• Tony Birkhead

Week 6- Worship Over Worry



Hanging On Requires Worship Over Worry!

INTRODUCTION

As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.

What evidence have you seen of God at work in the world?

If you never saw another piece of evidence for the work of God, would you still worship Him? Why or why not?

Many people base their worship on empirical evidence of God, yet He continually works beyond what we can see or comprehend. Even when we cannot see the evidence of God at work or understand His ways, we can know that God is in control and His plan is being worked out. Regardless of the circumstances, God can be trusted.

KEY SCRIPTURE

Habakkuk 3:1-19

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth. 2 Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. 3 God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. 4 His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. 5 Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. 6 He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed—but he marches on forever. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. 8 Were you angry with the rivers, Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory? 9 You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. Selah You split the earth with rivers; 10 the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. 11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. 12 In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations. 13 You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah 14 With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. 15 You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. 16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. For the director of music.

On my stringed instruments.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.

The Book of Habakkuk began with the prophet complaining to God about His apparent lack of response to the rampant, persistent evil in Judah. God then revealed to the prophet His plan to use the Chaldeans (Babylonians) as an instrument of judgment against Judah. The book concludes with a prayer in chapter 3. Habakkuk praised God for who He is and what He does to save His people, expressed confidence that God is in control and will make everything right, and declared his commitment to trust God no matter his circumstances.

Ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 3:2.

How does what God has done for His people in the past fuel our trust in His work in the present and future?

What one request did the prophet make in verse 2? What was he asking God to revive? How does this relate to the need for a revival in our personal lives?

Ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 3:3-6.

To what historical events do these verses refer? How would remembering these particular historical events encourage the people to trust God for the present and future?

How is God described in these verses? How is Habakkuk’s description of God both comforting and awe-inspiring? What are some of your emotional reactions when you read such a description of God?

Ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 3:11-13.

How does Habakkuk bring the themes of judgment and salvation together in these verses?

God is pictured as the Divine Warrior marching across the earth to do battle. His purpose was twofold: (1) to judge those who opposed Him and (2) to bring salvation to His people.

How can God be both Judge and Savior? Why is it important to understand these two aspects of God’s nature?

How does knowing that God is both Judge and Savior make a difference in your life?

Ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 3:16-19.

What scenario did the prophet paint in verse 17? How could he choose to rejoice anyway (v. 18)?

When we choose to trust God in all our circumstances, how will it impact our attitude and actions in difficult times?

How can we remember that God is at work even when we don’t see signs?

The enemy can deceive us to think that God’s blessings happen only when good things are evident. Often we want a quick response from God and don’t like to wait, but we must be patient and wait for God to act according to His timetable and plan. No longer how long the wait, God’s faithfulness is a certainty. Regardless of the circumstances, we can trust Him in the waiting.

MOVING FORWARD

  • What new aspects of God’s character did this passage reveal to you? How does reminding yourself of God’s character in the midst of hard times enable you to trust Him?

  • What promises does this passage hold for your present situation? for your future?

  • What are some practical ways believers can keep their eyes on God and not on their circumstances?

PRAY TOGETHER

As you lead your group in prayer, praise God for His blessings that are evident and for His work that we are not yet able to see or comprehend. Ask God to help group members trust Him regardless of their circumstances.

COMMENTARY

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Verses 1-2. A prayer seems a fitting way to end the Book of Habakkuk. In the end, God called on His prophet and the rest of Judah to trust Him no matter what. Habakkuk had not fully resolved all his struggles concerning God’s methods, yet he expressed in this prayer some of the most passionate affirmations of the Lord’s sovereignty in Scripture.

The meaning of the expression “according to Shigionoth” [SHIG ih OH nahth] is unclear. Some Bible students suggest that it designates a musical notation. It may be an instruction to recite the prayer with feeling or with a free flowing melody and rhythm. Given the content of chapter 3 and the emotional words the prophet presents, such an instruction makes sense.

The phrase “I have heard the report about You” probably refers to the details God had revealed about Himself earlier in the book. God was going to use a pagan nation to judge His people, and had called on Habakkuk to trust Him. The prophet’s response to the revelation can be understood as fear or great awe. Certainly the concepts of fear and awe go together in this passage. Babylon’s invasion of Judah would bring terrible consequences for God’s people. Many would lose their lives or suffer harm; others would go into captivity. Yet, these realities were all part of God’s plan. Habakkuk stood in awe and in fear of God’s deeds both past and present.

Verse 3. Verses 3-15 comprise what Bible scholars call a “theophany” [thee AHF uh nee]. It is a passage that describes a visible representation of the presence of God, using the highest human terms possible. The references to Teman and Mount Paran, both of which are places that in Old Testament times were associated with Edom, called to mind the times when the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness. God had successfully led His people through that desolate region once; He would so again in the future.

Verse 4. Habakkuk compared God’s presence to a brilliant light, such as might be encountered at sunrise when the sun’s rays sweep away the last shrouds of darkness. Many times in Scripture we read accounts of people who became absolutely awestruck by the Lord’s radiant appearance (see Ex. 3:3-6; Acts 9:3-5; Rev. 1:17). Habakkuk confirmed that God may hide—that is, restrain—His sovereign power at times, but at His chosen time He will unleash it.

