A New Year’s Message

Habakkuk 2:3-4 ESV

(3) For still 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. (4) “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

The Old Testament book of Habakkuk is only three chapters long. But, it contains an expression that is repeated three times in the New Testament:

Romans 1:16-17 ESV

(16) 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. (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.

Galatians 3:11 ESV

(11) Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Hebrews 10:38 ESV

(38) but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

The Prophet Habakkuk, whose name means to “embrace,” was appalled at the rampant sin in Judah. He asked God when was He going to do something about it. God told him that He was sending the Chaldeans to bring judgment on the people. God’s people had become sinful and brutal. The people were to be punished by a nation as sinful and brutal as they. They were to reap what they had sowed. Then Habakkuk was upset that the Lord would use such a sinful and brutal people to destroy Judah. God then revealed His future judgment upon the Chaldeans.

Chapter three contains Habakkuk’s prayer which is an expression of his faith in the justice and power of God over the nations and His eventual salvation of His people.   His final words are an inspiration for all believers facing hard times.

Habakkuk 3:16-19 ESV

(16) I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. (17) 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, (18) yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (19) GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

Habakkuk lived in a dark, hopeless time. There were few who knew what was coming. Habakkuk’s warning messages where ridiculed by the people and especially the ruling class. There was no cure. There would be no revival of religious fervor to save the nation from catastrophe. His time was a time of God’s judgment. Habakkuk’s final statement reveals his faith in God. He embraced the will of God and rested in His faithfulness:  “…yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” This is the response of total faith in God and total surrender to His will. Total faith is always accompanied by total surrender to the will of God.

As believers, we do not know what this new year will bring. We know that loved ones may die. We know that sinfulness and lawlessness will continue unabated. We know that there will be wars and rumors of wars. We know that there will be hard times with the good times.  And we know that we are not promised freedom from trials of our faith.

As believers, we know that we are promised tribulation and persecution:

John 16:33 ESV

(33) I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:7-10 ESV

(7) But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (8) We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; (9) persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; (10) always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

But, as  believers, we also know  that:

(Romans 8:28-39 ESV)

God works all things together for good:

(28) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (29) For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (30) And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Nothing can separate us from God’s faithfulness and love:

(31) What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (32) He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? (33) Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. (34) Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (35) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (36) As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Through Christ we are more than conquerors:

(37) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (38) For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, (39) nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV

(14) But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.

Conclusion:

No matter what this year brings, we can embrace it as the will of God and  live by faith like Habakkuk, echoing his words:

 “… yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Happy New Year!  May God’s grace and peace be with you.

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Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission.  All rights reserved.