Faith Rejoices Even In Judgement

By: Woody Godbey

The little book of Habakkuk needs a longer introduction but I fear you might not read it and the message needs to be heard.  God gives the Prophet a vision and Habakkuk is told to write it down.  The vision is, God is going to punish Judah for their sin by using the wicked Chaldeans.  Habakkuk had a lot of questions at first because he couldn't understand how God could use someone more wickedly than they to shell out the punishment.

In chapters one and two the prophet has a lot of questions, perplexity and doubt but in chapter 3, he has ultimate faith in God even though he doesn't fully understand. I want to start in verse 17 of chapter 3 to show the prophets full surrender to faith.  This book was not only for Judah but for us today.  When we do not understand the bad things happening now and in the future, we don't question God but believe, although we may not understand.

Verse 17 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor 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 stalls:”

Realizing the coming judgment was certain and would be severe, Habakkuk had to respond one way or another. He said, “Although.” This one single word, “Although” is a powerful word. Habakkuk is not resigned to the fact that difficult days are coming. He accepts it. And “although” they are, this is how he will respond.

Notice in this verse three negative statements made by Habakkuk concerning the future.

1. “fig tree shall not blossom, no fruit in the vines” and “failure of olives” speaks of economic disaster.

2.  “fields would yield not meat or food.”

3.  “flocks cut off from the fold, and no herd in the stalls” indicates crops and livestock not producing.

This list is the routine, the ordinary, the dependable and necessary elements of life. Change them to the things today that are routine, dependable, ordinary and necessary. You might say, “Although a drought may kill all the vegetables from the West Coast to the East Coast, and although all the oil from the Middle East be cut off, and every power grid be damaged throughout the United States, and our food and water supply be limited.” Sounds a little more serious now, doesn’t it?

Verse 18 “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

“Yet,” Habakkuk says he “will rejoice in the LORD” and he will “joy in the God of his salvation.” “Yet,” which is the same word as “rejoice,” is not one of those “I don’t have any other choice kind of words,” it is a word expressing “triumph.” Although everything dependable and necessary is in question, Habakkuk “rejoices” or “leaps for joy” in what is forever dependable, the Lord!

The word “joy” means Habakkuk is under the emotion of great gladness. 

Please don’t miss the truth of what Habakkuk is saying here. This is not just an emotional high or a temporary feeling of better days ahead. The words “rejoice” and “joy” are words of resolve. Israel’s covenant God was still on the throne and Habakkuk decided to live by faith and trust Him to do what He promised. That is the basis of his rejoicing and his joy. “God,” is on the throne and is sovereign in Habakkuk’s “salvation.”

Verse 19 “The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

Habakkuk declares that Jehovah the Lord is his “strength.” It is not that God had given Habakkuk “strength” or would give him “strength” in the future. The words means “God IS Habakkuk’s strength!” As difficult as the days ahead would be for Habakkuk, he rejoices that God would be his stability.

Habakkuk illustrates that truth with a reference to “hinds feet.” The “hind” or a female doe or deer, was known for being a surefooted animal, able to walk on high and dangerous places. Habakkuk is visualizing and magnifying the security he has in God to walk through the coming days.  

The Bible is full of examples of people who rejoiced in spite of their circumstances. They were people just like you and me who had their questions and doubts and yet made a choice to be content and rejoice.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah decided to rejoice not in his circumstances, but in God's Word (Jeremiah 15:16). In the New Testament, the apostles in Acts 5:41 were beaten for preaching the gospel. Instead of becoming bitter they left rejoice counting themselves unworthy to be persecuted for Jesus.

If you read your Bible and believe it, things are not going to get better. They are going to get worse. And if you understand anything about life you understand that things are rarely as we thought they would be. We never seem to earn enough money. Our children aren’t as successful as we hoped they would be. Our homes could have been better if we had added space here or cut back there. The sickness or death that invaded our family seemed too severe or too soon. Our only peace and contentment comes from a living relationship with Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul said, “…for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content” (Philippians 4:11).

Even though Habakkuk was terrified at the judgment that was coming, he knew he could decide how he would respond. He could sink in despair and defeat or he could rejoice in God’s faithfulness. Thankfully, Habakkuk chose to rejoice.  He knew that in the end, God will restore Israel.  We also have the blessed hope that we will be in a state of joy and bliss after this world.  Hallelujah!