Hope in God

The restless nights, the tear-filled eyes;

The soul in anguish, the cloudy skies.

A weary body, a fragile mind;

Worrisome thoughts, and hope declined.

 

A mist of doubt and fear arise;

Obscuring light and God’s sunrise.

Where once I bathed in help divine,

A deafness to my prayers I find

 

No strength I gain from stained-glass towers,

Birds are hushed, and bloomless flowers.

The world I view is monochrome,

Depression comes and makes its home.

 

Can confidence and hope emerge,

Where pain and worry do converge?

Is there buoyancy in tempest tossed,

A lighthouse beam for one who’s lost?

 

Depleted strength- no plan revealed;

My heart recalls a truth concealed-

A God who stills the raging sea,

Delights to save and set me free.

 

From my dark and cheerless place,

I call for intervening grace.

He lifts me from the waves below,

To heights of joy I did not know

 

He leads me to the waters still;

My soul restored – His perfect will.

All failure, fear and worry cease,

And in His presence perfect peace

 

My anxious soul has found its rest;

All waywardness and sin confessed.

A joy-filled path through valley deep,

A God of hope- my soul will keep.

 



The Holy Cure

When mentors fail, and winds prevail;

When worlds collide, and foes assail;

When pressure mounts without retreat;

When crushed like harvest grains of wheat;

 

Fall on your knees for only there

Is found a hope beyond the care.

Lift up your voice in prayer and praise,

Your spirit stirred, your heart ablaze.

Resist the urge to fight alone;

Dependence comes before the throne.

The holy cure in great despair-

Found only in a time of prayer.

 

When tribulation makes its mark;

When mountains rise, and valleys dark;

When gospel-truths seem out of reach;

When friendly words are but a speech;

 

Fall on your knees for only there

Is found a hope beyond the care.

Lift up your voice in prayer and praise,

Your spirit stirred, your heart ablaze.

Resist the urge to fight alone;

Dependence comes before the throne.

The holy cure in great despair-

Found only in a time of prayer.

 

When heart and soul is wrenched by sin;

When Satan lurks with evil grin;

When loss is felt like Job of old;

When conflicts, fights are unresolved

 

Fall on your knees for only there

Is found a hope beyond the care.

Lift up your voice in prayer and praise,

Your spirit stirred, your heart ablaze.

Resist the urge to fight alone;

Dependence comes before the throne.

The holy cure in great despair-

Found only in a time of prayer.

 

When service for Christ becomes a chore;

When Scripture’s dull and quite a bore;

When church has lost all sense of worth;

When hymns of praise are void of mirth;

 

Fall on your knees for only there

Is found a hope beyond the care.

Lift up your voice in prayer and praise,

Your spirit stirred, your heart ablaze.

Resist the urge to fight alone;

Dependence comes before the throne.

The holy cure in great despair-

Found only in a time of prayer.



The Wastelands of Discouragement

The beauty of the meadows fair

Replaced by barren deserts bare.

Eden’s lush and fruitful land

Exchanged for rocks and scorching sand.

 

The Scriptures read, the prayers are prayed;

The nights are cold- the soul dismayed.

The howling wolves; the bitter thirst;

Sojourning through a land accursed.

 

En Gedi’s springs cannot be found;

Pilgrim’s corpses all around.

Sinai’s burning bush concealed;

Canaan’s path is unrevealed.

 

All strength is sapped, no fight is left;

The spirit crushed, the soul bereft.

Abandoned, lost, and heart forlorn;

My friends-  the brier and the thorn.

 

Waterless dunes and arid planes;

The sandy storms and hurricanes.

These all attempt to overthrow

The truth within my soul I know.

 

Like Jesus from the Jordan led,

By Spirit to the tempter’s dread.

Though hungered, weary and deprived,

Strength to fight from God derived.

 

O weary desert trav’ller see;

Beyond Elijah’s juniper tree.

A rigid hope that stands secure-

The cross, the grave, the double-cure.

