11 God in the Midst of the Wicked, the Warriors, the Waters, the Woes and the Waiting

Habakkuk 3 v 13b – 16

Today we come to stanza three, where we see that God crushed the leader – the head of the house of wickedness.

Habakkuk finds himself in a predicament.  The nation of Judah has been threatened by the Chaldeans and he knows that the people of Judah are no angels – they’re wicked people committing all kinds of sins, profaning the Lord’s name and holy things.  He sees that, also in himself, and is disturbed about it. But now he learns from the Lord that He would unleash the Chaldeans upon them – they who are so much worse than Judah – yet, the Lord is using them as an instrument to afflict His own people. He knew that they would do terrible things to Judah for at least 70 years. So he speaks to the Lord, and He responds to him.

In this last chapter he recalls redemption history.  He does it in a Psalm that is to be sung in public, even while the people were in captivity, to remind themselves that they found themselves in difficult times, but in the past God has always come through for them and has always redeemed them, given them victory and set them free. He recounts salvation history in very poetic language.
In the first stanza he spoke about God’s glorious presence, glorious praise and great power. He recounts how God in His great power brought about blight and pestilence and plagues. He measured the earth, shook the nations, scattered the mountains, letting the everlasting hills sink low. All His ways are everlasting. He did it all for His glorious purpose.  He will not let His people be abandoned.

We saw in the second stanza how Habakkuk was still a wrestler with God and Yahwe in combat firing His arrows at everything and everywhere.  We saw His power – the sun even stood still.  We saw Him keeping His promises and His purpose was the salvation of His people – and the salvation of His Anointed.

In today’s reading from the second part of verse 13 he continues to recall redemption/salvation history, reminding Judah ‘You are finding yourself in very troubled times, but remember what God did in the past’ – speaking of certain things that God did things to – the wicked, the warriors, the waters that threatened Judah.  And so he expresses some woes, saying ‘my body trembles, my lips quiver, my bones get rot and my legs tremble’.  These woes terrified him, thinking of what God did in the past. It moves him to waiting on God – to not want to fix things himself and to tell Judah ‘you can’t fix this – there is a reason why God is doing this – bringing these things over us.  You must quietly wait while you tremble’.

Now here we find ourselves living in a world that is in utter turmoil. Do you see it all around you? You see it on your news channels.  If you haven’t seen it, Google it – it’s all over the place. We see what is happening in the USA, [as city after city is being torn apart – not only by pandemics, but by political upheaval, stirred by unconscionable people.  Things are coming over us – here we are, hiding behind masks. We cannot great one another with a brotherly embrace. We’ll get into trouble if we sing. You have to go to the shop in fear and trepidation. Our farmers are getting killed on their farms!  Last week on a farm in Hartswater an 81 year old farmer and his 79 year old wife and their 53 year old daughter put their food on the table for lunch time, not knowing that they would never eat it – that invaders would come into their home and take them away – murdering them in the most grievous way! They would never eat the food that they put on the table! 
I know we don’t like hearing unpleasant things, but beloved, it happens to farmer, after farmer, after farmer, after farmer in this country and I am tired of it!

We’re afflicted in this land. Our economy is going down the tubes. What do we do in the midst of it? I feel like Habakkuk when he cried out to God: ‘Why this, why this way?’. Despite all those things we are still blessed beyond measure, are we not?  It is not all bad, I know that.  So what do we do?

As an aside – you may have heard what Dr John McArthur said in the States that they’re going to not comply and going to worship together. People came together – 3000 of them hugging one another last Lord’s day.  We’re not ready to do that.  Richard Baxter, the great puritan, calls us to greater caution than that.  We will be humble and good citizens.  Amen?  We will not be irresponsible.  But we do feel like Habakkuk. We do feel these things. 

