Friday, May 1, 2015

Habakkuk - The End of Yourself is Just the Beginning

(Well, this is it. Our final Habakkuk study:( Thanks for joining me. I would LOVE your feedback. So please feel free to message me things you liked, things you didn't like. Hope we take on another book together soon. In fact, send suggestions my way of other books you'd like to study!)

I think if we were honest with ourselves, we would all admit that somewhere within us, we have made a secret plea deal with God.
This deal is made on expectations I have of God.
Expectations that if I follow Him, He won’t allow harm to come my way.
Expectations that if I love Him, He will keep suffering at bay.

Eugene Peterson says, “That God-followers don’t get preferential treatment in life always comes as a surprise."
It’s true.
When suffering comes my way, I have this automatic response in my heart, “But God! I thought we had a bargain! I thought if I loved you, you would make things easy!”

My friend Christyn calls this deal with God her “line in the sand.”
It’s a line that we don’t want God to cross.
It’s the line that God knows, as Christyn says, “will be your breaking point.”

Christyn is all too familiar with God crossing her “line.”
For the past five years, her daughter Rebecca has lived most of her life in hospitals. While watching Rebecca barely hang on to life, she miscarried her daughter Annabelle.
I want to share Christyn’s honest words about losing Annabelle. She wrote this blog post on the eve of a crucial surgery for Rebecca.
(For the full post, visit Rebecca’s Caring Bridge site here:

“The Lord and I have always been close... I knew I loved God, therefore, I knew He ultimately worked for my good.
The problem was, my strength in God was based on my own faulty perception.  God and I had a deal--I would endure the trials that came my way while God acknowledged my stopping point.  He knew where my line had been drawn and subconsciously, I knew in my heart He would never cross it.

On August 2, 2010 my line in the sand was crossed.  My one-way deal with God shattered.  On the way to the hospital that night, there was no doubt in my mind that Annabelle would live.  Coming off of the hardest summer of my family's lives, with Rebecca still at home on a feeding tube and her future health completely unknown--it was a forgone conclusion that this baby we so wanted and loved
would be saved.

When I was told Annabelle would not make it, my fear set in and my faith began to crumble.
I have spent weeks trying to figure out why a God I so love, could let this happen to my family at such a time...
How do I return to the faith that God works for my good--even if that good is unseen by human eyes?  

I have to give up my line in the sand.  
I have to offer my entire life, every minute portion of it, to God's control regardless of the outcome.”

Did you get that?
“I have to give up” she said.
Give up the control, give up the worry, give up the expectations, give up the doubt, give up the God accusations, the line in the sand, the fear...
Giving up means reaching the end of ourselves.
Reaching the end of ourselves means surrendering to Jesus.
Surrendering to Jesus means trusting in Jesus.

In the last chapter of Habakkuk’s writings, he gives up.
He reaches the end of all of his complaints.
He surrenders to the sovereignty of God.
And he finds out that the only way to have fullness of joy is to fully trust.
Trust that God’s plan is good.
But, even more than that, trust that God is good.

Habakkuk 3

When I get to chapter 3, this is the sound I hear in my head.
Rubber tires skidding to a stop.
Instead of continuing in the direction of questioning and complaining, Habakkuk puts his foot on the breaks and decides to go a different direction.
The attitude of his heart has changed.
And with that comes a change in pen.

In this chapter, our buddy Habakkuk begins to write in a whole new style - a hymn, a prayer-type genre. It’s even a genre that Habakkuk suggests be put to song! Did you catch that when you read it?

Read Habakkuk 3:1 again. Now read the end of 3:19.

In 3:1 you first read that this is a “prayer” of Habakkuk.
This introduction is reminiscent of “five Psalms of lament (Ps. 17, 86, 90, 102, 142).” The lament Psalms were songs or prayers where “intercession is made for divine intervention.”   (The Expositor's Bible Commentary)

Habakkuk is writing a psalm.
He includes a funny-sounding word, “Shigionoth,” found one other time in Psalm 7 by King David. Many Bible scholars think this word meant, “take these words and set them to music,” but not just any music - dramatic music with “strong emotion.” (

Then, in 3:19 we see more musical instruction don’t we?
So in chapter 3, we are reading song lyrics!
It’s a song of lament from Habakkuk’s heart and a song of praise, pronouncing the might of God.

What is Habakkuk’s attitude toward God when he begins his prayer-song in verse 2?
And what does Habakkuk ask God to do?

Habakkuk has a holy fear of God in chapter 3 doesn’t he?
In chapter 2, he heard all that God will do in judgment. He was reminded of God’s power, His wrath and His love for justice.
He says in 3:2, he has heard “the report” of God, meaning He has heard stories about God’s miracles and mighty works.

So we see that he wears a reverence that reroutes his request of God.
Reverence does that. It reroutes our requests.
What is his request?

The Message version says it like this: “Do among us what you did among them.
   Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
   remember mercy.”

Does that prayer sound selfish to you? How does that prayer honor God?

John MacArthur says, “His one desire was that things be right according to God's plan, not comfortable according to his desires.”
So here we see Habakkuk is actually okay with God’s plan! 
Wow! That’s a new Habakkuk, isn’t it? 
He WANTS God’s will and only requests mercy in the midst of it all.

Habakkuk then moves on to a series of verses reflecting on the works of God.
Verses 3-15 present what is called a “theophany.”
A theophany is a manifestation of God that can be experienced by human senses. (

Reread verses 3-7. Any of these passages remind you of major events between God and the Israelites?

Read Deuteronomy 33:2. Do you see any resemblance?

Though Habakkuk doesn’t specifically say Mt. Sinai, it seems the imagery he uses looks a lot like Moses’ song in Deuteronomy. He is talking about God coming down to Mt. Sinai to deliver the law.

We also see hints of Habakkuk referring to the plagues in Egypt in verse 5, don’t we?

Now reread verses 8-10. Any major Old Testament events come to mind?

Though the language here is, yet again, ambiguous, there seems to be reference to a couple of crucial water miracles - the parting of the Red Sea (v. 8) and the Flood (v. 10).

In verse 11, some scholars think it is a reference to Joshua 10 when God stopped the sun and moon until He had delivered Israel’s enemies into their hands. Regardless of what it refers to, it opens up the last set of verses in the theophany which portray God as a mighty warrior, crushing His foes.

Write down descriptive words or phrases that point to God as a warrior in verses 11-15.

How would listing out these events in 3-15 bring the Israelites of Habakkuk’s time hope?

Verse 16 interrupts the description of God with some of the most honest words Habakkuk says. I almost picture him whispering this part of the song.

Look at verse 16. Write down what he afraid of.

Yes, judgment will take place against the Babylonians, but who is going to be judged first? God told us in Habakkuk 1:6 the Babylonians would bring judgment upon Judah.
Habakkuk admits he is “trembling,” his lips are “quivering” imagining impending judgment.

But then what does ole Habsters do?
He writes a small-in-size but big-in-meaning word we need to look at.


Underline that word in your Bible (v.16). We see it again in verse 18. 
Reread vs. 17-19 and underline “yet” in verse 18.

Let’s close out by going deeper into Habakkuk’s concluding words, especially that biggie - “yet” - in the “Reflect” section.


Habakkuk knows the fury of God, he's heard the stories of God's power.
God’s judgment on Judah through the Babylonians will be an utter nightmare.

In fact, verse 17 gives us a small glimpse of that nightmare.
Once Judah is invaded by Babylon, their agriculture will be destroyed.
Agriculture. It was everything. Their lifeline.
The fig trees and grapevines won’t bloom, the fields will die and pens will be empty...


Highlight the words that follow both “yets” in the verses below.

“Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
   to come upon people who invade us” (v.16).

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
   I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (v.18).

Wait patiently for what? Calamity! How do you do that? How do you wait patiently for destruction?