 

The wastelands of discouragement,

Fought by gospel armament.

Only by God’s truth applied,

Are desert seasons sanctified.

 

~ By Daniel Kriss, June 27, 2018

(Dealing with Discouragement)



From Darkness to Dependence; Perplexity to Certainty

Ever felt like the Christian life is unfair? Ever expected God to do something and He didn’t? Ever felt disappointment, discouragement or disillusionment with the Lord?
  • Maybe your son was in an accident and recovery is taking longer than it should.
  • Maybe you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you are just waiting to die.
  • Maybe the church you’ve served for years has changed and headed down a different path.
  • Maybe matters in your personal life have escalated and they are more than you can bear.
  • Maybe you’ve tried to witness to family and they continue to reject you and the gospel.
  • Maybe you followed the Lord in some area and now it seems to be failing.
  • Maybe you’ve been faithfully giving to the Lord’s work and now you’re in financial distress.
  • Maybe your business is failing but you are perplexed because you know it was God’s will.
  • Maybe you feel surrounded by the enemy and wonder if God is even there anymore.
  • Maybe you’re owed money and the courts of the land are not operating with justice.
  • Maybe you see no fruit in the ministry at this time.

Let me tell you something. You’re in good company with all the saints and prophets throughout redemptive history: Job, Jeremiah, Elijah, John the Baptist, David, Stephen, Paul, etc. etc.

Today we will look at the life and message of a man who was called of God to be a prophet. This individual clearly had a deep understanding of the character of God, but as we will see, knowing the truth is not necessarily walking in the truth. This sermon will trace the transition between a man’s personal expectations of what God should do, and what it means to exercise faith in who God is.

BACKGROUND & CONTEXT

  • This book was written somewhere between 610 and 605 BC. There is much internal evidence to suggest that this book was written just a short while before the Babylon invasion took place in 605 BC.
  • This prophet was a contemporary of Jeremiah and demonstrates a high regard for God and a and the laws of Israel.
  • Virtually nothing is known about this prophet with regards to his background, upbringing, and education.
  • It is likely that he was a priest or member of the Levitical choir involved with the worship of God in the temple. This is solely based upon a couple of verses at the end of his short book.
  • Most commentators believe he was trained in the Mosaic law and attended a school of the prophets.
  • The writings of this prophet are rather unique in that they are not addressed to the people of Israel, but instead record a dialogue between the prophet and His God.
  • This prophet’s story begins by making complaints against God for His inactivity, passivity, and even flirts with the notion of injustice.
  • However, we a blessed to witness a wonderful transition which takes place throughout this book: The prophets dark and perplexed outlook is transformed into a beautiful declaration of faith in God.

Who is this relatively obscure prophet? Habakkuk (pronunciation: “Huh-bak-uhk”).

The Plan: This morning we are going to read through this book together. Throughout this sermon we will pause on some specific truths, and at other times we will move swiftly through the text. This message provides a clear outline of the book, but not specific points. I will leave you to determine the prominent truths herein. It is essential that we reach the conclusion today because it is the crowning glory of this little book.

Let’s turn to Habakkuk together now as I preach a message entitled:

From Darkness to Dependence; Perplexity to Certainty.

  1. Outline: Introduction: (1:1)

Habakkuk 1:1

“prophet” – a man called by God to declare truth to the people.

  1. OUTLINE: Habakkuk’s First Complaint: (1:2-4)

Habakkuk 1:2

 “How long shall I cry for help…” – Habakkuk had been persistent in prayer, but he had also become impatient. Ever been there?

Timeless Truth: God’s “delays” are not God’s denials.

“You will not hear…you will not save” – Habakkuk exhibits an improper perspective of God. Incorrect theology.

Habakkuk 1:3-4

“Make me see iniquity…idly look at wrong” – again improper theology.

