There’s a story about a group of pioneers making their way across one of the central states to a distant place that had been opened up for homesteading. As they travelled in covered wagons drawn by oxen, and progress was necessarily slow. One day they were horrified to note a long line of smoke in the west, stretching for miles across the prairie, and soon it was evident that the dried grass was burning violently and coming toward them rapidly. They had crossed a river the day before but it would be impossible to go back to that before the flames would be upon them. One man only seemed to have understanding as to what could be done. He gave the command to set fire to the grass behind them. Then when a space was burned over, the whole company moved back upon it. As the flames roared on toward them from the west, a little girl cried out in terror, “Are you sure we shall not all be burned up?” The leader replied, “My child, the flames cannot reach us here, for we are standing where the fire has been!”
What a picture of the believer, who are safe in Christ! Harry Ironside said “On Him Almighty vengeance fell, which would have sunk a world to hell. He bore it for a chosen race, and thus becomes our Hiding Place. See as Christians, the fires of God’s judgement burned themselves out on Him, and all who are in Christ are safe forever, for they are now standing where the fire has been. It’s a scary thing to fall into the hands of the sovereign Creator of all things. Habakkuk is stunned or amazed with fear to what God has in store for His people and the nation of Babylon. God’s going to do something unimaginable that our finite minds cannot fathom or understand. God is going to pour His wrath [judgement] against this wicked nation Babylon. See we need to understand, God is a holy God who will judge the earth according to His perfect Law and there is nothing you can say or do to stop Him. We really have to understand and take this serious! GOD HATES SIN and He will judge sin accordingly. When we [you] start reflecting on this truth....then you will begin to understand why God must do what does when it comes to the matter of sin. Why? In Deut 32:39 it says "'See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god beside Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of My hand.” Jesus said “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3.
See the bible is very clear and specific about God’s judgement against sin.........
- The ancient world and the flood (Gen 6:17)
- Sodom & Gomorrah came crashing down with brimstone and fire(Gen 19:24)
- Korah and his followers (Num 16:33-35) “And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.”
- The Israelites carnality (Num 21:6)
- Eli for allowing corruption in the temple (1 Sam 3:13) “For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” In chapter (4:18) we see God’s judgement fulfilled.
- Saul when he was rejected as being king (1 Sam 15:23)
- Uzzah was struck and killed (2 Sam 6:7)
- Jezebel was found with missing parts (2 King 9:35)
- Zacharias unbelief made him speechless for a season (Luke 1:20)
- Ananias & Sapphira breathed their last breath for lying (Acts 5:1-10)
- Herod was struck dead (Acts 12:23)
- All generation that have come and will come will face everlasting punishment (Matt 25:41) "Then He will also say to those on the left hand, 'Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:..”
God’s judgement is a scary and awe struck time especially for bible believing Christians. Let me ask you! Does God’s wrath and judgement concern you? The reason I ask this because it did for Habakkuk. It concerned him so much he says “heard your speech and was afraid” (v2). It amazes me that Habakkuk, a man who cared deeply for his people despite their unrepentant hearts was fearful or awe struck by God.....but we have people that will write New York Time best sellers who have talked to God as if they were having a coffee with the Godhead at Timmie’s. Let’s get Serious......the bible says Habakkuk was “afraid” can be translated “reverence, or to tremble....” To be in the position that Habakkuk had would of been of mixed emotions.....fear, happiness all at the same time.....It would be like riding on the tallest and fastest roller coaster; you love the rush and fear the rush at the same time. Habakkuk had a reverential fear of God’s judgements.....because he knew that God was sovereign Ruler over everything. Habakkuk wasn't the only one this has happened too!........
- Moses (Heb 12:18-21) "I AM EXCEEDINGLY AFRAID AND TREMBLING."
- Joshua (Josh 5:13-15) “Joshua fell on his face to the earth”
- Daniel (Dan 8:27) “fainted and was sick for days” (10:11) “While he was speaking this word to me, I stood trembling”
- Peter, John and James (Matt 17:6) “And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.”
- Apostle John (Rev 1:17) “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead.”
It’s a scary thing when God follows through with what he said He was going to do. That’s why I love that quote “I have good news and bad news! The good news is that God is here, the bad news is that God is here.” We as Christians know and walk by faith with the truth that God will do what He said He will do with those who deny......mock or curse His name. There will come a time when God will get rid of sin for good and smoke of their pain will be forever and ever.....“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night....” Rev 14:11. But while we are here on this earth we should have the same burden for all people.
