Summary: In today’s sermon we discover two life-changing responses to adversity.
This is the fifth message in my series titled, “Making Sense of Today’s News.” Let us read Habakkuk 3:1-15:
1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.
5 Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.
6 He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed.
His ways are eternal.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, O Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode with your horses
and your victorious chariots?
9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows. Selah
You split the earth with rivers;
10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot. Selah
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters. (Habakkuk 3:1-15)
We live in a very impatient society. We have all been programmed to get whatever we want when we want it. It’s the product that counts! And so the value of the process is often lost.
The Russian comedian Yakof Smirnoff made this point about Americans in one of his monologues. Smirnoff is the one who always ended his jokes by saying, “What a country!”
He told the story of when he first visited a supermarket in America. He said he walked down one aisle and saw milk powder—just add water and you have instant milk. He went on a little further and saw soup powder—just add water and you have instant soup. He went even further and he was looking at breakfast powder—just add water and you have instant breakfast. Finally as he was walking down the last aisle he saw baby powder—and said, “Wow! What a country!”
Although instant everything might be at our fingertips when it comes to our food, it’s not usually like that when it comes to our spiritual growth. It certainly was not like that for Habakkuk.
As we near the end of our study of this Old Testament book, I hope you have been able to see the exciting process of change that has taken place in the life of this prophet. God has been tenderly and lovingly taking Habakkuk from a place of fear to faith.
You can see the change in Habakkuk by looking at the change in his prayers. Habakkuk initially responded to the silence of God by questioning God. But now as we come to chapter three verse 2 we find Habakkuk standing in reverence before God.
The book of Proverbs tells us that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (1:7). Sincere reverence for God is that necessary starting point in life if you are ever going to respond to life’s problems and difficulties properly.
In C. S. Lewis’ well-known book, The Chronicles of Narnia, he tells the story of how four children come into the land of Narnia. In Narnia all the animals talk but they are under the evil spell of the White Witch. They hear about the lion named Aslan.
Aslan is the Christ-figure in Lewis’ writings. When the children first get ready to meet Aslan they have a conversation with the Beaver family about him. And in that conversation they learn about reverence. The conversation begins with little Susan asking Mr. Beaver, “Who is Aslan?”
“Who is Aslan?” said Mr. Beaver, “Why, don’t you know? He’s the king. He’s the Lord of the whole wood, but he’s not often here, you understand. . . . But the word has reached us that he has come back. . . . He’ll settle the White Witch all right. . . . He’ll put all to right as it says in an old rhyme in these parts: