Habakkuk 3 – The Prophet’s Prayer
A. Seeking revival from the God of all power.
1. (1-2) A plea for revival.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.
O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid;
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
a. A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet: The first two chapters of Habakkuk presented the prophet’s question and answer time with God. Now that God had answered Habakkuk, the prophet brought a prayer to close the book.
b. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years: Habakkuk simply prayed for revival. He knew how God once worked and how His people once responded, and Habakkuk wanted to see that again.
i. The prayer of Habakkuk shows us that revival is a work of God, not the achievement of man. There is something man can and must do for revival – simply cry out to God and plead for His reviving work.
ii. Notice the prayer: revive Your work. Often, my prayer is really “revive my work,” but I must have a heart and mind for God’s work, far bigger than my portion of it. “Shake off all the bitterness of everything that has to do with self, or with party, and now pray, ‘Lord, revive thy work, and if thy work happen to be more in one branch of the church than in another, Lord, give that the most reviving. Give us all the blessing, but do let thine own purposes be accomplished, and thine own glory come of it, and we shall be well content, though we should be forgotten and unknown’” (Spurgeon).
iii. At the same time, this must be a personal prayer: “LORD, revive me.” We too often blame the church for sin, corruption, laziness, prayerlessness, lack of spiritual power, or whatever – and we forget that we are the church. Pray for personal revival and diligently search yourself:
· Check your conduct – does your walk glorify the LORD as it should? How about your private conduct, which only the LORD sees?
· Check your conversation – is your speech profane or impure? Do you talk about Jesus with others?
· Check your communion – are you living a growing, abiding life with Jesus?
c. In the midst of the years make it known: Habakkuk longed for God to do a work that was evident to everyone as a work of God. He prayed that revival would be known at a definite time and place (in the midst of the years), not just as an idea in someone’s head.
d. In wrath remember mercy: Habakkuk prayed knowing well that they didn’t deserve revival, so he prayed for mercy. The idea is, “LORD, I know that we deserve your wrath, but in the midst of your wrath remember mercy and send revival among us.”
i. “Sorrowfully, not wishing to be an accuser of the brethren, it does seem to me that considering the responsibilities which were laid upon us, and the means which God has given us, the church generally, (there are blessed exceptions!) has done so little for Christ that if ‘Ichabod’ were written right across its brow, and it were banished from God’s house, it would have its deserts. We cannot therefore appeal to merit, it must be mercy.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “O God, have mercy upon thy poor church, and visit her, and revive her. She has but a little strength; she has desired to keep thy word; oh, refresh her; restore to her thy power, and give her yet to be great in this land.” (Spurgeon)
2. (3-15) The power of God on behalf of His people.
God came from Teman,
The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His glory covered the heavens,
And the earth was full of His praise.
His brightness was like the light;
He had rays flashing from His hand,
And there His power was hidden.
Before Him went pestilence,
And fever followed at His feet.
He stood and measured the earth;
He looked and startled the nations.
And the everlasting mountains were scattered,
The perpetual hills bowed.
His ways are everlasting.
I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.
O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers,
Was Your anger against the rivers,
Was Your wrath against the sea,
That You rode on Your horses,
Your chariots of salvation?
Your bow was made quite ready;
Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah.
You divided the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw You and trembled;
The overflowing of the water passed by.
The deep uttered its voice,
And lifted its hands on high.
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;
At the light of Your arrows they went,
At the shining of Your glittering spear.
You marched through the land in indignation;
You trampled the nations in anger.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Anointed.
You struck the head from the house of the wicked,
By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah.
You thrust through with his own arrows
The head of his villages.
They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me;
Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.
You walked through the sea with Your horses,
Through the heap of great waters.
a. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise: As Habakkuk prayed for revival he began to praise the God who brings revival. In this song of praise (punctuated by several expressions of Selah, as in the Psalms) Habakkuk glorified the power and majesty of God.
i. It is good to praise God like this, and God’s people need to do more of it. It is good to praise God because:
· Because it gives appropriate honor and glory to God.
· Because it declares God’s specific works.
· Because it teaches and reminds us of who God is and what He has done.
· Because it places man in proper perspective under God.
· Because it builds confidence in the power and works of God.
b. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed: As Habakkuk remembered how God had saved in the past, it made him full of faith for what God could do in the present and in the future. He also declared that salvation is brought with Your Anointed – and the LORD’s anointed is none other than the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
B. The triumph of the prophet’s faith.
1. (16-18) Knowing God’s strength, Habakkuk can trust the LORD even in a crisis.
When I heard, my body trembled;
My lips quivered at the voice;
Rottenness entered my bones;
And I trembled in myself,
That I might rest in the day of trouble.
When he comes up to the people,
He will invade them with his troops.
Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls–
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
a. When I heard, my body trembled: Habakkuk showed the proper response of man under the sovereign power of God. He recognized his own weakness and low standing before this God of all majesty and power.
b. He will invade him with his troops: The prophet remembered that the Babylonians were coming, and that this God of sovereign power and majesty would direct their work against Judah.
c. Though the fig tree may not blossom, not fruit be on the vines… yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation: In almost a vision, Habakkuk saw the Judean countryside desolate, perhaps from the invading Babylonian army or perhaps from natural calamity. In the midst of this almost complete loss, Habakkuk could still rejoice in the LORD.
i. He knew that this God of majesty and power is not diminished because man faces difficult trials. Sometimes we think, “If God is so great and powerful, how come I am going through a hard time?” Habakkuk knew this was the wrong question and the wrong attitude. Instead, he said: “I know you are strong and mighty, and if we are in desolate circumstances it is because we deserve it. I will praise You still, and even rejoice in You.”
ii. Rejoice in the LORD… joy in the God of my salvation: With desolate circumstances like he just described, Habakkuk could find no joy in the fig tree or in the vines or in the fields or flock; yet God was unchanged. He could still rejoice in the LORD, because He is unchanging.
iii. Habakkuk didn’t just practice positive thinking and shut out the idea of the barren fig tree and the empty cattle stalls. Instead, he saw those problems for what they were and remembered that God was greater than them all.
iv. Benjamin Franklin – who was not a Christian, though he had great respect for the Bible – used Habakkuk 3:17-19 to confound a group of sophisticated, cultured despisers of the Bible. When he was in Paris he heard this group mocking the Bible, and mocking Franklin for his admiration of it. One evening he came among them and said that he had a manuscript containing an ancient poem, that he was quite impressed by the poem and he wanted to read it to them. When he read Habakkuk 3:17-19, his listeners received it with praise and admiration – “What a magnificent poem!” they said, and wanted to know where they could get copies. Franklin told them to just look in Habakkuk chapter 3.
2. (19) Knowing God’s strength, Habakkuk can trust God for strength.
The LORD God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.
a. The LORD God is my strength: Habakkuk could only properly declare this after he prayed the prayer of faith in the previous verses. He rightly declared that his strength was not in fig trees or vines or fields or flocks, but only in the LORD God.
i. We might even say that what we praise is our strength. If by his words, life, or heart a man lives to praise his own achievements and resources, that those are his strength. If by words, life, or heart one praises a person or an idea, then those are his strength. We demonstrate that the LORD God is our strength when we praise Him.
b. He will make my feet like deer’s feet: Habakkuk thought of the deer running about on the high hills, never losing a step and never falling. More than that, the deer positively dance and leap on the hills – they are full of life and joy. So the prophet proclaimed, “God will set my steps that firmly and lively also. As I trust in Him, He will not allow me to slip or fall, and I will do more than merely plod along – I will skip about with life and joy.”
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission