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Habakkuk 3

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 29, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

We think the best guess of when Habakkuk wrote his book is somewhere around 606 BC.

It was written after the fall of the northern kingdom, and only the southern kingdom of Judah is left.

It is during the early part of King Jehoiakim’s reign, a time when the nation of Judah wasn’t walking very close to God.

It was written just prior to the Babylonians taking over the world.

The Babylonians will be part of the focus of Habakkuk’s concern.

Habakkuk is all about tough questions.  Last week we looked at…

Why is God silent sometimes?

Why do evil people get away with things?

Why would God punish Judah with a nation more wicked than themselves?

There are going to be times in life when things just don’t make sense.

Last week we got a glimpse of the key to Habakkuk, that little nugget hidden in a sea of trouble predicted for proud Babylon:

(Habakkuk 2:4 NKJV) “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

Not only are we made right with God and find eternal salvation through our faith, but we talked about how our lives need to be lived “by faith”.
Faith is trusting in someone or something that you don’t see.
Sometimes life doesn’t look so good, things seem so dark, but we are learning that we have to trust God and move forward in life.

You could make a case that Paul is quoting the principles of Habakkuk when he writes to the Philippians:

(Habakkuk 3:17–18 NKJV) —17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

(Philippians 4:4 NKJV) —4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
(Philippians 4:10–19 NKJV) —10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Parallels to this poem are found in:

(Deuteronomy 33:2–5 NKJV) —2 And he said: “The Lord came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them. 3 Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words. 4 Moses commanded a law for us, A heritage of the congregation of Jacob. 5 And He was King in Jeshurun, When the leaders of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together.

(Judges 5:4–5 NKJV) —4 Lord, when You went out from Seir, When You marched from the field of Edom, The earth trembled and the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water; 5 The mountains gushed before the Lord, This Sinai, before the Lord God of Israel.

(Psalm 68:7–8 NKJV) —7 O God, when You went out before Your people, When You marched through the wilderness, Selah 8 The earth shook; The heavens also dropped rain at the presence of God; Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.

(Psalm 77:13–20 NKJV) —13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God? 14 You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples. 15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah 16 The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled. 17 The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also flashed about. 18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up the world; The earth trembled and shook. 19 Your way was in the sea, Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known. 20 You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron.

(Psalm 114 NKJV) —1 When Israel went out of Egypt, The house of Jacob from a people of strange language, 2 Judah became His sanctuary, And Israel His dominion. 3 The sea saw it and fled; Jordan turned back. 4 The mountains skipped like rams, The little hills like lambs. 5 What ails you, O sea, that you fled? O Jordan, that you turned back? 6 O mountains, that you skipped like rams? O little hills, like lambs? 7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, At the presence of the God of Jacob, 8 Who turned the rock into a pool of water, The flint into a fountain of waters.

(Isaiah 63:11–14 NKJV) —11 Then he remembered the days of old, Moses and his people, saying: “Where is He who brought them up out of the sea With the shepherd of His flock? Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within them, 12 Who led them by the right hand of Moses, With His glorious arm, Dividing the water before them To make for Himself an everlasting name, 13 Who led them through the deep, As a horse in the wilderness, That they might not stumble?” 14 As a beast goes down into the valley, And the Spirit of the Lord causes him to rest, So You lead Your people, To make Yourself a glorious name.

3:1-2 Habakkuk’s request

:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

:1 A prayer of Habakkuk

prayertephillah – prayer

This word is found in the title of five of the psalms, and gives us the idea that this was actually a song sung in the Temple.
(Psalm 17 NKJV) A Prayer of David.
(Psalm 86 NKJV) A Prayer of David.
(Psalm 90 NKJV) — A Prayer Of Moses the Man of God.
(Psalm 102 NKJV) — A Prayer of the Afflicted, When He is Overwhelmed and Pours Out His Complaint Before the Lord.
(Psalm 142 NKJV) — A Contemplation Of David. A Prayer When He Was in the Cave.