I’ve never been this busy in my entire pastoral ministry – trying to encourage people. How do I do that? I tell them ‘you feel like Habakkuk – you must respond like him.’  He took this to the LORD.  And then He recounted to him salvation history, explaining to him ‘throughout history I’ve taken care of you – I’ve come through for you.’  And here we see it again, because much of what is going on around us – in the midst of us – has to do with what we may call the house of the wicked – that terrible dark house where bad things are planned, where people think only of themselves at the expense of good and honest citizens.  How do we respond to it?  Do we jump up and go and become rebellious and burn down buildings, burn cars in the streets, dump rubbish all over the city streets?  Is that the response of the Lord’s people?  NO, it is not!  We have the response of Habakkuk, and I want to teach that to you.

The house of the wicked is real and it has a head.  It’s Leviathan himself – it’s Satan himself, and he uses people.  Now look what Habakkuk says about this head.  We’re going to see the Wicked, the Warriors, the Waters, the Woes and the Waiting and the God in the midst of it.

  1. The Wicked
    Notice three things regarding the wicked that we see in the text: He has a head and a house, but he’s going to face humiliation.  All through history that was true – it will be true again.  If we’re faithful and respectful to the LORD and if we love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our souls, all our minds and all our strength and we love our neighbour as ourselves – including those we consider our enemies, the Lord will humiliate the house of the wicked. You don’t have to do it – you have to be faithful and humble – you have to do what your hand finds to do every day and leave the humiliation of the wicked up to the Lord.
    a.  His head
    Look what Habakkuk says: ‘You crushed the head of the house of the wicked. That’s the head of the serpent.  That head was crushed on Calvary.  You don’t have to do it.  The Lord did it in the past, and will do it again – crush the head of the house of the wicked, which takes many forms in our day and age: Evil ideologies that discount God – atheistic ideologies such as Communism, Marxism, Socialism, Humanism and Secularism and all the other ‘isms’ out there.  The house of the wicked – those who live as if there’s no God – pushing and working to ascend to the echelons of power so that they could rule over other people.
    Those heads, those wicked God-discounting ideologies out there is the head of the wicked.
    The Lord has crushed that head in the past, and He will do it again.
    Psalm 74:12-14: “Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth. You divided the sea by Your might; You broke the heads of the sea monsters on the waters. You crushed the heads of Leviathan; You gave him as food for the creatures of the wilderness.
    Our God can do it, and our God will do it!  You cannot do it.  You need to be faithful in prayer, availing yourselves at the means of grace, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and loving your neighbour as yourself.
    But, like Habakkuk you need to wait on the Lord to crush the head of the wicked.
    b.  His house
    The wicked has a house.  He has a spouse and many children – a very crowded house – lots of people flocking in there – good housekeeping and making in there to keep things as sharp as he possibly can – using the media and internet – he keeps house! He’s got a house set up all over the world – he’s got it set up in those horrible Hellywood movies (that’s what I call it, not Hollywood). Don’t watch that stuff beloved, it’s drivel!  But that’s part of his house – the drinking places – the drug houses – in our own country the shebeens and the people where people hang around – that’s the house of the wicked – every place where God is not worshipped.
    You and I – we are in the house of the Lord, not the house of the wicked.  Stay out of the house of the wicked, wherever you find it!  Stay in the house of the Lord with your children, your wife, your husband, your brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers – you stay in the house of the Lord, not the wicked, because the Lord is going to crush the house of the wicked!  You don’t have to do it – He will!  You get to love the Lord and your neighbour – including your enemy. That’s our calling.
    c. His humiliation
    God will lay him bare from side to neck – exposing him for what he really is. The ultimate moment will be when even they – the house of the wicked – bow the knee and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!  That will be the final moment of laying the wicked bare.  You don’t have to do it – God will do it.

  2. The Warriors
    The wicked has people fighting for him.  Habakkuk does not speak about their power and purpose, he begins with their pain. Let’s look at it backwards:
    a. Their Purpose
    What do the warriors of the house of wicked want to do to you, to this country and to the Lord’s kingdom – to the Church and your family?  He has a three-fold purpose – to scatter the Lord’s people, drive them apart – to destroy their fellowship and unity – to scatter them all over the place.
    Secondly, he wants to do that to scorn – rejoicing as if to devour the poor.  He doesn’t only want to scatter us, but he wants to do it so that he can taunt and scorn us, rejoicing in it, and thirdly to swindle, because he does it secretly – very deviously, coming as an angel of light.
    b. Their Power
    They came like a whirlwind, having great power.  They suck the air and life out of us and toss us up into the air.  The house of the wicked has great power on this planet.  The Lord has greater power, but the wicked has power and it comes like a whirlwind when no-one expects it and wreaks havoc.
    c. Their Pain
    The Lord is going to pierce, disarm and defeat them. He is going to pierce them with their own arrows fired at them, turning all their plots on themselves – every little plot of corruption – every little deviousness – the Lord will turn it on the people who indulge in that. He’ll disarm and fire their own arrows at them.  The head of these warriors will be defeated.  He will crush the heads of the warriors as He crushed the head of the house.

