Shalom to all of you, and as we come with prepared hearts to worship יהוה (Yahweh) our Elohim, may His Name be esteemed right here in this place, aměn! How many of you have ever had some very serious questions and doubts and as you look at the circumstances you kind of wonder why things are happening the way they are? I am sure most of us experience this ‘wondering why’ on a regular basis. Many often even ask things like, “Why would Elohim do…?”or, “Why does Elohim allow…?” and at best struggle to get to grips and be at peace with the fact that we may not often understand they ‘why’s’ we may have or even understand the outworking of the answers to those ‘why’ questions, and often struggle to simply realise that יהוה is in control! One of the hardest questions to ever answer is the “Why?” A person can go on for hours explaining his life away, and again the question can always be turned back to “Why?”
I would like us to look at the writings of Ḥaḅaqquq/Habakkuk and see how he too had some very realistic ‘why’ concerns in his time and what his response was after getting answers he may not have clearly understood at the time, in a message called, “Have you ever wondered why? – Then Watch, Wait and Worship!” So please turn with me to Ḥaḅaqquq as we read all three chapters of this small yet very powerful book in order to gain a greater understanding of the wonderful lessons contained herein for us today. (READ)
The reason I wanted us to read all 3 chapters together is to fully grasp and understand the progression of this book. As Ḥaḅaqquq was troubled at what he was seeing around him, he asked some questions and after getting straight answers he asked more questions and was then greatly reassured, his faith was stirred and penned a psalm of praise declaring his trust in יהוה.
Let us briefly ‘fly’ through these chapters and get a better understanding of the setting and then see how these very
Words speak loudly to us today: 3 chapters that progress from doubt to reassuring praise:
CHAPTER 1 – HE WONDERED WHY?
This chapter can be at times referred to as Ḥaḅaqquq’s complaint. Ḥaḅaqquq, a Levite devoted to service unto Elohim, who may have also been a temple worship leader was deeply troubled by what he was seeing. It was a time of revival yet also of great sin. Yosiah who had become king at 8 and by the time he was in his 20’s he was making major reforms. The Book had been discovered and read. Yosiah was determined to make everyone hear the Word; he reinstituted the Feast of Passover and led Yehuḏah to keep it with all rejoicing. So now everyone, including Ḥaḅaqquq was exposed to the Word, which on one hand was very exciting for the prophet yet on the other hand as he learned more and more of the set-apartness of Elohim he grew more and more concerned about the sin and imperfections of the people of Elohim. Idolatry might have been dealt with and people were beginning to worship יהוה as Yosiah worked hard at getting the knowledge of Elohim to all, but the problem still remained that much of the worship was superficial as the hearts of many were not changed as they continued in their rebellion, and so simply just knowing the Torah did not produce set-apartness as the people were not obeying the commands – they were hearers only! To Ḥaḅaqquq this was intolerable – he couldn’t take it – think about it from his viewpoint as he looked on at a rebellious house – here was Yehuḏah, a people called by the Name of יהוה, blessed with the Torah of יהוה and yet still they were bringing daily shame upon His Name through blatant disregard for what was right!
This was the burden upon his heart that drove him to express his complaint that must have been constantly upon his lips. “יהוה can’t you see what is going on?” The people were so engrossed in their fleshly lusts, as we know that wickedness, perversity, violence, strife and calamity all arise and originate from fleshly passions, which so very often results in an inappropriate interpretation of the Torah as many will interpret in a way so as to shift the balance toward their personal gain. In other words they had heard the Word, yet were due to a drive to satisfy the flesh and self were disregarding the right rulings and twisting the truth for their own gain!
And because of all this the very Torah that brings life was being discarded – the Torah ceased to have an impact and effect on Yehuḏah at large. Isn’t this what we see in the world today? I mean think about it – today it is considered ‘righteous’ in the world’s eyes to be tolerant and judges are often punished for having a firm belief in something. Simply standing up for the Truth today is often seen as an attempt at overthrowing the government and political system of men, and if we do not support just anything that anyone wants to do then we are labelled as ‘oppressive’.
Just think about who the major role models are in society today – celebrities and the rich and famous! People who are in no way walking in the Truth of the Living Torah! The Truth has been twisted and so there is no valid right-rulings being administered in the world’s system. This is exactly what Ḥaḅaqquq saw happening in his day too and this is what grieved him. Have you ever thought to yourself, “We have the Word; the Truth is there for all to see and hear, yet why do so many have no regard for the Truth – why?”
