Summary: When the future looks bleak, God asks us to trust Him.
There was once a monk who joined a very strict monastic order. In fact, they were so strict that the monks had to take a vow of silence which could only be broken every five years, and then only with two words. After his first five years, the monk went to see the abbot for his two-word interview. The abbot said, “My son, you have been with us for five years now; what two words would you like to say?”
The monk said, “Bed hard.”
“I see,” the abbot said. “You are excused.”
After five more years, the monk went in again to see the abbot. The abbot asked the monk, “So you have been with us ten years now. What two words would you like to say?”
The monk answered, “Food bad.”
“I see,” said the abbot. “You are excused.”
After five more years, fifteen in all, the man appeared before the abbot one more time. Again the abbot asked, “What two words would you like to say?”
The monk replied, “I quit.”
The abbot responded,” Well, I’m not surprised. All you’ve done since you got here is complain!”
• Habakkuk: “How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (1:1). God: “I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even in you were told” (1:5). The problem: IMPATIENCE. When God frustrates us, He asks us to trust Him.
• God: “I am raising up the Babylonians [to judge Judah]” (1:6). Habakkuk: “Are you sure? That doesn’t make sense!” The problem: CONFUSION. When God confuses us, He asks us to trust Him.
• Habakkuk: “I head and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” (3:16). The problem: FEAR. But Habakkuk also says…
(1) “I will WAIT PATIENTLY” (3:16);
(2) “I will REJOICE” (3:18).
Habakkuk was learning to live by faith. “The righteous will live by his faith” (2:4).
The Big Idea: When the future looks bleak, He asks us to trust Him.
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” (3:17). In Habakkuk’s world, life couldn’t get much worse than that.
The people of Israel had been warned many years earlier that this is what would happen if they turned from the Lord: “If after all this you will not listen to me, I will punish you for your sins seven times over. I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of the land yield their fruit” (Lev. 26:18-20).
What should I do when the future looks bleak?
1. ADMIT my fear.
“When I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).
Habakkuk was not some super saint who could handle whatever came his way (3:16).
Sometimes I think we’re guilty of pretending everything is alright when it really isn’t.
2. Focus on GOD.
“I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD” (3:2).
Amazing things happen when God is worshiped: (1) people change; (2) perspectives change.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: “Our troubles can nearly all be traced to our persistence in looking at the immediate problems themselves, instead of looking at them in the light of God.”
Walter Kaiser: “When God becomes the all-consuming reality, our problems begin to take their proper perspective in relation to His greatness and ability to handle them” (The Preacher’s Commentary, p. 191).
“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny” (Ps. 73:16-17).
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I will remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.’ The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (Lam. 3:19-26).
The same king who would conquer Jerusalem—the one Habakkuk dreaded when he heard that God would use the Babylonians against Judah—would eventually concede the greatness of God. “At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored. Then I praised the Most High; I honored and glorified him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Dan. 4:34-35).