“Destruction and violence”, “strife and contention”, “law is paralysed”, justice never goes forth”, “wicked surround the righteous”, “justice goes forth perverted” – Habakkuk and God’s people are living in turbulent times and it appears that God has abdicated His throne.  

  1. outline: The Lord’s First Reply: (1:5-11)

Habakkuk 1:5

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astonished…” – God calls upon Habakkuk to transcend his personal problems and complaint and see something greater. God makes it clear that when this is done, the result will be wonder and astonishment!

“For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” – This is one of my favourite verses in this book. Here God speaks of His own omnipotence and sovereignty.

Timeless Truth:

God is ALWAYS doing a great work!

God is ALWAYS doing a good work!

God may not be doing what you want, but He is ALWAYS doing what is right.

READ: Habakkuk 1:6-11

God’s response to Habakkuk’s complaint was less than desirable! This is not what the prophet wanted to hear!

Timeless Truth:

The comfort we need will not necessarily be found in the Lord’s answer, in fact the truth may be entirely adverse, and this is the reason why our encouragement and hope must be firmly rooted in the character of God. If a storm is His answer, we must truth the storm-maker. If the Chaldean impending assault is His answer, we must trust the One who raised the Assyrians!

  1. OUtline: Habakkuk’s second complaint: (1:12-17)

In this second complaint we observe a prophet who knows the truth but is not walking in it. It is at this juncture that I feel most at “home” with the prophet. I align myself with Habakkuk here many times: I know theology. I preach it, quote it, love it, but many times in the midst of suffering, I do not walk in it.

Furthermore, in this section we see a “mingling” of truth and error on the part of the prophet. When refining fires are accelerated, our theology is tested, and we begin to see where the impurities lie.

Habakkuk 1:13a

Great theology asserted:

  • Eternality of God
  • A personal God (“my”)
  • Holiness of God.
  • The eternal saving of God (“We shall not die” – ultimately and finally)
  • Sovereignty of God (“Ordained, established)
  • Immutability of God (“Rock”)
  • Justice of God (“a judgment”)
  • The purity, righteousness and holiness of God (“purer eyes, cannot look at wrong”).

Erroneous theology asserted:

“Idly look at traitors” (1:13b)

“Remain silent when the wicked swallows up…the righteous” (1:13b)

In this context, and what follows, Habakkuk complains about God using the wicked Chaldeans to bring about judgment on His people.

Trying to understand this complaint in our context might look like this: It would be like crying out to God about the state of the church in Australia, and hearing God respond by saying, “I’ll fix the problem by a Communist invasion of Australia.” We would say, “Wait a minute LORD – the problem is bad, but your cure is worse than the disease!”

READ: Habakkuk 1:14-17

Habakkuk’s complaint continues as he likens the coming invasion of Nebuchadnezzar to various forms of fishing and the conquest and idolatry that ensues.

I will desist from a thorough study of this portion, but I will bring one interesting “type” to light.

Nebuchadnezzar and the Chaldeans are herein a faint image of Satan, who casts out his baits and his nets in the stormy sea of this life, taking some by individual craft, sweeping others in whole masses, to do evil; and whoso hath no ruler, and will not have Christ to reign over him. He allures, hurries, drags away as his prey. Jerome wrote: “Adam clave to his hook, and he drew him forth out of Paradise with his net; and covered him with his drags, his varied and manifold deceits and guiles. And “by one many became sinners,” and in Adam we ‘all died,’ and all saints afterward were with him alike cast out of Paradise. And because he deceived the first man, he ceaseth not daily to slay the whole human race.”

  1. outline: Habakkuk’s quiet time: (2:1)

Habakkuk 2:1

“Watch post, station, tower” – Each of these are metaphors for the prophetic office which is fulfilled by a man who is a prophet and often described as a “watchman”.

Timeless Truth:

How essential it is for us, having made our complaint to the Lord, to simply be silent, and wait for Him. In a world of helter-skelter, hurried frenzy, and relentless noise, God’s people must at regular intervals be alone, silent, and meditatively wait on the Lord.

