As we come to the conclusion of the little book of Habakkuk, we also come to an important conclusion in the life of the prophet. From shock, discouragement and anger, he finally came to a place of trust in his great Sovereign God. He learned that the reason to rejoice in this life is not based on what happens to us or around us, but on who God is.
In verse 16, the prophet was experiencing a personal crisis. His physical symptoms may suggest he was having something like a panic attack. He felt this intense emotional condition because he had to wait for the coming judgment of God. He could not change what was going to happen.
A national crisis was also facing the nation of Judah. In verse 17, Habakkuk outlined not simply what might happen but what would actually happen. He started from the least important and moved to the most important as he described the destruction of an economic system agricultural in nature: figs, grapes, olives, grain, livestock (sheep and cattle) were destroyed by the ravages of Babylon. Any one of these things spelled hardship, but all them together equaled devastation.
In the midst of this painful reality, Habakkuk made one of the greatest statements of faith in the Bible (verse 18): “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.” He accepted the reality that was before him and made a commitment to rejoice in the Sovereign God who was in control of it all. His personal declaration was to exult (rejoice, be jubilant) in God. The word typically conveys emotion that often finds expression in singing and shouting. He also said he would rejoice (cry out, express joy) to God. This word can imply that physical action or movement was involved. Habakkuk had moved from a prophet in crisis to a person of praise.
Philippians 4:4 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” When we rejoice in God, we express the joy that His spirit has produced in us (Galatians 5:22-23). To rejoice is to express joy. Without joy in our hearts, our attempts at rejoicing are empty. Habakkuk felt the pain of the reality he was facing and learned to rejoice in God even when he could not get what he wanted. What a lesson for us today!
In verse 19, the prophet focused on the God who had given him the heart and ability to rejoice. “The Lord is my strength,” he said. Paul said, in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The apostle had learned that when he was weak, then he was strong because the strength he relied on came from God (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). Habakkuk learned the same thing. It is a principle that God’s people today need to see, believe and experience.
Habakkuk testified that God had made his feet like hinds’ feet — stable and sure-footed. While the nation he loved was cascading into judgment and destruction, he was secure in God. Finally, he said that God “makes me walk on my high places.” The life of victory, or overcoming, is pictured.
In John 10:10, Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” During a bleak and dark time, Habakkuk experienced abundant life. Second Corinthians 2:14 emphasizes, “Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ.” The victory God gives people may not always be deliverance from suffering or pain, but it is a victory that transcends suffering, pain and more.
Habakkuk began his book begging God for revival. He discovered judgment was coming, so he adjusted his attitude through repentance. Then he rejoiced. Habakkuk’s will was not done, but God’s was. When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.” It was not the cry of defeat, despair or hopelessness, but the resolution of victory in the greatness of God and His plan.
Whether revival comes to our country or not, God is the same God. He is faithful, and we can learn to rejoice in who He is, even when things do not work out according to our plans.