  3. The Waters
    Not only the Lord, but natural elements threatens the warriors too.
    We see three things about the mighty waters (ordinary difficulties of life). (v15)
    a. Its Subjugation – God’s subjects it, trampling it with His horses.  You can’t do it – God will.
    b. It Surges – keep coming at you, making you feel that you are going to be overwhelmed by the surging of these waters.  But notice the subjugation – the Lord’s going to trample it for you with His horses and for His people – also in this country.
    c. Its Strength – we often feel the waters washing over us in many diverse streams.

  4. The Woes
    Knowing what God is going to do to the wicked and the waters, how does it make us feel, and how must we respond?  How did it make Habakkuk feel? We need to be very careful here, because he didn’t jump up and down and feel all happy about it, but it actually made him feel terrible.  It instilled the fear of the LORD in him.  That’s the godly response!  It put the awe of God in him. 
    Habakkuk had woes in his mind and his members. He said ‘I hear’ – meaning that he understands and comprehends.  It’s on his mind.  He knows what God is going to do – not looking at what is going on round about him – his woes in his mind has got to do with what God is going to do with what is round about him.  He feared God more than man. He feared Christ more than circumstance.  Why?  It’s something you and I need to learn.  I know the world, the problems and things that threaten you look big to you, but you must never forget that God is greater than all these things!  You must fear your God more than you fear the Covid‑19, Communism, a waning economy, cancer and broken relationships – all the brokenness and accidents and wars and rumours of wars around you.  You should fear God more than you fear those things, because you hear what God has done in the past and will do in the future – it had the effect of Woe on the prophet, saying ‘my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound.  Rottenness enters my bones, and my legs tremble beneath me’.
    Knowing this, how must we respond and what must we do?

  5. The Waiting
    Habakkuk’s response, which needs to be ours, was “Yet, I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.” (verse 16b).
    Three things regarding the waiting:
    a. Its Resolve – He is resolute, saying ‘I will wait’. He doesn’t feel like waiting I’m sure, but feels like doing something.  We must have this resolve when we’re stirred up every day by what we see around us – not meaning that we do nothing – you do what your hand finds to do – you speak prophetically and minister in a priestly and kingly way, but you have this resolve to:
    b. with Reverence quietly wait – I won’t say or complain too much, not make a big noise and be another rabble rouser, but will quietly wait.
    c. His Reward – “the day of trouble will come onto the people who invade us” says Habakkuk. If you and I have that resolve to with reverence quietly wait, we too will have that reward. The day of trouble will come upon the people who invade us, and it will be the LORD’s doing – HALLELUJAH!  Why? Because you and I can’t – we can just cause more trouble and make it worse.  Leave it to the LORD – trust Him – humbly do the work He called you to – humbly deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Him.  
    That’s what the Lord Jesus Christ did when He went to the cross. He knew that the people could not do it, but that His Father could do it.  As a man He knew that He was going to die, that He could not raise Himself from the dead – the Father would have to do it. All that He could do was  wait on that cross … to be resurrected … quietly wait … the blood dripping over His blessed face, mingling with the tears that He cried … waiting for the God of glory to resurrect Him and set Him on His throne!
    We find ourselves in difficult times – sometimes we get tired and irritated, then murmur and complain, failing to quietly wait.  But God calls us to quietly wait – to have that resolve – that reverence and wait for the reward that can only be given by the God of Habakkuk.

* This part of the sermon was left out of audio recording due to bad sound quality caused by a technical problem.