From one minor prophet to another; today I'm revisiting my old friend Habakkuk.
I was provoked by reading a post from my friend and elder Matthew Ling on the Now and the Not Yet. His post in turn was provoked by reading something on Trevor Lloyd's blog. (This just goes to prove what Trevor stated in one of his reasons for blogging: it provokes discussion and thought on deep issues that tend to be overlooked in normal Christian conversations.)
Habakkuk is one of my heroes in the faith, precisely because he understood the nature of the now and the not yet of the Kingdom. Or to be more accurate, its full threefold nature: the kingdom come, the kingdom coming, and the kingdom yet to come. You see, just as there are Christians who miss out on the "now" because of their focus on the "not yet"; there are also those who miss out on the "now" because of their fixation on the past, and what God has already done. Even if it is something as central and as important as the cross itself, a preoccupation with you've "already got" can stop you laying hold of the fresh grace God desires to pour out.
Habakkuk was a man who understood what God had already done, and lived in the good of all of it. "O LORD, are you not from everlasting?" (Hab 1:12) He also had one of the most profound visions into the future destiny of the Kingdom of God: "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Hab 2:14) But neither of these were enough for him; in his great prayer in chapter 3, which inspired the popular worship song, he shows that he is one of the violent men, who do not passively wait for the Kingdom to come, but who actively take it by force: "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" (Hab 3:2)
I like the way it is put in the NKJV: "Revive Your work in the midst of the years!" Like Habakkuk we live in the midst of years, between the now and the not yet. We have tasted of the age to come, but have not yet seen it come in its fullness. But we also recognise that as God's prophetic people it is our duty to actively lay hold of the not yet and bring it into the now. For his Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven. To passionately call on God to renew his work in our time. Never to be content with the nostalgia of the past, or just the hope of the future, but with all our being to strive for a present reality! When we pray for God's kingdom to come, we are praying for it to come Today!
Habakkuk is also precious to myself and Jacqueline at this current time. A close friend brought the closing verses of Habakkuk as a word of encouragement to my wife recently:
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.
These words are not gloomy, self pitying or pessimistic. Habakkuk was not the Morrissey of his day! But he discovered the secret of worshiping God in all circumstances: It's all about him, and he never changes! He is always worthy of our praise. Last Sunday I danced before the Lord, and worshipped him with just as much passion and zeal as I always have. It's God I'm worshipping, not my circumstances I'm reflecting. God knows the sadness I have inside — I don't have to be miserable to prove it to him!
Even Habakkuk's name is inspiring. It means "The one who clings!" Whatever you are facing, be it good or bad, clinging to God is always the best thing to do. He is the one who will raise you up!
The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.