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"When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.  Although 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 stalls:  Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  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."

 

 A Preacher in his Study

LESSON 1:

Difficult times were coming!

Habakkuk knew that much for sure.

The Lord was going to judge the land.

And in the great closing chapter of Habakkuk's short prophecy we have a detailed description of the Lord's Return to earth, with emphasis being placed upon the fact of God's judging sin!

Listen: 

"God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise."

And how did the Lord appear?  What did He look like? 

"And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power. Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet."

And what did God do?

"He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting."

Even nature, God's creation, responded!

"The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high."

And doesn't this sound like the "last days?"

"The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear."

What is God doing?

"Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger."

He is delivering Israel and destroying her enemies!

"Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah."

Such fierce divine judgment has frightened Habakkuk, of course.

Therefore ... the godly Prophet resolves in advance how he is going to respond when such a time comes.

Of course Habakkuk has long since been dead and "with the Lord."

Jesus' Second Coming had not yet occurred ... but it will some day!

Yet his determination to do right ... even in hard times ... is just beautiful!

Listen to him again:

"When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops."  Habakkuk 3:16

The verb "hear" (in Hebrew = "shama") means to hear with interest and concern.

The accompanying verb "trembled" (in Hebrew = "ragaz") means to become excited, agitated, disquieted, troubled or even perturbed.  He "shakes" in response to what he's just seen!

And when his lips "quivered"," a verb is used that also means "to tingle!"

"Rotteness" (in Hebrew = "raqab") means decay!  The word is used in Scripture to describe an old worn-out garment, of the reputation of the wicked, and of a disintegrated tree.

The noun "bones" is used in the King James Bible once as "strength" and once as "life" itself!

Then, for the second time in this one verse, Habakkuk "trembles" again.  Of course "ragaz" is the verb repeated here.

But what does the Prophet really want?

What is his "goal" while this judgment is in view?

He says "that I might rest in the day of trouble, when He cometh up to the people."

This godly Preacher wants rest and peace in a time of storm!

This verb, "nuach," means to settle down!  To be made quiet! 

A day of "trouble" (in Hebrew = tzsarah") implies a time of affliction or adversity or anguish or even tribulation!  The "root" of this word seems to mean  a "narrow" or "tight" or "cramped place!"

This Habakkuk 3 scenario that I'm ascribing to the Second Coming of our Lord is prefigured I think by the invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar about 40 years after Habakkuk wrote these words!

That helps to explain the last words of the verse:  "He will invade them with his troops."

God used this Babylonian King to invade and punish Judah for her sins!

Yet ... through all the terror and sorrow and anguish ... Habakkuk wants so desperately "to be quiet" and calm before the Lord God Almighty!

In times of national distress or world-wide terror ... to be at peace!

How will he prepare himself to do such a thing?

Well, come back tomorrow and we shall see!

I do know this:  God can give such peace ... even in terrible times!

Praise His Name!

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 2:

"What if?"

Often those two words indicate the beginning of a season of worry!

"What if" ... this happened, or that?

Habakkuk the Prophet, immediately upon hearing that God's Hand of judgment was about to strike his beloved nation Judah, began to ask himself some questions.

"What if?"

One preacher called Habakkuk 3:16-19 "A Psalm of Suppositions!"

Listen carefully to the Prophet:

"Although 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 stalls."  Habakkuk 3:17

When God's wrath falls ... when the enemies attack viciously ... when food supplies become scarce ... when comforts have fled ... what will I do?

Habakkuk imagines the worst case situation and prepares himself for such possibilities.

He is supposing the very utmost of destruction!

The opening particle "although" (in Hebrew = "kiy") is translated at times in the King James Bible as "whether" or "until" and implies the distinct possibility of such things occurring.

Habakkuk reasons:  If things get so bad during God's punishment of Judah ... if even the grapes fail on the vine and the cattle all die ... and all sorts of other bad things happen, what will I do?

Now this is "risky" thinking!

Usually we are taught that when fears or worries present themselves ... drive them away!  Fight them!  Do not allow them entrance into your mind!  Reject them!

But here ... Habakkuk seems to welcome them!

They are like James' "trials" or tests" that often come into one's life!

