I’ll Do It Your Way!

// July 28th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Habakkuk Sermon Series

Just a quick recap – in ch. 1… You can listen online or download it and listen later…I’ll Do It Your Way!…we encountered the questioning prophet – he was questioning the evil and injustice within his own nation, Judah.  He cried out to God in prayer, asking that God would come and, in some way, He would speak to His own people and bring them back to Himself.

But, no matter how much Habakkuk prayed and cried to God with fasting, tears, in sackcloth and ashes – it seemed that the heavens were brass and that God was not answering him.  There was absolute silence from God and from heaven.  This was the great burden of Habakkuk.

But God answers and says, in v. 6, “I’m doing a work….I’m raising up the Chaldeans.”  The Chaldeans/Babylonians were an awful nation.  God told Habakkuk how they would come from the North and would be God’s instrument of judgement on His own people.

This created a 2nd question for Habakkuk, he asked:  “Lord, You haven’t answered me for so long, and now You answer me in a way that I cannot believe!  How can You, a Holy God use an instrument that is more sinful than Judah, to discipline Your sinful people?”  Because Habakkuk had difficulty processing God’s answer, he starts to question himself and he starts to question God.

As Christians, what are our expectations of God?  We’d like it if He would wave His magic wand over Canada and the whole nation would be transformed and changed in an instant.  We expect immediate answers to our prayers, instantaneous salvation for our loved ones, immediate healing of illness, GPS-like guidance through every obstacle we face and every decision that we have to make.  When we ask God for patience we say: “God, give me patience and do it now!”  We live in a microwave society.

Habakkuk was confused, frustrated and perplexed – so he did the only thing you can do at a time like that…he got on his knees, put his face in the dust before God and cried out to the living God.  He argued with God, he wrestled with God, but he got onto his watchtower (2:1) and said:  “I’m going to sit here and wait until God answers me!”

I found this quote:  “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom found in women and never in a man.”  We are people with little patience.  Harry Ironside said:  “There’s nothing harder for a man to do than to wait on God’s time.”  We are very impatient creatures and we can’t wait on man’s time, let alone God’s time.  But Habakkuk was willing to wait on that watchtower until God answered him.  Can that be said of us?  Are we willing to wait on God for His answer?

Notice the first words of Hab. 2:2:  “And the Lord answered me…”  God says, “Habakkuk, here’s your answer…take pen and paper and write down what I tell you!” 

Do you take a pen and paper with you when you go into your quiet place with God?  For Habakkuk, the message came in a vision.  V. 2 reads, “Write the vision” This tells us the message wasn’t a military message, not a social, political, philosophical or educational message – it was a spiritual message!

It was a message that the people needed to hear.  Even today, the word from the Lord that people need isn’t education, politics, psychology – people need Jesus!  They need a spiritual message, a spiritual vision – that’s what Habakkuk received.

He received a spiritual vision that was plain.  V. 2 reads, “And the Lord answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.’”  The Message Bible reads, “Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.”

It wasn’t a complicated message with eloquent language so that you needed a code or a dictionary to grasp it.  It was written so that the ordinary working class person knew what it was.

Martin Luther was told, “Preach to the simplest farmer in your pew” – I’m not implying anything, by the way!  Our message is clear and plain, “Christ died for sinners!”  Is that hard to understand?  NO!

God didn’t tell Habakkuk to water down the message, change the message, or make the message acceptable to the public…God said, “Take a pen, write it down, make it plain and clear.”  I’m glad that from Moses writing the Pentateuch, all the way to the Apostle John recording his apocalyptic vision in the book of Revelation…I’m glad we have the recorded Word of God – God’s Word stands firm!  God wrote it down so that we would know what His message was!

The writing was to be “on tablets” – permanent so that it would be available from generation to generation.  It was to be “plain” so that anybody and everybody could read it and understand it.  It was to be public, so that even somebody running by the tablets could get the message immediately.

It was a message that, when someone read it, he ran with it, published it, proclaimed it & preached it with joy because it was such good news!

Doesn’t that describe the Gospel message?  A song on Shine these days says, “It’s not the good news, it’s the Best News ever!”  Is the Gospel part of your life?  Does it show up in your words?  Do others see the change that the Gospel of Christ has made in your life?

