The Prophets  Zephaniah and Habakkuk      

A Bible Study

      The clear Warning of God   11-18
      A Glimmer of Hope 21-3
      Other Nations Judged 24-15
      What about Jerusalem 31-8
      Jerusalem in the 'End Times' 39-20
      His Complaint 11-4
      God's Unpleasant Answer 15-11
      Response 112 - 21
      God's Answer 22-20
      Habakkuk Prays 31-19


      Historically the Middle East was in turmoil. God had sent a succession of prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Micah, Isaiah. But Israel, who would not listen to the Lord’s warnings, had been defeated and exiled in 722BC by Assyria. 80 years later this dominant empire was crumbling. Babylon was the rising power. Judah had been ruled for 46 years by Manasseh, a most evil king. He was followed by the youthful and righteous king Josiah (640-609). In 627, after he started his reforms, God sent his prophet Jeremiah who preached for 40 years (until the destruction of Jerusalem). And at the same time God sent Zephaniah and Habakkuk to counter the deeply ingrained idol worship and moral laxity. But the people took no notice of God’s warnings from this trio of prophets. It is much easier to become or remain evil than to become righteous.


The Clear Warning of God   11-18       [Contents]

In spite of Josiah’s reforms, Judah was unwilling to change from its evil ways.
So what was the verdict of the Lord Almighty to their rejection of him?
With great grace he did not remain silent or ignore the plight of Judah.

The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah ...  Zeph 11
The Lord wanted Judah to know both the consequence of their sinful ways,
      and also the remedy - the only remedy.
And Zephaniah wanted them to know that his prophecy was God’s word, not his.

I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth ...
I will stretch out my hand against Judah ...
      those who have turned back from following the Lord,
      who do not seek the Lord or inquire of him.

The prophet had spoken the solemn truth.
Judah had quickly forgotten about the judgement of God, who had exiled Israel.
Idolatrous priests still worshipped Baal, the starry host and even Molech. 14b,5
Jerusalem thought they could safely ignore the Lord.

Therefore:   and Ps 9610-13

Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is near.  17
On that day declares the Lord ... I will punish ... On that day I will punish ...
those who are complacent ... who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing ...”

God warns us that he is bound by justice to punish evil.
This truth is unpopular today with those thinking he is a God who only loves.
But Zephaniah repeats the urgency:

The great day of the Lord is near ...
      a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish. ...
      They will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord.
      Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them ...
      for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.

So when is ‘near’? Did Judah, or do I, need to listen carefully?
In 20 years Nebuchadnezzar takes Daniel + best to Babylon
In 30 years Nebuchadnezzar makes Zedekiah king. Takes Ezekiel + Jews to Babylon
And in 40 years Nebuchadnezzar totally destroys Jerusalem and the Temple,
enslaves Jews and takes them to Babylon until 538BC
That’s how near God’s punishment was.
How near is the ‘Great Tribulation’ that God warns us about in Rev 6-18?

The ‘sudden end’ here refers to the destruction of Jerusalem.
It would be fulfilled some 40 years later.  Jer 259

14-18 Some may say, “Well that all happened 2,600 years ago.”
      That would be foolish since UK today largely ignores Almighty God
            and dismisses him as being irrelevant to the modern world.
      We have substituted the Evolution Theory lie for Creation.
      We have forgotten God’s instruction to celebrate Creation on Sunday
      We have legalised abortion murder,
            and legalised homosexuality that God says is an ‘abomination’.  Lev 1822
      Even the Church of England leaders at the Nov. 2023 Synod voted
            to trial the blessing of same-sex marriage.

Remember in the ‘end times’, ‘Babylon’ is destroyed in a single hour.  Rev 1810
      Then Lord’s return will be like lightning.  Math 2427
            and to most, unexpected.  Mk 1332-37

            I am waiting for the dawning
            Of that bright and glorious day,
            When the darksome night of sorrow
            Shall have vanished far away;
            When forever with the Saviour,
            Far beyond this vale of tears,
            I shall swell the hymn of worship
            Thru the everlasting years.

            I am looking at the brightness,
            See, it shineth from afar,
            Of the clear and joyous beaming
            Of the Bright and Morning Star;
            Thru the dark grey mist of morning
            I behold its glorious light;
            Then away with ev'ry shadow
            Of this sad and weary night.