"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations."  James 1:2

Habakkuk seems to "challenge" such dire conditions!

If the fig trees all fail to bear fruit, what then?

If the grapes do not grow ... no juice or sweet fruit to eat ... what will we do?

If the olive trees all become barren ... no oil for light or cooking ... what will happen?

If the farmers all have bad years ... no crops ... including grain for bread mind you ... will we all starve?

Even if the cattle in the pastures all die ... or the younger ones still in the stalls ... will we survive?

What if?

Suppose it gets this bad?

This kind of reasoning sounds almost like that of the Lord Jesus, Who is prophesied to have said to His enemy (the devil) words like these:  "For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me.  Behold, the Lord GOD will help me; who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old as a garment; the moth shall eat them up."  Isaiah 50:7-9

Jesus trusted His Father for Victory ... even at Calvary!

Habakkuk trusted the very Same God for victory ... even at the time of Babylon's horrific invasion of Judah!

Dear friends in Christ, "what if" ... concerning America?

What if ... God judges our land?

What if ... the terrorists hit again?

What if ... the dollar looses its value?

What if ... our economy hits bottom?

What if ... bird flu becomes pandemic?

What if ... fires and earthquakes and hurricanes and tornadoes continue to proliferate?

What if?

Maybe we Christians, like the godly men and women of ages past, ought to mentally and spiritually get ready for such possibilities!

But ... Preacher Bagwell ... how should a real Believer react should these things come?

That's what this Habakkuk 3:16-19 paragraph is all about ... its very theme ... its focus and lesson for us today!

The Prophet's planned response is very carefully documented for us in the next verse!

Which we shall cover tomorrow, Lord willing!

I can hardly wait!

"Although 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 stalls: Yet I will ...!"

Look at the last three words in the Scripture above.  If these things occur, "YET I WILL DO THIS ...." says Habakkuk!

Now if our dear Lord can help us through these kinds of events ... He is One Great Heavenly Father!                                                                          

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3:

Habakkuk knew that hard times were coming!

The Lord had told him so.

The Prophet wisely sought to prepare himself for those difficult days.

He even thought of the things that could go wrong ... results of God's righteous judgment upon the sins of the people of Judah.

Then ... Habakkuk decided how he would respond when those things occurred.  That is ... if they occurred!

Here, in part, is what the Man of God said:  "Although 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 stalls ..."  Habakkuk 3:17

Look with me for a minute at that list!

I believe things are listed in a certain sequence!

I suspect that's always true with the lists of the Bible ... because the Real Author is God the Holy Spirit!

He does everything decently and "in order!"  1st Corinthians 14:40

Habakkuk includes:

1. The fig trees might fail.  The "sweets" of the Jewish diet then would be eliminated!  But one can live without sweets!

2. Then no grapes, a harvest disaster!  Now, no juice from the vine!  But, one could still drink water or milk!

3.  Then the olive trees do not bear their precious berries!  There goes the oil with which the Israelites cooked and burned in lamps to light their homes! Things are getting worse by the minute!

4. Next, even the "fields" yield no produce.  Now, the grain and wheat and barley are gone!  No bread!  This is getting critical!  Folks could starve!

5. Then, disastrously, even the flocks perish.  No meat!  The sheep are gone from the folds ... and the cattle from the stalls!

Can things get much worse?

God judges sin!

But ... even with things deteriorating so rapidly ...Habakkuk has already decided his response!

Listen to him:  "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

What, Preacher?

"Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

I shall call this man a "minor" prophet never again!

What faith!

What resolve!

What strength!

He has prepared himself in advance ... whatever comes his way ... He will rejoice in God His Saviour!

For you see ... if food and drink and other items of life disappear ... God is still God!

He is eternal!

He is on the Throne!

He is righteous ... which is why these calamities have come in the first place!

He is our Redeemer.

And ... even if we die in the crisis ahead ... we will be taken to Heaven ...where eternally we shall be with Him, our great God!

That's how Habakkuk looked at things during his nation's crisis!

Let me say this today.

If God is great enough and big enough and mighty enough to help a man respond like this to a series of disasters ... He must be almighty, all-knowing, and everywhere present!

He must have great comforting power!

