Month: December 2022

The Just Shall Live by His Faith (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

1.0 The Statement

Habakkuk 3:16-19 (NIV) “I heard, and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the Nation invading us. Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour (Salvation). The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights. For the director of music, on my stringed instruments.”

Habakkuk 3:16-19 is one of the greatest confessions of faith found anywhere in Scripture. Habakkuk faced the frightening fact that his Nation will be invaded by a merciless Enemy (Chaldeans – Habakkuk 1:6). The Prophet knows that many of the people will go into exile, and many will be slain. The land would be ruined, and Jerusalem and the temple will be destroyed. Yet he tells God that he will trust Him no matter what happens! His demonstration of faith is in three areas:

1 Patient Waiting on the Lord

Habakkuk 3:16 (NIV) “I heard, and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the Nation invading us.” – If Habakkuk had depended on his feelings, he would never have made this great confession of faith:

  • Looking ahead, he saw the Nation heading for destruction, and that frightened him – “The Nation invading us” (Verse 16c, NIV).
  • When he looked within, he saw himself trembling with fear – “My heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled” (Verse 16, NIV)
  • When he looked around, he saw everything in the economy about to fall apart – “The fig tree does not bud and there no grapes on the vine,…..the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,…..there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls” (Verse 17, NIV).
  • When he looked up by faith, he saw God, and his fears is managed – “Yet I will patiently wait” (Verse 16b, NIV).

Habakkuk walks by faith (Habakkuk 2:4b “The just shall live by his faith,” KJV) by focusing on God’s Greatness and His Glory. One of the marks of faith is the willingness to wait patiently for the LORD to work: “Whosoever believes shall not act hastily” (Isaiah28:16, NKJV).

When we run ahead of God, we get into trouble – Moses failed when he tried to deliver the Nation of Israel by his own hand, ending up committing murder (Exodus 2:11-12).

God’s Wordstates: “In quietness and confidence shall be our strength” (Isaiah 30:15b; Habakkuk 3:19a “The Sovereign LORD is my strength”):

  • Habakkuk could wait patiently because he knew that God was at work in the world – Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV) “Look at the Nations and Watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even it you were told.”
  • Habakkuk prayed that God’s Work would be kept alive and strong – Habakkuk 3:2 “LORD, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”
  • God commanded Habakkuk to wait – Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV)“For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, waif for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”  

God’s Promise is God’s Enablement. No matter what we see and no matter how we feel, we must rest (wait patiently) on God’s Promise and not allow ourselves to “fall apart”Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). Whenever we find ourselves getting “up-tight” within, we can be sure that we need to stop, pray, and wait on the LORD, before we do some foolish thing. Keep in mind these three verses:

  • “Stand Still” (Exodus 14:13).
  • “Sit Still” (Ruth 3:18).
  • “Be Still” (Psalm 46:10).

2. Rejoice in the Lord

Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Though the fig-tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.” The Destruction – By the time Chaldeans was through the Land of Judah, there would not be much of value left – Habakkuk 2:17 (NIV) “The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.”  And Habakkuk 3:17(NIV) “The fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,…..the olive crops fails and the fields produce no food,…..there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls.

  • Buildings would be destroyed.
  • Treasures would be plundered.
  • Farms and orchards would be devastated.

The economy would have fallen apart and there would be little to sing about – Habakkuk 3:19b “For the director of music, on my stringed instruments.

  • Habakkuk’s Joy – Habakkuk discovered that God was his joy – Despite the total destruction and devastation (Habakkuk 2:17; 3:17), Habakkuk declares that he will still rejoice in the God of his Salvation (Deliverance). Here is one of the strongest demonstrations of faith in the Scriptures – Habakkuk 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in God of my Salvation.” Habakkuk could not rejoice in the circumstances, but he could rejoice in his God!Habakkuk’s testimony reminds us of Apostle Paul’s admonition: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Thessalonians 5:16-18).
  • Habakkuk’s Strength – Habakkuk also discovered that God was his strength, his salvation, and his song (Isaiah 12:1-2; Exodus 15:2; Psalm 118:14):His Salvation – Habakkuk 3:18b (KJV) “God of my salvation.” His Strength – Habakkuk 3:19a (KJV) “The LORD God is my strength.” His Song – Habakkuk 3:19c (KJV) “To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”

Though Habakkuk’s heart pounded, his lips quivered, his legs trembled at the coming calamities (Habakkuk 3:16), yet the Prophet burst into song and worshipped the LORD. The LORD gives us “Song in the night” (Psalm 42:8), if we learned to wait patiently on Him and rejoice in Him.

3. Reliance on the Lord

Habakkuk 3:19a (NIV) “The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to go on the heights.” Habakkuk’s heart was pounding, his lips quivered, and his legs trembled (Habakkuk 3:16), yet:

  • He could stand and be sure-footed as a Deer.
  • He was able to run swiftly and go higher than he had ever gone before.