יהוה answers Ḥaḅaqquq in verse 5 and is in essence saying to him, “I am not ignoring the problems you see – I am fixing them!” “Look among the nations and be amazed – be very amazed!” יהוה is working! At best of times we may not believe it even if we were to see it, as we have been so accustomed to the chaos of rebellion that surrounds us daily!
Yet יהוה was declaring that He was bringing Yisra’ĕl back to life and that Yehuḏah was not alone. He then goes on to tell Ḥaḅaqquq that He would raise up a nation that is a law unto itself who would be mighty in battle to bring about the much needed discipline! He was raising up the Kasdim for violence who would move swiftly through the land and gather the captives like sand! Sand is often used as and idiom for the descendants of Aḇraham and in a sense this was Ḥaḅaqquq’s fear – thinking that they would all be destroyed – however it would be through this act of judgement that the sons would return! This must have sent shockwaves down Ḥaḅaqquq’s spine and so once again he complains saying, ‘How can you use such a wicked people?’
He couldn’t understand how a wicked people who were far more wicked than Yehuḏah could get away with their wickedness and be used against the people of Elohim. He states that יהוה had made men like fish – vulnerable and an easy catch for the enemy – how would the righteous ever survive – how would the people of Elohim with whom a Covenant was made ever survive this onslaught of a very wicked and cruel nation and its systems?
As we think about it today – the Chaldeans in this passage represent for us in a way today, Christian nations who want everyone else in the world to live by their standards and by their man-made rules! We know that Christianity is also often symbolised as a fish and the beast sits on many waters; and even though there is a figure-head there is no true authority, as every denomination defines its own relationship with Elohim by doing what is right in their own eyes!
Shophetim/Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no sovereign in Yisra’ĕl – everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Doing right in our own eyes is against the Torah!
The Babylonian system of today is ‘catching’ many a fish in their wicked nets and are rejoicing over its catch – think about it – how often will you see the emphasis is on numbers within a church when the Word often refers to a remnant! The system is designed to catch you then destroy you and spit you out. This alarmed Ḥaḅaqquq and should alarm us too today! And in receiving some very clear answers to his questions –possibly not what one would want to hear yet he decided to watch and wait – be a watchman, waiting upon יהוה.
CHAPTER 2 – HE WATCHED AND WAITED
After asking questions, he was expecting to be corrected, because in a way, he was arguing if you will with יהוה and he of all people knew that יהוה could not be wrong, yet he could still not quite figure out why יהוה does what He does and so he diligently waits for a reproofing as he could not carry on with his questions not being resolved!
How we too can learn from this very first verse in chapter 2! I stand at my watch – In other words I will remain faithful to do what I am called to do no matter what – I will stand firm in my faith, stand – stand and stand! I will position myself to watch – that is to be awake and vigilant – be on your guard. I will wait to see what He says to me! How often have you been at a place where you just couldn’t figure out why things are the way they are and you have asked yourself ‘why’? Most people want a quick fix solution – and would rather phone a friend than search out and look in to the Word! When there is chaos, most do not want to stick around and wait for the answer as they watch for it – No – they high tail it out of there and hope that someone else can explain and give them the shortened version for convenience sake so that they can get on with their busy lives again! Does that sound familiar to anyone? In fact the church system has taught many to shut up and not ask questions and then when one does have a question they have a man-made system of quick solutions of ready-made answers to frequently asked questions in the form of constitutions or by-laws that must simply be accepted as Truth and so the discipline of seeking and waiting on יהוה has primarily been lost – a practice we all need to seriously engage in again if we are to truly understand and know His good pleasing and perfect will! How often are you willing to dig into the Word and be reproved? Come on let’s be honest nobody ‘likes’ to be corrected – but sadly most are not diligent enough to actually wait for correction. When we too have complaints and questions, let us look intently in the Word, standing our ground in faith, not allowing the unanswered questions to rock our faith and be able to let His Living and active Word reproof us if need be until we have our queries resolved – there are no quick fixes!!!
Ḥaḅaqquq was told to ‘write down’ the vision and put it on tablets, possibly tablets of clay, so that whoever would read it would run with it! There was absolutely nothing wrong with his questions, he just needed to see the bigger picture – something we all struggle with at times as we get caught up in the circumstances that surround us. The fact of the matter is clear – יהוה will accomplish what He has spoken! In him ‘writing down’ יהוה was in effect giving assurance of His perfect will coming to pass. Think of the term used by the Messiah, “It is written”, even used by the devil, why? Because the very words of Elohim that have been written are cast and set and will not return void! His Word – by the vision given to Ḥaḅaqquq was on tablets, possibly clay tablets – which is a wonderful picture for us where His Living Word is written upon our hearts, upon us as ‘clay vessels’ set apart for good use – and when we truly seek Him and wait upon Him we may too be able to run with that which is written and made plain as we spend time immersed in His Word, enabled to run this race with great perseverance!