He must be the Giver of strength to His people!

Saved person reading here today, we do not know what America faces inthe days ahead either!

No doubt God will judge our nation too!

How will we respond?

We might all learn some things from Habakkuk ... and his great resolve to praise God ... no matter what!

Paul, is that you?

What did you say?

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."  1st Thessalonians 5:18

Now that takes Grace!

One thing God has in immeasurable supply!

Amen!

Today, Tuesday, November 22, 2006, that's been on my heart.

                                                                        --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4:

The Prophet Habakkuk had decided that whatever came his way ... his sincere response would be one of praise to God!

Here's how he expressed his determination: "Although 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 stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Now I've been thinking, what if these things happened to us?

Would we be as filled with praise as Habakkuk?

What things, Preacher Bagwell?

Fig trees not blossoming?

We could handle that!  We don't even have any  fig trees!

Nor do we rely on grape vines or olive oil or whole grains either!

And if lamb and beef meat became scarce, there's always chicken and pork!

What's the problem?

Well, I believe that each of these items in Habakkuk's list could well represent vital areas of our lives ... even in this post-modern age!

For example, "figs," a major source of sugar to these ancient Hebrews could symbolize the sweeter things of life.  The pleasant experiences and delightful times we've all enjoyed so much could one day vanish!

When those hard times come ... will we still praise the Lord?

The "grapes" and their vines could represent our joy and happiness too. What if God's judging Hand on our nation sapped us of the joy and care-free living to which we have become so accustomed?  No more vacations or holidays!  No more leisure-filled lifestyles.

Could we endure these drastic changes ... and still praise God sincerely?

And the olives?  They, when pressed, produced oil for lamps.  Lamps that provided light for their homes at night!  Oil was also applied to their faces to make them brighter and appear lovelier in the sight of others!

If we today were to lose all electricity for weeks and weeks or maybe months and months ... would we still praise God?

And what if folks no longer had access to toiletries such as toothpaste or soap or perfume (ladies) or after shave (men) or other such amenities?  These are comparable to the ancient olive oil that made their faces more presentable!

Would our praise to God still be heard?

And the fields yielding no "meat" means that their grains no longer grew!  No wheat or barley for bread and nourishment!

These cereals, especially wheat, were used by Jesus to typify Christians, real Believers in Christ!  Believers who are to bear fruit ... some 100-fold, others just 60-fold and some only 30 fold!  (You remember, the "wheat" and the "tares.")

But with no wheat ... the return is not 100-fold or 30-fold but 0-fold!  No fruit!  No converts!  No souls saved!  For an extended time too!

What would we do, Christians?

Could we still praise the Lord?

Habakkuk could!

And no "flocks?"  No sheep?  What cold that represent?   Saved folks!  The sheep of His pasture!  Members of His flock!

What would we do if our Churches dwindled in size to nearly nobody?  Would we stay faithful?

Would we still praise our Father in Heaven? 

Do we attend Church because of our friends and who are there ... or because we love the Lord Jesus and praise His Name?

Some day we may have to prove it.

And no beef?  No cattle?  No "herd" in the stalls?  Scripturally Paul twice compared "oxen" to the Men of God, to Preachers of the Word, Giants in the Faith!  See 1st Corinthians 9:9 and 1st Timothy 5:18 --- "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward."

What would we do if the Men of God failed us?  Became unfaithful!  Turned away from the Truth?

Would we stay true to God, praising Him all the way to Heaven?

What "tests" these are!

Yet the Prophet Habakkuk had, with godly determination, set his course! 

He would praise God ... no matter what!

That's right!

No matter what might come, the he is resolved:  "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."

Amen!

What faith!

And what a challenge to each of us!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5:

The resolve, the sheer determination of Habakkuk is astounding!

This Preacher, a Minor Prophet of the Old Testament, had strong faith!

His little Book opens with an accusation against God?  Lord, "why" have you not answered my prayers?  "O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!"  Habakkuk 1:2

Habakkuk wants God to judge sin!  To "correct" the evils in Judah! 

The Lord tells Habakkuk His plan:  "For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves."  Habakkuk 1:6-7

Then it seems that Habakkuk is even more upset! 