:1 on Shigionoth

It is not uncommon for psalms to have some sort of musical reference in their titles, giving some sort of direction to the musician about the song.

Perhaps it is the name of the melody that the song was sung to.

Shigionoth” comes from the verb meaning to “swerve, reel, be intoxicated”.

One suggestion is that it is a song sung with great excitement, a triumphal song.

:2 O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

:2 heard of Your speech … was afraid

God has been warning Habakkuk not only of the judgment that would be coming on Babylon, but the fact that God would be using Babylon to bring judgment on Habakkuk’s own nation, Judah.

This has caused Habakkuk to be afraid

:2 revive Your work in the midst of the years

revivechayah – to live, remain alive, sustain life, live forever, be restored to life or health

This is the same word translated “shall live” in 2:4 “the just shall live by his faith”
The word can also carry the idea of being “revived”.

midst of years” – a similar phrase is found in –

(Psalm 102:24 NKJV) I said, “O my God, Do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations.

in the midst of the years”

Habakkuk is asking God to give new life to his nation in the middle of all the trouble they will be going through.
It almost sounds to me like he’s asking God to give “revival” to “middle age”.

I think that after a person has been a believer for a few years, the fire and passion of first coming to the Lord begins to recede a little.

We too ought to ask God for “revival”, for a renewal of passion for Him.



The word (chayah) is translated “revive” several places in the O.T. –
When Jacob found out that his son Joseph was actually still alive in Egypt,

(Genesis 45:27 NKJV) But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.

Revival is about hope when there was none.

When Samson had fought a great battle and was dying of thirst, he prayed and,

(Judges 15:19 NKJV) …God split the hollow place that is in Lehi, and water came out, and he drank; and his spirit returned, and he revived.

Revival is about refreshment for the thirsty.

When Elijah’s landlord lost her son, Elijah went and prayed for the dead child…

(1 Kings 17:22 NKJV) Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived.

Revival is about new life to things that were dead.

The longest chapter of the Bible, which is all about how wonderful God’s Word is, says,

(Psalm 119:107 NKJV) I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O Lord, according to Your word.

Revival has a very real connection with God’s Word.

I suspect this next video is in Chinese.

Watch how they react to the gift of the Bible.

Video:  Chinese Bibles

Do you need to be “revived”?
Have you lost hope?  Are you thirsty?  Do you feel dead inside?  Do you love God’s Word?
Maybe, like Habakkuk, we ought to pray for revival.

The “just” shall “be revived” by their faith (Hab. 2:4b)

:2 In wrath remember mercy

wrathrogez – agitation, raging, trouble, turmoil, trembling

This isn’t one of the typical words translated “wrath” in the OT.  It’s only translated “wrath” in this passage.  Of the seven times it’s found, it’s translated “trouble” 3x.

mercyracham – to love, be compassionate, have tender affection

Habakkuk is asking God to remember His great love for His people, even when they are going through judgment or troubling times.


Loving Correction

There are times when we, like Israel go through difficult times as a result of our sin.
(Hebrews 12:5–11 NKJV) —5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

It’s important to realize that if we’re going through difficulty as a result of our sin, it’s only because God loves us, not because He wants to destroy us.

7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.

If you screwed things up in your life and DIDN’T experience God’s “chastening”, then perhaps you aren’t God’s child.  Consider it a good thing if you are being chastened.

9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

How we come through our chastening depends on us.

Are we learning from it?  Are we being “trained” by it?

If so, then God will be developing a greater “holiness” in us (vs. 10).  He will be producing “righteousness” in us.  We will be experiencing “peace” as a result of learning to do the right things.

3:3-15 God’s majesty

The background to this next section is connected God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt with what God will do in the future.

:3 God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.

:3 God came from …

The verbs in this entire section (vs. 3-15) are translated as something that has already happened.

God has already acted in these ways.

But they can also be translated as something in the future.

What God has done, He will do again.
“God shall come from Teman


These were places where God led Israel when they came out of Egypt.

Teman was one of the great cities of ancient Edom, located in southern Jordan.  The land of Edom was also known as “Seir”.

