GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 3:5-7

“He stood and measured the earth; He looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways.” (Habakkuk 3:6)

In this anthropomorphic revelation of God, God is seen as surveying the earth. He does so to prepare for the judgment that is to come upon it. Remember that this section of Habakkuk deals with God’s impending judgment upon the Chaldeans and all the peoples on the earth who are in rebellion against God.

God’s eternal ways are in contrast to the finite ways of creation. The mountains that seem to be eternal were scattered and the hills that seemed to be everlasting were made low. But God’s ways are eternal. Nothing can change what He has ordained.

God has an eternal purpose. He is redeeming a people to spend eternity with Him in the new heavens and the new earth. All of history is moving toward the consummation of His purposes. All that seems permanent to us will go away; God alone is eternal and He has established an eternal purpose that includes all His chosen people.

This gives me great hope. One day all things will be restored; all things will be made right again, as they were in the creation prior to the Fall. God is in control of human history. He has an eternal purpose for His people — for us to dwell in His glorious presence throughout all eternity.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God'” (Revelation 21:1-3).

Sovereign Lord of this universe, I know that Your ways are eternal. Forgive me for getting too comfortable with the temporal things of this world. Let me live with the end in mind. I long for the day when Jesus comes back and restores all things.

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THE MAJESTY OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 3:3-15

“God came from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His spender covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise. His brightness was like the light, rays flashed from His hand; and there He veiled His power.” (Habakkuk 3:3,4)

God gave Habakkuk a vision of Himself. These verses describe the majesty and splendor of the Being of God (vs. 3-6). They tell us about His eternal purpose (vs. 5-7) and about His impending judgment (vs. 8-15).

The opening two verses of the vision of God (vs. 3,4) picture God, the Holy One, moving south to the land of Judah. This is an anthropomorphic representation of God. God is being described in human terms. What stands out in the passage is the majesty, spender, radiance and power of God as He moves upon the face of the earth.

There is a striking resemblance of this description of the majesty of God with the picture of the glorified Christ found in the opening chapter of Revelation.

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands, and in the midst of the lamp stands one like a son of man clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around His chest. The hairs of His head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, His feet were like burnished bronze, refined win a furnace, and His voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand came a sharp two-edged sword, and His face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Revelation 1:12-16).

The imagery in these two descriptions is similar — splendor, majesty, radiance, and power. I believe Habakkuk was given a pre-incarnation vision of Jesus Christ.

Lord Jesus, You are filled with spender and majesty. Your radiance is brighter than the sun and Your power is immense, so immense that You have to restrain it. I bow before You in worship. I praise You for being the glorious Lord of all.

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A PRAYER FOR MERCY

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 3:1,2

“O Lord, I have heard the report of You, and Your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

Habakkuk prayed for God’s mercy. He knew that God’s wrath would be poured out in His judgments. We don’t like to thick much about the wrath of God. However wrath is one of God’s attributes that is mentioned hundreds of time in the Bible. “The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is His displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of just sentence which He passes upon evildoers” (A.W. Pink, “The Attributes of God”). God is angry over sin. His anger is a righteous indignation against all forms of sin and evil.

Thus Habakkuk prayed, “in wrath remember mercy.” The mercy of God is HIs ready inclination to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. It is what sinful people do not get that they deserve to get. God grants mercy on whom He desires to grant mercy — “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19).

Mercy and grace are similar, but there is a distinction between them. Mercy is what we do not get that we deserve to get. We deserve to get His wrath because of our sins. Grace is what we get that we do not deserve to get. It is God’s undeserved favor granted to sinful people. Habakkuk knew that the people deserved to get God’s wrath (justice); but He pled with God to grant mercy — not to give them what they deserve to get. People either get justice or mercy.

However, do not every forget what it cost God to grant mercy to sinful, undeserving people. It cost Him the death of His Son. The wrath and mercy of God come together at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus bore the wrath that His people rightly deserve so that God could grant mercy to them. God’s justice had to be satisfied. A judgment and punishment had to be rendered. Once that had been done, God was able to grant mercy to whom He desires. Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to Habakkuk’s prayer — “in wrath remember mercy.”

Lord Jesus, thank You for bearing God’s wrath in my place. Thank You for voluntarily becoming my substitute and suffering in my place. I know that mercy is only possible because You bore God’s wrath for Your people. Never let me forget the extent of Your love and mercy shown to me in Your death on the cross.

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A PRAYER FOR REVIVAL

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 3:1,2

“O Lord, I have heard the report of You, and Your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known…” (Habakkuk 3:2a,b

In the midst of a message of judgment, Habakkuk prayed that God would bring revival among His people. The Hebrew word which is translated “revival” refers to something already alive but that needs revitalization. It speaks of new life, refreshment, and new power. We know that the Agent of revival is the Holy Spirit. Revival comes as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote these words about revival: “It is the extraordinary power of God, not talent, that wins the day. It is the extraordinary spiritual unction, not the extraordinary mental power, we need. Mental power may fill a chapel, but spiritual power fills the church with soul anguish. Mental power may gather a large congregation, but only spiritual power will save souls” (Robert H. Lescelius,” Spurgeon and Revival”).