Sure, Judah is sinful ... but they are God's people!

How could God use a filthy heathen nation like Babylon to "whip" and "chasten" the Jews?

Listen to the Prophet question God:  "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest Thy tongue when the wicked (the Babylonians) devoureth the man (the Jews) that is more righteous than he?"  Habakkuk 1:13

Habakkuk's dilemma deepens!

He decides that the best thing to do is to climb a high tower ... enter into a spirit of prayer ... and wait on God.  "I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.  And the LORD answered me, and said ...."  Habakkuk 2:1-2

Here's what the Prophet learned by listening to God.

Judgment will fall upon Judah!  God-ordained judgment primarily executed by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnazzar.

Then ... judgment will fall upon the Babylonians too!  They also are wicked

Then some day ... judgment will fall upon the whole earth!  It too is sinful!

Until then, "the just shall live by his faith."  Habakkuk 2:4

The Lord God will return to earth to prosecute that coming judgment, then ... "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."  Habakkuk 2:14

Now, knowing that judgment is on the way, Habakkuk prepares for it!

He imagines all the things that could go wrong ... and plans his response to them!

Here are the potential problems:  Although "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 stalls!"  Habakkuk 3:17

And here is Habakkuk's planned response:  "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."  Habakkuk 3:18

He will rejoice in the Lord ... no matter what!

The opening verb in verse 18 is "rejoice."  In Hebrew that's spelled "alaz" and means "to jump up and down in excitement and delight."  In the King James Bible it is used 16 times.  Twice it is translated as "triumph."  The action of this verb is incomplete here.  That tells us that this joy was a constant thing with Habakkuk.  Not just a one-time event!

The first time the verb is used in the Bible the enemy is rejoicing, the Philistines!  See 2nd Samuel 1:20.

The last time it's used in in Zephaniah 3:14 where God's people rejoice!  "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem."

Sounds like we get the last laugh!

And, believe it or not, the second verb in our verse ("will joy") is in Hebrew "giyl" and means "to spin round and round!"  It's used 44 times in the Bible.  It's to be "glad" ten times and to "delight" once! 

Also its first Bible mention is 1st Chronicles 16:31 where the earth is "spinning round and round!"  Earth rejoicing?  Yes!  Why?  Because "the Lord reigneth!"  Read it:  "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice: and let men say among the nations, The LORD reigneth."

The last occurrence is in Zechariah 10:7 where a re-gathered Israel is happy in the Lord!  "And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: yea, their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD."

Do notice that in our verse today two Name for God are used!  "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."   Habakkuk 3:18

He is called both "LORD" (that's Jehovah, His saving Name) and "God" (that's Elohim, His creative and powerful Name)!

Habakkuk is glorying in the God who is strong enough to deliver and save! Mighty to save!  That's a Bible expression ..."mighty to save!"  It is used by Isaiah in his description of  the Lord's Second Coming!  "Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save."  Isaiah 63:1

And notice how the Prophet personalizes his salvation.

He calls it "my salvation!"

Yet in Jonah 2:9 we are explicitly told:  "Salvation is of the LORD."

If salvation is the Lord ... how did Habakkuk get it?

I would say ... it was a Gift from God!

"The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  Romans 6:23

And, by the way, that noun for "salvation" is "yesha" in Hebrew.  It's the root for the Old Testament name "Joshua."  His name means "one who delivers" or "one who saves."  Joshua is basically the same name (same meaning too) as "Jesus" in the New Testament!  Jesus who "saves!"

Here in Habakkuk 3:18 we have nearly been told that our salvation is in our Heavenly "Joshua," our Redeemer, Our Deliverer, Our Saviour, our dear Lord Jesus Christ!

Amen!

I just might jump and spin a bit myself ... thinking about Jesus and the great salvation He offers!

                                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6:

The Prophet Habakkuk could really be classified as a psalmist too!

In fact, the closing paragraph of Habakkuk's short prophecy is one of the loveliest psalms of praise in all the Word of God!

"Although 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 stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  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's last three verses!)

That last verse is our focus today.  "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."

The expression about God being Habakkuk's strength is parallel to a number of the Psalms. 

