By the grace and mercy of the Almighty God and power of the Holy Spirit, the Lord spoke to me through Habakkuk 3. This is a revelation and teaching on how we should pray; both for ourselves and for the Body of Christ, for all believers. This is especially important for us, ahead of the great trials to come. The Lord will revive His work among the people in the midst of the years of adversity. This will hold true in every season as His church and His believers suffer under afflictions and trials. In faith, the Lord is He to whom we must flee for refuge and mercy, and rely upon, for strength and hope.
Habakkuk 3:1-6 reads: “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet concerning erring ones: O Jehovah, I have heard Your report; I am afraid. O Jehovah, give new life to Your work in the midst of years; in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covers the heavens, and His praise fills the earth. And His brightness is as the light; rays from His hand are His, and there was a hiding of His strength. A plague went before Him, and lightning went forth at His feet. He stood and measured the earth; He looked and shook nations, and the everlasting mountains were shattered; the eternal hills bowed down. His ways are everlasting.”
Here, the prophet, Habakkuk, instructs God’s people to confess to God not only their known and acknowledged sins, but also those which were committed in error, ignorance and negligence (our transgressions). They are to do this as an act of devotion and obedience. In his worship and in the fear of the Lord, the prophet pleads to God for the deliverance and restoration of His people. Habakkuk acknowledges God’s warnings of His wrath to come, while also seeking His mercy for His people.
As an expression of his faith and as a praise offering to God, Habakkuk declares to God’s people as he prophesies the glorious description of Jehovah’s manifestations yet to be. He describes the earth being filled with His praise as His glory filled the skies. Even although God’s power is hidden, His brightness appeared as sunlight, with rays from His hands. Before Him, plague proceeded and clears a path while lightning came from His feet and the nations shake and mountains shatter.
As the Lord God came down to His people at Sinai (after He redeemed them out of Egypt and established a covenant of His grace with them), so will He appear again in His glory and omnipotence, to liberate us from the bondage of the power of the world, and crush to pieces the wicked who seek to destroy the weak and poor. The ways of the Lord are everlasting; that is, all the acts of his providence are according to His eternal counsels. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His covenant is unchangeable, and his mercy endures forever.
In his prophetic vision, Habakkuk saw in v7-15: “the tents of Cushan under calamity; the curtains of the land of Midian trembled. Did Jehovah burn against rivers? Or was Your anger against the rivers? Or Your wrath against the sea? For You ride on horses, Your chariots of salvation. You make Your bow naked, according to the oaths of the rods of Your Word. Selah. You have cut through the earth with rivers. They saw You; mountains trembled. The storm of water passed over; the deep uttered its voice and lifted up its hands on high. The sun and moon stood still in their dwelling. At the light of Your arrows they go, and at the shining of Your gleaming spear. You march into the land in fury; You thresh nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, to bare the foundation to the neck. Selah. You pierced the head of his warriors with his shafts; they storm out to scatter me; their rejoicing is to devour the meek in a secret place. You trod in the sea with Your horses, the foaming of many waters.”
Cush is Arabia and the Arabs dwelt in tents. However, in their afflictions, the Arabs of the Red Sea abandoned their tents when the Lord appeared on Mount Sinai as the Midianites too, were seized with fear.
Did God cause of the dividing the Red Sea and the Jordan River because of His wrath against these waters? No, rather it was His pleasure in interposing for His people’s salvation.
Prophetically, the “bow” represents the threat of the God’s vengeance: a vengeance which will likely be discharged at a distance, if not averted. The longer the string is drawn, the more the arrow penetrates: the longer the day of judgement is delayed, the more severe is the judgement, when poured out. While judgement is delayed, the bow seems to be laid up in its sheath. But the Lord is warning us: because we disregard God’s judgement and because God’s judgement will come suddenly, like an arrow from a bow; while the archer is still distant and cannot yet be seen, similarly, God’s judgement will strike suddenly.
All this is done “according to the oaths of the tribes.” These “oaths” denote the Covenant which God made with the twelve tribes, giving them the land of the Canaanites for their inheritance. They oaths were frequently repeated and renewed: the oath which the Lord swore with Abraham was renewed with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and again with David. This oath, the Word and promise of God; was the pledge of the deliverance of His people, that they “should be saved from their enemies at His appointed time, and from the hand of all who hate them.”
The mountains tremble, shaken by the presence of God; while the deep utters its voice and lifts up its hands on high; spiritually denoting that those who know and fear of God, shall receive salvation.
Habakkuk does not describe the mighty acts of the Lord in order to assign motives for his prayer for the deliverance of Israel out of the affliction of exile which awaits it in the future. He is predicting the future appearance of the Lord to judge the nations, from the simple fact that he places the future at the head of the whole description, so as to determine all else that follows.
In v16-19, the prophet says: “I heard and my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice. Rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself that I might rest in the day of trouble; to come up against the people; he cuts him off.
Though the fig tree shall not blossom, and fruit is not on the vines; the labour of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food. The flock is cut off from the fold, and no herd is in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in Jehovah, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Jehovah the Lord is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and He will make me to walk on my high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”
Hope, through the grace of God, is founded by the holy fear of Him and Him alone. Habakkuk describes his fear of God and God’s judgements to come. After his description of the wonders done by Jehovah, (bringing their fathers from Egypt into the promised land), he returns to the desolate state of his countrymen. They are shortly to be led into captivity, and shortly to suffer grievous afflictions. But Habakkuk gives a sure word of prophecy: that they will ultimately be delivered. Yet, the thoughts of the evils which they must endure fill his soul with terror and dismay, such that he wishes to be removed from earth before this tribulation should come, that his eyes might not behold the desolation of his country.
Habakkuk prophesies that both crop failures and the deaths of animals, would devastate Judah. When provisions are cut off, it is apparent that man lives not by bread alone. We must be comforted by His grace and counsel of the Holy Spirit: then, we shall remain strong in Him who will strengthen us to overcome our troubles. Thus, the prophet, who began his prayer with fear and trembling, ends it with joy and triumph.
We are truly privileged and honoured to be a part of God’s eternal, glorious kingdom. After the Son of God suffered on the cross for all our sins, how glorious indeed is His resurrection and ascension! And how much more glorious will be His second coming, to put an end to all those who opposes Him, and all that which causes suffering for his people!
Amen and Amen!