Being immersed in His word and waiting upon Him reflects a humility of a surrendered walk of obedience. His Word will be fulfilled in every way and it is not slow as we understand slowness.
יהוה was telling Ḥaḅaqquq that the sin of the Babylonians would not go unpunished and ignored – although He would certainly use them for His purposes, yet He would also punish them! Ḥaḅaqquq was to write down and make a permanent record of what was to come for them and it was not a pretty end! Amazingly what we see always is that יהוה’s judgement is always preceded by a time of favour in order for men to repent.
Kěpha Bět/2 Peter 3:9 “יהוה is not slow in regard to the promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
The judgement on the Babylonians was coming and it didn’t look good – and those trapped in its system have time to get out – Come out of her My people!
Sadly many do not see the kindness of יהוה to lead them to repentance but rather remain ‘puffed’ up in the pride of their sin or lawlessness! In verse 4-5 we see the contrast between the proud and the humble. The proud are puffed up and here this wording gives us the image of leaven in bread, where we know that leaven is often spoken of in terms of sin. The leavened one thinks only of himself and is unstable in his ways for there is not stability in lawlessness – why do you think that so many puffed up believers – those who continue to practice lawlessness while claiming to follow Messiah – can never stand firm in their ways as they will jump from one thing to another always seeking to satisfy self and justify their lifestyle of sin! The Righteous on the other hand – those who have been cleansed by the Word, and follow Messiah as they hold fast to the commands and guard to do all that יהוה commands – are stable and will not be rocked by what they see but live their lives by faith in a trustworthy and faithful Elohim! The righteous are firmly ‘grounded’ in the Rock and are sure-footed, as we see represented by the clean animals we are to eat – a picture of one who rightly divides the Truth and whose walk is stable in יהושע Messiah.
The drunkard is too a puffed up one who gets very brave after a few drinks and thinks that they can take on the whole world – they too will find their fate which is destruction. It is interesting to note that on the night when the Medes and the Persians conquered the Babylonians there was a great drunken feast under way!!! Proverbs tells us that wine is a mocker and strong drink a brawler – we who are set-apart are told to be sober-minded and sure footed.
In this vision of destruction we see some very serious woes. What is a woe? In Yeshayahu/Isaiah 5:8-30 we see 6 woes being given; in Luqas/Luke 11: 42-54 – six woes spoken by יהושע Messiah, as well as in Mattithyahu/Matthew 23 – 8 woes. This is a repeated word we see used very often in the prophets – well over 50 times!
A Woe is an exclamation denoting pain or displeasure and is used as a noun denoting up and coming disaster and calamity upon those it is directed toward. When woe is used in speech to another – in effect a pronouncing of their destruction and often death was at hand. It is also a pronouncing of why the judgement of יהוה is going to fall! When Messiah spoke woes unto the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes – they were angry as they knew the intent of the language.
The woes were pronounced against the very things that יהוה hates: greedy and violent covetousness (vv. 5–11); murder for gain (v. 12); drunkenness (vv. 15–16); and idolatry (v. 19). The earth in Habakkuk’s day was certainly not filled with much esteem of יהוה, nor is it today. These are the very sins that are polluting nations today. But the promise given in the midst of these woes was that the whole earth will be filled with the knowledge and esteem of יהוה! This promise still stands today as יהושע will come again soon and make a final end to all sin and establish His righteous Kingdom, aměn!
The 3 assurances Ḥaḅaqquq receives in this chapter was that the righteous shall live by their steadfastness, the earth will be filled with the esteem of יהוה, and that יהוה is in His Temple – He is on His Throne – all is not lost!!! יהוה IS IN CONTROL!!! The idols of the Babylonians were just wood and stone, whereas יהוה is living and active!!!
The end of chapter 2 is a solemn call for reverent submission and worship – יהוה is in His Temple therefore let the earth be silent before Him! In other words – LISTEN!!!
