As God showed Habakkuk how and why He was going to do what He had revealed this caused Habakkuk to fear. This was no ordinary fear. Habakkuk knew that God was Holy and Just. And in seeing how awful a thing His wrath is, Habakkuk experienced what he described as bone shattering fear.
When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself…
Fear is a normal part of life in a fallen world. Courageous King David feared (Psalm 6:7; 102:8); the Apostle Paul feared (2 Cor 1:8); and Timothy feared (2 Tim 1:7). Fear is not an easy thing to overcome, but God has given us what we need to stop being afraid. Fear is the opposite of faith, and when we are afraid we need to remember Who we believe and why we believe in Him!
Habakkuk has given us a poetic prayer put to music in chapter 3 of his prophecy. The core of that prayer serves not only to plead with God to give “rest in the day of trouble” but also to remind us what to do if we, like the prophet, are overcome with fear. He was afraid when he saw the terrible judgment of God that was coming upon the people. We fear when we face uncertainty or hardship. Either way we find four things in this prayer to help us overcome our fears.
First we see that Habakkuk remembered God’s Glory (Hab 3:3b-9a). He draws upon imagery from the Exodus and Conquest of the Promised Land in order to show us how great our God is. God manifested His glory in the cloud that led the people by day and the pillar of fire by night. He also manifested His very presence through the Shekinah glory that rose above the Tabernacle, letting the people know that He was there in their midst. He sent plagues upon the Egyptians and then gave the people a way of escape through the parting of the Red Sea.
Second we see that Habakkuk remembered God’s Power (Hab 3:9b-13). He recalled the Rock that gave water in the midst of the wilderness. He remembered again the great wonder of the parting of the Red Sea and the Jordan River as the people crossed over out of bondage and into the Promised Land. And we see recounted the story of the battle that Joshua led where the Lord caused the sun to stand still for a day so that the battle could be won (Joshua 10:1-14). We even see in verse 13 a promise of the Anointed One. The term for “anointed one” is “messiah” in Hebrew. The Lord promises to bring salvation through His Messiah just as He saved the people by the hand of Joshua (whose name means “deliverance”). God’s power even extended the House of Pharaoh as his first born was killed in the last plague as Passover was initiated as an everlasting ordinance for the people of God.
Third we see that Habakkuk remembered God’s Faithfulness (Hab 3:14-15). In the midst of the conquest there were times when God even confused Israel’s enemies to the point that they turned and fought each other, killing themselves with their own weapons (Psalm 7:6; Judges 9:19-20; 2 Chronicles 20:17-24). And we are reminded once again how great a miracle it was that the people were able to cross the Red Sea on dry land even as the pursuing Egyptians were drowned and destroyed as the Sea collapsed on them.
Fourth we see that Habakkuk remembered God’s Promises (Hab 3:16). God promised rest in the day of trouble, justice for the oppressed, and salvation for those who would trust in Him.
In conclusion we learn from this history lesson that when we face debilitating fear, we do not need to rely on emotions. Our emotions are easily overcome by fear. We need not rely on reason, for every reason we see not to fear there are a hundred more that tell us our fear is the only rational response available. We need not rely on knowledge, for simply knowing the truth does not mean that we believe it, and in the face of fear we often doubt more than we believe. To overcome fear we must rely on the Lord Jesus by faith!
Jesus tells us that we need not worry because He will provide all that we need (Matt 6:25-33). He tells us we need not be troubled because we can trust Him (John 14:1-3). He tells us not to be afraid because He has given us a Helper, the Holy Spirit, Who will teach us all truth (John 14:25-27). And He tells us that we should not fear because He is always with us, has all authority in heaven and earth, and can never be separated from us because of His love (Matt 28:18-20; Rom 8:31-39).
In the face of bone crushing fear, Habakkuk tells us to remember Who God is and what He has done. When we look at Him, we will not care about the wind and waves!
Join us this Sunday, December 12, at 10:30 AM for the seventh message in our series from Habakkuk. This week our message “Rest in the Day of Trouble” is taken from Habakkuk 3:3-16.