I looked to see just how many.  Psalms 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 29, 29, 37, 71, 78, 93, 96, 103, 105, 110, 118, 132, 140 and 144 all speak of God's strength.

But the specific Hebrew noun Habakkuk used, "chayil," is unusual.  Of its 243 occurrences in Scripture, only 17 of them deal with strength.  But get this:  56 times the word is translated "army," 37 times it's "man of valour," 29 times it's "host" as in the military, and 14 times it's "forces." 

Habakkuk just told us that God is his Army, his Military, his Strength!

The word is also used 10 times for "wealth!"

The Lord is Habakkuk's Store of Riches or Substance too!

And what does God do with His great Strength?

Using "chayil," the Lord invests us with His strength!  "For thou Lord hast girded me with strength unto the battle: thou hast subdued under me those that rose up against me."  Or again ... "It is God that girdeth me with strength." Psalm 18:32,39

A "hind" is a deer, a female deer.  The word "ayalah" is used 8 times in Scripture.  Perhaps the female here is specifically indicated because our Lord is seeking a bride (female) for Himself!

Hinds' feet are very dependable and steady as they travel ... even on the jagged rocks of the mountains of Israel, the "high places."

"High places" is the Hebrew word "bamah."  Often these locations were used for worship purposes.  The word's history is largely one of negative connotations.  The Canaanite "high places" of idolatry were to be destroyed by the Israelites.  A typical Bible use of the noun is as follows:  "Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places." Numbers 33:52

But here's a good use of the word.  Look what God did for the Israelites:  "He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock."  Deuteronomy 32:13

Again, "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."  Isaiah 58:14

Notice this too:  2 Samuel 22:34 says:  "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet: and setteth me upon my high places."  Then Psalm 18:34 declares:  "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places."

Have any of our readers today ever been in one of those "high places" with the Lord?

I sure have!

By now Habakkuk is so excited that he wants these inspired words to be set to music and sung publicly!  The terms "stringed instruments" and "chief musician" both prove that.

What a change this little-known Prophet has made during the three short chapters of his Book!

He began in perplexity ... but ends in praise!

Probably the best known verse in all of Habakkuk is "but the just shall live by his faith."  Habakkuk 2:4b

Well, Habakkuk has certainly taught us how!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7:

Today let me offer some summary thoughts concerning our Text.

Did you notice all the times Habakkuk said "I" or "me," or "my" or "mine" in this Psalm of Praise?  The first person personal pronouns literally abound in this Passage.

Let's count them.

"Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 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 3:18-19

Eight times!

This is personal to Habakkuk.

He knows Jesus the Son of God!

And when the Prophet speaks of God being his "strength," did you think of Isaiah 40:29-32?  "He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Or Nehemiah 8:10?  "Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 

And back in verse 16, when Habakkuk's body was quivering and his bones became weak ... no doubt his leg bones were included!  He was so shaken he could hardly stand!  He was fearful of the coming judgment of God!  "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops."  The enemy was about to attack and defeat Judah!  God allowed this because of the rebellious sins of His people!

And there just may be a little lesson in the olive tree clause in verse number 17. Habakkuk wondered what would happen if ... "the labour of the olive shall fail." This is worded in an unusual way.  The Bible did not say the "fruit" of the olive (tree) or the "produce" of it.  No, it's the "labour" of the olive!  That word, "maaseh," means task or job or work!  Here it is work for the olive tree to produce its berries ... and maybe quite a task for the berries to yield their juices also!

Now this "olive" picture symbolizes the Holy Spirit of God!  He IS the Oil that enlightens us and warms us and feeds us the things of God!  (Olive oil was used in lamps to light homes, burned in clay containers to warm homes and used as fuel for cooking meals!)

But ... is it a TASK to enjoy such fullness of the Holy Spirit?

Is there literally a "labour" of the olive?

Yes, I believe there is!

While God willingly and abundantly fills His people with the Spirit of Himself, it is not an "automatic" thing!

Being "indwelt" of the Spirit is a trait of each Believer in Jesus.  This was so even with the carnal Corinthians!  See 1st Corinthians 6:19-20.

But being FILLED is another issue altogether!

One must rid his life of sin, not quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit, in order to enjoy that fullness!

