Habakkuk 1-3: Tread on High Places
December 18, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Though Habakkuk is a brief book, it is filled with important truth and is profound in its own way. Covering all the ground of these three chapters in short expanse is therefore a challenge—and probably not really possible. Basically, Habakkuk is asking and receiving answers regarding God’s use of non-pure, even violent, means to accomplish his ultimate ends. Assyria was used by God to discipline his people; Babylon was then used by God to judge Assyria. Babylon itself would fall to Persia. And through it all, God’s purposes stand. Here is the location and context for that most famous of verses in the book of Habakkuk—three times quoted in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38):
“…the righteous shall live by his faith.” (2:4)
In the midst of many things that we do not understand, the righteous person is made righteous through his faith in God and his ways, ways which are ultimately fulfilled at the cross and through the gospel. Romans 1:16-17:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’”
Though it is not quite so well-known—yet not unfamiliar, nonetheless—Habakkuk ends his book with similarly stunning reflection. Even if the circumstances around us are not worthy of rejoicing, the follower of God has this great reason to rejoice nonetheless, namely in God himself:
“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 joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.” (3:17-19)
Could you today, then, find fresh reason simply to trust in God, despite whatever circumstances you may be facing? Could you look back on how God interwove his purposes throughout the history of Israel (even their failures and sins), and believe again that God’s ways are not our ways, and his purposes will stand and cannot be thwarted? And would you also, whatever those circumstances may be, take a new opportunity to reflect purely and simply on the person of God, the Lord who is your strength, and so whether facing prosperity or adversity, health or sickness, find in him (through faith alone) reason for abounding joy that you might “tread on high places.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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