The Joy of the Lord!
Last week we were talking about Habakkuk’s madness in trying to understand the will of God in using the Babylonians to judge Judah. We saw a very significant shift as he moved from a place of fear to a place of faith and trust in the living God. Reading again the verses that we left off with, “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”, (Hab.3:17-19 NIV). Habakkuk supposes the loss of all things and yet he had an unwavering faith in God and the supreme love of God.
Christianity is not a system of laws and regulations or burdens, we have been set free through faith in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. We should have a joyful heart even as we see darkening storm clouds surrounding us in our culture. Being redeemed by the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ means that joy and cheerfulness are the duty that we owe to each other. There is much racial tension in our day-to-day world, but when we come together to worship the living Lord of the universe we gather with our brothers and sisters from many different cultures and racial backgrounds, and we are made one in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we find our identity in the Lord Jesus Christ that identity should trump all other definitions of how we identify ourselves. We have been entrusted with a message of hope and faith and even when we don’t understand what God is doing, we need to believe Him to work out His perfect will. God is an inexhaustible source and infinite spirit of joy. Because Jesus is the God of salvation and it was God who brought salvation to Habakkuk, he could still rejoice in the knowledge that this world was not all there is. The source of our confidence and joy today should be found in a vibrant relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
As I work through this process of physical recovery following my knee surgery, I am reminded that we as a church are still in the throngs of recovering from a devastating year of death and destruction. Yet just as Habakkuk saw past the pain of the national suffering going on around him, so to we must find in our God the hope that He will bring good out of the evil that has befallen us. In verse 19 Habakkuk describes “the Sovereign Lord” as the source of his strength. This “Sovereign Lord” is the same God who has allowed difficult things to happen in our world in the last year, but what Habakkuk saw and what we need to see is that God still reigns and still wants to move and work in our circumstances. “Sovereign Lord” is a very remarkable statement of faith in the God of all blessings in the midst of disaster.
It is the same vision of God that Jeremiah the prophet had as he walked around the ruins of Jerusalem following their destruction by the Babylonians in 586 BC. In the midst of this great death and devastation we read, “Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him”, (Lam.3:22-24 NIV). Jeremiah was living in the fulfillment of God’s prediction to Habakkuk of the destruction of Judah. But even in the midst of the tragedy he still saw hope in the living God. I believe the Lord Jesus Christ can work in amazing ways, the question is “do we have the eyes of faith to believe that He will work”? Habakkuk believed that the Sovereign Lord of the universe was going to work out his plan, I believe in the same Sovereign Lord of the universe, and I’m trusting Him to bring healing in my life and into the life of our church family. Where are your hope and trust today? Are you resting in the one who said, “surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age”, (Matt.28:20 NIV). Do we doubt because of disappointments? Do our problems and trials confuse us? If our crops fail and the flocks are destroyed will we lose faith or can we trust that our God is still on the throne and that He is Sovereign above all these difficulties? Will we trust in our God, even when things aren’t working out the way we thought they should? Never forget that there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God, found in Christ Jesus our Lord (read Rom. 8:31-39).
All praise to our great God,
Pastor Rich Sivo