“The Faith of Habakkuk”Categories: M. W. Bassford, Sermons
It probably won’t surprise most of you to learn that I’m a worrier. I come by it honestly; my father before me was a worrier too. Nonetheless, I’m apt to lose myself in fretting over the future of the country, the future of the church, the future of my family, and all sorts of other things I can’t control.
It was with great interest, then, that I saw a Facebook friend posting the other day about the book of Habakkuk. Just as we do, Habakkuk lived in a time of great turmoil, and just like me, he worried about the future. However, unlike any of us, Habakkuk got to engage in a direct dialogue with God, and the conclusion he reaches afterward is both profound and as relevant to us as it was to him. This morning, then, let’s consider the faith of Habakkuk.
When I look at the book, I divide it into four unequal sections. The first stretches from Habakkuk 1:1-2:1. It teaches us that GOD CAN USE THE WICKED TO JUDGE THE WICKED. The Chaldeans were even more wicked than the Jews they were about to conquer, and we see Habakkuk struggling with that. However, God still was in control, and His judgments still were just.
So too for us. If we feel like Christianity in our country is under threat, both from internal and external enemies, we should understand even the triumph of those enemies as a judgment from God. Nothing less than the Babylonian Captivity could humble and purify the Jews, and it may well be that God has decided that His people today need to be humbled and purified too. He continues to direct the course of history, and even the people who think they have rebelled against Him will end up carrying out His will.
I see a second main section in Habakkuk 2:2-17. It shows that ONLY FAITHFULNESS CAN PROTECT US FROM WRATH. In Habakkuk’s day, the Chaldeans looked unstoppable. However, God promises him that their judgment was coming too. They would be repaid for all the wrong they were doing. In fact, the only ones who were going to make it through were the righteous, who would live by their faith. This idea, which is found in Habakkuk 2:4, is so important that the passage is quoted three times in the New Testament.
The lesson is plain for us. We might get outraged about how the enemies of God in our day seem to be prospering, but we can be sure that He has His eye on them too. Their time is coming. Rather than worrying about how things should turn out, we should focus on staying faithful. The math here is simple. The faithful will live, but the proud won’t.
The third section of the book runs from Habakkuk 2:18-3:15. Part of it is prophecy, and part of it is prayer, but the message of all of it is that GOD IS MIGHTY AND WILL ACCCOMPLISH HIS PURPOSE. Indeed, the text draws a contrast between the idols of the nations in the first section, who can’t do anything, and God in the second section, who can do whatever He wants to.
Though we don’t see people worshiping statues too much today, we live in an idolatrous time. Just as the Scripture discusses, there are people around us who make an idol out of money. So too, there are those who make idols out of politics, government, and even science. The stock market jumps up every time there’s a successful COVID vaccine trial, but even if a vaccine will keep us safe from COVID, it can’t keep us safe from death. Whatever the idol, though, idolatry is vain. In the end, only God will prevail.
This takes us to our final section, which appears in Habakkuk 3:16-19. Its point is simple: TRUST IN GOD, NO MATTER WHAT. Notice the contrast. On the one hand, Habakkuk is terrified of the invasion that he knows is coming. On the other hand, though, even if things get so bad that there isn’t any food left, he will continue to rejoice in God.
I don’t know what the future holds. It may be that the present distress is just a blip on the radar screen, and we’ve got an era of prosperity and peace stretching ahead of us. It may be that things will be worse than I can imagine, and that’s pretty bad!
This I know, though: the future still will have God in it, and for all of us, that’s enough. We do not know how He will save and redeem and care for us, but we know He will. Like Habakkuk, we always will be able to rejoice, because we have the one thing that matters.