Wednesday, March 9, 2016
“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:1-2)
Habakkuk had seen visions of what was to come for Judah. He takes time to pray, and his focus is upon Shigionoth, straying or not following the rules. The same Hebrew word is used in the title of Psalm 7. Having heard God’s warning, he was worried about what was coming and asked God to revive his efforts to get the people’s attention before his judgment fell, and that he would show mercy when he sent judgment.
“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet. He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. ” (Habakkuk 3:3-6)
Teman was one of the Edomite cities, and Paran was the part of the wilderness where Israel spent forty years. When God brought Israel into the land of Canaan, he went before them, revealing his glory like light and demonstrating his power, sending pestilences, and demonstrating his power with fire. His power was seen in the shaking and burning on Mount Sinai, and in the earthquake that destroyed Korah and his followers.
“I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. ” (Habakkuk 3:7-11)
The Midianites and the inhabitants of the wilderness had feared Israel. God had enabled them to cross the Red See and the Jordan River on dry ground. God protected Israel and gave them water from the rock, forming a river. The sun and moon stood still while God gave a victory. Habakkuk is reviewing some of the miraculous things God had done in nature.
“Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. ” (Habakkuk 3: 12-15)
God had done equally amazing things in the nations around them, giving Israel victories against far more powerful countries. When the Canaanites united against Israel, God had destroyed all the leaders, enabling Israel to take the land. Even Egypt’s efforts to capture them ended with God escorting Israel across the Sea then drowning the Egyptian army.
“When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.” (Habakkuk 3: 16)
When he heard God’s impending judgment, Habakkuk was upset at his stomach to think of God’s power being turned against Judah. He was totally overcome with the realization that there was nothing they could do to prevent his judgment. His only hope was that God would protect him when it came.
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 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. ” (Habakkuk 3: 17-19)
When God’s judgment falls, the economy will collapse and famine will sweep over the land. The various fruit trees will not bear fruit, and the flocks and herds of livestock will starve. Habakkuk will continue to trust in the Lord to care for him and bless him, even while the rest of the people are struggling to survive.
Habakkuk’s attitude is very much the attitude Christians should have about God’s judgment on our lands, including during the Tribulation if we are here to go through it. We should be troubled at what those around us will suffer, but confident that God will carry us through safely, no matter how bad it may become.