Promises Over Circumstances

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Habakkuk: Faith When Life Doesn’t Make Sense


Habakkuk 3:1-19

Cody John Simpson

  • Hab 3:1-15
      • What this response from Habakkuk is, is a psalm. It was a sung prayer that Habakkuk offered the Lord after receiving the vision with the 5 woe oracles. 
      • We can see that much of it describes God’s visit of judgment. It is a manifestation of God, or a Theophany: And it’s terrifying. The prophets would always use cataclysmic imagery to describe God’s judgment activity in the world. We can rightly see themes of God’s power and sovereignty over all creation, mountains and rivers that evoke power and permanence are obliterated at a whim from God. 
    • It might seem to us though that this confident psalm of God’s judgment is solely a response to God’s answer that He will one day judge the Babylonians. But that’s not actually the case. 
      • You see there is an important clue in this psalm that something else is motivating Habakkuk’s confidence:
        • 4 locations: v3 Teman & Mount Paran, v7 Cushan & Midian. These are all south/southwest of Israel. Geographically it points us to Sinai, and God’s revelation to Israel in the Exodus!
        • God’s earlier promise of judgment isn’t something new, but reminded Habakkuk of God’s deliverance and salvation for His people in ages past!!
      • Even more, v13, echoing the expectation that God will come save His people, but that He will also “save His Anointed.”
        • This could be priests or king, but these were corrupt in Habakkuk’s day, so more likely means the people of Israel. But the term Anointed, from the full scope of the Bible points us to something greater. God will save His people, because He has promised an Anointed One to save the world. From the creation covenant’s rupture, God promised a “seed” who would triumph over satan, and this promise has been clarified more and more with each covenant. In Habakkuk’s day the people awaited a chosen Anointed One who would come out of the line of David, and bring ultimate peace to the people. This Anointed One comes hundreds of years later. We know Him as Jesus Christ.
          • Habakkuk knows that the end of the story of Israel is not around the corner, because God has promised an Anointed One to come and rule His people. That promise had yet to be fulfilled. 
  • Hab 3:16-19
    • What’s going on here? Why is Habakkuk so physically debilitated? 
      • Well, I think the vision of God coming in judgment was so intense that he was overcome physically. When you see something so shocking and appalling sometimes it creates an uncontrollable physical response. He sees what will come upon Judah’s enemies, the Babylonians. But what is more, is that he knows this judgment will come upon Judah & its capital Jerusalem first. This wrath and destruction will come home first. Vindication for the Israelites must wait, and their punishment comes first.
      • Habakkuk, almost out of the blue, picks up some local agricultural imagery in His psalm. Maybe it reflects his roots, or he is trying to connect better with the people. Whatever the reason, it beautifully describes his circumstances: All the agricultural products that the Israelites would depend on have failed. All material/visible security is utterly gone! It is a scene of famine, of death, of impending disaster.
        • And then Habakkuk says, I will celebrate in the Lord. He will make me like a deer on the heights. Unshakeable faith in the midst of the worst circumstances. 
    • Habakkuk is able to look out at the scene unfolding before him, his circumstances and his future, and in all of the vileness, be lifted up because of his faith in God and God’s goodness and faithfulness. 
      • He knows that God will ultimately save His people, because that is what God has always promised to do. Because of this, no matter what is going on, no matter what is coming down the road, the prophet does not despair. His greatest fear and anxiety (the destruction of his people) will not happen. 
    • But see we are people of circumstances. It’s in our cultural DNA.
      • Here in Quebec, and the rest of the West follows this lead, we generations ago stopped worshiping God, and started worshiping ourselves – particularly we worship pleasure and experience. WE live as though all that matters is the here and now – how we experience life. So things that feel bad ARE bad, and things that feel good ARE good. That’s oversimplified for sure, but there is a severe limit to discomfort, and for most people a good life is measured by a lack of discomfort. 
        • This makes us circumstantial people. Our comfort is always affected by our surroundings. By our circumstances. When life is about our enjoyment, we are tossed back and forth, we bounce from one thing to the next everytime something happens that we don’t like. In the end it makes for a miserable existence punctuated by brief periods of pleasure. The easiest way to live this life is to blot it all out with drugs and heavy distractions. Does this sound familiar? It does to me: I need to pray multiple times per day for God to help me overcome my attachment to circumstances.
    • But we have promises from the Lord, just like the one Habakkuk was holding onto. 
      • For one, we can find ourselves in the story of the Bible. The Bible tells us we are united with the Anointed One – Ephesians 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
      • Galatians 3:26 for through faith you are all sons of God in Christ Jesus. – We are all children of God through adoption since we are in Christ. We are intimately loved, & we have an incomparable identity! 
      • 1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, so that you may proclaim the praises of the one who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – we see even more wonderful statements about identity and purpose!
      • Romans 8:28We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.– All things work for the good of those God loves. What does that mean??…
      • 2 Corinthians 3:18 We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 5:1For we know that if our earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal dwelling in the heavens, not made with hands.– Our present life is temporary, 
      • How can we be sure that we have something better to hope in – Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
  • And if you are here this morning and you aren’t sure these promises are for you. If you are unsure about faith, or not sure about God, let me give you another of God’s promises: Acts 2:38-39 (Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” Jesus, the Anointed One, died innocently on the cross as a sacrifice for your sin, as surely as He did mine, so many of ours. God promises that if by faith, we trust that His death was for us and turn from our past lives of sin and brokenness then God will grant us forgiveness and His love, and count us as in Christ, and adopt us as His children. The promises follow suit.
  • This is just a small sample of God’s promises to his children today. Promises that can and will get you through the ugly circumstances that surround you, and that frankly will always surround you.
    • Yet it’s not just that simple of throwing a Bible verse at ourselves. We need to believe it, and sometimes we don’t. We need to seek God in prayer, and if you’re like me you need community: other people who can remind you and assure you of these truths.
  • God wants us to rise above our circumstances, and He will deliberately allow bad times to roll through to help us grow in this, and enjoy Him and Him alone. This is the higher calling of the Christian life.

Did one of the promise passages speak to you today? We’ll be sharing them on social media. Take some time to prayerfully reflect on how God is seeking to strengthen you through one of these verses this week.