Summary: A Hymn of Faith is an exposition of Habakkuk 3:17-19. Sermon Point: Because faith honors God, God honors faith. (1) The reality that confronts the life of faith; (2) The rejoicing that characterizes the life of faith; (3) The resource that comforts the li
I have a book of devotionals by JOHN FISCHER, entitled, Real Christians Don’t Ask Why. The Don’t is crossed out in the title. How I wish that it were also crossed out in our hearts and minds, so that we can confront the questions we pretend aren’t there. All of us have questions, doubts, and unresolved issues. It’s natural. It’s inevitable. It’s life. From innocent childhood inquiries to complex university debates, life is filled with questions. Yet we pretend our questions are not there. Even in the church, we thoughtlessly declare that Jesus is the answer without really addressing the questions. Why? The fact is that questions leave us weak, needy, and vulnerable. They open up gaping holes in our personalities, our lifestyles, and even our theology. So rather than honestly facing life’s questions, we worship answers. The good news is that we are free to take our questions to God – each, every, and any question. The bad news is that God is free to refuse to answer our questions. More often than not, God opts not to answer our questions, because he doesn’t want us to make idols of answers. God wants us to worship, trust, and obey him. So God entertains our questions, not necessarily to answer them, but to draw us closer to him. This is what the Prophet Habakkuk experienced.
The prophecy of Habakkuk is unique. Most prophets speak to the people of behalf of God. Habakkuk speaks to God on the behalf of the people. But he doesn’t stand in a priestly posture. Habakkuk is angry with both God and the people. Habakkuk is the DOUBTING THOMAS of the Old Testament. Like Job, he questions the moral government of God. Job questions God in response to personal evil. Habakkuk questioned God in response to national evil. Habakkuk witnessed firsthand the pervasive wickedness of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In Habakkuk 1:1-4, he questions the TIMING of God’s judgment. He wanted to know how long God was going to sit on his hands while violence, iniquity, and perverse judgment went unpunished. Verses 5-11 records God’s response. According to verse 6, God would raise up the Chaldeans – the Babylonian Empire – who would capture Jerusalem, overthrown Judah, and carry its inhabitants into captivity. Note the wording of verse 6, “I am raising up the Chaldeans.” While Habakkuk was complaining, God was already raising up the Babylonian Empire as an instrument of his holy judgment
That answered Habakkuk’s question about the timing of God’s judgment. But it also initiated another confrontation over the MANNER of God’s judgment. In Habakkuk 1:12-2:1, he raises his second major question: How can a holy God use the Chaldeans as an instrument of judgment, when they were more wicked than Judah? Verses 2-20 records God’s response. But it is not a direct answer. Basically, God promises that in his own time he would punish the Chaldeans as well. The controversial dialogue ends there, with the prophet’s questions essentially unanswered. Then the third and final chapter closes Habakkuk’s prophecy with a prayer and a psalm. The question is how did Habakkuk go from arguing to singing, even though he still had unanswered questions and unresolved issues? Well, even though God did not put all the pieces of the puzzle in place for Habakkuk, God did allow him to see the big picture through a promise recorded in the last line of Habakkuk 2:4: “But the righteous shall live by his faith.”
This promise is the point of Habakkuk’s prophecy. In fact, it is the point of the Bible. It is quoted in Romans 1:16, Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 to defend the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH ALONE. Justification is the central teaching of the New Testament, which asserts that the righteous merit needed for sinful people to be saved from God’s holy wrath is accredited to the account of those who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and his finished work on the cross. This cardinal New Testament doctrine is succinctly stated in this Old Testament promise: “The righteous shall live by faith.” So Habakkuk was content to live with unanswered questions, because he had this assurance: Faith honors God, so God honors faith. And because of that assurance…
• This book opens with gloom, but it closes in glory.
• It opens with a question mark, but it closes with a exclamation point.
• It begins with doubt, but it ends with confidence.
• It begins with complaints, but it ends with celebration.
• It begins with Habakkuk singing the blues, but it closes in 3:17-19 with what scholars call, “A HYMN OF FAITH.”
This hymn is one of the strongest affirmations of faith in scripture. And it outlines fur us the dynamics of living faith.
I. THE REALITY THAT CONFRONTS THE LIFE OF FAITH