Verse 5. God’s arsenal of weapons included “natural” forces such as plague and pestilence. God brought plagues against Egypt during the days of Moses (see Ex. 9:1-26). God also disciplined Israel with plagues (see 2 Sam. 24:15).

Verse 6. Habakkuk depicted a God who is advancing and is on the move. While His ways are everlasting, He is also involved in the present, leading forth in victory. In response to Habakkuk’s previous complaints that evil was running unchecked in the world, now he praised an active God who was working out His glorious plan.

Fear and trembling are appropriate responses to the majesty of God. He reveals His greatness in His ability to shake the earth. This is a defining characteristic of both the people of God and His presence. His people are those whose lives have been shaken by His appearing. His arrival changes everything and turns life right-side up.

In verses 7-10, Habakkuk continued to portray God as a mighty Warrior. Reflecting on God’s greatness helped Habakkuk move from fear to celebration. The prophet was confident God would conquer all His enemies.

Verse 11. The reference here seems to refer to a divinely extended day described in Joshua 10:12-13. In the midst of a battle in which the Israelites needed more time to completely vanquish their enemy, the Lord stopped the sun and moon in place. It was as though the celestial bodies paused to gaze in awe at what the Sovereign Lord was doing in and through His people. Although God created an orderly universe (see Gen. 8:22), He is not bound by any restrictions. He is free to adjust it as He sees fit. What God has done in the past provides clues as to what He is doing now and will do again in the future.

Verses 12-13. The wrath of God is an often-misunderstood attribute of God (see Ps. 90:11). When we understand it solely in terms of what we can see, then the presence of evil and suffering may raise questions in our hearts and minds. When no quick manifestation of judgment comes on the wicked, then those who are weak in faith might wonder if God indeed punishes sin.

The advance of God has as its goal the deliverance of His people. God had delivered the people of Israel in Moses’ day from Egypt and from Pharaoh’s bondage. He would deliver Israel again after the exile. Ultimately, He sent Jesus Christ into the world to provide a way of everlasting salvation from sin (see Matt. 1:21). One day the Lord will deliver all of His people fully and forever from the corruption of this world (see Rev. 21:22-27).

Verse 16. After reflecting on God’s amazing awe-inspiring power (see 3:3-15), Habakkuk declared he would place his faith in God no matter what. The words “I heard” provide a link to verse 2, where Habakkuk also mentioned that he had heard God’s report. God had revealed to the prophet what He was going to do. Habakkuk confessed that the thought of what this would mean for him and for Judah shook him to the core. He experienced acute physical reactions: churning stomach, pounding heart, and quivering lips. The phrase “rottenness entered my bones” depicts a powerful image. Habakkuk literally felt sick inside!

The words “quietly wait” indicate that Habakkuk knew the only way to combat his crippling fears was to rest in God’s promise—that is, to live by faith (see 2:4b). The term “day of distress” designated the time the Babylonian armies would attack Judah. The invaders would fulfill God’s judgment, and Habakkuk knew that part of his personal struggle would include waiting on this day. What a burden this was for the prophet!

Verses 17-18. In 3:17, Habakkuk began to paint the worst possible scenario. Many citizens of Judah pursued livelihoods that directly related to either farming or shepherding. Those who raised fruit and grain crops were highly dependent on seasonal rains for a successful harvest. Thus if “the fig tree” failed to bud because of drought, no figs would come. Neither would “the vines” produce mature grapes nor the olive trees bear healthy olives. In such dire conditions, the fields likewise would produce no grain.

Without adequate crops, the animals would suffer and perhaps die. They would find little strength to reproduce. Habakkuk’s lament that there would be “no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” points to this tragedy. If God did not bless with plentiful rains during the rainy season, it led to a disastrous effect. Weak rains meant weak crops, which meant people and animals had little on which to survive. The future looked grim!

In 3:18, however, Habakkuk expressed a powerful statement of personal faith: “yet I will triumph in Yahweh.” The conditions Habakkuk described in 3:17 held out little hope if any. How could the prophet choose to rejoice anyway? The words “God of my salvation” provide a clue. The history of God’s people was a history of God’s faithfulness. Though judgment and blessing, God’s faithfulness was sure. Habakkuk knew that God’s blessing and salvation was not limited by the strength of the crops or the number of animals Judah had. God had a greater plan at work, and He would provide for those who trusted in Him. It is a challenging thing for believers to choose to trust God when they look around and see virtually no reason to do so. But when they do, they have won the victory.

Verse 19. Habakkuk could live by faith because the Sovereign Lord was his source of strength. The image of God making Habakkuk’s feet “like those of a deer” describes the surefootedness of a deer or mountain goat on high places. Just as these creatures could walk on mountain heights without fear of falling, so Habakkuk’s footing was absolutely sure as he stood on God’s promises.

#HangingOn #Habakkuk #perspective

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