We will recall from the last chapter that the second of Habakkuk’s proclamations is found in this concluding passage of the prophecy that is now before us; and whereas the proclamation in chapter 2 spoke of those who were “puffed up,” this one speaks concerning the just who live by faith. The viewpoint is that of the majesty of Jehovah, and the resulting triumph of His people; and the whole chapter is in the form of a prayer.
Let us endeavor to learn some practical lessons from this prayer of Habakkuk. “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years… in wrath remember mercy!” These are the words with which the prophet approaches the throne of grace. He begs Jehovah to send a revival of His workings among His people in the midst of their years of adversity. And may not this be very appropriately applied to the current condition of the Church of Jesus Christ in general, which seems to be experiencing a sad decline; as well as that of individual believers, who are suffering under afflictions and trials? Yes, yes, yes! Christ’s mercy alone is what we must flee to for refuge! We must rely upon it as our only plea. We must not say, “Remember our merit”; but rather, “Lord, remember Your own mercy!” Let us beseech the Lord to revive His work among us in our present day, and to send a revival in our midst, in which the hearts of men and women and children everywhere may be drawn away from their miserable sins by the loveliness of the Savior, so that they may come and bow the knee before Him!
In the majority of this chapter (verses 3-15), Habakkuk calls to mind the great and majestic works that Jehovah had done for His people in their past history. It has been the usual practice of God’s people, when they have been in distress, to recollect the days of old and the years of ancient times (Ps. 77:5); and also to plead with God in prayer. This is what the prophet does here; and he looks as far back as the first forming of Israel into a people, when they were brought by miracles out of the house of Egyptian slavery. Those works of wonder in the days of old are here described magnificently, for the greater encouragement to the faith of God’s people in their present difficulties. They encouraged the prophet to hope in the deliverance that was yet to be exercised in the bringing back of the Jewish captives from Babylonian exile. Furthermore, the Lord would hereby give a foreshadow of the work of redemption by Jesus Christ. All the wonders done for Israel of old were nothing in comparison of that which was done when the Son of God suffered on the cross for the sins of His people.
When we see a day of trouble approaching, it is wise for us to be prepared. Habakkuk looked back upon the experiences of his countrymen in former ages, and observed what great things God had done for them; and thereby, he was not only recovered, but also filled with holy joy! He resolved to delight and triumph in his God (verses 16-19); for even when all else is gone, the Lord does not go away. Destroy the grapevines and the fig-trees, and you make all the mirth of a worldly heart to cease. But those who enjoyed God in all their blessings during their times of fullness and prosperity can still enjoy Him when those blessings are removed. “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor 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: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord!” exclaims the prophet. “I will joy in the God of my salvation.” When every worldly thing comes crashing down around the heads of God’s children, they can sit down upon the heap of the ruins of their earthly comforts, and continue to praise the Lord as the God of their soul’s salvation. They can rejoice in Him, even in their greatest distresses. But how? When worldly provisions are cut off, we are made to see that man does not live by bread alone; and then we are driven to seek to be supplied by the graces and comforts of the Holy Spirit. It is then that we are made strong for spiritual warfare and work, and it is then that we are enabled to run in the way of the Lord’s commandments and outrun our troubles! It is then that we are enabled to run with light-footedness in the path of life. “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places!” The hind, or deer, is the very emblem of buoyant, springing ease. With light and bounding gracefulness, she clears every obstacle, and sweeps swiftly over the moor. In the same way, we are to always be ready to run with light hearts; but this is only possible by the enjoyment of a relationship with the Lord Jesus! If a person’s Christianity does not give him the Divine gladness which makes him ready for work, there is not much to his Christianity. All work that is not done in fellowship with Christ tends to become either too heavy to be tackled successfully, or too trivial to demand our best energies; and in either case, it will become mechanical and wearisome, like a daily grind. But if we live in daily communion with God, His grace and strength shall make us ready to cheerfully run the race that is set before us!
Thus the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, here ends it with joy and triumph! This is what faith in Christ does; it prepares us for every event and circumstance in life. The name of Jesus – when we can speak of Him as our Beloved – is balm for every wound, and a cordial for every care!
Thank You, O Lord, that whether the fig-trees blossom or withhold their fruit – yet Jesus lives and loves us, and He will continue to live and love us forever! Amen.
If you prefer to listen, today’s Family Bible guide is available in audio format on both SermonAudio and YouTube.
Join other families all around the globe and receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
painting by Albert Bierstadt | Wikimedia Commons