Habakkuk’s Secret was his reliance on the LORD – “The Sovereign LORD is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:19a, NIV):

  • This is one of the reasons why God allows us to go through trails because trials draw us nearer to Him and lift us above the circumstances – Deuteronomy 32:13a (KJV) “He (God) made him ride on the high places of the earth.”
  • David experienced this when he was being chased by King Saul: “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights” (Psalm 18:32-33, NIV).
  • G. Campbell Morgan said: “Our joy is in proportion to our trust. Our trust is in proportion to our knowledge of God” (G. Campbell Morgan, “The Westminster Pulpit,” London: Pickering and Inglis, Vol.6, pg.153).

4. Summary

Habakkuk teaches us to face our doubts, fears, and questions honestly, take them humbly to God, wait for His Word to teach us, and then worship Him no matter how we feel or what we see. God does not always change our circumstances, but He can change us to meet the circumstances. That is what it means to live by faith – Habakkuk 3:4b (KJV) “The just shall live by his faith.”

Grace and Truth (John 1:17)

1.0 The Statement

John 1:17 (NKJV) “For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” The proper understanding of “the Law through Moses” and “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” is important to our Christian walk

Moses – Old CovenantJesus – New Covenant
1. The Law is given1. Grace and Truth came
2. By or through Moses2. By or through Jesus Christ
3. The Mediator of the Old Covenant3. The Mediator of the New Covenant
4. The Law is given – to the Person4. Grace and Truth is Personified
5. To the Nation of Israel5. To the Church

John 1:17, the Law (of Moses) is not contrasted with Grace but with “Grace and Truth” in perfect balance in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. If it is “Grace” only, it may lead the Person/Church into antinomianism (antinomianism comes from two other words: “anti {against}” and “nomos {the Law}” with the danger that the Individual/Church could twist “the Grace of God into lewdness (lasciviousness) and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4b), which is apostasy (2Thessalonians 2:3a – “The Great Falling Away”); and if it is “Truth” only the danger is that the Individual/Church turns it into letterism or legalism which is the other extremes (2Corinthians 3:6 – “letter {legalism} kills”). One of the best illustrations of the balance of “Grace and Truth” in Jesus Christ is found in John 8:2-11. 

1.1 The Setting

The Scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in the very act of adultery – John 8:3a (NKJV) “Then the Scribes and Pharisees brought to Him (Jesus) a woman caught in adultery.” They brought the adulterous woman without the male Adulterer (which is against the Law – Leviticus 20:10) to Jesus as He was teaching in the Temple precincts – John 8:2, 3b (NKJV) “Now early in the morning He (Jesus) came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and He sat down and taught them…….And they had set her (the adulterous woman) in the midst.”

1.2 The Confrontation

The Scribes and the Pharisees represented the Law of Moses – they uphold Moses by presenting the adulterous woman to Jesus (“Grace and Truth” Personified – John 1:17) and wanted to know what Jesus has to say: John 8:4, 5 (NKJV) “They said to Him (Jesus), ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” The Scribes and the Pharisees set out “to trap” and so as to accuse Jesus of not fully upholding the Mosaic Law – John 8:6a (NKJV) “This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” The Scribes and Pharisees professed to uphold the Law of Moses and used it against Jesus (“Grace and Truth” Personified – John 1:17). Jesus stooped down and began to write on the ground (John 8:6b); He made as though He did not hear them, as He (Jesus) knew their motives, as He knew the heart of them (John 2:24, 25). The Scribes and Pharisees kept at Jesus – John 8:7a (NKJV) “So when they continued asking Him.” Jesus stood up and challenged them: John 8:7b (NKJV) “He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Jesus stood again and continued writing on the ground (John 8:8).  

1.3 The Conviction

Jesus now gave the challenge depended on the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin on the Scribes and Pharisees (John 16:8-11). The Scribes and the Pharisees, after hearing Jesus’ challenge, were convicted in their conscience left one by one from the oldest to the last – John 8:9a (NKJV) “Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last” (Romans 2:12-16, 22a). Jesus was left with the adulterous woman, none of the Scribes and the Pharisees picked up the stone and stoned her – John 8:9b (NKJV) “And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

1.4 Grace and Truth

The Scribes and the Pharisees were convicted by the Holy Spirit with the Law of Moses and the Law of Conscience (John 8:9b); then, Jesus stood up and saw that the Scribes and the Pharisees have all left and asked the woman: “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10). Although the woman was guilty of the adulterous affair, nevertheless, the Law cannot condemn her alone without the adulterous man – Leviticus 20:10b (NKJV) “The adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” The woman answered Jesus: “No one Lord!” (John 8:11a). The grand climax of this episode; here we see “Grace and Truth” Personified in Jesus – Jesus said to her: “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11b) – Jesus did not condemn her because she has already been judged by the Law of Moses, when the Scribes and Pharisees brought her before a Rabbi (Jesus) – Jesus spoke His Forgiveness, that is GRACE; but Jesus added: “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11c) – that is TRUTH. Grace and Truth met together in perfect balance in the Person of Jesus Christ John 1:17b (NKJV) “But grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Psalm 85:10). This Principle is also found in the Pauline Romans Epistle: “Moreover, the Law entered that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more; so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reigned through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord…….What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! (God forbid! KJV). How shall we who have died to sin live any longer therein” (Romans 5:20, 21; 6:1, 2, 15, NKJV); if Jesus had only said, “Neither do I condemn you,” without adding “Go and sin no more” – the woman could have taken Jesus’ statement as saying that Jesus did not condemn her for her adulterous act, and that she could go on living an adulterous lifestyle. Jesus applied both “Grace and Truth” to the woman, because Jesus is “Grace and Truth” (1John 1:17b). Grace always reigns through righteousness but is joined to Truth; Grace is never divorced from Truth – this is sound theology!!