Tehillim/Psalm 24:3-4 asks the question who may go up or ascend into the mountain of יהוה – and we are told those who have innocent hands and a clean heart. Ya’aqoḇ/James 4 tells us to submit to Elohim and resist the devil and he will flee, draw near to Elohim and He will draw near to us, cleanse hands you sinners and cleanse your hearts you double minded. We are to humble ourselves in His sight and He will lift us up! It is time for His children to get cleaned up for judgement is coming. The great assurance of His presence caused Ḥaḅaqquq to respond with a well-constructed psalm or prayer in chapter 3:
CHAPTER 3 – HE WORSHIPPED
In watching and waiting Ḥaḅaqquq was changed – instead of complaining he began to praise יהוה – may we be reminded here again tonight that יהוה will turn our sighing into singing if we will but just take the time to wait before Him in prayer and listen to His Word! In a sense he is praying that he can now see that יהוה is working and is praying for יהוה to keep His Word alive and finish its course. He knows that there is wrath to come but pleads with יהוה to remember compassion too. He then ponders as he looks back and remembers how יהוה had worked in the past and could be confident and trust in Him to work in the present and in the future.
And finally Ḥaḅaqquq praises – in a final declaration of faith. These verses (17-19) represent one of the greatest confessions of faith found in Scriptures – even though everything can be failing around me I will still trust in יהוה!!!
Ḥaḅaqquq had to wait and he would not have seen the deliverance spoken of here yet he watched – waited and worshiped. He spoke of a coming famine – physically but also for the Word and that the nations who had caught away יהוה’s own would pay the price – He is an Elohim of war and He cares for His Bride – His Covenanted people who He will rescue! Ḥaḅaqquq declared his trust in יהוה and knew where his strength came from, despite the economic destruction that was coming upon Yehuḏah and recognised that יהוה would once again raise them up to a high place!
The imagery he uses is very powerful as it is interesting to note that a deer will flee up in to the mountains for safety and here Ḥaḅaqquq is declaring that יהוה will bring His people to a safe place and they will walk on the high places – be placed in places of authority to rule an reign with him over the nations!
As we too face very tough questions in our walk may we have faith like Ḥaḅaqquq as we learn from his account as recorded here.
We have the written Word – may we read it and run with it: we who claim to live in Him ought to walk as He did! We are the ones who ought to be living by faith, yet we often find at times that we too doubt, complain and run ahead of יהוה and even criticise what יהוה is doing!
Habakkuk shows us how to deal with life’s problems: (1) admit them honestly; (2) talk to יהוה about them; (3) wait quietly before Him in prayer and meditation on the Word; (4) when He speaks, listen and obey. Never run away from the difficulties of life, because יהוה wants to use those difficulties to strengthen your faith and build character, shaping His image in us that we may be made complete not lacking anything . “Never doubt in the dark what יהוה has told you in the light.” The just shall live by faith.
If you ever find yourself in a place of wondering why – then remember to ask יהוה, cry out to Him, but then be steadfast in watching and waiting upon Him, ready to hear and obey and walk in worship not living by sight but by faith in a living and active Elohim! Times are wicked and the fact is we know it will get even worse than what we see today – the question is are you just forever complaining, trying to figure it all out in your own strength or will you faithfully trust and rely upon יהושע Messiah as you walk in Him, watching and waiting, worshipping and proclaiming His Good News to a corrupt and wicked generation, and even when you see no results will you still hold fast and praise Him in every way?
HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED WHY? THEN WATCH – LOOKING INTO THE PERFECT TORAH OF FREEDOM AND WAIT ON HIS LEADING AND GUIDANCE AND CONTINUALLY WORSHIP THE ONE WHO STRENGTHENS YOU!
As I said at the beginning, there is so much in this book which we certainly cannot get through in one sitting – for example in chapter 3:3 – Eloah comes from Teman – Eloah can refer to the El of oath/s and Teman although can refer to modern day Yemen can also literally mean ‘what is in the right hand’! Wow do you see that – The El of oath comes with what is in His right hand – and who is the ‘right hand’ of Elohim? יהושע (Yahushua)!!! His promises come through יהושע Messiah – for they are yes and aměn in Him!
Just a short nugget I thought I would share in closing, but for the purposes of tonight’s teaching I simply wanted to present to you an overview, for to just look at one chapter alone without looking at the other 2 would not enable us to get a full perspective of what in a nutshell is being spoken here – and that is: When in doubt – seek יהוה – wait in Him and give Him praise. Think about it – why worry or wonder why – when you can watch for – wait on and worship Mighty Living Compassionate Elohim – יהוה of Hosts is His Name.