40-Day Fast: Devotional for Day 23

Revive Your Work and Remember Mercy

Saturday, April 11, 2020
Devotional for Day 25

 

O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
     and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
     in the midst of the years make it known;
     in wrath remember mercy.
          - Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV)

Habakkuk’s prayer for mercy in the opening of chapter 3 follows the back and forth dialogue between the prophet and God in the first two chapters.  Much of this dialogue revolves around some of the questions that have haunted us throughout history, especially in times of difficulty: Why is there so much oppression? Why do evil people prosper while the righteous suffer? Why doesn’t God enter into these tragic places and clean them up?  Habakkuk, and a battered Judah, is in desperate need of perspective.

God responds to these questions - and He doesn’t speak in generalities or much subtlety. God is clearly going to destroy the Babylonians for their evil, but He also chastises Judah for lack of faith and disobedience, and gives Habakkuk a different frame of reference.

Some commentators call chapter 3 Habakkuk’s doxology to God, as it comes at the conclusion of his dialogue with God on injustice and evil. He has heard God’s reply and it fills him with a reverent fear of the mightiness and holiness and sheer power of Yahweh. Habakkuk then asks for two things:

  1. A renewal (revival) of the manifestations of God’s power of judgement.
  2. In the wrath that will be shown, have mercy.

Habakkuk asks God to continue to work in His mighty ways, even in His discipline of those who are unfaithful (both Babylonians and Israelites).  God’s works filled Habakkuk with awe at His might and holiness, glory, and especially of God’s overarching work of redemption - and desires for this to be revived and made known.  It is in times of awe and desperation that we both metaphorically and literally look up. It is a response of humility to acknowledge God’s power and might and control over our own.

Concurrently the prophet recognizes his and Israel’s unrighteousness before the holy, righteous Yahweh - and seeks mercy. There is much for God to be wrathful about - in the attitudes and actions we take as nations/cultures, and as individuals.  We justify and normalize unrighteous behavior, through lack of attention we find our hope in the things of this world, in our many acts of omission we fail to demonstrate God’s saving grace to our fellow man. Habakkuk understands this and humbles himself to ask for mercy.  My prayer is that we will do so as well.

The final verses in this chapter are a song of rejoicing and exuberance that comes from a right understanding of God and ourselves.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
     I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; 
     he makes my feet like the deer’s;
     he makes me tread on my high places.
          - Habakkuk 3:18, 19

Father of might and mercy, we humble ourselves before You and acknowledge Your goodness and power and holiness. You have made us in Your image and, in spite of our brokenness, made us whole in Christ and raised us to fellowship with You. We acknowledge that we are in desperate need for Your works to be revived in us and our world so that Your glory shines and Your will done. And like Habakkuk we ask for Your mercy to be on us, in our current time of crisis and our desperate needs. Remind us again of Your perspective so that we fix our eyes on You and Your plans for us and this world. Our hope is in You.

Scott Crosby
Ministry Director, Christian Union New York


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