Chapter 3 starts off with an awe-inspiring description of the God with whom we’re dealing. The prophet had heard of the Lord’s amazing deeds on behalf of Israel, such as the parting of the Red Sea, or the Plagues on Egypt. How incredible is he? What does he have to do to shake the earth to its foundations, to make the mighty nations tremble? Look at them. Just a glance from his face is enough. Talk about someone’s Angry Face!
The last verses of the book, the last recorded words of Habakkuk, are pretty famous. This is an amazing expression of trust. Let’s meditate on it for a moment, shall we?
The prophet saw his world crumbling around him. Right now he watched the rich trampling on the poor, evil people silencing the good, and righteousness becoming a more and more rare commodity. When he complained about it, the Lord revealed to him that he (God) was going to send an invader to destroy the nation. Everything around him—the cities, the infrastructure, the temple, the kingdom—would be rubble in a few short years.
In effect, Habakkuk’s final words on the subject sort of “doubles down” on trusting God. The Lord had revealed some horrible things in the immediate future. But the prophet’s reply?
No matter what. . . I will rejoice in you.
If the fig tree doesn’t bud. . .if the grape vine is bare. . .if the olive crop is gone. . .if there are no cattle in the stalls. . . I will rejoice in you. I will be joyful in the God who saves me.
In that agricultural economy, if fig trees weren’t budding and grapevines were bare, etc. people starved. A rough modern equivalent might be: “Even if I lose my job, and I lose my family, and I lose my home, and I lose my health, and I lose everything else I own, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will rejoice in God my Savior.”
Another thing strikes me here. This is a choice that he made. This is not an emotion that struck him like a cold. He saw things falling apart around him, and he chose to focus on his relationship with the Lord, the benefits of knowing him and being known by him.
Can I also remind you of something? This is an Old Testament believer. Yes, he was a prophet, so he had a much more intimate relationship with the Lord than the average Israelite. The Lord showed and revealed to him things which he didn’t show anyone else. And of course he’s authoritative in speaking for the Lord which no modern person can match. But we have so much more revelation than he did. He could only talk about “God [his] Savior.” I live on this side of the cross, in which my Savior took a much more specific Name. He’s done things for me which he never did for Habakkuk or any other O.T. believer.
My point is that on this side of the cross, we have even more reason to rejoice in the Lord, to be joyful in God our Savior. No matter what happens in this life, we know that our eternal destiny is secure, and we have access to his Throne of Grace anytime day or night.
Again I see a parallel with Job. In fact, he went even further than Habakkuk. When Job’s world was falling apart around him, even in his anger at the Lord, he made this expression of trust: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.”
I love the final image here. Since the sovereign Lord is his strength, his “feet” are “like the feet of a deer.” As the NET Bible study notes put it, “Difficult times are coming, but Habakkuk is confident the Lord will sustain him. Habakkuk will be able to survive, just as the deer negotiates the difficult rugged terrain of the high places without injury.” No matter what bad times are ahead, either individually or as a nation, the Lord will sustain us and bring us out to the other side of it. And the other side ultimately will be . . . glorious.
No matter what happens, no matter how bad, I will choose to rejoice in you. I will choose to be joyful in you my Savior. By your grace.