Damariscotta Baptist Church
Saturday, August 18, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

06/15/14 Sermon - God's Rule Prevails

Habakkuk 3 (The Message)

 

We have read through the first two chapters of Habakkuk, which consisted of Habakkuk asking questions in the first chapter and God answering in the second chapter. The final chapter of the book is Habakkuk’s response to God’s answer. And Habakkuk’s response is the only appropriate response to give, he lifts up a prayer. Not only does Habakkuk pray, he does so in a unique way, he does so in song. Verse one of chapter 3 begins:

1 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra:
 

I’d like to bring attention to how creative Habakkuk has been in this book.

First off, he dares to ask God “Why?” Instead of grumbling about it, or talking behind God’s back with his fellow prophets and complaining, he decides to go straight to the big guy himself and get answers to his questions. How many of us would rather talk about our problems or issues and keep talking about them but don’t dare to go the one who can answer them. I think it’s because we are afraid of the answers we may get, and it is a lot easier to complain than it is to change, and who knows, we may like the answer less than we like the problem. But Habakkuk isn’t like that. He is much more pragmatic. He goes directly to God with his complaint.

Second, Habakkuk chooses to write God’s answer, in chapter two in the form of a literary poem. I’d like to think that is God’s way of responding, because He knows that the Hebrew people memorized their scripture and were it written as a poem they would have been able to memorize it more easily. And when we get to chapter 3, Habakkuk chooses to sing his response to God. When was the last time you sang your prayer to God? Or had it put to music?

I will admit there are times when I have been praying and a song will come to mind and I will start singing it, as my prayer to God, but I’ve not started out singing my own thoughts to God. However, we find in Habakkuk 3 the directions for an orchestra. So I am going to ask you to use your imagination a bit here today. Instead of having Marvin sing his part today as Habakkuk, I am going to use poetic justice and switch things around a bit. During Habakkuk’s prayer, or song, there is a musical term written, known as “Selah”. This word is used 74 times in the Bible, 71 times in the book of Psalms and 3 times in Habakkuk. And although there is no certain meaning for this word, it is believed to have been a Hebrew musical direction for the music and singing to “pause and think about what had just been said.” So today, Marvin is going to read what Habakkuk sang, and when he says “Selah” instead of the music stopping and taking a pause to think about what he said, we are going to play music, pause and think about what he said.  

 
HABAKKUK 

God, I've heard what our ancestors say about you, and I'm stopped in my tracks, down on my knees. Do among us what you did among them. Work among us as you worked among them. And as you bring judgment, as you surely must, remember mercy. God's on his way again, retracing the old salvation route, Coming up from the south through Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran.

 
Habakkuk is praying for revival. He knows the Israelite history and he knows that God has revived his people before and he is trusting God will do it again. Notice Habakkuk recognizes that the revival is God doing the work among his people, to revive God’s work. He asks God to continue to work among them in order to make the changes in people’s hearts that need to be changed. I think we at DBC have a similar request.
 

Are we not asking God to revive His church? I have talked with many of you and over and over again I hear of your memories of when this church was larger in attendance and had a beautiful choir. We, like Habakkuk, recognize that God had once revived DBC and we know that He can do it again.

 

Yet, at the same time, this must be a personal prayer,
“LORD, revive me.” It’s easy to blame the church for sin and corruption, and laziness and whatever, and we forget,
“we are the church”. We need to be praying for a personal revival. I am going to ask each of you to ponder the following:

        1 – Does your conduct glorify the LORD? Even your private conduct, which only you and the LORD see?

        2 – Does your speech glorify the LORD?

        3 – Are you having a growing, abiding life with Jesus?

 

Revival starts with each of us, and as we revive our walk with God, somehow others notice and God is revealed and the Spirit moves and God’s church is revived.

I encourage all of us, me included, to follow Habakkuk’s example and pray for God’s revival, beginning with ourselves.

Habakkuk is quick to note, not only is a revival necessary, but along with it will come judgment, because the idea of revival means something was “dead” and needs to be revived. And in order for the death of the church to come about, there had to have occurred activities that require judgment. Let’s face it, the result of bad behavior, is bad consequences. But notice Habakkuk prays that while God is thinking of the judgment, he asks God to also remember, “mercy”.

The definition of mercy is

“kind or forgiving treatment of someone who should be treated harshly”

“kindness or help given to people who are in a very bad or desperate situation”

I think is very appropriate that just after asking for mercy, Habakkuk has a “Selah” a time for pause and thought.

SELAH 
 
HABAKKUK

Skies are blazing with his splendor, his praises sounding through the earth, 

His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,

forked-lightning shooting from his hand - what power hidden in that fist!

Plague marches before him, pestilence at his heels!

He stops. He shakes Earth. He looks around. Nations tremble.

