ON THE WAY UP (17)
(Habakkuk 3 )
HABAKKUK’S third chapter is really a psalm as is evidenced by the musical instructions at its beginning and end and the threefold use of the word “Selah”.
THE singer lived in an in-between period which he calls “the midst of the years”. The tradition which lay behind him was the original exodus and this is described in poetic terms of eloquence which seem deeply to have affected the prophet and taken his breath away (v.16). “God came” (v.3) sums up the amazing events or Israel’s beginnings. In a poetic way this can also be applied to the tremendous Pentecostal events which marked the beginning of the Church.
I understand that Habakkuk’s words can equally be attributed to the future and to the overwhelming events of a new divine intervention in the world’s affairs. Habakkuk was a prophet who was advised that there would be a no less glorious “coming”. He was told that in the Lord was in the place of supreme exaltation: “The Lord is in his holy temple” (2:20) and the moment can confidently be expected when He will rise up in judgment and salvation: “The vision … hasteneth toward the end … though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay” (2:3).
THE New Testament takes up this prediction and applies it to the Second Coming of Christ: “Yet a very little while, He that cometh will come and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:37). This will be the apotheosis of the Church’s history, the time when God will indeed revive His work.
MEANWHILE Habakkuk was in a waiting time, “in the midst of the years” and he was told that he must wait and live by faith (2:4). This is the phrase, “The just shall live by faith” which is thrice repeated in the New Testament.
WHAT was the response of Habakkuk? In this time of testing how would he proceed? The answer is given as the main theme of this psalm of his. It is that far from being depressed and overwhelmed at the present hiatus, he found himself with spiritual agility, able to rise to new heights and to move freely in this area of ascendancy. As he praised the Lord he found that his feet were like hinds’ feet enabling him to tread happily in high places.
HE tells us how it is that he can live so constantly on a higher plane, in spite of those dark circumstances all round him. It is described in this well-known assertion that he would not be moved from a life of praising and rejoicing whatever happened: “Though the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat: the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stall: yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
IT will never be quite as bad as the picture I painted here. But even if it were, the most depressed and deprived believer can take heart from Habakkuk’s example and prove its validity. “God is for us! Who can be against us? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” I had a godly friend who used to say that rejoicing is not something that happens to you, but something you do! “Rejoice in the Lord always.”