This type of obedience and submission involves effort on our behalf!

It is work!

Salvation is a free gift of God!

Godly Spirit filled living is going to take some diligence!

Then, one more thing, the way Habakkuk began verse 18 is significant.  The opening word "yet" is an adversative.  It suggests an opposing thought to that which precedes it. 

Verse 17 ... what if all these things go wrong?

Verse 18 ... YET, still, however, but, on the other hand, Habakkuk will praise the Lord!

May we do the same!

Just some "nuggets" from a little known Minor Prophet.

Lord willing, more concluding thoughts on Habakkuk 3:16-19 tomorrow.

                                                                                     --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8:

The Psalm of Habakkuk has similarities to the Psalm of Moses the man of God.

Habakkuk begins with the possible curses that will come upon a nation that forgets God.

"Although 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 stalls."

Moses begins his Song that way too!

"Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel ... and Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended ... He (God) is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. But ... they (the Israelites) have corrupted themselves, they are a perverse and crooked generation.  Jeshurun (Israel) waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.... And God said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.  I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction. I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs. I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men ... to me (the Lord) belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste."  I've here compiled a few verses from Moses song, the first part of it!

And just as the two Psalms (Habakkuk's and Moses') begin the same ... so do they end in harmony.

A harmony that results from God's judgment falling ... and godly repentance ensuing as a result!

Habakkuk rejoices:  "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  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."

So does Moses:  "There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun (Israel), who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.  The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them. Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew. Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places."

Wow!

Folks, Scripture is often built upon the sure foundation of previously written Scripture!

Habakkuk, knowingly or not, followed the exact paradigm Moses did. 

Why?

They both were following the divinely inspired lead of the Holy Spirit of God!

He, God, wrote the Bible!

No wonder Isaiah could so powerfully preach ... "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little."

The Word of God interprets the Word of God!

And let me show you one more quick thing too.

At the first of Habakkuk's magnificent Passage (Habakkuk 3:16-19) he is seeking "quiet" and peace from God.  Peace ... with devastating national judgment on the way?  Yes ... peace in the storm!

Hear the Preacher:  "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops."  Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk wants rest!

And by the end of the short Psalm ... he has it!

Peace has been given to him ... the very peace of God!

More than peace, really!

Peace ... and joy!

See if you don't agree.

"Although 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 stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 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."

By living by faith, by keeping his eyes upon the Lord, Habakkuk ceased his worry and found genuine peace and happiness!

Amen!

What are YOU worried about today, friend?

In Jesus your Saviour, there is peace!

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9:

In Deuteronomy 28:1-14 God promises certain earthly blessings to His people Israel. 

Take the time to read some of them with me:  "And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.  Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field.  Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.  Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.  And the LORD shall make thee plenteous in goods, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy ground, in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers to give thee.  The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow." 

Just as God promises to bless the Jews' figs and grapes and olives and livestock ... Habakkuk, knowing Judah has sinned grievously, now expects God's judgment to fall upon his backslidden people.

Back to Deuteronomy 28:  "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.  The LORD shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.  Thine ox shall be slain before thine eyes, and thou shalt not eat thereof: thine ass shall be violently taken away from before thy face, and shall not be restored to thee: thy sheep shall be given unto thine enemies, and thou shalt have none to rescue them.  The fruit of thy land, and all thy labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway: Thou shalt carry much seed out into the field, and shalt gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them, but shalt neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. Thou shalt have olive trees throughout all thy coasts, but thou shalt not anoint thyself with the oil; for thine olive shall cast his fruit. Thou shalt beget sons and daughters, but thou shalt not enjoy them; for they shall go into captivity. All thy trees and fruit of thy land shall the locust consume. Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things."

With these promises and threats in view ... little wonder Habakkuk says: "Although 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 stalls ...."  Habakkuk 3:17

The Prophet was just expecting God to do what He said to this erring nation!

Habakkuk fully plans to suffer with the people God has called him to serve! This of course is what Daniel did, and Ezekiel and Nehemiah too.

