Summary: ONE WHO KNOWS WHERE TO LOOK DISCOVERS MERCY. Habakkuk indicates three places to look for mercy. During shaky times mercy can be found in prayer. During dark moments, mercy can be found in the power of God. During points of uncertainty, mercy can be found
October 14, 2000 -- AM
MERCY IN THE MIDDLE OF MISERY
Our God is a great God, and greatly to be praised. A finite mind could no more comprehend His glory that one can compress the ocean into a bucket. All eternity will be spent learning more and more about how great, how good, and how glorious God is. Dwight Pentecost (97-98) #8-11
An old authority assures us that "the Jews fancy, concerning the cloud that conducted Israel through the wilderness, that it did not only show them the way, but also leveled it; that it did not only lead them in the way which they must go, but also fit the way for them to go upon it; that it cleared all the mountains and smoothed all the rocks; that it cleared all the bushes and removed all the pitfalls."
What is probably a mere legend as to the type is abundantly true of the providence of God, which it so accurately represents. Our gracious God not only leads us in the way of mercy, but he prepares our path before us, providing for all our wants even before they occur. -- Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
PROPOSITION: ONE WHO KNOWS WHERE TO LOOK DISCOVERS MERCY.
Here are three places to look for mercy.
I. Mercy in Appeal (Habakkuk 3:1-2)
A. DURING SHAKY TIMES MERCY CAN BE FOUND IN PRAYER. The words "O LORD" refer to Jehovah, the self-existent one. He is not the phony idol that can do nothing. God can do something. Habakkuk heard the speech of the LORD. He heard, understood, and believed what God was saying. Therefore, Habakkuk was afraid. In wrath ... remember mercy. There are two parts to this prayer. The wrath of God would decimate the sinful nation of Judah. The nation would be injured to the point of death, but the prayer is for revival. In the middle of your wrath Lord -- that is, the middle of the years of destruction -- remember mercy. There is mercy in petitioning God for revival. We need the mercy of God to recover, restructure, resume, go forward, or grow. Our stability is connected to God’s mercy. Our progress is an act of God’s mercy (relief from consequences). Thank God for mercy!
B. "Oh LORD, revive your work in the midst (mix) of the years." This is my prayer too! Revival of the Lord’s work is a great need. We need a sense of the Lord reviving His work in and through us. Help us O God! Help us remember that it is Your work. For it to be revived we must relinquish any hold of our own or any claim we have on it.
C. "Men are never nearer heaven, nearer God, never more God-like, never in deeper and truer partnership with Jesus Christ, than when praying." -- E. M. Bounds. See also Psalm 16: 11.
During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion. Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln. The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon. The soldier returned to service, fought the entirety of the war, and was killed in the last battle. Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president. Close to the heart of the soldier were his leader’s words of pardon. He found courage in grace. I wonder how many thousands more have found courage in the emblazoned cross of their King. 1041 Sermon Illustrations, Ideas and Expositions (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1953), p. 244.
II. Mercy in Authority (Habakkuk 3:3-5)
A. DURING DARK MOMENTS, MERCY CAN BE FOUND IN THE POWER OF GOD. The Lord is awesome and takes away the breath of one who really examines Him. His glory covered the heavens. Wow! What a picture. As expansive as all the heavens are, God’s glory can be seen across it all! It is greater than it all. How little we understand of the greatness of God. God has brightness. It is like light, but not the same. The merciful God is powerful and bright. He is dangerous if he wants or needs to be. The "brightness" suggests glory and majesty.
B. How can His power be hidden? God’s glory was hidden in Mt Paran. The Lord came from there according to Habakkuk. This district, through which the children of Israel wandered, lay three days’ march from Sinai #Nu 10:12,33. From Kadesh, in this wilderness, spies (q.v.) were sent to spy the land #Nu 13:3,26. Here, long afterwards, David found refuge from Saul #1Sa 25:1,4. In each case the majesty of God was hidden. How can it be hidden unless God wills that it be concealed? God’s power is removed from notice by His desire to have it unnoticed, or by man’s distraction with other things. Much about God’s power and majesty can be hidden by attention focused elsewhere. Consider the following illustration. The light of the entire sun can be blocked from view if one holds a coin close enough to his eye. In a similar way, focusing one’s attention intensely on something such as money (or a false god or control) can prevent one from noticing the power of God.