  1. Outline: the lord’s second reply: (2:2-20)

The entire second chapter is God’s answer to Habakkuk’s complaint. Time does not permit us to do a thorough study, but I will highlight some tremendous truths that we, like Habakkuk, need to embrace.

Habakkuk 2:2-4:

“And the Lord answered me…” – Despite the complaints, the bad theology, etc. God still attended to the prayer of his discouraged servant!

“Write the vision…” – God instructed His prophet to engrave in plain, legible letters this “question and answer” time that we now call the Book of Habakkuk.

The purpose of this vision/manifestation was that it might be understood clearly by those who read it, and that they might run to tell the good news of Judah’s ultimate deliverance by God.

Timeless Truth:

What God has revealed in His written word should be pursued, understood, and then proclaimed to all. It is the individual responsibility of every believe to take note of God’s truth and then disseminate it to the nations!

Habakkuk 2:3

“If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come…” (v.3)

Timeless Truth:

As human beings we are so impatient. If promises are not fulfilled according to our own agendas, we begin to question the veracity of God’s words.

It behooves us to listen to the Psalmists when they write:

  • Psalm 130:5-6 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
  • Psalm 37:5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.
  • Psalm 37:7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Habakkuk 2:4a

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him” (v.4).

Here God speaks in the primary context of the Chaldeans who operate with great pride and pomp. However, there are also marks which distinguish all wicked people from the righteous. These are they who in pride mock, ridicule, and doubt the truth that God has declared.

Habakkuk 2:4b

“But the righteous shall live by his faith” (v.4).

Again, we have a direct truth relevant to Habakkuk’s day, but also a broad redemptive truth which is timeless.

This broad and glorious truth is referred to by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 as an essential element of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.

Interestingly, it is this very truth that brought about the conversion of a Catholic monk in 1513 which later sparked the protestant reformation, an event we celebrated just 3 days ago.

READ: Habakkuk 2:5-20

This segment of God’s speech to Habakkuk contains: analogies, five woes against the enemy, and the truth that God WILL come through against the Chaldeans at an undisclosed time in the future.

Time does not permit an in-depth study of this passage, but I will, however, point out two glorious verses in this section for our edification.

Habakkuk 2:14

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (v.14).

There are numerous applications to be observed here:

  • The first is that Babylon will be used to display the glory and power of God throughout the earth. This is evidenced in Daniel 4:37 when Nebuchadnezzar is humbled and extolls the King of Heaven.
  • The second relates to the advent of Christ, the Messiah. The land of Judea should by his preaching, and that of his disciples, be filled with the knowledge of God. His great design fully discovered, and the scheme of salvation amply explained.
  • Lastly, it may be applied to that time yet in our future where Jesus Christ reigns on the earth as supreme ruler over all the nations. At that time, “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Habakkuk 2:20

“But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

Having declared the “nothingness” of idolatry, the finite power of man, and his futile achievements, God declares His supremacy and majesty before all!

The “temple of God” is where God enshrines Himself, where He is adored, revered, and manifested. This is not the earthly temple, which is but a mere shadow of His glory. “The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD’s throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man” (Psalm 11:4).

This call to silence before His majesty is a repeated theme throughout the Scripture:

  • “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! (Psalm 46:10).
  • It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:26)
  • Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice and consecrated his guests (Zephaniah 1:7).
  • But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” (Romans 9:20)

Timeless Truth:

God has not abdicated. He still sits on the throne. We must approach Him with great fear and trembling because He is the sovereign King.

Rather than complain and falsely accuse God, we ought to wait in silence before Him and listen to Him.

Job came to understand this reality after all the calamity that befell him:

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6).

  1. Outline: Habakkuk’s prayer & Hymn: (3:1-19)

Unsurprisingly, I cannot fit everything in that I would like to. Let me read to you this final chapter and then we will conclude with a brief look at verses 16-19.

