The Song of Habakkuk is a song for our time. On this, the Last Sunday of the Church Year, our thoughts are drawn to the end times and the prophecies regarding the Second Coming of Christ. Considering the events of the past weeks with terrorist attacks in Africa and France, threats of attacks in other parts of Europe and the United States, reports and arguments about “war,” “jihad,” “refugees,” the “silent jihad,” and other such topics, it is easy to lose focus on Christ and His promises. If we focus only on the latest news, it is easy to lose heart and despair.
The prophet Habakkuk, a contemporary of Jeremiah, encountered similar despair in the 590s BC as King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian army made their way across the Fertile Crescent capturing everything in their path and brutally destroying anyone who opposed them. Habakkuk’s despair turned into anger and rage as he cried out to God for an explanation:
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
God’s answer to Habakkuk apparently did not satisfy him, for he offered a second complaint that was even more direct and strongly worded than the first (Habakkuk 1:12-17). To this complaint God simply answered, “the righteous shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:2-5). This statement is so important that hundreds of years later, it was restated in the New Testament (see Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 3:10-14; and Hebrews 10:35-38).
In the end, Habakkuk was able to sing a song that is an amazing expression of absolute and unwavering faith and trust in God no matter what befalls (see Chapter 3). As such, the Song of Habakkuk is a song for our time.
Habakkuk concluded his book with these beautiful and enduring words:
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.
For an effective and moving setting of this text, see K. Lee Scott’s “Yet I Will Rejoice” published by Concordia Publishing House (www.cph.org). To listen to it on a mobile phone, click here, press “Samples”, and then press the play button. To listen to this setting on a computer, click here and then press the play button underneath the heading “Listen.”
May the Song of Habakkuk be ours as well.
Soli Deo Gloria!