Friday, December 9, 2022

December 9, Friday

Reader: “I have heard all about you, Lord.”   

Response: “I am filled with awe by your amazing works.” 

Scripture:  Habakkuk 3:2-6

I have heard all about you, Lord.

      I am filled with awe by your amazing works.

   In this time of our deep need,

      help us again as you did in years gone by.

   And in your anger,

      remember your mercy.

 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom,

      the Holy One coming from Mount Paran,

   His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,

      and the earth is filled with his praise.

 His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.

      Rays of light flash from his hands,

      where his awesome power is hidden.

 Pestilence marches before him;

      plague follows close behind.

 When he stops, the earth shakes.

      When he looks, the nations tremble.

   He shatters the everlasting mountains

      and levels the eternal hills.

      He is the Eternal One! 

Some thoughts:

This portion of the book of Habakkuk was apparently meant to be sung as a psalm. There are two themes in this passage on which I want to comment. First, notice Habakkuk’s comment “I have heard all about you . . . I am filled with awe by your amazing works.” Knowing the history of God’s working in people’s and nation’s lives is essential in growing in our understanding of God. Ignorance of true history is ultimate ignorance and foolishness. Sometimes we may be inclined to think erroneously that the past is over and done, dead history, who cares. Such thinking is particularly damaging when it comes to biblical history and the work of God.

Part of history’s purpose is to give us hope for the present in knowing what God has done in the past. Many times when God was at work, the people who were being helped were completely unaware. Such has certainly happened in our lives. In this case, knowing history gives Habakkuk the wisdom to ask again for God’s intervention. He reminds himself and God of past days of assistance. Then there is this interesting phrase, “in your anger, remember your mercy.” 

Ah, here we have evidence of “the angry God of the Old Testament!”  But do we? No. God’s anger is related to the theological word “propitiation.” What is that? God’s anger, his wrath is directed toward sin. Through the offering of his Son, God’s wrath is turned from the sin of humans as his own Son took our sin and that of the whole world upon himself on our behalf. Jesus is the propitiation for our sin and that of the whole world. That is “propitiation.” In that same phrase, Habakkuk appeals to the mercy of God. The verses that follow, in fact, reflect God’s mercy toward his people.

The second theme demonstrates how he shows his mercy. “His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise. Rays of light flash from his hands, where his awesome power is hidden.” Such phrases recall God’s fiery appearance to Moses and the Israelites on Mt. Sinai. The prophet writes of the coming advent of the Lord and the magnificent way in which that appearance is demonstrated. The references to plague and pestilence can refer to two agents God uses as his “army” to fulfill his will. Habakkuk concludes this passage with words of high praise and devotion based not on feelings, but on God’s character and love. 

Take some time today and think back over the “amazing works” the Lord has done and is doing to shape your life in the image of his Son, the good things as well as the “plagues” and the “pestilences!” Thank him for his mercy. He is working on you daily because of his love for you. Together let us look toward “his coming as brilliant as the sunrise!” And may we say with John the Apostle, as he closes the book of Revelation and the Scriptures of the Bible, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.”

Music: “On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry” Chet Valley Churches


O Lord, our Creator, Redeemer, and Holy Comforter, teach us the value and wisdom of remembering the history of your works in our lives and in this world. We are so consumed with the present days and have such poor memories. We live far too helter-skelter lives making little time for reflection on your work in us. Help us learn to live in the peacefulness which your presence brings. Forbid it Lord, that we should rush off day after day into our structured schedules ignoring your life in us. Rather than “fitting you into our life schedule,” may we make a conscious effort daily to conform our lives into what you are doing within us. This we pray through Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God eternal and everlasting. Amen.        ―Daniel Sharp