Rejoice in the Lord? How do you do that when your land and people are destroyed?

In my opinion, these two verses, hold two of the most crucial truths to help us through suffering.

In verse 16, Habakkuk says he will wait patiently on the calamity God promises. Write down what this says about the status of Habakkuk’s faith. How can we apply this verse to our lives?

In verse 16, the “yet” means that Habakkuk will trust God’s plan over his own.
Even if it means calamity, even if he fears God’s judgment or disagrees with it; even if he still doesn’t completely understand it, by saying “yet I will quietly wait,” Habakkuk surrenders.

He surrenders his expectations, his questions, his complaints, his worry, his line in the sand ...
He surrenders himself.
And he trusts God.
He trusts God to the point of embracing calamity.
Wow. That is trust if I’ve ever seen it.

Look at verse 18 and write down what you think Habakkuk’s choice to “rejoice” in God says about the status of his faith. What can you take away from this verse?

John Stott, a well-known pastor and Bible teacher, says “rejoicing in the Lord” means, “Let the Lord be the one who makes you happy; find your joy in Him and Him alone.”
Habakkuk is proclaiming that it is in God that he finds his joy. 
It is in God that he celebrates, soars with happiness.
It is God that inspires him to sing his psalm in chapter 3.

In spite of the circumstances Habakkuk has learned that the only true joy is the Maker of joy.
In suffering, in chaos, in hurt Habakkuk has learned to find the fullness of joy means trusting in the fullness of God.

These two “yets” tell us that Habakkuk has reached the end of himself.
He is in a place where he trusts in and finds joy in God alone.

How can you and I get to this place of saying “yet” and really mean it? How can we get to the point where we trust Him and find joy only in Him, even during suffering? Write down your thoughts.

Well, it was a journey for our friend Habsters wasn’t it?
If you’ve been hanging out with me during this study, we have discovered that Habakkuk was honest with God. He waited on God. He listened to God. He wrestled with God ...

But I think chapter 3 gives us two of the most important ways Habakkuk reaches his point of saying “yet I will trust You,” “yet I will find joy in You.”

Number 1 - Habakkuk worships. All of chapter 3 we see Habakkuk singing. And in his song he is recalling all the good works of God. These good works of the past give him assurance of God’s work in the future. Elevating God, His might, His goodness, brings Habakkuk peace.

Worship takes us to the end of ourselves and into God.

Number 2 - To see this one, reread the final verse of chapter 3 for me.
Verse 19 tells us that Habakkuk found his strength where?

In the Lord.
And this strength from God takes Habakkuk to new heights in his faith.
The Lord is the only way we can reach a place of trust. 
He gives us the strength to not only walk through the suffering, but walk through suffering with joy. Can’t trust God? 
Can’t find joy in Him? 
Then ask God for it. It’s only through Him that you and I will reach a point of “yet" just like Habakkkuk.

It took him a while. It takes me a while. (In fact, it’s an everyday struggle.) 
But Habakkuk finds the end of himself.
He surrenders it all.
No more lines in the sand. No more complaints. No more doubts.
Just God.

“When there is nothing left. When you are at the utter end of yourself, there is nothing left but God. And in God there is joy unspeakable.” (Dr. Toussaint)


For our final prayer time together, let’s worship like Habakkuk worshiped.
Turn on your favorite worship songs and meditate on the sovereignty of God.

Here are a couple of songs I have on repeat in my car these days if you need some ideas: 

(Resources used for this post come from John MacArthur's sermons on Habakkuk at,,, John Stott's commentary on Philippians and Eugene Peterson's notes in The Message Bible, and Dr. Toussaint's sermon on Habakkuk at


  1. Great study! Thank you for doing this. I had been looking for an indepth study to do on my own.

  2. Great study! Thank you for doing this. I had been looking for an indepth study to do on my own.

  3. Thanks for doing it with me Patrice!! Means a lot

  4. I just discovered this study. I'm in!!! Thanks, Jenna!