Habakkuk’s Psalm, The Hope of Glory Part III
Text: Habakkuk 3: 16-19
Proposition: The glory of God identifies Him and it is what characterizes His kingdom both now and especially in eternity.
Introduction: Last week we read the song Habakkuk wrote when he first learned of God’s plan to have the nation of Israel subjugated by the armies of Babylon. We tried to answer two questions through the words of that song, “What is the glory of God and how can it help us when trial and struggle come close?” We recognized that the glory of God is radiant and spectacular, a breath taking display and the entire nation of Israel witnessed it at Sinai. We discovered that though His glory is visually a beautiful it is also the sum total of His goodness, it is His manifested holy character. The glory of God identifies Him as being perfect, holy and distinct from all creation. The answer to the second question as to how the glory of God helps us in times of trial and struggle was drawn in the memories of how God’s glory intervened for the nation of Israel time and again in the days of Exodus, Joshua and Judges.We remembered the words of Jesus as He prayed to the Father that the very glory Jesus shared in with the Father before creation ever was He now asked that the Father extend that identifying glory to all who would now by faith believe in the Son as the One whom the Father has sent for the redemption from sin for all mankind. This led us to ask one more question about the glory of God, “Why is it essential for me to ask God to teach me about His glory?” Turn with me to Habakkuk 3:16-19.
I. It’s Essential Because We Don’t Know How Little We Know.
If what we’ve said earlier is true, that the glory of God is really about Who He is then how much do we really know compared to what can be known about Who God is. It’s a tiny fraction isn’t it? That can be said about His creation, His will and way, His great sovereignty. So how do we grow in our understanding of Who God is in all these ways and so much more? The simple answer is to ask Him to teach you about His glory. That would be the first reason but when you read Habakkuk you see there is quickly a second reason. We don’t know how little we know regarding the direction of our very lives. The people of Israel were pretty sure that every day would continue just as the previous one and yet along comes this little book called Habakkuk that tells us about a freight train called Babylon that was soon going to smash into their lives. Look at verse 16, “When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice…”, it sounds like Habakkuk has come back to where he started. In verse 2 he had said, “O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid…”. He was realizing how little he knew in light of what God was now telling him. So my point is that it is essential to ask God to teach us about His glory because in reality there is so much more we need to know about Who God is and there is so much that we can never know regarding tomorrow. Those two factors are what make it essential for us to ask God, to speak to God, to pray to God asking Him to teach us about His glory.
II. It’s Essential Because of the Great Things That We Do Know.
By the term ‘great’ I mean not just the really good things like the character of God that Scripture reveals to us, I also mean the great things in terms of overwhelming, confusing and even terrifying things. Habakkuk knew many things about the greatness of God’s character and we’ll talk about those in a minute. It’s the second kind of great things, the overwhelming, the terrifying, the confusing things that life brings to our attention, it’s those things that Habakkuk writes this song about. The great thing that he knows about is the coming invasion of Babylon, the ‘great’ thing that he knows about is what the country will look like when this happens. Look at how he describes this, “Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail and the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls…”. That sounds like a lot of uncertainty. It generates this fear inside of him, it indicates something is wrong in his life and in his nation. This is a ‘great’ thing that Habakkuk knows, it’s not great in terms of being good but it is most certainly great in terms of being overwhelming, confusing and terrifying. It’s essential to ask God to teach you about His glory exactly because of the great things that we do know.
And then there is the ‘great’ goodness inherent in the character of God, in the very person of God that we most certainly know of. It’s knowing this ‘great’ thing about God that moves Habakkuk to respond to the unknown future ahead… “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”. Is this just blind faith, blind optimism? Is it maybe exaggeration, hyperbole, a poetic expression at best? Can Habakkuk really mean that he will actually rejoice in the LORD, that he will joy in God when at the same time he is afraid for his nation? Say for a moment that it actually is meant to be literal, that he actually does rejoice despite the great and trembling fear inside his heart. How is that possible? I think that the answer must hinge on the fact that the circumstances don’t need to change in order to rejoice, it’s the person that changes. Maybe the more accurate word is ‘transforms’. One moment Habakkuk was almost overwhelmed with fear and then despite that he begins to rejoice in the LORD. Something in Habakkuk has changed, have a look at the next verse. “The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet and He will make me walk on my high hills.”
Let me suggest three words that sum up that last verse: Encouraged, Enabled, Engaged. When Habakkuk drew close to God by throwing his life into the Fathers hands he rejoiced that God would overcome the ‘great’ things he now knew about. He rejoiced in the ‘great’ person and character of God that he knew. God became his strength, that became to Habakkuk the courage he needed for the day ahead. God enabled him and would enable him to navigate the rocky ledges of captivity, of isolation and loneliness. He could do and go where before there was always a fear of falling, a fear of failing. Then God sent him forward to walk on Habakkuk’s high hills. High hills were typically places of idolatrous worship, things and places where we were tangled up with fear and compulsions. The high hills for Habakkuk would be all about leading his people to again trust in God when all the circumstances said not to. That word ‘walk’ that Habakkuk uses is an interesting word. It doesn’t mean to take a stroll or to go for some leisurely hike. It means ‘to tread down, to lead, to march forward.”
Why is it essential that we ask God to teach us about His glory? It’s because His glory is where we will spend eternity, it’s because His glory is the manifestation of all of Who He is, it’s because His glory is now resident within us, it’s because we don’t know how little we know and yet it’s also because of the great things we do know.
Let the Word of God whisper to you now about the glory of God. Let it begin to teach you about His glory…
Romans 8:18… For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Eph 3:16… that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man
Col 1:27… to them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Jude 1:24,25… Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior, Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, both now and forever.