Also note with me ... that Habakkuk, under these dire circumstances of famine and crop failure, could bring no "firstfruits" offering to the Lord!  There just were none to bring!  Therefore ... He gave God his heart!  "Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name."  Hebrews 13:15

Here is indeed life on a "higher plane!"  Listen to him:  "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."  Habakkuk 3:19

Those lovely deer, the "hinds" of the fields, have such surefootedness that they can negotiate the slippery places ... even on the mountain tops ... without falling!

Do we as Americans or Canadians or Australians or wherever else in the world someone may be reading this today ... do we expect judgment to fall our our wicked nations?

We should!

God keeps His Word!

And ... are we ready if it does?

Habakkuk, tell us your plan one more time please:  "When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Although 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 stalls:  yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 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." 

Amen!

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10:

Habakkuk, at one of the darkest times of his life, somehow learned to "encourage himself in the Lord." 

That's what King David did during his crisis times too!  "And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God."  1st Samuel 30:6

Habakkuk, with Judah on the very brink of disaster, resolved to praise the Lord God Almighty ... no matter what!  "Although 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 stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:17-18

The Prophet even went so far as to say that during Judah's lowest times as a nation, God could give individual Believers great joy and real revival!

Listen:  "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."  Habakkuk 3:19

One reason his Nation was facing such fierce judgment from God was their constant idolatry!

They had forsaken Jehovah God and followed the gods of the heathen!

They had even begun worshipping at the "high places" of wickedness.

This is where the Canaanite cults practiced their debauchery and filth, including child sacrifice!

Listen to Jeremiah condemn such sins:  "They built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin."  Jeremiah 32:35

Why did the heathen worship in "high places?"

Here are two reasons that I can find. 

Those elevated heights were thought to be nearer the gods whom they served! Such "idols" lived in the heavens, you know!  (In reality the Lord Himself says: "I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God."  Isaiah 44:6)

Secondly, the "high places" of the wicked were located in groves of trees!  For some reason trees played an integral part in their false worship!  Here's a verse associating idol worship with the groves:  "But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire."  Deuteronomy 7:5

Often heathen temples (including the one at Ephesus) were built around a "tree," a special tree!

Now back to Habakkuk ... who had been in his own "high places!"  But NOT the high places of wickedness or idolatry ... the "high places" of God!

Listen to him again:  "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."

This man of God had found the true "high places" of life!   The lost and the wicked only thought they had a god who lived in the heavens!  It's our living God, Whose Son is Christ Jesus, Who inhabits the heavens!  If one wants to visit the real "high places" of worship, he or she must bow before Jehovah God!

Habakkuk had also found that God's "high places" were made possible by a tree too!  An old rugged Cross!  Without Calvary and Jesus' shed Blood, no fellowship with God would be possible at all ...no "high places" with their delight!

But, Preacher Bagwell, should you be associating God with "high places?"

Read this:  "Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."  Isaiah 58:14

Now, those are the real "high places!" 

When one is in sweet harmony and communion with God ... through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ!

Has anyone reading these paragraphs ever been in the "high places" of joy and praise and worship, walking hand in hand with your Lord?

Paul says we as New Testament Believers live there ... in heavenly places!  When we were saved, God ... "raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  Ephesians 2:6

IA few months ago I saw a book and bought it.  The book told of a group of men who visited the highest place in every state in America ... all 50 of them!  They climbed each of those peaks too!  Some of them are really just hills, while others are gigantic mountains!  (Alaska's Mount Denali is highest of all, 20,320 feet!  The lowest "high point" of any State is Florida's Britton Hill, just 345 feet above sea level!)

Last Summer while preaching in the area, I visited Georgia's highest place, Brasstown Bald, elevation 4,784 feet.

I climbed the hill to that peak and spent some time worshipping the Lord!

But I discovered something!

The same thing Habakkuk had found long ago!  You don't need a mountain to enjoy lofty sweet fellowship with God!

That's available anytime ... to the follower of Christ!

Next time hardships come ... why don't we all do as this so-called Minor Prophet did and decide to commune with our Heavenly Father ... in His high places of protection and love and peace!

"IN" Christ Jesus!

Paul said it's possible!  "Christ IN you!" 

He called such a condition "the hope of glory!"

Amen!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

This Bible Study Series has helped me so much!  I pray that you also have grown in Grace by applying these principles in your Christian life!

 

 

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