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The Burden of the Lord. Habakkuk 1:1-4

14/02/2016

The Burden of the Lord

Text. Habakkuk 1:1-4.
In our last study we looked at 2 Chronicles 36, which is the historical background to Habakkuk. He was praying his way through very perilous days indeed. All of this turmoil was taking place in a nation that comprised the chosen people of God, and who find their ultimate fulfilment in the the New Israel, the church. That’s why this is SUCH an important book. It’s like history continually repeats itself, and the prayer and the answer to prayer of Habakkuk is our prayer too. In this study we look at Habakkuk’s approach to God in prayer, as recorded in God’s Word.

1. Habakkuk is Not Like Us.
Habakkuk was different from us. Here’s how…
* He was a prophet. We are NOT prophets. Habakkuk’s words as we read them here are part of the Holy Scripture, so what we are reading here is not Habakkuk’s personal opinion, or based on his own experience. It is God’s WORD. 2 Peter 1:20
* He saw his burden! His eyes were opened to reality, to truth. We do often see what is troubling us, but there is something very special in this little detail. Habakkuk was a ‘seer’. Numbers 12:6 His eyes were opened by God to have this divine revelation of God’s will. Our eyes are enlightened by the Word of God, not by personal revelation.
* He embraced God. The word Habakkuk is based on a Hebrew word. Habak means to embrace. In this book it implies that he held on to God, he embraced him in prayer, held on to him, and wouldn’t let him go, until God had blessed him.

Now, we do not have the prophetic message of Habakkuk – that’s not because we are lessor than him, it is because we have a more perfect revelation, we have the completed, inspired, inerrant word of God. The written word. Hebrews 1:1 When we see what Habakkuk saw, we do not seek for some private revelation from God, – we turn to His Word, and there we find comfort, and help, and faith.

2. Habakkuk is Just Like Us.
Habakkuk is the same as us!
a) Because of what he FELT. Habakkuk had a burden! There was a great weight bearing down upon him. He’s just like us. We have a burden. A great burden. It is a burden of sin, the burden of the broken law of God bearing down upon us like a great weight. What Habakkuk felt, is what we feel. Matthew 11:28-30
b) Because of what he SAW. What Habakkuk saw that day scared the wits out of him. In that sense, we are seeing exactly the same thing. And we are fearful! Let’s see some of those commonalities…

  • Iniquity. 3Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?. Sin is spreading, and worsening and deepening. It makes Habakkuk grieve, it vexes his spirit, brings years to his eyes…
  • Violence, strife and contention. for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention..how much violence do we see too? Violence to the elderly, ill related in homes where they should be valued and protected, violence to women and girls, violence to children, violence to the unborn. Strife and contention, – arguments and self-seeking among men, wrangling with each other.
  • Corruption among the judicial system. 4Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth:
  • Oppression and persecution. for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.

Now, all of these fearful conditions are just symptoms. They are the symptoms of SIN. They were the symptoms of sin in Habakkuk’s day and they are still the symptoms of sin in our day. We are sinners, and sinners sin and the wages of sin is death. What Habakkuk saw is exactly what we are seeing.

c) Because of what he THOUGHT. O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Here’s his thoughts:-

  • God is not listening to me! This is not a new experience or a new cry for deliverance. Obviously Habakkuk has thought this way for some time. He has poured his heart out, has wept before the Lord about this situation. Why is God not listening?
  • God is not doing anything! He is not taking me out of this awful situation, he is not rescuing me from it!
  • God is not shielding me! I don’t want to see this stuff… It’s everywhere, it’s on my TV and my internet, it’s in the papers, murder and war and strife and perversion and foul language… Why does God not shield my eyes from all this blasphemy, why does he not just cover up the wickedness so I can’t see it?

d) Because of what he DID. What he saw drove Habakkuk to his knees in prayer. The prophet speaks to God. In that prayer what he says has a great similarity to many prayers that we might pray today.

So the opening cadences of Habakkuk’s prayer, recorded in his journal for us, don’t seem very encouraging, but they ARE very realistic and very relevant. Watch what happens as the prayer progresses, for it doesn’t get answered in the way Habakkuk would like!

Bob McEvoy

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