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The Sovereign Lord is My Strength (Habakkuk 3:19)

Sermon on 28 August 2022 by Ps Justin


Habakkuk 3:17-19 - “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)”


The fig tree, olive and flock are basic covenants that God made with the people. Despite all the bad things happening, Habakkuk chose to rejoice in the Lord. When you make the Lord your joy and strength, you will have the confidence like a deer. You will have confidence in manoeuvring in this world. We want to make God our salvation and strength.


When we study the book of the twelve, remember that it is about a behavioural change. There must be a renewal of mind. We must move toward Christlikeness. Don’t let the word stay as intellectual knowledge. Let it go into your heart and renew your mind. When the Holy Spirit enters you and moves in you, great power happens. The key message is about judgement, instruction and the hope of salvation. The key emphasis is on sin, punishment and restoration. When you repent, God relents. The prophets prophesied based on the 4 fundamentals (holiness of God, sinfulness of man, the righteousness, judgements and the Mercy of God, the Sovereignty of God over the Nations). Prophet Nahum talked about God’s wrath and vengeance. Habakkuk is more about a dialogue with God. It is good to ask God questions. It is not good to question God’s sovereign choices. Habakkuk has a problem in his faith. He was so troubled because he saw people’s inequities growing and getting away without trouble. God will give him a very clear answer. Despite all he saw, the just shall live by faith. When he saw the sovereignty of God, he was so full of awe. He felt a strong sense of weakness within himself. He moved from doubt into security. He went from a conflicted faith to triumphant faith. Habakkuk’s names suggest that he wanted to cling on to God. It means embrace of love.


Habakkuk 3:16-19 - “I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights. (For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)”


We want to cling on to God today and trust in Him no matter what. We walk by faith, not by sight.


2 Corinthians 5:7 - “For we live by believing and not by seeing.”


Habakkuk ministered to the house of Judah. The Kingdom was divided into the north and south. The north was Israel and the south was Judah. Habakkuk prophesied during Babylonian’s captivity, and after King Josiah’s death. The main focus of the book are the problems of Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:1-4, 1:5-11, 1:12-17, 2:2-4) and praises of Habakkuk (2:3-4).


Habakkuk 1:1-4 - “This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision. How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.”


Habakkuk 1:5-11 - “The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands. They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like. Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey. “On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand. They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them! They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.””


Habakkuk 1:12-17 - “O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal— surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins. But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil. Will you wink at their treachery? Should you be silent while the wicked swallow up people more righteous than they? Are we only fish to be caught and killed? Are we only sea creatures that have no leader? Must we be strung up on their hooks and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate? Then they will worship their nets and burn incense in front of them. “These nets are the gods who have made us rich!” they will claim. Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?”


Habakkuk 2:2-4 - “Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.”

Habakkuk struggled with his faith after God answered his first question.

Romans 5:3-4 - “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”

Romans 5:3-4 NLT


Hebrews 6:12 - “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.”


When we pray for something, we lack patience. We need to have faith. Faith and patience allows us to inherit the promises of God. Building of character needs time. Perseverance builds character. God concluded His answer in Habakkuk 2:20.


Habakkuk 2:20 - “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.””


Job 42:5 - “I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”


When you see the glory of God, you will be like Habakkuk. The more you know God, the more you don’t know God. If you see the Lord, your flesh will be silent before Him and you will have no more questions. Let your body be washed everyday by reading the word. You need to continually sanctify your heart to see God. God will move mightily in you. The Holy Spirit lives in us.


Matthew 5:8 - “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.”


Habakkuk struggled with doubt. The praise of Habakkuk was a cure for his doubt. Where do the sources of our doubt come from? The problem of faith is a problem of our doubt. Satan is the most potent source of our doubt.


Genesis 3:1 - “The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?””


Job 1:11 - “But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!””


1 Peter 5:8 - “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”


Other than Satan, the world also causes our doubt. The values are different from what is in the Bible.


1 Corinthians 2:13 - “When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.”


1 Timothy 6:20 - “Timothy, guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge.”


Our own spiritual immaturity also causes it.


James 1:8 - “Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.”


Ephesians 4:14 - “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.”


We can grow an obedient relationship with God by prayer (Habakkuk 3:1-2), making certain of our salvation ( and by faithfully studying the word of God.


Habakkuk 3:16 - “I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.”


The problem of Habakkuk is a problem of doubt. The praise of Habakkuk is the cure. You need to know your own salvation. You need to read the word so faithfully. Habakkuk began by questioning God, but concluded by praising God. Asking God questions is different from questioning God. We will rejoice in the Lord for He is our strength. Live triumphantly, faithfully and rest securely in Him.


Amen.

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