Summary: The joy of Habbakkuk, its source and how it can be applied to our lives.
The joy of Habakkuk
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.
Preachers tend to be their own fiercest critics. I am one of these, I frequently notice all the faults in a sermon, things that I have not made clear, places where I have allowed myself to be side-tracked. But normally their wife comes a close second in the criticism stakes. For example, Rhonda has pointed out to me that recently that a lot of my sermons have been of the “Woe, woe, calamity, doom” type. That I have talked about the wrath and judgement of the Lord, as is right, but I have concentrated to much on these topics and not moved on.
Well this afternoon I am going to talk about joy. It is good for a preacher to fairly frequently turn to the subject of joy as it occurs over 330 times in the bible. The bible, despite its popular image, is not a miserable book, but a joyful one. The Church sometimes seems to be miserable, but that is not God’s intention for it. It is called to be a joyful group of people.
We will be considering the joy of Habakkuk, one of the lesser known prophets of the Old Testament. We will look at the source of his joy, what it’s effects were and how this joy can be in our own lives.
What is joy?
The first thing that I need to mention is that while joy has many similarities with happiness, it is not the same thing. When the Bible talks of joy it is not so really talking of an emotion but a state of mind. Not something external, but something internal.
Joy is not something that happens to us from outside over which we have no control, but something that arises from within us and is not dependent on our circumstances of the time. It is not a short-term, changeable feeling, but a long-term decision.
What was the source of Habakkuk’s joy?
In the face of things, Habakkuk should have been thoroughly miserable. His country had lost its independence and was under attack, being invaded by the Chaldeans (otherwise known as the Babylonians). He was a prophet of the Lord, from whom the people had turned to the worship of idols. What’s more the message that God had given him was not particularly pleasant. He had been told by God that famine would hit his land, that the three major food crops for his people would fail, the wheat, the figs, the olive crop and that the flocks from whom they were dependent for meat would be lost and taken away from them, probably by the invading army.
This vision of the future, given to him by the Lord was so fearsome that it caused him to tremble in the innermost parts of his being. He became unable to speak or to move.
What was more was the fact that the invading armies were raised up by God to discipline his own people, so much so that he refers to them as ‘his troops’. So it seemed that the Lord had not just abandoned them, but he had turned against them.
He had plenty of excuses to mope.
But before this he was told of the invasion and the defeat of Israel, he was reminded of the great acts of God in the past. God showed him how he had worked mightily and powerful for his people in the past, and for their salvation.
Then he chose to trust God for the future. He trusted the God that who could bring devastation could also bring salvation and rescue. The God who had promised to discipline Israel had also promised to love it, and to keep it as his special possession.
The joy of Habakkuk arose from his trust in the all-powerful Lord whom he served. It arose from God’s promises. God had kept all his promises in the past and could be relied upon to keep his promises for the future.