            I am waiting for the coming
            Of the Lord who died for me;
            Oh, His words have thrilled my spirit,
            "I will come again for thee."
            Faith can almost hear Christ's footfall
            On the threshold of the door,
            And my heart, my heart is longing
            To be with Him evermore.

            Trevor Francis   1835 - 1925

A Glimmer of Hope       [Contents]

Zephaniah is instructed by the gracious Lord God to offer a glimmer of hope.
Gather together O shameless nation ...
      before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the Lord.
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land ...
      Seek righteousness, seek humility;
            perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord’.

However short the time, there was still a moment of opportunity to repent.
      As Isaiah had told them a century earlier:
Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters ...
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
      let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
      let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
      and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
 Is 556,7

Sometimes the Lord only gives a man a single short moment to decide.
He warned Cain concerning his jealousy of Abel. He decided to ignore it,
      and determined instead to murder his brother. Even then the Lord gave Cain
      the opportunity when he said to him, “Where is Abel your brother?”
      Cain lied, instead of repenting, “I don’t know; am I my brother’s keeper?”
In the days of Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk, Judah refused to repent.
      So God had no option but to fulfill the prophesied destruction and exile.

Other Nations are Judged       [Contents]

Gaza shall be deserted, and Ashkelon shall become a desolation...
The word of the Lord is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines;
     and I will destroy you until no inhabitant is left.
Moab shall become like Sodom, the Ammonites like Gomorrah ...
     The remnant of my people shall plunder them.
You also, O Cushites, shall be slain by my sword.  212
He will stretch out his hand against the north and destroy Assyria,
     and he will make Nineveh a desolation.

Just in case anyone thought that the other nations would not be judged;
     God makes it clear that ALL wickedness will be punished, Jew or Gentile.
     For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Ro 323

           Lord, I believe a rest remains
           To all thy people known,
           A rest where pure enjoyment reigns,
           And thou art loved alone.

           A rest, where all our soul’s desire
           Is fixed on things above;
           Where fear and sin and grief expire,
           Cast out by perfect love.

           O that I now the rest might know,
           Believe, and enter in!
           Now, Saviour, now the power bestow,
           And let me cease from sin.

           Remove this hardness from my heart,
           This unbelief remove;
           To me the rest of faith impart,
           The sabbath of thy love.

           I would be thine, thou know’st I would,
           And have thee all my own;
           Thee, O my all-sufficient Good!
           I want, and thee alone.

           Thy name to me, thy nature grant;
           This, only this be given;
           Nothing beside my God I want,
           Nothing in earth or heaven.

           Charles Wesley   1707 - 1788

What About Jerusalem       [Contents]

Would Judah respond well to the warnings given?
      UK still has some good preachers; but what is our response?
      Is there any evidence of a meek, listening, teachable spirit?
Zephaniah gives us an almost timeless answer, and the consequences of it.

Woe to her who is rebellious and defiled ...
She listens to no voice; she accepts no correction ...
She does not draw near to her God ...
Her prophets are fickle, treacherous men ...
The unjust knows no shame.

It was a great surprise to Jerusalem that God was angry with them!
It was God’s decision that in the end he would gather all the wicked nations,
      and pour out upon them my indignation, all my burning anger.  38
It is a surprise to many, even in the church, that the ‘God of Love’
      will pour out his divine anger on an unresponsive, evil world.

Jerusalem in the 'End Times'       [Contents]

God also has a different revealed plan for the righteous.
This shall be after the day
      when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced,
      they shall mourn for him ...
      On that day there shall be a fountain opened
      for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
      to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness.
 Zech 1210 - 131
Zephaniah tells them of the great awakened day of Jewish repentance:

On that day you shall not be put to shame ...
      for then I will remove from your midst your proudly exultant ones,
      But I will leave in your midst a people humble and lowly.
      They shall seek refuge in the name of the Lord ...
      Nor shall there be found in their mouth a deceitful tongue.

It is in the awaited day when the Lord has good reason to rejoice.

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!

The Lord has taken away the judgments against you;
      he has cleared away your enemies.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
      you shall never again fear evil.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
“Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save;
      he will rejoice over you with gladness;
      he will quiet you by his love;
      he will exult over you with loud singing.

