Habakkuk’s Psalm – Glory Part 2
Text: Habakkuk 3: 3-19
Proposition: The glory of God is an inescapable invitation to worship Him.
Introduction: Do you remember that old song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey…”. How much do you know about the sun? It comes up everyday, it warms up the morning, your spirit lifts, you talk about what a great day it is. You know the sun is good and yet you know the sun can burn your skin. You know the sun is a long ways away you and yet can actually feel its warmth. These are things you know about the sun, in fact you could say that the sun is very public, very evident to every person on earth.
I want to talk with you this morning about something that is as essential and public and central to our lives as the sun is. I want to talk with you about the glory of God. It was this very thing that Habakkuk had in mind as he thought about the difficult days that lay ahead for Israel, the Babylonian invasion soon to occur and the suffocation of their faith by an idolatrous culture. Habakkuk writes a song, a ‘You are my Sunshine” song that is set to a melancholy and wandering tune that ends on a triumphant note, a Shigionoth song.
What is the glory of God and how can it help us when trial and struggle come close and why is it essential for me to know and be aware of it? Let’s try to answer those questions as we continue to read Habakkuk 3. (see last weeks sermon for point I)
II. God’s Glory Radiates Out From Him, It Belongs To Him, Identifies Him.
I think this is what Habakkuk is referring to in verse 3, “God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.” The reference to Teman and Mount Paran is about Mount Sinai, about the time Israel was a new born nation. For 430 years they had been slaves in Egypt, it was like a gestation period, a long and cramped and difficult time of being in the womb of Egypt. Then they were born as a nation and the first great light they encountered together as a nation was at Mount Sinai when God displayed His presence, His glory to them visually, publicly, overwhelmingly. Look what Habakkuk writes in verse 4, “His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashingfrom His hand and there His power was hidden.” Clearly Habakkuk is pointing the people to remember the glory of God at Sinai when God displayed Who He is in glory. The glory of God is magnificent, spectacular in a way that can only be called miraculous because what it is and where it comes from is higher than our understanding, higher than our laws of physics. Two million people saw the glory of God at Sinai, full of incomparable power. God was in it in every lumen, in every megawatt, in every degree of its heat. Do you remember that peculiar passage where Moses had asked God to show him His glory? In Exodus 33:19 God replies to Moses, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. But , He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live…. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by.” I know this passage raises so many questions it’s hard to know where to begin but the glory of God is ‘all the goodness of God’, the complete spectrum of what we would call holy. The Hebrew word used here for ‘glory’ comes from a root word meaning ‘heavy’ or ‘rich’. All that could ever be considered good by us, all that could ever be considered wonderful, beautiful, glorious, just, loving, powerful by us is heavy in God. He is richer and deeper in this than the word splendor can go. God’s glory radiates the truth of Who He is, it’s why He says to Moses, “I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you.”, He’s referring to the revealing of His glory. It’s the radiance that comes from all of Who He is, it not only belongs to Him alone, it identifies Him from and to all creation. So it’s no wonder that God won’t share His glory with another, there is no other that is like Him, there is no other glory that is worthy of such understanding, worship or love.
So what draws Habakkuk to write a song about the glory of the LORD when Israel is on the very brink of being defeated and taken captive as a nation? In essence he answers the question, “How can the glory of God help us in times of struggle?”
III. The Earth Will Be Filled With the Knowledge of the Glory of God…
Those were some of the words that God dictated to Habakkuk in chapter 2:14, He told him to write this down so that people would know, so that you would know. When I read this verse the word ‘filled’ caught my attention. It means ‘to be armed, to be satisfied’. So look at what Habakkuk does in these next verses, he reminds them of how the glory of the LORD has been poured into the earth around them, how God has armed them and ultimately how He has satisfied them. In verse 5 he says, “Before Him went pestilence and fever followed at His feet.” It refers to the plagues in Egypt that God used to fracture and break the hard heart of Pharaoh. In verse 6 it says, “ He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways areeverlasting.” It refers to how He set the land in place for the nation of Israel. It refers to how He displaced whole nations to put Israel exactly where he wanted them to be and nothing or no one could resist that great sovereign power. Everlasting mountains are scattered, perpetual hills are bowed down. That’s what the glory of God accomplishes to the glory of God. His power, holiness, wisdom and love governs what He does and in so doing it identifies Him in the whole earth. Why do you think that would be a good thing for any person who is in the midst of a trial to know, who is struggling with any kind of captivity? The glory of the LORD confirms to us that the world is not random, life is not made up of chance or luck or fate. It’s governed by a God who is glorious. I mean just look at the language that Habakkuk uses in this song, “The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high…” is that a reference to the parting of Red Sea? “The sun and moon stood still in their habitation…” does that refer to the day of Joshua’s conquest when that literally happened? “You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked by laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah” That word ‘Annointed’ is the Hebrew word ‘Mashiyach’, meaning ‘Messiah’. Who do you think this refers to? I believe it’s a reference to the presence of Christ in the midst of every trial, every struggle where the glory of God is being proclaimed, the glory that declares Who God is, the glory that identifies Him. So who is ‘the head from the house of the wicked’ and how has he been ‘struck… laid bare from foundation to neck.”? I think it refers to Satan and to the defeat of Satan by Christ.
Why is this crucial to know if you are going through some temptation, struggle or trial? Is it just that you are not alone, is it just that God is greater than your struggle, is it just that this too will pass? No, the glory of God is more than a pat on the shoulder or a ‘get out of jail’ card. The glory of God is in Christ and Christ is in you. The very identity of God, of the ‘heaviness’ of His holy presence, resides in you. Your trial or struggle is not what defines you or your life. What defines you is the very glory that defines Jesus, it’s portioned to us, filtered to us if you will in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, but it is the glory of God Almighty indwelling us, with us, God with us.
Do you remember the prayer of Jesus in John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” The glory of God was manifest in all its’ blazing splendor in Christ before creation ever began. Then a few verses later Jesus says this, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, arein Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one…” .
Israel would go into captivity, into isolation, for some they would lose their faith, for some it would cost them their lives. But for all of them the presence of God would watch over them, abide with them, direct them and shine like the sun upon them.
At the outset I asked three questions, “What is the glory of God? How can it help us when trial and struggle come close? The first two questions I’ve attempted to answer, next week comes the triumphant climax of Habakkuk’s song, the part of the song that answers the third question,… ‘Why is it essential for me to ask God to teach me about His glory?’