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Habakkuk Prays for Revival

Habakkuk 3:1-3

Habakkuk’s response to the prophecy of Babylon’s fall is to pray and worship. Especially following 2:20, what other response could Habakkuk offer to the God who is enthroned in His holy temple?

Through his dialogue with God, he has learned much from God and is now astounded by His plans. In the past, he has heard about what God has done, but now, through the vision God gave him, He sees the works of God and He now has a deeper knowledge and understanding of the ways of God. So, he recalls the mighty deeds that God has done in Israel’s past, stating that he is awed by what God accomplished and he calls on God to repeat those deeds again but to also temper them with mercy for His people. Redmond writes, “Without mercy, God’s wrath would completely destroy God’s people. Without mercy, there would be no opportunity for sinners to receive grace. Mercy tempers justice.”[1]

Habakkuk had Doubts

In Chapters 1-2, we saw Habakkuk was confused and he had some doubts. However, Habakkuk has taught us that when we have doubts we should turn to God in prayer. Habakkuk’s doubt could have led him to many places. He could have ignored it and let it bubble underneath while going about his business. Or it could have led him to become bitter against God. Such doubt if not dealt with could have caused him to lose faith completely. But Habakkuk did not allow his doubt to take him down these roads. Instead, he dealt with it in the proper way, expressing ultimate belief in God’s righteous character while also hoping for an answer to settle his questions.

God provided that answer, even though it was not the answer that Habakkuk was looking for – or wanted. Habakkuk accepts God’s answer. He is satisfied. In the end, he places his complete faith in God, and his faith in God was vindicated. Thus, after all of the back and forth, Habakkuk finishes this book with a wonderful prayer of praise.

It is OK to bring our Doubts to God

It is OK, and even good, to sincerely seek answers to questions you have about God and His character. You can search for these answers in Scripture, by asking other believers, and through prayer. However, you should not remain in a state of doubt forever. You need to move from doubt to faith. Do not stay there in that place of doubt letting them increase. Instead, diligently seek the answer to your questions. Like Habakkuk, come to the Lord and tell Him you desperately want to understand. If you are sincere God will honor that. Even if your questions are not 100% settled (and they may not be this side of heaven) there should be a point in time when you come before the Lord and tell Him, “Even if I don’t completely understand, I believe in you.”

Habakkuk Praised God’s Person (vs. 1-3)

In verses 1-3 we find Habakkuk praising the person of God. Before his encounter with God, He heard about God and He knew the stories of the mighty deeds God had done, but know He has an experiential knowledge of God. That experience fills Habakkuk with a reverential awe or fear of God that makes him ask God to remember mercy in the midst of His wrath.

Habakkuk Expressed Fear of God

In verse two, Habakkuk says, “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear.” Habakkuk knew God was on His throne. All of God’s power, prestige, and authority were ingrained in his mind. Habakkuk approaches God as a humble petitioner before a king, not as an equal, or worse as an adversary or challenger.

Like Habakkuk, when we approach God we should have a humble attitude. We should realize that He is on His throne in complete power and authority. If we have this attitude, our questioning will be polite and we will accept God’s answer. In short, if we fear God we will not be challenging God, but we will be seeking God’s help.

Habakkuk Asks God to Revive His Work

Habakkuk was very familiar with God’s miracles throughout history on Israel’s behalf. In his days, supernatural intervention from God was not seen as often. Habakkuk simply prayed for revival. He knew how God once worked and how His people once responded, and Habakkuk wanted to see that again. Therefore Habakkuk asked God to show His works more! Habakkuk longed for God to do a work that was evident to everyone as a work of God. He prayed that revival would be known at a definite time and place (in the midst of the years), not just as an idea in someone’s head The prayer of Habakkuk shows us that revival is a work of God, not the achievement of man.

Notice that Habakkuk askes for God to revive His (God’s) work. Often, what we actually ask God to do is to “revive my work,” but I must have a heart and mind for God’s work, far bigger than my portion of it. “Shake off all the bitterness of everything that has to do with self, or with party, and now pray, ‘Lord, revive thy work, and if thy work happen to be more in one branch of the church than in another, Lord, give that the most reviving. Give us all the blessing, but do let thine own purposes be accomplished, and thine own glory come of it, and we shall be well content, though we should be forgotten and unknown.’ (Spurgeon)

A Personal Prayer for Revival

There is something man can and must do for revival – simply cry out to God and plead for His reviving work. There must be a personal prayer: “LORD, revive me.” We too often blame the church for sin, corruption, laziness, prayerlessness, lack of spiritual power, or whatever – and we forget that we are the church. Pray for personal revival and diligently search yourself:

  • Check your conduct – does your walk glorify the LORD as it should? How about your private conduct, which only the LORD sees?
  • Check your conversation – is your speech profane or impure? Do you talk about Jesus with others?
  • Check your relationship– are you living a growing, abiding life with Jesus?
  • Check your attitude – are you filled with the joy of the Lord, kindness, and love?
  • Check your priorities – are their idols in your life?

Habakkuk Asks God to Remember Mercy

Here we see two aspects of God’s character counter-balanced. God hates sin and at the same time is merciful to sinners. Naturally, Habakkuk hopes to see more of the mercy part than the wrath part but nonetheless recognizes that wrath against sin is an essential part of who God is. Habakkuk prayed knowing well that they didn’t deserve revival, so he prayed for mercy. The idea is, “LORD, I know that we deserve your wrath, but in the midst of your wrath remember mercy and send revival among us.”

In the world today many people focus completely on God’s mercy and grace while ignoring God’s justice. A well-balanced view of God needs to recognize both sides. May we pray Habakkuk’s prayer today for our nation: LORD, I know that America deserves your wrath, but in the midst of your wrath, remember mercy and send revival among us.

[1] Redmond, Exalting Jesus in Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, 187.

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