The Lord God will not only have good reason to rejoice over Israel,
      but he will also rejoice over the righteous Gentiles.
      They become righteous in the same way as the Jews (see above).
      The Gentiles will also see why Jesus had to be crucified:
            But he was pierced for our transgressions;
                  he was crushed for our iniquities;
            upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
            and with his wounds we are healed.
      All we like sheep have gone astray;
            we have turned—every one—to his own way;
            and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
 Is 535,6
      The Gentiles will see how much we owe to the Jews,
            instead of persecuting, exiling and ridiculing them.

Behold, at that time I will deal with all your oppressors.
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast ...
At that time I will bring you in, at the time when I gather you together;
      for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth,
      when I restore your fortunes before your eyes,” says the Lord.

Thus the Jews and Gentiles will be reconciled
      and together they will praise the Lord God as their Redeemer and King.

            O Lord our hearts are yearning
            For the promised latter rain,
            When the Jew and Gentile gather
            In the Church restored again;
            There will be no more separation,
            God's people shall be one,
            Their praise ascend to heaven,
            God's will on earth be done.

Habakkuk, the Praying Prophet

One of the three prophets that God raised up in Judea during the reign of Josiah.
He would have known and probably heard Jeremiah and Zephaniah preaching.
Habakkuk was a righteous man who was greatly grieved by rampant evil.
The book open with:
The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.  11  (‘Oracle’ = burden)
      The prophecy given by God was a burden him. As many God-given words are.
No one took any notice of his, or Jeremiah’s preaching, or of God;
      no one cared.

Habakkuk prayed consistently and earnestly day after day, year after year.
      But nothing seemed to change.
      If anything the blasphemy, idolatry, injustice and violence got worse!
      Like many others he was baffled as to why God did not act to reform them.

Habakkuk's Complaint       [Contents]

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?  12

He was not the first, or the last to ask God this question.
      How long will the enemy mock you, O God?  Ps 7410
      Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand?  Ps 7411
      The Psalmist Asaph briefly envied the prosperity of the wicked.  Ps 733,17
      Jeremiah also asked, "Why do the wicked prosper?"  Jer 121
Today we also ask the same questions,
      "Why are we all so easily deceived by the constant spin and lies?"
      "Why are such 'weasels' so popular?"
      "Why has this nation largely rejected God and his commandments?"
            And that even includes many of the Church bishops!
      "Why are people so uninterested, so deaf, to the truth of God's Word?"
      If God is powerful and loving why does he allow so many ‘natural’ tragedies?
            All the earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, drought, disease, volcanoes ...
            Events that insurance companies call, ‘Acts of God’!
And especially:
      "Why, O God, do you appear to be deaf to our prayers?!"
      "Why don't you stop all the injustice, violence, disease and deceit?"
      "Why are there still so many Christian martyrs today?" (Over 5,000/year).
      "Why does evil, idol-worshipping and violent Islam so often prosper?"
      Why did a tree fall on that fine Christian man?
      Why did a young mother of three have to die of breast cancer?
      Why did God allow that ghastly 2004 tsunami where ¼ million died?
      When so many long for peace, why do wars never seem to end?
      ...   etc

Your faithful servants continue to pray earnestly,
      But Lord, You don’t seem to do anything to stop the unending downward slide.
      Then, as now, wickedness was increasing, not decreasing.
Habakkuk knew the true answer to this question -
      All men are by nature wicked!
And today Ro 118-32 is being fulfilled. The Western world has forsaken God as the great Creator and embraced the Evolution Theory lie. Paul warns us that as a direct result, the Lord God will remove his protection. This will cause an escalating rise in wickedness, especially homosexuality.

What really bothered Habakkuk was that it seemed that
      the Sovereign Lord was refusing to intervene.
So he repeatedly asked, O Lord, how long ... ?

2,500 years ago this honest prophet Habakkuk complained.
      He wisely sought God’s answer to his dilemma.
      He did not give up his urgent, persistent prayer.
Then one day God instructed him to record God's answer in this book.
      It was not what Habakkuk expected.
      And it may well surprise us too!
            Especially if we don’t like what history could teach us!

            As pants the hart for cooling streams
            When heated in the chase,
            So longs my soul, O God, for Thee,
            And Thy refreshing grace.

            Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
            Trust God, who will employ
            His aid for thee, and change these sighs
            To thankful hymns of joy.

            For Thee, my God, the living God,
            My thirsty soul doth pine;
            Oh, when shall I behold Thy face,
            Thou Majesty Divine?

            God of my strength, how long shall I,
            Like one forgotten, mourn,
            Forlorn, forsaken, and exposed
            To my oppressor’s scorn?

            Why restless, why cast down, my soul?
            Hope still, and thou shalt sing
            The praise of Him who is thy God,
            Thy health’s eternal spring.

            Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady

God's Unpleasant Answer       [Contents]

I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe ...  15
I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe ... 15
God is neither deaf, nor blind, nor disinterested, nor slow to act.
      It was just that his plan was so different from what he expected.

Behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation ... 16
His plan was that Babylon, the world's latest and greatest 'superpower',
      would sweep down and destroy Judah - and it will happen very soon!
Jeremiah had been prophesying this for some years.
But Habakkuk didn't like this idea. Can it really be from God!
      God doesn't destroy his chosen people and the city called by his name.
      Almighty God doesn't plan and order his own Temple to be destroyed.
      He thought, or at least he hoped, the Lord Almighty would intervene;
            maybe he would send the revival that Josiah worked so hard for.
      But no! for as he said, "My thoughts are not our thoughts,
            neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
 Is 558

God’s plan was different;  My servant Nebuchadnezzar ...  Jer 259 276 4310
      Habakkuk knew David was God's servant, and Job, Moses, Isaiah, Jacob ...
            because scriptures clearly said so.  2Kg 206 Job 18 2Kg 218 Ezek 2825
      But he still had to learn that Nebuchadnezzar was also God’s servant.
      Nebuchadnezzar and all his ruthless army was being called by God
            to come and completely destroy Jerusalem and the Temple!!
            And Judah will be exiled to Babylon as slaves.
            Furthermore this generation will be slaves for life and not return.
      Jeremiah had been preaching this rejected, unpopular message for years.
      It was as if God declared today, I'm going to raise up Islam to totally
            destroy the Western World with all our culture, traditions and law;
            together with St Pauls, Westminster Abbey and all the Churches,
            and all the Christians will be enslaved
            and forced to build new Islamic cities in London and Jerusalem.

Habakkuk was staggered by God's severity.
      Not a single gram of mercy. Why?
      Because although the longing eyes of God searched throughout Jerusalem,
            he could not find even a micro-gram of repentance.
      God had promised Jeremiah :
            If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
            I will forgive this city.
 Jer 51 c.f. Gen 1822-32
Almighty God will determine when the day of his just judgement comes;
      nothing can or will be able to stop him from fulfilling it.
Nothing stopped him stretching out his hand upon Sodom and Gomorrah.
      And nothing will prevent the Great Tribulation from being executed in full.
      Do you remember what God did in the days of Noah?
      Too often he is only seen as a benevolent old man, who can safely be ignored!
      But God is always in his prime; he is just, as well as kind and gracious.

We could expect the careless, arrogant and smug to be surprised at God’s plan.
      But the righteous Habakkuk was amazed too.
      So let us not stumble at God's revealed timetable and action plan.
            His judgement will be absolutely just.
      We must learn to trust in the wisdom of the Sovereign Lord.

The price of sin and God’s only means of pardon are severe.
      It would cost the crucifixion of his perfect and only Son, Jesus Christ.
      No other sacrifice is sufficient to gain our forgiveness and bring new birth.
      This priceless truth has to be revealed to every generation.

Shortly after Habakkuk was preaching in Jerusalem,
      Daniel was prime minister in Babylon.
            He had interpreted Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams.
            God revealed to him a massive statue that represented 4 great world empires.
      They would each be destroyed, and a little rock not hewn by human hand
            would build a great Mountain, God’s eternal righteous kingdom. Dan 2
      Even Nebuchadnezzar had to learn Babylon would not last.
      Only the Kingdom of God is eternal and righteous, just and true.