The age-old mountains fall to pieces; ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.

The paths God takes are older than the oldest mountains and hills.

I saw everyone worried, in a panic: Old wilderness adversaries, Cushan and Midian, were terrified, hoping he wouldn't notice them.

God, is it River you're mad at? Angry at old River? Were you raging at Sea when you rode horse and chariot through to salvation?

You unfurled your bow and let loose a volley of arrows.

SELAH 
 
As Habakkuk asks for a revival and for mercy he is reminded of who God really is and begins to praise Him.
 
HABAKKUK

You split Earth with rivers.

Mountains saw what was coming. They twisted in pain.

Flood Waters poured in. Ocean roared and reared huge waves. Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.

Your flashing arrows stopped them, your lightning-strike spears impaled them.

Angry, you stomped through Earth. Furious, you crushed the godless nations.

You were out to save your people, to save your specially chosen people.

You beat the stuffing out of King Wicked, Stripped him naked from head to toe

Set his severed head on his own spear and blew away his army. Scattered they were to the four winds - and ended up food for the sharks!

You galloped through the Sea on your horses, racing on the crest of the waves.

 
Praising God is a good thing. I think we should do it more often. Praising God is good because:

-    It reminds us just who God is and that he deserves honor and glory

-   It helps us to declare God’s specific works

-   It reminds us where we are in relationship to God, that He is preeminent and we are under Him

-   It builds our confidence in the power and works of God

Habakkuk remembers how God has saved in the past, it makes him full of faith for what God can do for him as he prays and what He can do for him in the future. We are in the future of when Habakkuk prayed. We can look back and see how God answered his prayer and ultimately saved not only God’s chosen people, but even us, Gentiles, through the Messiah.

SELAH 
 
HABAKKUK: (Marvin)
 

When I heard it, my stomach did flips.

I stammered and stuttered.

My bones turned to water.

I staggered and stumbled.

I sit back and wait for Doomsday to descend on our attackers. Though the cherry trees don't blossom and the strawberries don't ripen, Though the apples are worm-eaten and the wheat fields stunted, Though the sheep pens are sheepless and the cattle barns empty,

I'm singing joyful praise to God. I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

 

Did you notice Habakkuk’s physical response to God as he prays. He starts out on his knees and at the end of his response his stomach is full of butterflies and he is stammering and stuttering. It reminds me of the song “I Can Only Imagine”, I can only imagine what my response will be when I meet God face to face.

I suspect, like Habakkuk, I may not even be able to talk clearly, if I say anything at all. Or I may dance and rejoice, I suspect I will do all of the above. Most of all Habakkuk comprehends the power of God and knowing God’s strength, Habakkuk was able to trust the LORD, even in a crisis.

You see, God’s power and majesty does not diminish because we face difficult trials. God doesn’t change, He is the same today, yesterday and forever. The circumstances around us, are just that, circumstances around us. The question may come up, as it did for Habakkuk, “If God is so powerful, how come I’m going through this hard time?”

But like Habakkuk, once we remember exactly who we are talking to, and that God does not change, we, like Habakkuk, will hopefully realize that is the wrong question. The attitude Habakkuk comes to is this, “There is no ‘if God is powerful’ I know you are strong and mighty God, stronger and mightier than all things.

 

There is nothing I am going to go through today, no matter whether it is happening because I deserve it or because I live in a fallen world, I will praise you, because of who you are, and because you have promised to never leave me or forsake me.  I don’t walk through this alone, in fact, I have you God wherever and in whatever comes my way, good or bad.”

 
HABAKKUK

Counting on God's Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.

I feel like I'm king of the mountain!

(For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)

 
Habakkuk realized and so should we, his joy did not come in the cherry trees or strawberries, his joy wasn’t determined on whether he had sheep or not. His joy came, in God, and God was unchanging.

He also wasn’t practicing positive thinking, and shutting out the idea of the Chaldeans taking it all, and trying to convince himself that everything was going to be all right. Instead, he saw the problems for what they were and remembered, God is bigger than the problems.

 
So, what about you?
 

Do you have any problems today?

Are there things happening that don’t seem fair?
 

Are there things happening in your life that you deserve and God is allowing them as discipline, to help change a bad behavior into a good behavior?

I want you to consider Habakkuk’s response.
 

God was true to his word, the Chaldeans did come and destroy Jerusalem and carry them off to Babylon. Things went from bad to worse.

And we learn from Habakkuk, that we are not called to rely on the circumstances, because they will keep changing.

God is the only thing that remains the same, faithful, never changing.
We are not called to ignore the circumstances, we are called not to focus on them, because they do change.
Our focus needs to be on God, and when it is, regardless what is going on around us, we can say like Habakkuk,

“Counting on God's Rule to prevail, I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.

I feel like I'm king of the mountain!”