In v. 3 – we read, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

The revelation God gave was for a future time and about a future time.  While the immediate application was to the end of the Babylonian Captivity, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews interpreted it to refer also to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He quotes from Hab. 2:3-4 – led by the Holy Spirit he applied it to the Lord Jesus.  Heb. 10:37 reads – “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay…”

God was speaking to him of a definite time.  The Chaldeans themselves would be judged by God and by another nation.  You can read about it in Daniel 5:25 and on.  Another empire, the Medo-Persians, would rise up and would divert the Euphrates River that ran underneath the walls of the city of Babylon.  Then, when it had dried up, during the night, they entered the city through the river channel and destroyed the city.  The date for this was October 13, 539BC.

Habakkuk didn’t know about this – all he could see was the promise of God.  God had promised and, because God promised, it was going to happen at an appointed time….God told Habakkuk, “…wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Jesus will return and just as the Medo-Persian Empire came and destroyed Babylon, so Christ will return again to this earth, and when He comes He will be the rock that will destroy Babylon.  He will be the one that will accomplish what Revelation 18 says, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!”  Our Lord Jesus Christ will do it!

We’re in this world, full of sin, sickness, disease, violence and evil – and God is saying:  “He will come – wait for it!”  Christ is coming again…it will surely happen!  Be patient – Jesus is coming again! 

There are 3 reasons we should wait patiently for Christ’s return:

1)  We need to be anchored on God’s Word!  Hab. 2:3 in the Message reads, “This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time.”

God’s Word is sure!  Psalm 138:2 tells us that God has exalted His Name and His Word above all things.  God’s name – Jehovah – means:  He has been, He is and He ever shall be!

We looked at some of God’s attributes last week – He is eternal – from eternity past to eternity future; He is holy – He cannot look at sin and evil; He is immutable – unchanging; He is omnipresent – present everywhere; He is omniscient – knows all things – what a great God!  And, God has given us His Word and preserved His Word throughout history, even when it has been under threat of extinction!

Do you read God’s Word every day?  In January of this year LifeWay did a survey of 2500 people in the U.S. – 32% said they read their Bible every day; 27% – a few times a week; 12% – once-a-week; 12% said they rarely or never read their Bible.

We need to understand that God’s Word is our food.  Job said he would rather have God’s Word than his very food – because we need it even more than food.  If those numbers reflect the devotional habits of believers in Canada, it is no wonder that our nation is in trouble!

The first reason Habakkuk was to watch and wait was so he could be anchored on God’s Word!  Secondly…

2) We need to wait on God’s perfect time!  Solomon wrote, in Eccles. 3:1: “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”  There is an appointed time for everything but we are so impatient.  Abraham had to wait 25 years for God to fulfill the promise of a son.  Most of us have a hard time waiting 25 minutes for something.

Joseph had a dream of how he would rule over his brothers and his parents, but had to wait many years and go through some horrific experiences to get to see the fulfillment.  Moses worked as a shepherd in the Midian desert, for 40 years, being prepared by God to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt!  Our Lord Jesus worked in a carpentry shop in Nazareth for 30 years, until God’s time was ready for Him to minister and ultimately die as the Lamb of God.

God’s delays are not God’s denials.  Dr. Edmund put it like this:  “Delay never thwarts God’s purpose, it polishes His instrument.  Delay does not forget God’s servant, nor cause His faithfulness to fall, rather it fortifies their soul and vindicates His name.  Delay instructs, it prepares – it saves time, it never loses it.”

Have you been praying for something for a long time – several years?  My encouragement for you, from this passage – wait for it!  If God has promised it…wait for it!  It will come!  Thirdly…and this is powerful:

3) We need to live what we believe!  If you don’t catch anything else this morning…you need to hear this!  V. 4: “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.”

This is the blueprint to the answer that God would give in the future.  The contrast in this verse is between people of faith and people who arrogantly trust themselves – leaving God out of their lives.

Thousands of years ago there were still only two types of people:  there were the saved and there were the lost!  Nothing has changed – fashions/styles/preferences change, Christian priorities may have changed, opinions may change, but God’s Word never changes.

Those that are not God’s people are proud, rebellious, rejecters of Christ, rejecters of God, and of everything that is of God, His word, His wisdom and His witness.  In the context of the passage this describes the Chaldeans.  They were puffed up and worshipped their own accomplishments.  God told Habakkuk:  “Here’s your answer….this is what I’m going to do:  do you see these sinners that are puffed up, they’re not upright within themselves.”

God was saying to Habakkuk:  “Don’t worry about the fact that they are reigning now, that they seem to be succeeding, devouring, destroying, abusing and killing the people of God – don’t worry about that, because in the end they will have to face the consequences for their actions!”

