For the Love of God, Volume 2/December 8

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By D.A. Carson About Devotional Life
Chapter 342 of the book For the Love of God, Volume 2


2 Chronicles 8; 3 John; Habakkuk 3; Luke 22

HABAKKUK’S FINAL PRAYER (HAB. 3) is in large measure a response to the Lord’s perspective in chapter 2. It is a wonderful model of how to respond to God’s revelation when it says things we may not like. Dominant themes include the following:

(1) Habakkuk continues to pray for revival. Who knows whether or not this is one of the instances when God will respond to fervent intercession? In the preceding chapter God does not absolutely rule out the possibility of such a visitation. So Habakkuk prays: “ LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy” (3:2).

(2) In highly poetic language, Habakkuk then recalls a number of instances in the past when God did in fact save his covenant people by thrashing their opponents. “In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations,” Habakkuk recalls (3:12), clearly intimating, “So why not do it again?” After all, he adds, on those occasions, “You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one” (3:13—note how “anointed one” here apparently refers to the entire people of God, not just the Davidic king).

(3) Yet Habakkuk has heard what God has said on this occasion. As much as it makes his heart pound and his legs shake (3:16), he resolves to pursue the only wise course: “I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us” (3:16). In other words, he will wait for what God has promised— the righteous judgment of God upon the oppressors, even if the people of God have to suffer judgment first.

(4) Yet the loveliest and most insightful part of Habakkuk’s prayer is reserved for the end. His ultimate confidence does not rest on the prospect of judgment on Babylon. At one level his ultimate confidence is utterly detached from political circumstances and from the material well-being of his own people. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,” he writes, “though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (3:17-18).

That kind of faith can live without knowing; it can triumph when there is no revival; it can rejoice in God even when the culture is in decline. “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (3:19).

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