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“I Will Rejoice!” (Part 1 of 2)

Habakkuk 3:1-19

Rejoicing is easy when God answers our prayers the way we’d hoped or even better. What do we do, though, when our circumstances remain unchanged or become even worse? Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg looks for answers in the book of Habakkuk.

From the Sermon

“I Will Rejoice!”

Habakkuk 3:1-19 Sermon Includes Transcript 45:21 ID: 2636

The Crown of Life

The Crown of Life

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

It’s easy to want to graduate without taking the required classes. But without taking the classes there’s no way to be ready for the tests, and without a test there’s no graduation. As in academia, so in our faith: it would be foolish to think that we can graduate to maturity and completeness in the Christian life before taking the courses and going through the tests.

When James writes about the believer who “has stood the test,” he uses the word dokimos, which refers to someone who is tested, tried, and approved. This kind of person has the seal of God’s approval on their life, and that becomes clearer and clearer through their perseverance.

The “crown of life,” or, more accurately, the crown that consists of life, is “a picture of eternal life,”[1] which God promises to His people. It suggests the idea of God welcoming us at the finish line and crowning us with honor, blessing, and life that is everlasting. So the duration of the test is the duration of our lives. Our test lasts until Christ returns or calls us home—and so here is a call to remain steadfast to the end.

It is this perspective and this promise that transform how we meet the most difficult times of our lives. We’re often tempted to regard individual trials as intruders rather than welcoming them “as friends” (James 1:2, Phillips). But when we understand that the whole of life is a series of tests, that can reassure us, giving us an opportunity to think seriously and realistically about what we go through. We can know with confidence that ahead of us lies the crown of eternal life with Jesus, and that our trials are opportunities to learn perseverance and grow in Christlikeness, proclaiming to the world that the one whom we are walking toward is sufficient not just for life but also for joy.

The Christian life has no simulation phase to prepare us for the real thing; it is a real-time experience all the time, every day. We’re not afforded the opportunity to find out exactly how we will parent our children, deal with the sudden loss of a loved one, or react to whatever else might come our way until these things actually come our way. These are the real-life courses we must take to graduate on to spiritual maturity. What trials are you walking through today? These are the classes, unchosen by you though they may be, which the Lord knows will enable you to persevere and will prepare you for your crown. As, by His grace, you remain steadfast in the storms today, remember that you are “blessed,” not with the false blessing of an easy life now but with the eternal blessing of the “crown of life” to come.

Questions for Thought

How is God calling me to think differently?

How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?

What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?

Further Reading

Testing of Your Faith

2Count it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials of various kinds, 3for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Open in Bible
2 1:2 Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God's family, the church; also verses 16, 19
1 Derek Prime, From Trials to Triumphs (Regal, 1982), p 28.

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotionals by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, 2022, The Good Book Company.

God’s Church

God’s Church

He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen.

The vision in this chapter describes the condition of Israel in Zechariah’s day; but being interpreted in its aspect toward us, it describes the Church of God as we find it now in the world. The Church is compared to a myrtle grove flourishing in a glen.

It is hidden, unobserved, courting no honor and attracting no attention from the careless gazer. The Church, like her Head, has a glory, but it is concealed from carnal eyes, for the time of her breaking forth in all her splendor is not yet here.

The idea of tranquil security is also suggested to us, for the myrtle grove in the glen is still and calm, while the storm sweeps over the mountaintops. Tempests spend their force upon the craggy peaks of the Alps, but down where the stream flows that makes glad the city of our God, the myrtles flourish by still waters and are unshaken by the impetuous wind. How great is the inward tranquillity of God’s Church! Even when opposed and persecuted, she has a peace that the world does not give and that, therefore, it cannot take away: The peace of God that passes all understanding keeps the hearts and minds of God’s people.

Doesn’t the metaphor forcefully picture the peaceful, perpetual growth of the saints? The myrtle does not shed her leaves—she is always green; and the church in her worst time still has a blessed covering of grace about her; indeed, she has sometimes exhibited most vegetation when her winter has been sharpest. She has prospered most when her adversities have been most severe.

Hence the text hints at victory. The myrtle is the emblem of peace and a significant token of triumph. The brows of conquerors were wreathed with myrtle and with laurel; and isn’t the church always victorious? Isn’t every Christian more than a conqueror through Him who loved him? Living in peace, don’t the saints fall asleep in the arms of victory?