A century ago the tiny island of Britain ruled half the world!
      Our Laws were based on God's Word and much of the population Christian.
What is God plan for this now God-defiant nation?
A nation that has
      chosen to murder over 20% of it's babies before they are born,
      chosen to encourage greed and to ignore the Sabbath,
      chosen to make divorce easy for the 50% who marry,
      chosen to embrace 'foreign' religions,
      chosen to call evil, good (e.g. homosexuality),
      chosen to deny creation by God and teach the evolution lie as the truth,
      chosen to forbid Christians to preach Christ in case it offends Muslims ...
Will God remain just and do to us what he did to Judah?
      He cannot ignore our rejection and rebellion!
      History reveals this to all who have eyes to see.
      How can we dare to say that Judah deserved it, but we don't!
      Or will some defiantly think 'who is this God you talk about anyway?
            Does he even exist?'

Habakkuk's Response   112 - 21       [Contents]

The Lord knew well the heart of his servant Habakkuk.
He knew he would not immediately believe what he told him.  And he didn't.
His reply to God's plan is the response of one bewildered.

Habakkuk's problem was not so much whether Judah deserved punishment,
      but why didn't God stop Judah being so wicked.  113
Now he has another question:
      Why did God plan to use such a cruel ruler (Babylon) to judge Judah?
      Judah was bad, but Babylon was far worse!

This honest and wise prophet admits he doesn't understand.
      e says, I will look and see what he will say to me ...  21
      He knows that it is the Lord Almighty who orders the nations;
            so he will know God's answer by what God does!
      I do not believe, as some have implied, that Habakkuk went up to
            his tower with any form of defiance - let's see who is right, God or me!
      In his tower, he looks and seeks earnestly.
      He learns to wait with patience.
      And he learns that Almighty God is always right.

How do we fare in this realm?
      Are we truly 'open hearted', detached from the common world view?
      Do we climb a watchman's tower endeavouring to receive God's view?
      Will we pray earnestly and then leave the problem with the Lord Almighty?
          Or will we try to tell God what to do!
      God always keeps his promises; his word is totally reliable.

At the right moment the faithful Lord graciously speaks to him again.
      He tells him to write down what he says - God's revelation of truth -
            because Habakkuk was not the first to ask such questions,
            and neither will he be the last.
      God wants us all to know his answer.
            It is an answer that goes far beyond mere academic justice.
      As we shall see later, God reveals the truth
            about the extent of sin, its consequence,
            his rescue plan of Christ as our Redeemer,
            and for his end-time return to establish his eternal, righteous Kingdom.
      Don't allow seeming delay to cause us to doubt any of this.

Many 'successful' (popular) churches promote ‘following Jesus’
      and omit God’s judgement and our need for his mercy and forgiveness.
      Only the Cross can achieve propitiation - 1 Jn 22 (KJV)
            (‘propitiation’ = the appeasement of God's just wrath for our sin.)
Many omit that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.  Jn 168 Act 237

God Answers his 2nd Question       [Contents]

God fulfilled his promise to Habakkuk.
      Babylon did come and destroy Jerusalem and the Temple and exile Judah.
      In 70 AD Rome again exiled Judah. They returned 2,000 years later.
      And he will fulfill the Great Tribulation revealed in Rev. 6-18.
The Lord God remains faithful and true.
      So he told Habakkuk:
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.

Our gracious God is not secretive or distant; he wants us to know the truth.
He told Amos: For the Lord God does nothing
     without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
 Amos 37

God says, "The righteous will live by faith." (now and for ever).
In contrast, destructive Babylon and their king, will themselves be destroyed.
      The men of Babylon were arrogant, greedy and cruel,
            building their nation by enslaving others.
      They enjoyed making lifeless idols of wood, and stone, silver and gold.
      Nations exhaust themselves for nothing.  213   One day they will lose it all.
Five times the Lord says "woe" to such a people.  Hab 26, 9, 12, 15, 19
But few ever take notice of the lone voice of a prophet.
Jesus would repeat this warning
      What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Mk 836

Even a brief study of world history reveals that God's word is always accurate.
      His oft repeated prophecy is that in the end justice will be done;
            truth and righteousness will reign for ever.