Which brings us to this portion of Habakkuk’s prayer? Habakkuk says “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work” (v2). What have we learned about God through history? That He will deal with each generation in the same way according to His perfect Law. Habakkuk understands that when God comes, He has to deal with sin. God’s justice must be executed and when He does so, His wrath is displayed. What do I mean? Look at what Habakkuk says at the end of (v2) “in wrath remember mercy.” Can you say that about someone you love and possible an enemy? Habakkuk did! The prophet agreed the people of Judah deserved to be chastened and this would work out for their benefit. But Habakkuk pleads with God in his prayer that God’s heart would reveal His love and mercy.
Let me ask you! Where have we seen God’s wrath displayed and mercy shown at the same time? When I think of God’s wrath and mercy shown at the same time in the Old Testament I always think about the TIME OF THE GREAT FLOOD. Noah, was a man of righteousness! And he building this massive Ark that was 3 football fields long, three stories high to hold 2 of each kind [animals] and people...which took over a period of 120 years to build. This boat was built for a rescue mission! I'm pretty sure something this size.....would be enough room to house more than 8 people in the Ark. What do you think Noah was doing before the floods came? Peter’s epistles says Noah was “......a herald of righteousness,” 2 Peter 2:5. Proclaiming to the people to come into the Ark and receive salvation from the wrath that yet to come. But sadly what happened? Only 8 entered in and God’s mercy came to end at the very moment God shut the door and His wrath began. Let’s move to the New Testament! Where have we seen God’s wrath displayed and mercy shown at the same time? The obvious answer is THE CROSS.......God displaying His mercy and wrath at the same time, this is what makes the cross so precious. On one hand we see God’s righteous fury for sin, and on the other hand we see God’s mercy and love for fallen creation. God’s hatred towards sin was poured out on Him that day! Let’s make it personal:
- Every click of the mouse
- Every bitter moment
- Every foul word
- Every impure thought
- Every gossiping conversation
- Every wicked act
- Every evil deed
- Every act of disobedience
- Every covetous desire
- Every murderous thought
- Every lustful thought
Has been poured out on the only Begotten Son of God because God hates sin! He hates sin so much He created a place to put sin for all eternity....it’s called HELL! As we begin to look and understand the reality of those truths....we begin to see mercy through the darkness. By God pouring out His judgement on His Son for our sin, we see mercy, forgiveness and a living hope. But sadly as the scriptures tell us over and over again people will not listen because they were less concerned about their sin as they were God’s judgement. As in the times of Noah and the times of the cross, leading us to 2012 the message falls on deaf ears. 2 Chon 36:16 “But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy.” Habakkuk pleads with God over his people but also for the Babylonians as well. Never go thinking that you are more important and worthy then the next sinner [unsaved person]. Just as the nation needed to repent and be restored, the Babylonians needed forgiveness and salvation like your neighbour or a family member....or the worst of criminals around today. Habakkuk through his prayers pleads on behalf of other people who desperately need a Saviour.
Have you ever done that? Pleading for God even in the midst of judgement, plead for His mercy to be revealed. It’s a scary thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. Let me ask you! Does God still display judgement and mercy today? YES, you’re still alive aren’t you? God desires that no one perishes; this doesn't mean that everyone will be saved....It means His grace is overflowing and He desires that people would repent and believe the Gospel message. Did He not give enough time for people to enter the Ark? Yes. Is He still calling out into the streets to come to Him today through the Gospel? Yes. God’s mercy is overflowing with love and concern for every person created in the image of God......but there will come a day that the door will be shut and He will judge this earth according to His perfections. We love to proclaim John 3:16, which is a wonderful truth...... but we must not forsake the verses that follow! Especially John 3:36 which says “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” As Thomas Brooks said “Sin is the only thing which God hates! Sin brought Christ to the Cross! Sin damns souls! Sin shuts Heaven! Sin laid the foundations of Hell! If Christ were to show up this morning in His second coming, all of the individuals we love and know who have not trusted in God’s only provision for sin, which is the sacrifice of His own Son, would be subject to God’s Holy wrath. We need to be pleading with God as Habakkuk did for the people around you! In Your judgment, remember mercy LORD for _you fill in the blank!