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg. Copyright © 2003, Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, Used by Truth For Life with written permission.

David's Song of Deliverance

1And David spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. 2He said,

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

3my1 God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield, and the horn of my salvation,

my stronghold and my refuge,

my savior; you save me from violence.

4I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,

and I am saved from my enemies.

5“For the waves of death encompassed me,

the torrents of destruction assailed me;2

6the cords of Sheol entangled me;

the snares of death confronted me.

7“In my distress I called upon the Lord;

to my God I called.

From his temple he heard my voice,

and my cry came to his ears.

8“Then the earth reeled and rocked;

the foundations of the heavens trembled

and quaked, because he was angry.

9Smoke went up from his nostrils,3

and devouring fire from his mouth;

glowing coals flamed forth from him.

10He bowed the heavens and came down;

thick darkness was under his feet.

11He rode on a cherub and flew;

he was seen on the wings of the wind.

12He made darkness around him his canopy,

thick clouds, a gathering of water.

13Out of the brightness before him

coals of fire flamed forth.

14The Lord thundered from heaven,

and the Most High uttered his voice.

15And he sent out arrows and scattered them;

lightning, and routed them.

16Then the channels of the sea were seen;

the foundations of the world were laid bare,

at the rebuke of the Lord,

at the blast of the breath of his nostrils.

17“He sent from on high, he took me;

he drew me out of many waters.

18He rescued me from my strong enemy,

from those who hated me,

for they were too mighty for me.

19They confronted me in the day of my calamity,

but the Lord was my support.

20He brought me out into a broad place;

he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

21“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness;

according to the cleanness of my hands he rewarded me.

22For I have kept the ways of the Lord

and have not wickedly departed from my God.

23For all his rules were before me,

and from his statutes I did not turn aside.

24I was blameless before him,

and I kept myself from guilt.

25And the Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,

according to my cleanness in his sight.

26“With the merciful you show yourself merciful;

with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;

27with the purified you deal purely,

and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.

28You save a humble people,

but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them down.

29For you are my lamp, O Lord,

and my God lightens my darkness.

30For by you I can run against a troop,

and by my God I can leap over a wall.

31This God—his way is perfect;

the word of the Lord proves true;

he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

32“For who is God, but the Lord?

And who is a rock, except our God?

33This God is my strong refuge

and has made my4 way blameless.5

34He made my feet like the feet of a deer

and set me secure on the heights.

35He trains my hands for war,

so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

36You have given me the shield of your salvation,

and your gentleness made me great.

37You gave a wide place for my steps under me,

and my feet6 did not slip;

38I pursued my enemies and destroyed them,

and did not turn back until they were consumed.

39I consumed them; I thrust them through, so that they did not rise;

they fell under my feet.

40For you equipped me with strength for the battle;

you made those who rise against me sink under me.

41You made my enemies turn their backs to me,7

those who hated me, and I destroyed them.

42They looked, but there was none to save;

they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.

43I beat them fine as the dust of the earth;

I crushed them and stamped them down like the mire of the streets.

44“You delivered me from strife with my people;8

you kept me as the head of the nations;

people whom I had not known served me.

45Foreigners came cringing to me;

as soon as they heard of me, they obeyed me.

46Foreigners lost heart

and came trembling9 out of their fortresses.

47“The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock,

and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation,

48the God who gave me vengeance

and brought down peoples under me,

49who brought me out from my enemies;

you exalted me above those who rose against me;

you delivered me from men of violence.

50“For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations,

and sing praises to your name.

51Great salvation he brings10 to his king,

and shows steadfast love to his anointed,

to David and his offspring forever.”

