An axe was being ground on by a file. The axe complained and blamed the file for what was going on. The file said, “It’s not my fault. I am in the hands of the woodcutter. I do what he wants. It’s his desire for you to be more useful. Like you, I’m just serving at the command of my master.”A chunk of metal was sweltering in a hot furnace. The metal complained and blamed the furnace for what was going on. The furnace said, “It’s not my fault. I belong to the blacksmith. I do what he wants. It’s his desire to mold you into a more usable shape. Like you, I’m just serving at the command of my master.”
Isa 10:15 Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it? Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it? Does the club control the one who lifts it.
The hammer, file and furnace were all operating at the command of their masters. Each was fulfilling a purpose the master desired. Though to the nail, the axe and the metal, the process may have been unpleasant, the outcome would be good.
The lesson: the experience of the action is no indication of the heart of the master. What may appear as bad can actually be good. And what seems the worst can be the best.
When God told Habakkuk about His plan, Habakkuk’s reaction was disbelief. In his mind, what God was proposing was totally unacceptable.
Hab 1:5-6 Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs.
The Chaldeans? Those who are more ungodly than we are? Those who serve no god but themselves? Those whose only goal is to steal, kill and destroy? You’re going to use them to correct us?
Habakkuk’s opinion proved he had prejudged the outcome by the process. Because the process seemed bad, he decided nothing good could some out of it. What Habakkuk didn’t realize, God’s plan had good written all over it.
Two angels stopped by the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field. The younger angel was furious and asked the older angel, “How could you have let this happen? This poor family had so little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die!” “Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied. “Things aren’t what they seem! Look at how devastated they are.” “Last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem.”
Amazing what a little insight can do. So, God told Habakkuk, “Let’s look beyond appearance and let me show you what I’m really doing. Remember: They will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty…”
“Habakkuk, they not only will be held accountable but they will be dealt with harshly. And, when My people see what I’ve done: Hab 2:14 the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. With as much honor as there are drops of water in the ocean, I will be acknowledged as Lord. This captivity will turn the people’s hearts back to Me.”
Remember what God was dealing with: Rom 1:21-23 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
The Southern Kingdom followed the same empty pursuits as the Northern Kingdom so God needed to clean house. His goal was to restore His people to Himself.
Rom 9:22-23 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
His ultimate goal was to pour out mercy on His people, but He must first pour out His wrath. Why not just pour out the mercy instead of wrath? Their hearts had grown cold against Him. He wanted them back. It would take wrath for them to realize the seriousness of their idolatry.
Hab 2:18-20 What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols. Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, 'Awake!' to a mute stone, 'Arise!' And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it. But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.
“I am the only one who resides in My Holy Temple. I share My space with no one! Recognize that. Honor that.”
What do we do when we see God in His Temple? What did Isaiah do?
Isa 6:1-5 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory." And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."
When we recognize the greatness of our God, when we see a God who can do all things, but we also see we have exchanged Him for some worthless pursuit, we cry out to Him for mercy. That’s what Habakkuk does. Hab 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.– reel two and fro Hab 3:2 LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make it known; [but] in wrath remember mercy.
Ps 71:20 You who have shown me many troubles and distresses revive me again, and will bring me up again from the depths of the earth.
What I’ve seen has beaten me down. It has pressed the life out of me. Therefore, please revive me – bring life back. Let me see the evidence of Your great work again. Let my heart beat in rhythm with Yours. Revive me to a godly perspective.
Hab 3:3 God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.
Ps 19:1 [Even] The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Everywhere I look I see your great work! I remember…
Hab 3:13-15 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. You pierced with his own spears the head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; their exultation was like those who devour the oppressed in secret. You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the surge of many waters.
Habakkuk rode for a while remembering God’s goodness, but then… Hab 3:16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us.
Can you have a moment of praise followed by a clash of despair? Ps 77:3 I remember God, then I am disturbed; I sigh [as I rest in Him], then my spirit grows faint.
I see Your goodness, then look at my badness. I remind myself of Your promise and then I realize it isn’t here yet. I hear of Your mercy but remember it follows Your wrath.
How do I get out of this yoyo of emotions? Habakkuk thought it through. I can’t do anything about the Great Not Yet. I’m stuck in the period between problem and solution, promise and fulfillment, wrath and mercy. So, what do I do. How do the righteous live by faith in times like these?
Here’s what I’ll do. Hab 3:17-18 Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Habakkuk said earlier: Will we not die if You do this? Now he’s having a Job moment: Job 13:15 Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.
How do the righteous demonstrate faith in times like these?
· If God gets greater glory from my circumstances than the inconvenience I experience in having them changed, I will honor Him.
· If my faith is so weak that I cannot see His favor in my life, I submit to whatever it takes for His plan to overshadow my situation.
· If He is pleased to crush me in order for Him to work out His perfect will, I place myself on the olive press.
Even if he faced the worst case scenario, Habakkuk determined the righteous one surrenders his future to the God who is already in that future.
There are times we just have to say: God, I don’t understand Your purposes but I know You do. I can’t see Your plan but I know you can. I can’t see the good in all that’s going on but I know You’ve placed it there. And that’s enough for me.
Hab 3:19 The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places.
When I let faith overcome my fears, strength returns. What if my faith has let me down, how can that strength return? How can it be revived? By looking to my answer rather than the problem.
Ps 103:1-6 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed.
1. When we judge our situations too quickly, we tend to label them inappropriately.
2. With lack of insight, we will decide something is bad without considering God’s plan.
3. Fortunately, our opinion doesn’t change what God intends to do, it only makes us miserable in the meantime.
4. Since the God who works all things together for good is the One in charge, it is always best not fight against Him over what He knows is best.