God said the reign of Babylon, the cruel destroyer, would be brief. It was.
      This super-power lasted from 605 to 538 BC  Just 67 years.
      Proud Babylon was destroyed in a single night by the Medes and Persians,
            while the proud God-defying Belshazzar enjoyed a party with 1000 guests.
            He only enjoyed it until the strange hand wrote upon the wall,
            and the great aged prophet Daniel told him the meaning of it!
            Your days are numbered. (It would be his last night)
            You are weighed and found wanting. (God declared the sentence)
            Your kingdom will be divided. (That night it was divided)

Though, as prophesied, Babylon became a heap of sand in the desert (Jer 5137)
      'the spirit of Babylon' in men has never died.  It is greatly in evidence today.
As Peter prophesied, men now scoff at the word of the Lord.  2 Pe 33-10
At the end, the rich rulers and merchants will wail at their sudden loss.  Rev 18
The Harlot who boasted her riches, endurance and wanton ways,
      will be destroyed in a single hour!  Rev 1817
How foolish it is for men in each generation to ridicule God's clear warnings.

How do men respond to biblical prophecy? How do we react?
      Unbelievers scoff; many are ignorant or distracted, and thus deceived.
      But no one can have any excuse to be so -
            we have had the Bible in our 'mother tongue' for over 5 centuries.

In contrast, Believers will live in the gracious revelation of God.
      His Spirit will reveal truth and assure them.
      They will know they are chosen and redeemed by Jesus Christ.
      They will know the grace and forgiveness and the gift of God's righteousness.
In every generation The righteous will surely live by faith.  24

Then the Lord Almighty concludes his revelation to Habakkuk by saying,
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.  220
What a day!
      This day will surely come; and I long for it with all my heart.
I fear only the events in the time immediately preceding that great day.
      - the destruction, persecution and tribulation
            during the brief reign of the totally satanic Beast described in Rev 13
      Christians will have to learn to endure.  Rev 1310
      We will need the reassurance of God in such days.
The Lord has specifically promised to pour out his spirit in such a day.  Joel 228
      Courage will overcome fear; but it will not be easy.

Babylon, the destroyer, will be destroyed.
Babylon, in the hearts of men will be destroyed in a single hour.  Dan 5  Rev 18
The Kingdom of God will come and be established for ever.
God told Habakkuk that the vision may seem to be a long time coming,
      It is now over 2,600 years and the prophesies are being rapidly fulfilled.
Currently men will continue to make a terrible mess of God's world,
      but the Lord Almighty will never give up on his creation.
The day will surely come when righteousness, truth and justice will prevail.

Just a few years after Habakkuk, God revealed this same truth to Daniel in Babylon.  Dan 924
      Your people and your holy city will see an end of sin,
      wickedness will be atoned,
      everlasting righteousness will be brought in,
      the prophetic vision is sealed
- i.e. it is sure and certain and lasting,
      the most holy anointed King will come and rule his glorious creation.

Recently Great Britain has rejected God, just as Judah did.
Will the European Union be the destroying 'Babylon' that we deserve?
      Or maybe Islam, or maybe China.
      In the place of prayer I will watch and see what God will do.
            It is not for me to try and guess.
God has given us many warnings which we have largely ignored and ridiculed.
What is our reaction to seeing that God will also destroy the destroyer.

How does the prophet in Judah react to God's revelation of long-term justice?
Does God's word to him that the righteous will live, seem but a foolish dream?
      Or does he rejoice in the assurance of the Sovereign Lord?
Will he stake all upon the bare word of God; like the men of faith in Heb 11?

            My hope is built on nothing less
            Than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
            I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
            But wholly lean on Jesus' name.

            On Christ, the solid rock I stand;
            All other ground is sinking sand.

            When darkness seems to veil his face,
            I rest on his unchanging grace;
            In every high and stormy gale,
            My anchor holds within the veil.

            His oath, his covenant and blood,
            Support me in the 'whelming flood;
            When all around my soul gives way,
            He then is all my hope and stay.

            When he shall come with trumpet sound,
            Oh, may I then in him be found;
            Dressed in his righteousness alone,
            Faultless to stand before the throne.