In contrast, there are the saved – the last part of v. 4:  “But the righteous shall live by his faith.”  Some translations use the word “just” – the original word is saddiq – which means “righteous”.

This begs the question – What/who is a righteous person?  God’s Word has much to say about this.  Rom. 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no not one” – so, if nobody is righteous/just of themselves, in order for us to be righteous, we need someone to give us this righteousness.

Justification is the gracious act of God whereby He declares the believing sinner righteous and gives that believing sinner a perfect standing in Christ.   

The “righteous/just” person is not someone who has met all of God’s requirements by their own good works.  In Gal. 2:16, Paul wrote, Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”

When a person sees him/herself as they really are and acknowledges and repents from their sin – and turns to God, trusting only in the blood of Christ and the sacrifice of the cross…then they are declared righteous in God’s sight.

Notice that Habakkuk was not emphasising the fact of faith, as Paul was in Rom. 1:17.  Habakkuk was saying that we are not made righteous by faith – which is true – but he is saying the people that are made righteous live by faith.  People who live by faith are people that have been declared righteous before God.

You see, there is no Hebrew word for faith in the OT – the word used really means: faithfulness, firmness or moral fidelity.  We know that the Bible teaches that for any OT saint to be saved they have to be justified by faith.  In Gen. 15:6 we read that Abraham believed and God counted it for his righteousness – the word used really is “faithfulness”.

What God had Habakkuk write really means the same thing but it’s teaching that when you get saved you ought to live by faith.  Who was God speaking to?  The people of Judah.  What is God saying?  “Listen Habakkuk – you are crying to Me for this people – but look at the way this people is living.  If you want them to live, they must live by faithfulness to Me, by firmness to My covenant.  They have to be faithful to My Word.”

Three times in the NT this verse is quoted – each time a little different.

  1. First Rom. 1:17: “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”  Paul emphasizes the word “just/righteous”.  He’s saying what the whole book of Romans is saying, that it’s only people that are just and righteous that are being enabled to live by faith.  Only the person who has been justified by God has been declared righteous.

You go to the bank with a cheque – there’s an amount written on the cheque.  The bank takes the cheque and credits that amount to you, into your account.  When we come to Christ by faith, repenting of our sin, we bring to Him ourselves/our sin and God takes our faith in Christ and credits it to our account – He puts the righteousness of Christ into our lives.

  1. Next – Gal. 3:11: “Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”  Here Paul is emphasising “shall live”.  He wrote the book of Galatians to a church that had been ravaged by false wolves – “Judiasers” – men that had come in and taught that you have to trust Christ by faith to be saved – but after that, you’ve got to live by the law – keep the commandments – all the cleansing rituals and ordinances of the OT!  Paul says: “The just shall live by faith!”  He taught that the faith that was good enough to save you, is good enough to keep you.
  • The 3rd verse, Heb. 10:37: “For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith…’”  The writer to the Hebrews is emphasising “by faith”.  The Jews didn’t know which way they should go, because they were being persecuted by their fellow Jews for following Christ.  So the writer to the Hebrews says…if you walk by faith you’ll inherit the blessing.

This phrase, “the Just shall live by Faith” –was the key phrase of the Reformation.  It was this part of v. 4 as quoted by Paul in Rom. 1:17 that lead Martin Luther into the truth of justification by faith.

A poet, wrote as if speaking to Luther himself:

Someone asked Luther, Do you feel that you have been saved, forgiven?
He answered, No, but I’m as sure as there’s a God in heaven,
For feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving –
My warrant is the word of God, none else is worth believing!’.

Though that my heart should feel condemned for want of one sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart whose word cannot be broken.
I’ll trust in His unfailing love ’til soul and body sever.
For though all else shall fall away, His word shall stand forever.

A Rabbi in the 3rd Century wrote:  “Moses gave us 365 prohibitions and 248 positive commandments.  David, in Psalm 15, reduced them to 11.  Isaiah 33:14-15 made them 6.  Micah 6:8, down to 3.  But Habakkuk, by the Holy Ghost of God, brings them to 1:  the just shall live by faith.”

So, in the end, even though Habakkuk didn’t approve of what was coming – the Chaldeans/Babylonians attacking the land and taking them captive – he was dreading this part, but he came to the point where being “right with God” was more important than feeling right about things that are happening in our world.

Have you made the choice to live by faith regardless of circumstances?

Have you tried to do it your way and concluded that God’s Word is absolutely true?

And so, if you want your sins to be forgiven, your guilt to be removed, your conscience to be cleared, your eternity secured…are you surrendered to His will?

Let’s pray…

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