Bible – the Whole Story
How we approach something depends, to a large extent, on what it is. We wouldn’t study a dining table with a stethoscope or Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’ with...
This is part five of our study series on Habakkuk. What does the Bible tell us about this prophet and his relationship with the Lord and what that might tell us about ours? Each study includes a short reflection for personal or use with others.
‘LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.’
After his anguished debate with God through the first two chapters, the prophet sets out his prayer psalm. He seems to have written it for public performance, giving instructions to the musicians. But he doesn’t write sugar-coated praise, nor does he take refuge in easy triumphalism. He faces up to the inner conflict of God’s people, who see a world in violent and chaotic turmoil, and find it hard to discern the hand of the Lord.
Using the violent imagery of torrential flood, collapsing mountains, plague and pestilence, lightning and raging seas, he calls God’s people to recognise God’s power and sovereignty. All that had happened had come from his hand – and Habakkuk is overwhelmed: ‘I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound’ (3:16).
He leads the people in a prayer for renewal and revival, for God to act so that all can see him at work, so that none can doubt God’s power and renown. It’s a prayer to be prayed by the assembled people of God in difficult times; praying for those of us who live in peaceful and prosperous lands, but where the majority have turned their backs on God; praying for those throughout the world who live in situations of tempest and flood, plague and famine, war and destruction, not unlike those that faced Habakkuk and the people.
And we also pray for persecuted Christians who long to see the arm of the Lord made known in their time. We pray that he will indeed crush those who perpetrate wickedness, and ‘come out to deliver his people’ (3:13), in Lybya, in Syria, in Sudan, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Ethiopia, and in all the other places where ethnic conflict leaves small and struggling churches facing not the indifference that is faced in the West, but the targeted hatred and fear of their neighbours as well as their enemies. Pray for them as they walk their particular way of the cross, that they will know that the Lord walks with them. Pray that they will be encouraged and comforted by Habakkuk’s psalm of confidence in the living God.
For Further Reflection