God’s people in Habakkuk’s day desperately needed revival and so do the people in our day. We need a fresh work of God’s Spirit in our lives — “In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known.”

We must pray earnestly for these three R’s — Reformation, Repentance and Revival. The three belong together. Reformation means that we are always reforming our beliefs and actions in accordance to the Word of God. We must constantly be reforming ourselves and bringing our lives in line with the Scripture. When we do this, we will come to repentance. We will see our sins in light of the holiness of God and we will be filled with godly sorrow. Repentance leads to brokenness and broken people are the ones to whom God brings revival.

O Holy Spirit, revive Your work in the midst of the years; in the midst of the years make it known. I pray for a fresh movement of Your Spirit among Your people. Let it begin with me. Fill me fresh with Your love and power. Let me experience true reformation, repentance and revival. I know as I humble myself before You and seek You, You will come to me. Revive me, O Lord! I pray in Jesus name.

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THE CUP IN THE LORD’S RIGHT HAND

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:15-17

“You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory.” (Habakkuk 2:16)

We are looking at some of the nuggets of truth tucked away in the “Woe Oracles” of Habakkuk. The “Woe Oracles” are essentially statements of judgment. Today we look at one of the great images of God’s judgment found throughout Scripture — “The cup in the Lord’s right hand.”

Here in Habakkuk the cup is a symbol of divine retribution upon the Babylonians. God says that they would have their full share of shame instead of glory. The Babylonians had created the most powerful empire of its time. They had built a city that was considered invincible — the city of Babylon. Yet, the day was coming when their glory would turn into shame.

On a larger level, Babylon ultimately represents the world’s system that is opposed to God and to His people. You see the imagery worked out in the book of Revelation, which depicts the final judgment upon Babylon — “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit” (Revelation 18:1).

The imagery of the cup is found again in Revelation 14:10 — “He also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength with the cup of His anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.” The cup symbolizes God’s wrath poured out upon guilty sinners.

Now let’s go to the Garden of Gethsemane just prior to Jesus’ arrest. Do you remember His prayer? “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus knew He had to partake of the cup of God’s wrath so that His people would never have to do so. What was said of Babylon in Habakkuk was experienced by Jesus on the cross — “The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory.”

Do you see it? Jesus partook of the cup for us; He experienced the shame that is rightly ours. This is the glorious message of the gospel — we have been set free from all our guilt and shame, and we will never have to partake of the cup in the Lord’s right hand.

Lord Jesus, thank You for drinking from the cup of God’s wrath for me. Thank You for taking my sins and failures upon Yourself and for paying the price I rightly owe a holy God. I cannot even begin to grasp the horror that You experienced so that I will never have to experience it myself. Your love and grace go beyond all measure.

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THE GLORY OF THE LORD

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:12-14

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Often we find gems of God’s truth tucked away in unexpected places in Scripture. We will look at three of these gems that are found within the “Woe Oracles” in Habakkuk. The first of them comes in the context of God’s judgment upon the Babylonians because of their violence and injustice — “Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that people labor merely for fire and nations weary themselves for nothing? (vs. 12,13).

In contrast to the wickedness of sinful people, God’s people have a knowledge of the glory of the Lord. The glory of the Lord includes His special presence with His people. As God’s people spread across the earth with the good news of salvation through Jesus, God’s glory shines. Here is a picture of the increasing growth of God’s Kingdom rule in the hearts of His people. God’s people are responsible to spread the gospel to all the nations — “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19a).

There is also eschatological truth to this rich truth. One day, when the new heavens and new earth are created, the glory of the Lord will be fully manifested. This is what Paul meant when he wrote — “For I consider that the sufferings of the present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” (Romans 8:18). Even the created order groans as it awaits the glory of the Lord to fill the earth (Romans 8:19-22).

Let us join with the Psalmist in this prayer — “Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory” (Psalm 72:19).

Lord God, indeed this is our prayer that the whole earth will be filled with a knowledge of Your glory. Thank You for giving me glimpses of your glory now and I look forward to the day when I see the fullness of Your glory fill the earth.

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WOE TO HIM!

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:6-20

“Shall not all these take their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddle for him, and say, ‘Woe to him…” (Habakkuk 2:6)

This is a heavy and troublesome section of Habakkuk’s prophecy. God pronounces His judgments against the Babylonians. These judgments consist of five “woe oracles.” Woe oracles are generally composed of two parts: a declaration of the wrong and a pronouncement of impending judgment. These woe articles describe the reasons the Babylonians deserve their coming punishment.

“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own — for how long? — and loads himself with pledges” (v. 6b). The Chaldeans were condemned for their excessive greed. They had insatiable ambitions and hoarded things that were not theirs. They abused others by taking their possessions against their will and making them debtors

“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm” (v. 9). The Babylonians were condemned for relying on treasures and wealth for protection. Like the eagle that builds its nest in inaccessible places, the Chaldeans attempted to build a city that was considered invincible. The stones that were used to build the city of Babylon were plundered from other nations or purchased with plundered goods. Thus, they served as a witness against the Babylonians.

“Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity” (v. 12). The Babylonians were condemned for their violence and injustice. The Lord of hosts controls man’s destiny and will punish injustice.

“Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink — you pour out your wrath and make them drunk in order to gaze at their nakedness” (v. 15). The Chaldeans were condemned for abusing their neighbors. They took advantage of weak people. However, they themselves will experience the same shame and embarrassment they inflicted upon others.

“Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake, to a silent stone, Arise!” (v. 19). The Chaldeans were condemned for their idolatry. “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a mental image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols” (v. 18).

The bottom line is — God will judge the wickedness, violence, injustice idolatry and abuses that people inflict upon others. God will not leave the guilty unpunished! There is a Day of Judgment coming and no one can escape it. Therefore, we must be ready for it.

O Righteous Judge, it is comforting to know that You see the violence and injustice that is all around us. I know that a day is coming in which You will judge all mankind. How thankful I am for Jesus who took the punishment I rightly deserve and freed me from the guilt of my sins. Because of Him, I have nothing to fear in the judgment to come.

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ARROGANCE AND GREED

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:1-5

“Moreover wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.” (Habakkuk 2:5)

God is revealing to Habakkuk how He will deal with the Babylonians. They were a proud and arrogant people who were filled with greed. God tells Habakkuk that He will deal with the Chaldeans; they will face His judgment for sure.

But let’s look at the fundamental problem of pride. God says of proud people — “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him” (v. 2:4a). Proud people are self-righteous people who look down their noses on others. They have an independent, self-sufficient spirit. They compare themselves with others and feel that they are better than they are.

God also calls proud people “an arrogant man who is never at rest” (v. 2:5a). They have to prove that they are always right. They have an independent, fault-finding spirit. They are never satisfied and contented. They want more and more. They try to find their value in their accomplishments. Therefore, they are never at rest. They want to be successful all the time.

Proud people are greedy people — “His greed is as wide as Sheol” (v. 2:5b). They have a demanding spirit and constantly claim their rights. They desire self-advancement. They can never get enough.

Those who live by faith are totally opposite from proud people. They are humble, broken people who recognize their need for a Savior. They are overwhelmed with a sense of their own spiritual need. They are motivated to serve others and delight in giving credit to others rather than claiming it for themselves. They yield their rights and have a meek spirit. In other words, they follow the example of their Savior who said — “For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

Lord Jesus, forgive me when I get filled with pride. I know it displeases You. I pray for the ability to live my life with humility and meekness. Keep me broken before You and enable me to be a servant of others.

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LIVING BY FAITH

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:1-5

“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by faith.” (Habakkuk2:4)

Today we come to the key verse in the book of Habakkuk. It is the most important lesson to learn from the book — “The righteous shall live by faith.” Paul cited this verse in the opening chapter of his epistle to the Romans — “For I am not ashamed of the gospel , for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes — to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16,17). Paul used this verse as the basis for writing Romans.

The verse is also quoted in Galatians — “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for ‘The righteous shall live by faith'” (Galatians 3:11). It is also cited in Hebrews — “But my righteous one shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38a).

Faith is essential for our salvation. We are justified through faith — “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Through faith in Jesus, our sins are forgiven and the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to us. Therefore, there is no place for pride in our lives. Self-righteous people are proud people — “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him” (v. 2a).

We are no only justified through faith, but we are also called to live by faith. The righteous person lives by his or her faith. Even though we may not understand all God’s ways, we must trust Him. Regardless of our circumstances, we must trust Him. This was what Habakkuk had to learn. We must trust God no matter what — “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The Scripture is clear — “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

God’s answer to Habakkuk’s problems was faith. He said to Habakkuk and He is saying to us — “Trust me regardless of the circumstances. Trust me regardless of the confusion. I am the Lord God who will not fail you.”

Lord God, thank You for giving me the gift of faith. Thank You that I am justified through faith in Your Son. I pray that today I will live by faith and trust You no matter what I must face.

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THE TRUSTWORTHINESS OF GOD’S WORD

Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 2:1-4

“For the revelation awaits an appointed time, it speaks of the end and it will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

After Habakkuk asked God a series of questions, he awaited for God to answer — “I will stand my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint” (v. 1). It is difficult to wait on the Lord; but listen to this promise — “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Habakkuk knew God was going to answer him in His own time.

Then God spoke to Habakkuk — “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it” (v. 2). God was about to give Habakkuk a divine revelation and He wanted Habakkuk to write it down. This is the very nature of the inspiration of God’s Word. God revealed His word to certain human beings who in turn wrote it down. This is what gives the Bible its authority. The Scripture is God-breathed — “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16).

Because the Scripture is God-breathed, it carries divine authority — “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (II Peter 1:20,21).

God’s Word can be trusted for what it says is certain and it will come to pass — “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (v. 3). God’s purpose in His word will be accomplished and fulfilled in God’s own timing. God will do what He says He will do. The Scripture is trustworthy!

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10,11).

Lord God, thank You for Your Word. Thank You, O Holy Spirit, for inspiring men to write down exactly what You intended to be preserved in the Scripture. Thank You that I can believe what You say in the Bible. I know it is trustworthy and that I can count my life on what it says.

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