“Yet, I Will Rejoice”

"Yet, I Will Rejoice" (CaD Hab 3) Wayfarer

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 Savior.

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

Today’s final chapter of Habakkuk contains the lyrics to a psalm that Habakkuk wrote in response to his two-question dialogue with God in the first two chapters. Habakkuk is an ancient multi-media prophecy with two chapters that are almost like the script of a play and ending with a song.

Habakkuk has been warned by God that He is going to bring judgment on His unrepentant people by bringing the Babylonians down upon them. Habakkuk would have known what this meant. The Babylonians, along with their neighbors the Assyrians, had a reputation for violent sieges that destroyed and plundered cities while violently killing the citizens within. But God also promised Habakkuk that the Babylonians themselves would face their own day of judgment.

As I read and pondered the prophet’s lyrics in the quiet this morning, there were a couple of things that struck me.

First, I couldn’t help but see echoes of John’s Revelations in the apocalyptic, doomsday images. Plague and pestilence in verse 5 brought the four horsemen of John’s apocalypse to mind. Earthquakes, mountains crumbling, along with other natural calamities were also in Revelations along with God arriving with wrath. So was John writing about Judah and Babylon, or was he writing about the end times? As I’ve observed before, the metaphors of prophetic and apocalyptic writing are layered with meaning. As I have often observed on this chapter-a-day journey, the answer is “yes/and.”

The second thing that came to mind as I meditated on Habakkuk’s psalm is that he knows God is going to first bring wrath upon His own people and then will eventually execute judgment on the Babylonians. Habakkuk, however, is just like me knowing that the end times will eventually come yet not knowing when. He’s ignorant. His psalm reminds God “In your wrath [on your people] remember mercy” (vs.2) and he gives a nod to God eventually delivering His people (vs. 13) but the rest of the song seems pretty focused on the evil Babylonians getting their just desserts.

I found this to be particularly human on Habakkuk’s part. He knows God is going to bring consequential wrath on the Hebrew people, but Habakkuk doesn’t want to think too much about that. He conveniently skips that part and jumps to God’s deliverance while he waxes apocalyptic about God’s wrath on the Babylonians for most of the song. I have to confess that I’m no different. I don’t want to think about suffering or having to endure hard times or experiencing judgment. I do, however, want to see swift judgment and fiery wrath raining down on those I have judged to be evil on my own personal scales of justice. As I’ve seen oft-quoted in the media of late: “Rules for thee but not for me.”

Yet it’s the end of Habakkuk’s song that, just like the psalmists before him, brings everything together in a pretty amazing statement of faith. He does embrace the notion that he may personally suffer as God makes good on His promised judgment. It’s the beautiful statement of faith I pasted at the top of this post

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 Savior.

In the quiet this morning, I confess that I identify with these ancient words. We are living in strange times. Things are changing at a rapid pace. Times are difficult and I have no guarantees that even more difficult times aren’t ahead of us on this terrestrial ball…

yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

One thought on ““Yet, I Will Rejoice””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.