Habakkuk : Week 3 - When God seems unfair: Ho do I make sense of it all?
Sermon Date: July 16th, 2017
Reading: Habakkuk 3:1-19
This is the final part of our journey with Habakkuk, it is the end of this conversation between the prophet and God. There is a big change in Habakkuk's attitude, even though the circumstances haven't changed. There is still injustice and they will be conquered by the Babylonians.
After speaking with God, his moaning has changed into praise, his complaint to prayer. His despair has been transformed into hope and his doubts to trusting God. He has heard that "the righteous person will live by his faithfulness" (2:4) and has understood God's love despite their suffering.
The first verse says "A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth", this means that the prayer is to be used with music . This is confirmed by the last verse "For the director of music. On my stringed instruments". This is important because Habakkuk doesn't want us only to read his prayer, he wants us to sing it, to join in and sing together.
Have you ever had a situation in which you had a change of heart about something?
(doesn't need to be Christian related)
If you could go back in time, what event in history would you have liked to be part of? (please try to shift the conversation into non-christian stuff, we will get into God's events later :)
Please read Habakkuk 3
Please read 3:1-2 again
v.2 What are the deeds God has done which amaze you?
Is there anything that you think God is doing today that makes you "stand in awe"?
Please read verses 3:3-15
This is a song, so it must be taken as such. As in poetry there is a lot of images and we shouldn't interpret it literally. Actually this part of the song is a mixture of events that have happened and some that haven't yet. It is a picture of God's holiness and power, defeating his enemy, but in the middle we have hints of stories when God has already intervened in the past. As most of these prophetic images, there are very hard to interpret and we shouldn't reach to easy literal conclusions. The main focus is on what we saw previously in v. 2, a God that has done amazing things and the hope that He will do them again and even greater in the future.
In v.3 he is mentioning "Teman" and "Mount Paran" which are in the south and in v. 7 Cushan and Midan which are further east and west for their known World. This could mean that he is talking about God's power which extends to all the World. This reminds us of his phrase in the previous chapter "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea" (Hab. 2:14).
Do you have a global perspective of what God is doing? Do you feel part of the God's global Church? How could we get involved?
Please read Joshua 10:12-15
In v. 5 He is remembering the greatest act of God so far (600 B.C), when God delivered them from Egypt. "Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps". Further on in v. 11 "Sun and moon stood still in the heavens", remembering the day when the sun had stopped so that the people of Israel could have their victory as we read in Joshua 10. These are stories of salvation, when God intervened to help his people.
What works have you heard of in the past that you would like God to repeat in Ashtead and in the World today?
Is there anything we can do to enable this?
Please read v.13 and remember this is a prophet speaking. What do you think he could be talking about? (Hint: many scholars think this might be a prophetic verse talking about Jesus' coming. The book talks about God's glory filling the earth, faith as a mean to be in good terms with God, it does make a lot of sense).
Please read Habakkuk 3:16-19
This is a great song of faith. Knowing what is coming, why do you think Habakkuk sings this song of praise? What has he understood about how God is?
In everybody's life there will be times of hardship and suffering. Habakkuk teaches us to pray during those times, to search for comfort in Him.
Do you know anyone who is having a hard time? How could you help them?
Why do you think Habakkuk's perspective has changed so much?
There is so much to learn from Habakkuk's conversation with God and final prayer song. He says "...Though the fig-tree does not bud ... yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign Lord is my strength, he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to trad on the heights." He knows that no matter what, his hope is in a powerful, holy, just, beautiful, glorious, merciful and loving God. He knows that "the righteous person will live by his faithfulness" and at the end of the day he trusts that God is his Saviour.
Action: You might want to pray at the end of the study, specially about the two main topics we spoke about today. First that God might change our heart and understanding, so that we sing a song of praise and faith. That we might see his mighty and loving deeds once again.
Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy. (Hab. 3:2)
Nico Hilding-Ohlsson, 09/07/2017