Habakkuk 3:9 Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high.
11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
12 Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger.
13 Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah.
14 Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly.
15 Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters.
16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
The majority of chapter 3 is written like a Psalm. It is a teaching Psalm that looks back on Israel’s past. It reflects on God’s blessing to the nation over the years. It also reminds us of God’s protection over the nation in spite of many different enemies.
In verse 9 Habakkuk used an allegory by describing God’s bow. God does not literally have a bow, but He worked through the hands of those He had equipped to use the bow in battle. Israel was protected from various and many enemies over the years. God protected His “oaths” to the tribes. The promises of God are always sure.
God also opened up the earth at various times to provide water for the nation. Moses struck the rock and water came out. He was told to speak to the rock the second time, but he disobeyed and struck the rock in anger. God still gave water, but Moses robbed himself of the opportunity to enter the Promised Land. During the days of king Jehoram, king of Israel, the Moabites were coming against them. King Jehoshapat, king of Judah, foolishly aligned himself with this wicked king. God sent Elisha to tell them what the outcome of this threat would be.
Israel was told to dig trenches and God filled those trenches with water. When the Moabites looked on them the next day, they were convinced that the land was covered in blood and that the Israelites had killed each other off. The Moabites attacked and they were defeated by the Israelite army at that time.
God has the capacity to provide water where there is none. He proved His love and care for His people many times. Habakkuk was told to write of this blessing of God.
In verse 10 we read that the mountains saw the LORD and they trembled. God’s inanimate creation is wiser than those who have been given the capacity to think and reason. The nation of Israel was suffering due to their rebellion against God. The mountains understood the importance of trembling at God’s presence. Israel would have been wise to do that. We would also be wise to recognize God’s authority over all things.
The overflowing of the water could be a reference to the time when Israel was at the Jordan awaiting permission to pass over into the promised land. God had some further instructions that Israel needed to hear before they entered that land. We are told that the Jordan was overflowing its banks at that time of the year. That was no problem for the LORD. He parted those waters and Israel crossed on dry ground and continued on to Jericho.
In verse 11 we read of the miracle of the sun and moon standing still in their place. Joshua had earlier prayed that God would prolong the day so that he could continue his attack against the Amorites. God honoured his request because it was His plan to destroy the Amorites. Habakkuk continued to rehearse past blessings that God had granted Israel. He was doing all of this to remind the people, but as we noted in verse 2 that Habakkuk wanted God to remember mercy as He demonstrated His wrath against the sins of His people.
In verse 12 we are further reminded of the severity of God’s judgment upon sin. God never punishes anyone unjustly. He is very long-suffering. When He punishes, it is because those being punished are ripe for judgment. The heathen were not safe in God’s presence. Israel was also not safe when they lived in rebellion against the truth.
In verses 13-15 Habakkuk continued to recall the mighty hand of God at work in Israel’s past. God had showed Himself strong on behalf of His people many times and in many different situations. Habakkuk knew all this. The people of Judah seemed to have forgotten this. They wanted the blessings, but they did not want to be the people of God. They wanted to follow idols and still be blessed.
As we noted above, Habakkuk knew that Judah was at the mercy of God. He pleaded with God to remember mercy. In verse 16 he wrote of his reaction to God’s righteous judgment. He knew that Judah was guilty. He knew they needed to be punished. He did not want them to be wiped out. He seemed to lack the confidence that God keeps His promises. God made a promise to Abraham and He was going to keep that promise. During the days of Moses, He threatened to wipe out the nation of Israel and start over with Moses. However, He never did that. Israel certainly was asking to be destroyed. However, God made a promise to Abraham and that promise would stand.
Habakkuk hoped for rest in the day of trouble. He was not wishing trouble upon his people. He knew it was coming. Judah was ripe for judgment. They had continuously defied God. This could not continue unchecked. He hoped he would not need to face that judgment.
There is a picture here of the last days. We know that God prophesied that there is a judgment coming in the last days. We know that judgment will be focussed on Israel. It is called the time of the Tribulation. The second half of that time is called the “time of Jacob’s trouble.” There are too many people who falsely believe we are in the Tribulation time now. There are others who believe that Christians must go through the Tribulation time. These people ignore the truth. They assume that Christians must face this time of judgment.
The Bible tells us that no saved person will enter the time of the Tribulation. The Bible also tells us that those who are truly saved are not saved to face the day of God’s wrath. That day is for Israel and for the lost Gentile world. Those who are saved will be spared. This is because of God’s promise. We might well think we all deserve to face God’s wrath. The wise person is the one who acknowledges sin and turns to God in repentance and trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. Then after salvation, he confesses sin when he commits it. We have talked often of the New Evangelical movement and the Emergent church movement. If you are saved and you know you are compromised in your walk with God, confess that to Him and be forgiven. If you confess your sin and are forgiven, He will give you the power to follow His way. Instead of thinking that it is impossible to follow God obediently, believe what He says. He provides the means for His child to obey Him. When a true saint sins, God convinces him of sin and He shows him the need to repent and get right with God.
It is never acceptable for a true child of God to live in sin. It is foolish to excuse sin and suggest that everybody sins and thus we need to go through the Tribulation to purge us of our sin. That thinking follows the same false teaching as the Catholics’ lie of purgatory. They claim that after death, all their followers must suffer for their sins and if by chance God is merciful, they might get out of purgatory and enter “heaven”. Those who claim that Christians must go through the Tribulation also believe that Christians must suffer in order to be purified. True Christians are purified through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. No true saint can pay for their sin. Salvation is a gift of God. Obedience is a blessing that God provides for those who are truly saved.
Those who are saved need to walk humbly with the LORD rather than follow the compromised state of most professing Christians.