READ: Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3:16

“I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me….” (v.16)

As was case with so many prophets in the Bible, the response to God’s words brought great awe: Job repented in dust and ashes; the people of Ezra’s day bowed low and worshipped the Lord with their faces to the ground; Josiah tore his clothes; Zechariah was rendered mute for at least 9 months; John lay as a dead man before glory and speech of Jesus Christ.

Timeless Truth

Would to God we had Christians today who trembled before the Word of God! How flippantly we approach the Lord’s truth. Sadly, the disinterested, disengaged, distracted culture in which we live has invaded the church.

People sleep in the sermons, sing great hymns of the faith insincerely, read prayers religiously, attend meetings ritualistically, and follow a Bible reading plan without any sense of awe, wonderment or reverence.

The church is marked by blasé indifference to God and His precious Word.

May we, like Habakkuk, have a godly trembling which then gives way to the final truth which we will now observe.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

These verses are the crowning glory, the unmistakable jewel, the divine song, and the summit of truth in Habakkuk’s recorded writings.

Let us pause here for a few moments.

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… (v.17).

The words “though” and “for” are interchangeable in the Hebrew which means that either Habakkuk was describing a time to come in the future, or this text is in the present tense and the scarcity and barrenness had already arrived.

“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. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments” (vv.18-19).

A remarkable transformation has taken place. The complaining prophet has become the contented prophet; the terrified has become the trusting; the sceptic is now satisfied; the rebel is now the rejoicer; the accuser has become the adorer; the pessimist is now the praiser.

Timeless Truth:

What made the transition for Habakkuk?

  1. He found joy and delight in the Lord rather than being governed by the circumstances.
  2. It was an act of his will. “I will take joy”. A decision made within the soul of this prophet.
  3. He revisited and meditated on God’s salvation. The past provided hope for the future.
  4. He drew on the strength of God rather than relying upon His own.

What was the result of this transition?

  1. Sure-footed and enduring like a deer scaling precarious mountain heights without slipping.
  2. Bounding upwards through His imparted strength to higher grounds of sanctification.
  3. A life-song of praise, whose melody impacted others in the world.

In closing, I would like to tie this text and our partaking of communion together by reading to you an excerpt from Robert Hawker’s commentary on Habakkuk:

HAIL! thou Almighty Lord Jesus! do I not behold thee in this precious scripture, set forth as the great Saviour and Redeemer of thy Church and people? Truly, Lord, thy goings forth have been, in this divine character, from everlasting. Before the earth was formed; yea, before thou hadst gone forth in any acts of creation, thou didst stand up at the call of thy Father, thy Church’s glorious head and husband, from all eternity. And until the fulness of time appointed, what were all the manifestations in the Old Testament Church, but tokens how ardently thou didst long openly to come and tabernacle in our nature, for the redemption of thy people. Didst thou reveal thyself to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob; didst thou call Moses at the bush, and go before thy Church, when bringing the Church out of Egypt; didst thou give the law at Sinai, and make the inhabitants of Palestine and Midian to tremble; what, dearest Jesus, what were all these, and numberless other revelations of thyself, but to testify how assuredly thou wert come forth for the salvation of thy people. And what is it now, O Lord, now thou hast finished redemption work, and art returned to glory, but every day, and all the day, renewed manifestations of the same, that Jesus will bring home his ransomed ones finally, fully, and completely; that where he is, there they shall be also. Hail then, thou glorious, gracious, great I AM; the visible Jehovah of thy Church and people! Oh! grant, that like thy servant the Prophet, whether fig-trees blossom or withhold their fruit; whether the olives fail, or fields yield their meat; Jesus lives and loves, and will live and love forever. He is a rock, his work his perfect: and He is the rock of my salvation. Farewell Habakkuk! thy God is my God; and He is the horn of his people. Blessed be the Lord for this sweet ministry of thine; and blessed be thy labours. Above all blessed, blessed forever be the God of all mercies in Jesus Christ. Amen.



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