God’s Grace in Stewarding Trials

Dustin Folden November 21, 2021 Habakkuk 3:1-19
Outline

Habakkuk 1:2 - How Long, O Lord…

Habakkuk 1:5-6 - I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told. I am raising up the Chaldeans.

Stewardship – God-given responsibility with accountability

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to increase it

4. God can call you into account at any time, and it may be today

3 ways to change your perspective during challenging times

Habakkuk 2:2 - Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tables, that the one who reads it may run.”

I. See God’s Holiness as It Shines Forth in Hard Times

A. God’s splendor is all around (3:3-4)

Habakkuk 3:3-4 - His splendor covers the Heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His Radiance is like the sunlight; he has rays flashing from His Hands.

B. God’s Glory is revealed in His wrath against the nations (3:5-12)

Habakkuk 3:12 - In indignations You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations.

II. Acknowledge Your Sinfulness When You Approach God

A. By first choosing to listen to God

Habakkuk 2:20 - But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.

Habakkuk 3:2 - Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear...

B. God’s wrath is something to fear

Habakkuk 3:16 - I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us.

Revelation 14:10 - …he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.

C. Cry out for God’s forgiveness

Habakkuk 3:2 - …in wrath, remember mercy…

D. Believe that God’s plan is for the salvation of His people

Habakkuk 3:13 - You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck.

III. Trust God and Worship Him Even When Times are Hard

A. The righteous will live by faith

Habakkuk 2:4 - Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.

B. Even when I don’t understand God’s plan

Habakkuk 1:2 - How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 - For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

C. Even in desolate situations

Habakkuk 3:17-19 - Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.

Today we conclude our Stewardship series Stewardship of Challenging times…

Stewardship of Challenging Times and we are reminded of the 4 principles of Stewardship.

Four Factors of Stewardship

1. God owns everything, you own nothing

2. God entrusts you with everything you have

3. You can either increase or diminish what God has given; He wants you to
increase it

4. God can call you into
account at any time, and it
may be today

Last Week Pastor Green talked about Finding Joy in the Face of Trials…because God is making us mature, and He gives us wisdom and we have a wonderful future reward.

Couple that with Dr. Sveinsson’s message on Job and Pastor Viars message on accepting God’s loving discipline…we are seeking to construct a robust approach to stewardship esp. in Challenging times.

While many times trials are personal…As Dr. Svenson said…God is not doing something to you…but doing something through you. And as Pastor Green states, not everyone gets the same Trial Package..they are personal and unique…

But sometimes our Trials are common, our challenging times are much bigger than us…they are all about our community, our cultures, our world….and that impacts us all differently…but We have to steward How we look at the same world, the situations that we all have to wrestle with…We must steward our minds how we think about living in a sin cursed world.

Have you ever looked around at our world and asked the question…How Long O Lord?

  • How long are people in my family and my friends going to argue and speak unkindly to each other because they do not agree politically
  • How long o lord are we going to have people saying that things that we believe are moral good…well people are saying now they are morally bad….like holding to a biblical view of sex and marriage.
  • How long o Lord are we going to see bulling on social media where if someone does not line up with the new social norm…they are going to pay the price socially and economically.
  • How long o lord will we see people in position of power abuse their power and cover up sexual immorality.
  • How long are we going to have Human Trafficking where children are used in absolutely wicked ways.
  • How long o Lord will we have to endure the horrific reality of abortion.

Habakkuk is a prophet who looked at the situation around Him…and He asked How Long O Lord.

“How Long, O Lord…” (Hab. 1:2)

You see Habakkuk was a prophet in the southern Kingdom who lived during a time of corruption, injustice and chaos in the Nation of Israel.

He says in chapter 1… Habakkuk 1:2–4 — 2 How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.

Habakkuk is saying to God…things are terrible in Israel, your people are ignoring your law, there is violence and wickedness, and strife, and justice is twisted and not justice at all…How long is this going to go on…

Think back to the things we are saying…How Long O Lord…and Imagine if God answered and said, it’s going to get much worse….

That is exactly what He does with Habakkuk…He says…

“I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told. I am raising up the Chaldeans” (Hab. 1:5-6)

If you read Hab chapter 1…you see the Chaldeans are fierce, they come from afar to attack, shed blood and take slaves…Habakkuk says, “they collect captives like sand”, they “take people like a fisherman takes in a net”….all to build their kingdom bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger.

The Chaldeans is another name for the Babylonians….This is the nation that is going to take God’s people into captivity.

