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By: Larry Shaffer
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This is the third and final chapter. The debate recorded in chapters 1 & 2 has concluded. Chapter 3 transitions to a God-inspired prayer of Habakkuk. The bulk of the chapter recounts God’s power and work from creation, to the exodus, to Mt Sanai, to the entrance into the promised land, to the Davidic Covenant and the fulfillment of God’s anointed. Verse 2 kicks it off by saying, “Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; In wrath, remember mercy.”
The whole counsel of God
Habakkuk encountered an interaction with God that made him tremble and in awesome reverence left him in fear. We could probably also benefit from such an interaction with God from time to time. If we will allow ourselves to interact with the entire counsel of God (the whole Bible) then this will inevitably happen. We tend to create God in our image rather than allowing God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, to teach us the full scope of God and all that He is. Have you walked through a Christian book store recently? As a business, they stock what the consumer will buy. The books sold tend to focus on the God that we want Him to be. As Christians consumers, we tend to consume material about the God that makes us feel the way we want to feel.
Esther vs. Habakkuk
In Habakkuk’s case, God came upon him and he “feared”. Habakkuk wasn’t looking for this experience. Habakkuk was looking for God to extend gracious revival to a wayward people. Habakkuk prayed the same prayer we would. When Esther asked the people pray and fast, God swooped in like the hero, defeated the bad guy and rescued Israel. I loved the book of Esther. That story will sell books. Habakkuk, on the other hand, is disturbing. God still plans to save and redeem His people but first he will purge them by allowing the evil Chaldeans to render punishment. This story leaves me in fear, reverence and even, quite frankly, bewildered. If we will pursue the whole counsel of God, then we will know the full scale of God, and I believe, we will be better for it.
Grace and mercy will prevail
Knowing that God is going to do what God needs to do, Habakkuk surrenders and simply prays, “In wrath, remember mercy.” This is insightful to me. Habakkuk surrenders knowing God must extend wrath in some cases, but He also knows God is filled with mercy. He appeals to God’s tendency toward mercy. Even in these sections of scripture that reveal the harsher side of God, we should recall the countless verses, chapters and passages of God’s Word that upholds His eternal mercy and grace. God can’t help Himself. Grace and mercy will prevail.
Lord, I tremble and shake before You because your power and might are beyond description. But my fear is tempered with the realization of all You have done through Jesus to save me from Your wrath. I am both humbled before You in reverence but also emboldened by Your mercy…at the very same time. Amen! Tomorrow I will have some final observations about Habakkuk and then move on to 2 Samuel to finish the stories of King David that we begin last year.