When God Shows Up – Habakkuk 3: 3-19
Written by Pastor Joel Goff Sunday, 25 April 2010 00:00
We come this morning to the end of our study of the life, times and ministry of Habakkuk but I trust that you have seen that the book is not at all about Habakkuk but it is all about God. (The song of Habakkuk)
It is all about a God who is there when there is no other hope. It is all about a God who is there when there are no other resources. It is all about a God who is there when there are no other options, no other directions to turn, no other possibility to hang onto. That is the God Habakkuk writes about and in this closing chapter it is this God about whom he sings. Not a God who shows up, as my sermon title declares but a God who is in fact always there, always present. Always at work even if we can not see His hand at work. So listen as I read to you the words of Habakkuk’s final song as recorded in his prophecy chapter 3: 3-19 The Message
And so with full orchestra and choir Habakkuk declares his final words. Lets back up for just a few moments and expand a bit on the message of each stanzas of his song. The first stanza is verse 3-7 and he sings of God’s display of His glory. Habakkuk is poetically describing the brilliance of God’s mighty power and the magnificence of his revealed glory. He goes back and tells the story again of God’s deliverance of over a million people form slavery to Egypt. After 400 years of slavery God crushed his enemies, swallowing the Egyptian army in the waters of the Red Sea. Through pestilence and plague he had demonstrated his Sovereign authority over all things. Weather, animals, and everything else were at his hand to do with as he wished. And Habakkuk’s desire is that God would again act on behalf of his people. In verses 6-7 Habakkuk continues to describe the movement of God’s people towards the Promised Land and the terror that struck the surrounding nations because they had heard of the might of Yahweh and the deliverance of his people. We so often think much of ourselves and so little of God, until God shows himself and we bow before his power. But when God displays his glory for his people it is both frightening and irresistibly attractive. Habakkuk wants to see God act and show all peoples what kind of a God he is so that the people would bend their knees and bow their heads in awe and loving fear of his majesty. And we sing that prayer as well.
In verse 8 the second stanza begins and Habakkuk declares that God is a mighty Savior. READ was your wrath against the rivers, O Lord? Was your anger against the rivers or your indignation against the sea, when you rode on your horse, on your chariot of salvation?” Again Habakkuk is speaking of the deliverance at the Red Sea. God’s people had water on one side and the armies of Egypt on the other with no where to turn but God does a miracle walking his people across a dry path through the water and then destroying the pursuing armies. And then Miriam leads them in a great song. Not a song of freedom but a song honoring the glory of a God who delivers. A song of God that is stunning to our modern ears. Habakkuk describe his and our God as one who comes with such unlimited power to destroy his foes that it is breath taking. Is that the kind of God you are praying will act in your life and in your problems? Or are you looking for and asking for a God who has little power and little ability to do much of anything. We speak often about the loving patience and forbearance of our God but we must never forget that at his coming his power explodes with greater strength than all the weapons of mass destruction that all the nations combined have at their disposal. This is the God that Habakkuk sings of. This is the God that is still a consuming fire. This is a God who has declared he will totally destroy all his enemies. Yes this is the God of whom Habakkuk sings and the one for whom Habakkuk cries out to come and act on behalf of his people and his character..
And then finally in the third stanza recorded in verses 9-15 we see God as a mighty warrior. This is a powerful and frightening picture of God dressed in battle gear, upon his horse, coming for his enemies with bow in hand. Although it references the times of Exodus, it is not limited only to that story. God comes in heroic grace to his people and with devastating might to his enemies. You see, Habakkuk sees God as one who is Sovereign over the entire universe, a God whose power causes the wind and the waters to respond to his word and who can cause the sun and moon to come to a stand still. And you and I need to somehow grasp that part of the Good News of the Gospel is what God has done in crushing our enemies and giving us a righteousness that is not our own. A Gospel that declares the most horrible pagan despot in no worse and no better than any self-righteous person. Both are trusting in themselves to their eventual destruction. The one denies the reality of God the other accepts God but believes they don’t need him and that they can do it themselves. But their end is the same. And so Habakkuk sings of God’s awesome work in history and the weight of those words hits him hard. Look at verse 16 READ. He physically falls apart. Much the way Isaiah did. Much the way Daniel did. And notice what causes this physical reaction. Not fear of the Chaldeans and the havoc they will bring onto God’s people. No Habakkuk is trembling in great fear over the mighty power of God that will be poured out on his people. But through this dialogue with God as recorded in the whole prophecy Habakkuk comes to a place of faith that gives us again an understanding of what it meant when he declared that the righteous will live by faith. Listen to 17-18. READ It all began in the opening words of the prophecy when Habakkuk came to God and poured out his heart. His dialogue with God has brought him to this place where he declares that no matter what he still want to trust God and trust what God’s plan is for the nations and more specifically for his people. And so he sings these words. He sings of his unshakable trust no matter what. It is a song that cries out “Oh God. I trust you. I trust your plan. I trust your ways and your methods. I trust you in and through all things.
Dear ones. How much easier is it to sing songs of praise to God when life is good and all is well? When you are healthy, your friends are near, your bank account is full and everything is tracking up. But how about when you are lonely, broke, and in failing health? When everything you desire does not come to pass, can you still worship and rejoice? When your hopes and dreams are shattered can you still sing his praise? The key is you praise him for who he is and when you do that you can praise him in every season.
Let me read the words of one author: If your goal is to be successful, you will not be able to praise God when you are not. If your goal is to be wealthy, you will not be able to praise God when you are poor. If your goal is power, you will not ne able to praise God when you have none. Bit if you goal is to simply be close to God. Then you will be able to praise him no matter what happens. And like Habakkuk you will grow in your faith and find yourself thankful in all things and in all situations because it will bring you closer to God. For our God is a God of salvation, and Jesus is enough for us to sing about for ever and ever even if He is all we have.
There is one final message in our text that is too easy to miss and it comes as a question. Where is your high place? Listen again to verse 19. The high place in most of the OT is the place where the people worshipped false gods. It is the place where the nation denied the one god and prostituted themselves to the gods of their surrounding nations. It is the place of greatest challenge and struggle for God’s people, and yet Habakkuk declares that even in the most difficult places for a follower of God he will be given the stability of deer’s feet to stand firm. And in that we can rejoice. In the very worst place and the most trying situations my God will supply. My God will provide. My God will give us and do for us all that we need to stand firm and honor him.