            Edward Mote   1797 - 1874

Habakkuk Prays       [Contents]

Chapter 3 is a wonderful piece of Hebrew poetry.
      The prophet is convinced, his heart is filled with profound gratitude.
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;

His whole being longs for righteousness, truth and justice.
      He aches for the kingdom of God to come on earth.
But then he also realises the cost - that there must be a just punishment!
      And so he pleads: In wrath remember mercy.  32b

When that day came 600 years later, the wrath of God and the full punishment
      for all our sin was poured out upon the Son of God as he hung on the Cross.
And Habakkuk's prayer was answered.
      In his wrath, God did remember mercy.
      Jesus endured it all, so that God could extend his mercy upon us.
      Jesus paid the price in full. "A full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice".
      He sees ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’  Jn 129
It was the great day that God promised to Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses ...
      To all who repent and believe, he gives faith - the assurance of his mercy,
            when we only deserve wrath.

Then it seems that God gives his praying prophet a vision of the end.
God came ... his glory filled the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden ...
He stood and shook the earth; he looked and made the nations tremble ...
the sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows ...
      in wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations.

He is suddenly shown the purpose of it all
      and the only way that the kingdom of God can come on earth.

You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one.
      You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness ...

There is so clearly no way I can deliver myself - though many try, and fail.
Only God himself can save us.  How can I bear the just punishment and live?
Like Isaiah, Habakkuk sees the fulfilment of the 1st and 2nd Coming together.
He is shown what Isaiah saw; how the Anointed One would come
      to bind up the brokenhearted ...
      to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour ...
      to give them the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
            that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
            the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
 Is 611-3

Habakkuk sees Jesus, the Anointed One,
      condemned for us and raised from the dead.

Then he is shown the satanic world ruler defeated -
      the Beast of Rev 13 who will attack Jerusalem at the end,
      and is defeated by the returning King of Kings.  Rev 1911-21
You marched through the earth in fury; you threshed the nations in anger.
You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked ...  312,13

Habakkuk's prayer ends with his heart filled by God:
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound ...
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.

God had changed the heart of Habakkuk - now he is content to wait.
At the beginning, he was ignorant as to God's plan.
      Now he waited for calamity with calmness and confidence.
      He saw far beyond the disaster Babylon was about to inflict upon Jerusalem;
            his eyes were focused on God destroying Babylon!
            And not just Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon.
      He saw God putting an end to the whole raft of human wickedness
            that is called Babylon in Rev 18,19.
Habakkuk no longer pleads for God to spare Judah.
      He does not even question the justice of God using evil Babylon.
      His sole concern is for the coming Kingdom of God.
            "Thy Kingdom come!" is his cry
      The day when the sun and moon shall stand still in the heavens
            and God shall come to end all wickedness and deliver his people.  311-13

God assured him of the great day when he will shake the earth,
      A day when the nations and the mountains will tremble before the Lord.
      A day when all the earth will be filled with the glory of God.  33b-6

And even if there does not seem to be a shred of evidence beyond God's Word.
He finishes with a great cry of triumphant, God-given faith.
What sublime confidence.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines,
      the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food,
      the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls,
      yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joyful in God my Saviour. God, the Lord is my strength;
      he makes my feet like the deer's,
      he makes me tread on my high places.

No wonder God wanted Habakkuk to record the prophet's questions, his answers,
and especially the enduring effect that this truth had upon the heart of a man.
Hearing and believing the Word of God transformed Habakkuk.
      And it can do the same to any earnest, honest, searching man.
      Such is the abounding grace, tenderness and kindness of our God and Saviour.
      O God, come quickly!
      Yes, I am coming soon.
 Rev 2220

            Spirit of faith, come down,
            Reveal the things of God;
            And make to us the Godhead known,
            And witness with the blood.
            ‘Tis thine the blood to apply,
            And give us eyes to see
            Who did for every sinner die
            Hath surely died for me.

            No man can truly say
            That Jesus is the Lord,
            Unless thou take the veil away,
            And breathe the living word;
            Then, only then, we feel
            Our interest in the blood,
            And cry with joy unspeakable:
            Thou art my Lord, my God!

            O that the world might know
            The all-atoning Lamb!
            Spirit of faith, descend, and show
            The virtue of his name;
            The grace which all may find,
            The saving power impart;
            And testify to all mankind,
            And speak to every heart.

            Inspire the living faith,
            Which whosoe’r receives,
            The witness in himself he hath,
            And consciously believes;
            The faith that conquers all,
            And doth the mountain move,
            And saves whoe’er on Jesus call,
            And perfects them in love.

            Charles Wesley   1707 - 1788