God’s answer is that He is going to use a people more wicked to chastise His rebellious people…and Habakkuk is like…How can you do this…you can’t look upon this much evil…He says Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those who are more righteous…

So Habakkuk does not think this is a great plan….it is like…I wanted you to judge wickedness…but not on that scale…not like that….The Lord is going to graciously give Hab more info that completely changes how he is viewing everything….and in fact Hab is to record it so this view point can impact others…

____

Even though this is shocking….God is going to provide grace, He is going to provide deliverance, salvation…they are not going to be in captivity forever, and God is planning to do something much bigger than just what Habakkuk is focused on, both regarding His wrath as well as salvation…God is going to graciously give Habakkuk a much different perspective…a much bigger view of what God is doing through this trial.

Like many lamentations…we start with what Is wrong, and we bring that to God, and truth about God informs, changes, shapes our view of everything…esp. the trial and suffering…

and so today we want to look at….

God’s Grace in Stewarding Trials

Please turn in your bible to Habakkuk Chapter 3, that is on page 666 of the bible under the chair in front of you…

READ Hab 3:1-19

With the time we have let’s look at

3 Ways to Change Your Perspective During Challenging Times

Now it is important to note that Habakkuk needed a change in perspective…and the Lord provided that…

“Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tables, that the one who reads it may run.” (Hab. 2:2)

Now, this particular verse in Hebrew is a bit tricky to translate and even interpret…I think that the NIV can actually shed a bit of light on this passage and our time today…

2 Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. Habakkuk 2:2 (NIV)

Meaning, make the message permanent and clear…so that the one whose job it is to proclaim…they can take that message and distribute it easily and clearly.

So we are going to run with this message this morning and I pray it will be clear and understandable…and it will change our perspective in a way that will honor the Lord.

So the first way to change your perspective in trials is to…

I. See God’s Holiness as it Shines forth in Hard Times

When you go through trials, and you are confronted with evil in the world…do you ever lose sight of God…do you lose focus on the Lord…or do you perfectly fix your eyes on the author and perfecter of Faith…

I think we would all say there are plenty of times the sinfulness of this world get more of my focus than the holiness of God.

When you only focus on the world around you, despair will follow…but when you meditate on the nature of our God…we see with the eyes of faith that…

God’s Splendor is all around (3:3-4)

Habakkuk responds…

“His splendor covers the Heavens, and the earth is full of His praise. His Radiance is like the sunlight; he has rays flashing from His Hands” (Hab. 3:3-4)

Habakkuk has climbed up into a watch tower and he is looking out over the Land and he may be observing a storm coming from the south with clouds and lightening and even flooding…and he is reflecting in poetry and song form on the power, beauty and majesty of God.

Our God is holy, he is unlike any other, and looking at creation, the beauty and the pure destructive power f lightening and flooding and earthquakes….puts our circumstances in perspective of our God who rules over all creation with power and might.

God is holy and unlike any other and…

God’s Glory is revealed in his wrath against the nations (3:5-12)

“In indignations You Marched through the earth; In anger You trampled the nations” (Hab. 3:12)

Throughout this whole section, Hab is poetically thinking about the power of God displayed in creation…but also the power of God displayed in history as he has delivered His people in the past..

When he talks about God coming from Mount Param, and plagues and pestilence going before him, and wrath against rivers and sea, and horses and chariots of salvation…our minds are brought back to the exodus, and the plagues he placed upon the nation of Egypt to rescue His people, and the manipulation of the water to destroy the chariots of Pharaoh….

It is important for us to remember what God has done in the past…and How he does not ignore wickedness and injustice…he deals with it in just the right way and just the right time.

Habakkuk wants Justice in Israel…God is going to bring justice to all the nations…

but Habakkuk has a view that the Chaldeans are worse than the Israelites and he is probably right about that…but it does not help him see what God is doing in the bigger picture on the whole earth…

….it never helps us to compare ourselves to others…who have different trials, different situations, different suffering….

….but we have a common need for a savior.

What does help us is…, after getting a right view of God, is developing a right view of self. The way we do that is…

II. Acknowledge your sinfulness when you approach God

When I look at how terrible the world is…how sinful the world is…the only thing that keeps me off my self-righteous throne…is to say before God…my heart is rebellious too….I resist you and I go my own way too…That guards me from despair but also guards me from pride…

So Habakkuk brings his lament before the Lord…this is good because he goes to the Lord...and the Lord wants him to see the Pride of man and that the righteous will live by faith…but that starts with a robust understanding about the sinfulness of man…the sinfulness in my own heart that is also in everyone’s heart as well.