Psalms 133 – Unity and Anointing (Part 2)

2.0 Dew on Mount Hermon

Psalm 133:3a (KJV) “Like the dew of Hermon, and like the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion.” – The Second Illustration is the Dew of Mount Hermon upon the Mountain of Zion – Mount Hermon is the highest peak in Israel, located to the extreme North of the Promised Land.  At its slopes the four tributaries of the Jordan River begin. Snowcapped much of the year, it symbolized abundant moisture, God’s Gift to the dry land. The plants survive on the dew for the long, rainless summers of Palestine. Nightly, as the temperature drops, the humility in the air condenses to provide the needed moisture for plants. Its dew is heavy, and it is this heavy dew that also falls upon the mountains surrounding Jerusalem, situated on Mount Zion (Psalm 48:2). Since the dew comes from Heaven, it too is an apt image of God’s Blessing, because the Brethren Dwell together in Unity. 

  1. The Dew typified Holy Spirit in His Reviving Power through the “Life-Giving” Word of God – Deuteronomy 32:2a (NIV) “Let my teaching fall like rain and my Word descend like dew,” God’s Blessing that brings Fruitfulness.
  2. The “Anointing Oil” and the “Dew” – remind us that “Fruitful-Unity” is not something that we “worked up” but that God sends down. According to Delitzsch “Nowhere in the whole country of Israel is so heavy dew perceptible as in the districts near to Hermon.”
  3. This abundant of Dew from Mount Hermon is carried to Zion by the cold current of air sweeping down from the north over Hermon. – Such is the value and Power of “Fruitful-Unity” of the brethren – It is Refreshing, Quickening and Invigorating!!
  4. Dew comes from above and illustrates that “Fruitful-Unity” is from God, that comes upon Zion (the General Assembly of Believers – Hebrews 12:22-23), when brethren dwell together in “Fruitful-Unity!”
  5. When the brethren in the Church dwells together in Unity, the Divine Blessing permeates the Whole Congregation – J.J. Steward Perowne (“Commentary on Psalms”) states: “It is not the refreshing nature of the dew, nor its gentle, all-pervading influence, which is the prominent feature. That which renders it to the poet’s eye so striking an image of brotherly concord, is the fact that it falls alike on both Mountain.”
  6. The “Fruitful-Unity” comes from God’s Spirit, flowing over us like Oil, and the Heavy Dew (Reviving Power & Life-Giving of the Holy Spirit), descending upon us, bringing God’s Blessing of Life
  7. Our Unity comes from the Spirit of God flowing over us like Anointing Oil, and the Heavenly Dew descending upon us, bringing God’s Blessing of Life – Eternal Life, forever and ever. It is only God’s Spirit and His Promise of Eternal Life that will break down the sin in our hearts, crucifying our selfishness, making us one. As Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is.” Now let us live in it!!

2.1 Blessing of Life

Psalm 133:3b (KJV) “For there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” – Two illustrations (Psalm 133:2-3) –  the Desired Unity is both Fragrant as Oil; and Refreshing as Dew.

  1. The quality of both the Oil and the Dew is pervasive (all-encompassing) and diffusive (widely spread).
  2. The Oil does not rest on head, but flows down upon Aaron’s beard, and to the collar; and the Dew does not remain on Hermon but flows down on the Mountain of Zion.
  3. The Holy Spirit Who is both the “Oil” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9), and the “Dew” (Psalm 72:6; Hosea 6:3; 14:5), possesses and is possessed by the whole Church of God, overleaping all Racial, Social, Cultural, and Sectarian Distinction – the Life of the Holy Spirit is imparted, so the Church has “Life for Evermore” (Psalm 133:3). True Unity is an Organism, not an Organisation (Ephesians 4:11-16).
  4. The Strong Accent on God’s Initiative – “The LORD commanded the blessing.”  What is God’s Gift – “Life for Evermore!” Unity and Brotherly Harmony released God’s Blessing – “God’s Life.”  The expression: “Life for Evermore,” is not found anywhere in the Old Testament except in Daniel 12:2.
  5. “Fruitful-Unity” not only gives life to the Individual and the Church but also makes the Individual/Church “a Living Example” to the World and helps draw others to Christ.
  6. “Fruitful-Unity” Renews and Revitalize Ministry because there is less tension to sap our energy.

Thus, it is important to be connected to each other in the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:16) and allowed the Holy Spirit to produce the “Fruitful-Unity” and “Fruitful-Anointing,” which will result in Personal as well as Corporate Success – The Individual and the Church will experience the “Refreshing Presence of the LORD” (Acts 3:19) – “the Dew” of the Holy Spirit (Psalm 133:3a).