Summary: Exposition of Habakkuk 3:16-19
Text: Habakkuk 3:16-19, Title: Even If, Date/Place: LSCC, 9/17/06, PM
A. Opening illustration: all the “what if”s that you get when you miss a turkey
B. Background to passage: We have heard the dialogue between the prophet and His Lord about the coming punishment upon Judah from the Babylonians, and also the impending punishment upon the Babylonians as well. And we have looked at the refrain of the song of Hab 3, which is intensely personal, then the verses as Habakkuk points the people to the awesome presence and reality of their Creator-Warrior God. Tonight we will look at the bridge of the song. It is probably the most intensely personal set of lyrics in the entire song. They are a resolution to trust in God even if the favor of God, and His blessings cease. Most of the song is much like a hymn recalling the majesty and victory of God, but the bridge is very much like our modern choruses, being very personal, emotional, and passionate.
C. Main thought: In the text we will see three aspects to Habakkuk’s firm commitment to trust in God.
A. Fear and Faith Together (v. 16)
1. This first verse of the bridge demonstrates how that both faith and fear can coexist. Habakkuk describes his own reaction in very graphic terms when he realized God’s plan for Judah. His insides ached and pounded, lips quivered, body hurt all over, he was physically sick with fear. He quaked with fear, but his fear was not of the hardship to come, but of the Lord and His displeasure. And next he says “nevertheless,” I will wait patiently. Literally this word meant rest. It is the opposite of “trembling.” It carries overtones of victory, security, and confidence. Habakkuk says that even if calamity comes, his faith was firm. His fear of the Lord helped him maintain faith, because even in calamity, he did not want to displease God.
3. Illustration: Philip Crosby, in his book March Till They Die, tells of a forced march of American and European soldiers in Korea. In November of 1950, the North Koreans were being pushed north, and they were taking with them the Americans and Europeans they had captured as prisoners of war. It was a terrible march. They were forced to go sometimes twenty miles a day though they were emaciated, hungry, suffering. Soldiers who couldn’t keep up would fall back, and shots rang out. They had been executed. Philip Crosby and his friends, as they passed close to those GI’s who were having a hard time keeping up, would say slowly in a whisper, so as not to be heard, "God is near us in this dark hour. His love is real. His mercy is real. His forgiveness is real. His reward is waiting for us." Good,” said Tightrope, “then you get in the wheelbarrow.” Now let’s suppose you did get in the wheelbarrow…
4. There will be times in our life of calamity, and fear will come upon us. We must resolve to rest patiently in the sovereign comfort, protection, and wisdom of our God. Develop a fear within you of disappointing God, which will override any fear of discomfort, pain, or inconvenience. Embrace the will of God for your life even if it includes happiness or depression, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, love or loneliness, etc. Learn to find your comfort in the fact that God is God, and He is large and in charge of all of life. Thank him for His silence, His discipline, His withholding, His delay, His hardship. This will help you with an attitude and mindset of restfulness in Him.
B. Unshakable Joy (v. 17-18)
1. The prophet mentions signs of God’s blessing, and says that even if they are gone; he will find his joy in God alone. The first word that Habakkuk uses in v 18 to describe this joy is one meaning to rejoice, to exult, to be jubilant. It describes a state and act of celebration, approval, and support for something. The second word indicates a very strong emotional attachment or joy. And the object of both of these words is in the Lord. This is a man who enjoys his relationship with God to the point that even if all else fails, his joy will still be full in God. Joy in God is not optional or peripheral; it is key! The highest, deepest, most enduring, most satisfying joy is found only in Christ. Not in His blessings, His salvation, His anything; just in Him. Having this joy is both a choice and an emotion.
2. Ps 16:11, 43:4, John 16:33, 15:11, Phil 4:4, 1 Pet 1:8,
3. Illustration: I walked out to the hill just now. It is exalting, delicious. To stand embraced by the shadows of a friendly tree with the wind tugging at your coattail and the heavens hailing your heart, to gaze and glory and to give oneself again to God, what more could a man ask? Oh, the fullness, pleasure, sheer excitement of knowing God on earth. I care not if I never raise my voice again for Him, if only I may love Him, please Him. Mayhap, in mercy, He shall give me a host of children that I may lead through the vast star fields to explore His delicacies whose fingers’ ends set them to burning. But if not, if only I may see Him, smell His garments, and smile into my Lover’s eyes, ah, then, not stars, nor children, shall matter--only Himself.—Jim Elliot’s diary, I know not how God will dispose of me. I am always happy. All the world suffers; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them, “Discipleship means joy.” –Bonhoeffer,