  1. God is showing Habakkuk a more robust view of sin…everyone is wicked, and with this we see a more robust view of God’s wrath and judgment.
  1. In Chapter 2…God highlights 5 Woes…that apply to the Chaldeans, but also to every nation and people group that are like the Chaldeans.
  1. Hab. 2:6, 9 says woe to those who use unjust economic practices to get evil gains
  1. Hab 2:12 – woe to those who build a city with bloodshed…the evil of violently conquering people and enslaving people….
  1. Hab 2: 15 – Woe to those engaged in sexual immorality and manipulating and abusing others sexually.
  1. Hab 2:18 – Woe to those who make idols…woe to those who trust the work of their hands and create their own false gods to worship.

We may not carve little wooden figures and overlay them with gold and sacrifice to them or bow down to them…but we put our value in a great many things and bow down to false gods that we construct in our mind.

Are you aware of the idols you tend to make…are there things that are really important to you like ease, comfort, respect, pleasure that you value them above everything else…and do you ever get sinfully angry if you don’t get that idol…or do you ever manipulate people to get what you want…or do you go around God’s commandments for pleasure…

The Chaldean’s are doing it in a very wicked and cruel way that is obvious. They want power and they will tear down anyone as Habakkuk says their own strength is their god…but the truth is we all struggle with idolatry...it is often just harder to see…the question is will we see terrible idolatry in the world but also see it in our own hearts….will we admit it and turn to God in humble reverence.

The way Habakkuk responds is instructive for us…we change our perspective….

By First Choosing to Listen to God

Right before Habakkuk responds…the last part of chapter 2 says…

“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.” Habakkuk 2:20 (NASB95)

This reminds me of Romans 3:19 that says the purpose of the Law and those who are under the law is so that every mouth may be closed and all the world would become accountable to God….

When we look at evil in the world, the first step is to humbly close our mouth and recognize the whole world…including me is accountable to God and we have no defense…esp. not that we are more righteous than someone else.

Habakkuk responds and says…

2 Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear... Habakkuk 3:2

The truth is…the world deserves God’s wrath…and

God’s wrath is something to fear

When we think about how bad things are…we must focus on the reality that God’s wrath that is coming is much, much worse.

16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk started the lament angry and now he is fearful….His perspective has changed…and he is beginning to see that God sees the wickedness of men much better than Habakkuk does and he has a plan to bring about his perfect wrath…both on the Jewish nation, His own people…but also on the gentiles…on the pagan kingdoms of all the nations.

When we see injustice…it is good for us to look head on at the righteous wrath of God that is coming…we don’t know when the Lord is going to return…but we know He is coming and all those who have not sought refuge in the Lord and been reconciled to Him ….will as revelation says….

he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. Revelation 14:10 (NASB95)

It goes on to say the torment of the fire will go on forever and ever, and they will have no rest day and night…and so we endure a sinful world that is marked with temporary suffering because the suffering of hell is eternal and God is bringing the ultimate and perfect Justice…but God is patient to wait and bring the full force of His wrath at the proper time as he is merciful and is in the process of rescuing people from all nations….from the wrath that is to come.

I hope thinking deeply and regularly about God’s wrath changes your perspective…That you don’t want God’s wrath even on your worst enemy…That you desire them to be saved from the wrath that is to come..

We read in Romans that Both Jews and Greek are all under sin...there is no one righteousness no not one…when you view a sinful world through the lens of your own sinfulness and the wrath of God…the only response is to…

Cry out for God’s forgiveness

Habakkuk says….

“in wrath, remember mercy” (Hab. 3:2)

Habakkuk is understanding God’s righteous wrath that everyone…the Chaldeans and Israel deserve…and so the only response is an appeal for mercy…rather than a focus on just punish who is the most wicked.

God is opposed to the proud…but He gives grace to the humble…the one who recognize their need for mercy.

[Share Gospel] - have you cried out for God’s mercy…have you recognized that you deserve God’s righteous wrath…and have you asked His forgiveness trusting that He poured out His wrath on Jesus at the cross…and by trusting in Christ you can be saved from God’s wrath that is to come…because everyone who does not trust that Christ took God’s wrath for them…will receive God’s wrath in full…Chaldean, Israelite, all nationalities…There are really only two people groups in the world…those who have been saved from God’s wrath and those who have not…

When we look at God’s wrath like that…we are motivated to steward challenging times well and share with others Gods plan of salvation…

When we start with looking at the sinfulness of the world, and we stay off God’s throne and we admit our own sinfulness…what starts with a focus on sinfulness…ends with a focus on salvation….so what starts with despair ends in hope as we….

Believe that God’s plan is for the salvation of His people

Even though there is an intense focus on God’s wrath…there is hope, there is salvation…Habakkuk says…

You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil To lay him open from thigh to neck. Habakkuk 3:13

This is like the coolest sentence ever…Hab is not a warrior poet…but his poem is about the ultimate warrior, the divine warrior…the one who delivers…

As Habakkuk is on his watchtower, looking out to the south toward Edom and Teman it would be easy to remember God’s past deliverance, bringing His people to the promised land from the wilderness reminding you that God is our deliverer.

We must understand that God’s holy wrath does not mean he does not have a plan of salvation for His people, for those who trust in Him…and the focus on the anointed one…the Davidic King, the Messiah also leads us to recognize there is not just a greater wrath that is to come…but a greater deliverance a greater salvation than just the rescue from Egypt, or even the rescue from Babylonian captivity…the greater rescue is the rescue from sin and death.

A rescue from the house of Evil….that is going to be so complete, so effective, so victorious it is described as striking from thigh to neck….this is most likely an idiom of battle….you want to protect the thigh to neck region…and so to strike from thigh to neck is to describe an overwhelming victory that cannot be stopped or defended.

When we see God’s anointed one…When We read about Jesus Christ…say it is finished…when we read the book of revelation we see that He is the one who has defeated the house of evil…yet God’s plan of redemption is not done…and so we wait…for the final blow where sin and death are tossed into the lake of fire…

So even thought things are going to get much worse for Habakkuk’s people, we often see ….God’s grand plan of redemption is in process and that great plan is the salvation of God’s people and complete victory over evil.

This big view of God’s holiness, and honest view of the sinfulness of all mankind…helps us then have a perspective to endure incredibly challenging times…so that we are able to….

III. Trust God and Worship Him even when times are hard

I hope everyone remembers that the book of Habakkuk is where Paul the writer of Romans picks up the key doctrine that…

The Righteous will live by Faith

The text says…

“Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:4

Habakkuk by the end of the lament is showing what it looks like for the righteous to live by faith…rather than proudly saying God…you are not doing things fast enough….

He humbly and fearfully says near the end in v 16…I must wait quietly for the day of distress.

We also are to wait humbly…we are to trust God…

Even when I don’t understand God’s plan

Habakkuk starts out saying…

2 How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Habakkuk 1:2

He does not understand how God can just let wickedness go on…and then when we hears God’s plan…He still does not know exactly how God is going to work out all the details…

and yet God’s people are called to trust Him, to live by faith….

Even in desolate situations

This time in Israel is going to be like apocalyptic…like where there is no food….

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, 18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. Habakkuk 3:17–19

There are no figs, no fruit, no olives, no grain, no cattle…. Habakkuk is like I don’t know how this is going to work with no food…but….the righteous will live by faith.

Habakkuk is living by faith…not faith in how it is going to work…but faith in the one who is doing the work, the Lord who is in control.

Everything looks bleaker than bleak…yet I will exalt….not in the figs and fruit and cattle…I will exalt in the Lord….The Lord God is my strength.

We worship Him and value Him above everything else…even our physical wellbeing and that is where we get our stability, our security and our joy from…

Habakkuk says he will make my feet like a deer…like a mountain goat…an animal that has footing even on incredibly steep and rough terrain….

With a focus on worshipping God and rejoicing in His salvation….God gives us the grace to be able to navigate the mountains of challenging times with sure footing…and even with Joy.

Habakkuk starts with How Long O Lord…and I cry out to you and you do not save….but in the end He says because of your greatness and the greatness of your salvation…I’m like a mountain goat dancing on a cliff.

Habakkuk’s perspective is changed because of a focus on the holiness of the Lord, the sinfulness of mankind and the righteous wrath of God….and a focus on trust and worship even in uncertainty….

Habakkuk ends with “Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation”

May you and I lament wisely and steward our mind well…may we focus on the Holy Character of our God, and humbly recognize the sinfulness of man and the righteous wrath of God…and then rejoice in God’s salvation that requires the righteous to live by Faith.

Authors

Dustin Folden

Roles

Pastor of Discipleship & Extension Ministries - Faith Church

Bio

B.S - Electrical Engineering, Purdue University
M.Div. - Faith Bible Seminary

Pastor Dustin Folden and his wife Trisha joined the Pastoral Staff in 2010. They have two children, Mackenna & Sawyer. They enjoy playing board games, cooking together and going on hiking adventures. Pastor Folden shepherds the 9:30 worship service, oversees the Adult Bible Fellowship ministry, the Wednesday evening Faith Community Institute as well as serves in Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries.

Read Dustin Folden's Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Folden to Faith Church.