sung like a psalm. Shigionoth is a Hebrew musical term describing frenzied, impassioned music and dance. The amplified Bible defines it as wild, enthusiastic and triumphal music. Other definitions include inspired or motivational, an intoxication in the Holy Spirit. Some have called it the rock music of its day. Suffice it to say that Habakkuk was full of the Spirit, spontaneously beginning to sing and then dance as the words of his prayer came gushing forth.
LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. 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. His ways are eternal.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD ? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode with your horses and your victorious chariots?
You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents 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 lightning of your flashing spear.
In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. 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, churning the great waters.
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:2-19)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, King Solomon wrote, (Prov. 9:10) and as Habakkuk concluded his prayer we can see that he had acquired both. He knew that the behavior of his people deserved judgment, and that the Lord would have to act. In fact he had criticized Him for delaying.
He also knew that the Babylonians were evil and given to excess and that the Lord would have to punish them, too. Isaiah had prophesied that very thing 150 years earlier. I was angry with my people and desecrated my inheritance; I gave them into your hand, and you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you laid a very heavy yoke. (Isaiah 47:6)
And Jeremiah, a contemporary of Habakkuk’s, had written, “But when the seventy years are fulfilled, I will punish the king of Babylon and his nation, the land of the Babylonians, for their guilt,” declares the LORD, “and will make it desolate forever. (Jere. 25:12)
(Jeremiah had earlier foretold the term of Judah’s captivity in Babylon as being 70 years. After that they would return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. True to His word, the Lord raised up the Medes and the Persians to conquer Babylon 70 years from Babylon’s first siege of Jerusalem.)
Far from being rewarded, as Habakkuk had earlier accused the Lord of doing by choosing them as His instrument of judgment, the Babylonians would be sealing their own fate. Their abusive treatment of the Jews entrusted to them would be the last straw for the Lord. But He would choose the time and means of their destruction.
Now I Get It
Habakkuk had seen the light. No matter what happened, he would praise the Lord, relying on his faith to carry him through the difficulties ahead. And that’s the most important message for us to receive from this study. The righteous shall live by faith, irrespective of circumstance or situation.
America’s leaders tell us that Islamic terrorism of the nuclear variety is all but inevitable. It’s not a question of if but when. And if Habakkuk was writing to us as well as Judah, I detected no promise in his book of escape for our nation.
Years ago Billy Graham said that if God doesn’t judge America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. God is just and whatever He permits to befall us is nothing more than we deserve. That being the case, the rallying cry of the Protestant Reformation must become our watchword for today. The righteous shall live by faith.
Does that mean that we should just sit here and wait for the inevitable? Of course not. Neither should we deny the reality of our plight as so many in Habakkuk’s time did. We have to prepare for the worst. But though our enemies rise up in our midst, our prosperity vanish before our eyes, and our trust in the things of this world totally betray us, yet will we rejoice in the LORD, and be joyful in God our Savior. The Sovereign LORD is our strength; he makes our feet like the feet of a deer, he enables us to go on the heights.
Rejoice in the Lord always, Paul wrote. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:4-7) Sounds like Habakkuk and Paul agree on this. How about you? 10-30-05
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.
“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.”
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-6)
I am astounded that so many of those who profess to be believers can watch what is unfolding before our very eyes and still deny the nearness of our deliverance through the rapture of the Church into the presence of our Lord and Savior. I often quote or refer you to the website Rapture Ready as a resource for those who believe we are soon to leave this world. The founder of that website, Terry James, has just released a new book titled “Rapture Ready…or not?” I highly recommend you purchase a copy for it is one of the best books on the subject I have read in many years. It is well written, researched, and full of resource material you can use to defend your belief in the coming rapture of the Church. You can read a preview on Amazon and I would suggest you pay close attention to the preface where we can get a glimpse of the joy that waits for us when our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ calls us home.