The location of Mount Paran is a little more uncertain.

I saw it located anywhere from the area of Teman to the Sinai Peninsula.

Towards the end of his life, Moses recalled coming out of Egypt and wrote,

(Deuteronomy 33:2 NKJV) And he said: “The Lord came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.
Seir” is like “Teman”, are names for Edom. (more on this later…)

:3 Selahcelah – to lift up; a technical musical term probably showing accentuation, pause, interruption

fromcalah – to make light of, toss aside; to weigh, balance; to be weighed

We think it carries the idea of a musical interlude, like a guitar solo, but for the purpose of the people to be stopping and thinking about what has been sung.

The term is used here, in verse 9, and again in verse 13.

The use of this term gives us the idea that this “song” was used in public worship since there is direction being given for worship.

Think about how God has rescued and saved His people in the past.  He will do it again.

Habakkuk has been thinking about how the Babylonians will bring judgment, while God wants to remind Habakkuk that He will bring salvation.

:4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.

:4 brightness was like the light

Our God is surrounded with light.

(1 John 1:5 NKJV) This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.
(1 Timothy 6:16 NKJV) —16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
(Psalm 104:2 NKJV) —2 Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.

:4 His power was hidden

As majestic as this description of God is, He is greater.  The light only hides His greatness.

If you think the light of the sun is powerful, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

I came across something the other day showing a solar eruption or “filament”, caught by a NASA camera, and then compared to the size of the earth.

We think the earth is big.  The solar filament was HUGE.  The sun is HUGER.
God is even bigger.

:5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

:5 Before Him went pestilence

One of the things God used to get Israel out of Egypt was the “plagues” He put on the nation of Egypt.

We’ve seen in the book of Revelation (chs. 6-19) that much of what happened in Egypt will happen again to the earth before Jesus comes back.

(Revelation 16:2 NKJV) So the first went and poured out his bowl upon the earth, and a foul and loathsome sore came upon the men who had the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image.

:6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

:7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

:7 CushanMidian

These were two of the nations that lay on either side of the Red Sea, nations that were witness to the awesome thing God did when the Red Sea parted.

When we think of the Red Sea we just think of God parting the Red Sea and Israel crossing over.  But God also destroyed the pursing Egyptian army as well.

Video:  Ten Commandments - Red Sea Ending

:8 O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

:8 rivers … sea

God not only parted the Red Sea to get Israel into the Promised Land, but the Jordan River was also stopped so Israel could cross over.

:9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah

:9 Oaths were sworn over Your arrows

The Hebrew here is a bit obscure.

One scholar counted over 100 different ways that the phrase here has been translated.

:9 Selah

Stop and think about how God has delivered and will deliver His people.

:9 You divided the earth with rivers.

:10 The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.

:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

:11 The sun and moon stood still

When Joshua fought at the battle of Gibeon, he prayed and the sun stood still for twenty four hours. (Josh. 10:12-14)

And you think your day seems long while you’re at work?
(Joshua 10:12–14 NKJV) —12 Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” 13 So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 14 And there has been no day like that, before it or after it, that the Lord heeded the voice of a man; for the Lord fought for Israel.

:12 You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

:13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

:13 for the salvation of Your people

In the past, God fought to save His people.

In the future He will fight for His people.


Salvation Past

He died for us
Ultimately, our greatest need for salvation is for salvation from the consequences of our sins.
At the beginning of Jesus, ministry,

(John 1:29 NKJV) The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

Jesus took away our sin by dying in our place.

(2 Corinthians 5:21 NLT) For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Have you received this most important salvation?

You may think that the most important salvation is being rescued from the problem you’re in, but I am here to tell you that the biggest salvation is to be rescued from an eternity in hell.

Open your heart to Jesus.


Salvation Future

He will fight for Israel
Just as God fought for His people in the Old Testament times to save them from their enemies, He will one day fight for His people.
Isaiah records what happens when Jesus comes back the second time:

(Isaiah 63:1–3 NKJV) —1 Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?— “I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.” 2 Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? 3 “I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes.

