This weekend is the start of what is commonly called March madness in college basketball. Over the next four days, 48 basketball games will be played to bring the number of contestants for the national championship down to 16 teams by Monday night. For college basketball fans missing last year’s March madness was a very difficult thing. So many are very excited about the opportunity to fill out their brackets and cheer for their favorite teams. We have been considering in our blogs Habakkuk’s madness when Habakkuk complained to God about the injustice that he saw in Judah and God told him that He was going to deal with the situation by using the Babylonians to judge Judah. Last week we considered Habakkuk’s prayer in response to God’s plans. We continue to look at the prayer beginning in verse 16 of chapter 3 where Habakkuk says, “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs tremble. 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,” (Hab.3:16-18 NIV). When God initially spoke to Habakkuk his response was one of overwhelming amazement. His heart pounded and his lips quivered as he did not expect to have a response from God as he did. When God told Habakkuk that he was going to use the Babylonians to judge Judah, his own madness was greatly increased. His spirit was overwhelmed, and he felt a sense of undefined tear. But Habakkuk doesn’t stop with fear. When we are fearful of something fear not only weakens our strength, but it intensifies our misery, so we should never stop there.
Remembering the keywords that God had told Habakkuk, “but the righteous will live by his faith”, (Hab.2:4b) that becomes the basis of Habakkuk turning to God in faith. He says in verse 16, “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us”, (v.16). Here Habakkuk is referring to and believing that God will in the future judge the Babylonians. Habakkuk is trusting in the living God to do what is right, even if he doesn’t understand. Even though Habakkuk doesn’t like God’s plan, he is going to wait on God to perform His will. He doesn’t stop at fear and anger with God, but rather he comes to a place of calm assurance that even though agricultural disaster was awaiting the nation, he would keep his focus and his eyes on God working out Judah’s salvation. Living in a world that was based on an agricultural economy the invasion of a foreign army would bring devastation to the land, that’s what Habakkuk describes in these verses. In the Old Testament, Israel’s prosperity was dependent on the nation’s obedience to God’s covenants. Such prosperity was forfeited by disobedience and disloyalty to the living God. In our own lives, it is profoundly important that we prepare for trials that cannot be avoided in this life. It’s also important that we seek to walk in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, as He is one who holds our life and times in His hands.
Habakkuk in his prayer begins to make a huge shift in verse 18. In this passage, his eyes are not focused on the outward circumstances, but on his living God. His rejoicing in the Lord is not based on earthly possessions or material prosperity, but it is based on the fact that our God is a good God, even in the face of difficulties and trials. It is wise for each of us to consider how uncertain all our material possessions are and to be investing in building a legacy based on that which we can bring with us into eternity. In next week’s blog (Lord willing) I would like to look more carefully at the last two verses of Habakkuk 3. In the meantime, let me remind you that the Lord Jesus Christ is the bread of life and when we partake of Him, we know that He will sustain us and care for all of our needs, even if we may be going through painful things with our knees. Habakkuk’s joy in verse 18 implies a knowledge of the God who cares for him. You can’t rejoice in the Lord unless you know Him. I hope that you know the love of God that has been revealed through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ because He deeply desires to be known by you.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo