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Posts Tagged ‘strength from God’

We are moving forward in our study of Habakkuk today, looking at the topic of living by faith.

Habakkuk 2:3-4 – “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. . .. but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

Habakkuk 3:17-19 – “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.”

Before we get to our topic, let’s remember where we’ve been:

  • Habakkuk complained that God was not doing anything about Judah’s sin. God answered that the Babylonians will be his instrument of judgment on Judah.
  • Then Habakkuk objected that the Babylonians are worse sinners than the Judeans. Will they prosper? Will they not be judged? God answered that they will be judged in due time, and this is laid out in some detail.
  • Then last week in chapter 3, Habakkuk prayed for God to bring this about. Seeing in a vision God’s judgment of Egypt at the Red Sea, he says of Babylon in 3:16, “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” (NIV)

Now all of this is the background against which the core message of Habakkuk comes out – what living by faith means. God gives promises to his people. But there is an interval between the promise and the fulfillment. And faith has to do with this in between time, living between promise and fulfillment.

So I want to share with you five things we learn from Habakkuk about what living by faith means; living between promise and fulfillment.

1. It means trusting in God’s promises

Habakkuk 2:4 says it simply – “the righteous shall live by his/her faith.”

Even if God’s promise seems to tarry, we are not to give up, but we are to keep God’s promises before us. We are to faithfully and steadfastly trust in God and his word to us.

Habakkuk lived by his faith. He knew what was coming and it wasn’t good. But he chose not to focus on the bad that was present and that was coming. He chose to stay focused on the promise.

In the same way we are to move forward, even though we don’t see any evidence that God’s promises to us are coming true. As Hebrews 11:1 says, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Romans 4:18-21 are some very powerful verses about trusting in God’s promises. Here, Paul talks about the faith of Abraham. “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.”

Faith is not putting on rose-colored glasses. “Everything is just fine!” “There’s no problems here!” No, faith is seeing how bad things really are, yet still choosing to trust that God will come through for us. Abraham and Sarah really were too old to have a child, but they did anyway because of God’s promise.

2. It means waiting for God to act

Habakkuk was given a promise that God would act to save his people and judge Babylon for its violence and evil. Then the Lord said to him in Habakkuk 2:2, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” And this is what he resolves to do in Habakkuk 3:16. “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” (NIV); and for the day when God will deliver Judah.

And while he waited things were really bad. Judah was invaded. The temple and city were to be destroyed. And many would be killed or taken captive to Babylon. This was the reality he was facing presently and for the foreseeable future.

And although we will not find ourselves in just these circumstances, we will have our share of difficult situations as well. And so like Habakkuk we have to learn patient waiting also.

As Peter reminds us, with God a thousand years is as a day (2 Peter 3:8). God’s timing is not ours. But his promise will come. As the Lord says in 2:3 the promise has “it’s appointed time.” And so we must wait for it.

3. Living by faith means praying for God to act

It is not doing nothing; it is not about being passive. It is doing that which counts the most – praying.

This is what Habakkuk did as we see in Habakkuk 3:2. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (NIV)

We talked about this last time. God, you have said “it will surely come; it will not delay” (3:2). Bring it to pass even now! Make a name for yourself even in our day! Do great deeds of deliverance and salvation even now!

Through prayer God allows us to be a part of the process of bringing his promises to fulfillment.

4. Living by faith means having joy even while we wait

Habakkuk 3:17-18 are some of my favorite verses in the whole Bible. “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Habakkuk is living in very difficult circumstances. God hasn’t acted yet, and there is no sign that the fulfillment is just over the horizon. But he chooses to have joy because he knows God will act.

This is an anticipative joy. You know by faith how the story will end, and thus you can already have a taste of that joy, even while waiting for it.

It is as Jesus said in Matthew 5:12. When you are persecuted and slandered, “rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven.” Rejoice already, knowing how things will end, when God’s promises are fulfilled.

5. Living by faith means receiving strength from God to endure

I am using the NLT here of Habakkuk 3:19, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

Even though things are bad, and that for the foreseeable future, God gives him strength. In fact, God is his strength. In all of the chaos and suffering of his day God gives him stability – he is surefooted like a deer.

And thus God makes him able to go through the most difficult terrain – climbing through the mountain heights.

And God can be our strength too, so that we can make it through the difficult path we have to walk, waiting for the fulfillment.

What about you?

How are you doing living by faith this morning? How are you doing living in the in-between time; between promise and fulfillment?

Maybe you are looking to God to take care of you and your needs in this life. And maybe things are really hard right now. And you wonder when  God is going to come through for you.

Or perhaps you are looking to the future and the life to come when all of God’s promises are fulfilled. And you  wonder if you can make it to the end so that you can receive these.

Whatever your situation I want to pray for you this morning . . ..

William Higgins

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