When Jesus Christ returns, He will come to rescue the nation of Israel from the antichrist.  He will come from Edom.

:13 For salvation with Your Anointed

Anointedmashiyach – anointed, of the Messiah

Though this word could be used to refer to Israel as a whole, or to a king or priest, it could also refer to The Messiah, Jesus Christ.

:13 You struck the head from the house of the wicked

This is like saying that God will cut the head off the snake.

:13 Selah

Stop and think about how God saves.

:14 You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

:14 thrust through with his own arrows

God has Israel’s enemies turn on each other and destroying each other.

This is what happened many times in Israel’s history, as in the days of Jehoshaphat:

(2 Chronicles 20:23–24 NKJV) —23 For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 So when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude; and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped.

:15 You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.

Again, the Red Sea.

3:16-19 Response to Majesty

:16 When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.

:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—

:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom …


Surviving Disappointment

Habakkuk and was facing the coming devastation of the Babylonian invasion.
Things were going to get worse and worse.
We too will face times when things don’t go the way we hope.
Your baseball team loses a game they should have won.
Our country goes through an economic recession and some of you have lost your jobs and are going through difficult times.
A loved one disappoints or even betrays you, and the marriage you had counted on is in ruins.
You lived your whole life in good health, and now suddenly things have changed and you are faced with terrifying news from the doctor.
How do we survive these times?
Last week we saw part of the answer:
(Habakkuk 2:4b NKJV) …But the just shall live by his faith.

The seasons of disappointment we go through are like walking through a strange room when suddenly the lights go out.

You don’t know where to turn or where to walk because everything is dark.

That’s why we need to live by “faith”, by trusting in the One who is there, even if we don’t see Him.

:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

:19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

:19 make my feet like deer’s feet

The picture Habakkuk is painting is that of being sure-footed in rocky places.  Being able to walk in places where others stumble.  Kind of like the Israeli Ibex…

Video:  SourceFlix – The Crags of the Wild Goats

:18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord


Stability from faith

Too often we get our “joy” when we have lots of “fruit” on the vines.
Habakkuk found that he could find joy by trusting in God, even when the fig tree didn’t blossom.
Paul wrote,
(Philippians 4:4 NKJV) Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Our rejoicing is in the Lord, not in our circumstances. 

I can rejoice because God is awesome and He loves me.  That doesn’t change, even if I don’t win the lottery.

Paul wrote this while he himself was in chains in a Roman prison.

Paul’s letter to the Philippians is known as Paul’s letter of “joy”.

Paul expressed his faith in God while in prison by “rejoicing” and encouraging others to rejoice too.

Paul also wrote,
(Philippians 4:6–7 NKJV) —6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

When we are anxious, we need to take our anxieties and put them in God’s hands.

The trick to finding the “peace of God” through prayer is learning to pray with “thanksgiving”.

You don’t thank God for answering the prayer the way you want Him to, but you thank God for hearing your prayer and answering it the way He wants to.

I found an interesting story about a magazine cover about to hit the newsstands in Australia.

Video:  Turia Pitt

Turia’s story reminded me of another story…


While on a short-term missions trip, Pastor Jack Hinton was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.

“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’ “

Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”

“Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”

-- The Pastor's Update

On a balmy October afternoon in 1982, Badger Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, was packed. More than 60,000 die-hard University of Wisconsin supporters were watching their football team take on the Michigan State Spartans. It soon became obvious that Michigan had the better team.

What seemed odd, however, as the score became more lopsided, were the bursts of applause and shouts of joy from the Wisconsin fans. How could they cheer when their team was losing?  It turns out that seventy miles away the Milwaukee Brewers were beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 1982 World Series.

Many of the fans in the stands were listening to portable radios--and responding to something other than their immediate circumstances.

-- Greg Asimakoupoulos

Habakkuk could praise God because he was “tuned in” to the bigger picture.  He knew that God was ultimately in control.

(2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NKJV) —16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.