Open in Bible
1 22:3 Septuagint (compare Psalm 18:2); Hebrew lacks my
2 22:5 Or terrified me
3 22:9 Or in his wrath
4 22:33 Or his; also verse 34
5 22:33 Compare Psalm 18:32; Hebrew he has blamelessly set my way free, or he has made my way spring up blamelessly
6 22:37 Hebrew ankles
7 22:41 Or You gave me my enemies' necks
8 22:44 Septuagint with the peoples
9 22:46 Compare Psalm 18:45; Hebrew equipped themselves
10 22:51 Or He is a tower of salvation

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

Paul Opposes Peter

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.1 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Justified by Faith

15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified2 by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

17But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness3 were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

Open in Bible
1 2:12 Or fearing those of the circumcision
2 2:16 Or counted righteous (three times in verse 16); also verse 17
3 2:21 Or justification

Prophecy Against Egypt

1In the tenth year, in the tenth month, on the twelfth day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 2“Son of man, set your face against Pharaoh king of Egypt, and prophesy against him and against all Egypt; 3speak, and say, Thus says the Lord God:

“Behold, I am against you,

Pharaoh king of Egypt,

the great dragon that lies

in the midst of his streams,

that says, ‘My Nile is my own;

I made it for myself.’

4I will put hooks in your jaws,

and make the fish of your streams stick to your scales;

and I will draw you up out of the midst of your streams,

with all the fish of your streams

that stick to your scales.

5And I will cast you out into the wilderness,

you and all the fish of your streams;

you shall fall on the open field,

and not be brought together or gathered.

To the beasts of the earth and to the birds of the heavens

I give you as food.

6Then all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am the Lord.

“Because you1 have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel, 7when they grasped you with the hand, you broke and tore all their shoulders; and when they leaned on you, you broke and made all their loins to shake.2 8Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will bring a sword upon you, and will cut off from you man and beast, 9and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

“Because you3 said, ‘The Nile is mine, and I made it,’ 10therefore, behold, I am against you and against your streams, and I will make the land of Egypt an utter waste and desolation, from Migdol to Syene, as far as the border of Cush. 11No foot of man shall pass through it, and no foot of beast shall pass through it; it shall be uninhabited forty years. 12And I will make the land of Egypt a desolation in the midst of desolated countries, and her cities shall be a desolation forty years among cities that are laid waste. I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them through the countries.

13“For thus says the Lord God: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the peoples among whom they were scattered, 14and I will restore the fortunes of Egypt and bring them back to the land of Pathros, the land of their origin, and there they shall be a lowly kingdom. 15It shall be the most lowly of the kingdoms, and never again exalt itself above the nations. And I will make them so small that they will never again rule over the nations. 16And it shall never again be the reliance of the house of Israel, recalling their iniquity, when they turn to them for aid. Then they will know that I am the Lord God.”

17In the twenty-seventh year, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me: 18“Son of man, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon made his army labor hard against Tyre. Every head was made bald, and every shoulder was rubbed bare, yet neither he nor his army got anything from Tyre to pay for the labor that he had performed against her. 19Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will give the land of Egypt to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; and he shall carry off its wealth4 and despoil it and plunder it; and it shall be the wages for his army. 20I have given him the land of Egypt as his payment for which he labored, because they worked for me, declares the Lord God.

21“On that day I will cause a horn to spring up for the house of Israel, and I will open your lips among them. Then they will know that I am the Lord.”

Open in Bible
1 29:6 Hebrew they
2 29:7 Syriac (compare Psalm 69:23); Hebrew to stand
3 29:9 Hebrew he
4 29:19 Or multitude

Tell the Coming Generation

A Maskil1 of Asaph.

1Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;

incline your ears to the words of my mouth!

2I will open my mouth in a parable;

I will utter dark sayings from of old,

3things that we have heard and known,

that our fathers have told us.

4We will not hide them from their children,

but tell to the coming generation

the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,

and the wonders that he has done.

5He established a testimony in Jacob

and appointed a law in Israel,

which he commanded our fathers

to teach to their children,

6that the next generation might know them,

the children yet unborn,

and arise and tell them to their children,

7so that they should set their hope in God

and not forget the works of God,

but keep his commandments;

8and that they should not be like their fathers,

a stubborn and rebellious generation,

a generation whose heart was not steadfast,

whose spirit was not faithful to God.

9The Ephraimites, armed with2 the bow,

turned back on the day of battle.

10They did not keep God's covenant,

but refused to walk according to his law.

11They forgot his works

and the wonders that he had shown them.

12In the sight of their fathers he performed wonders

in the land of Egypt, in the fields of Zoan.

13He divided the sea and let them pass through it,

and made the waters stand like a heap.

14In the daytime he led them with a cloud,

and all the night with a fiery light.

15He split rocks in the wilderness

and gave them drink abundantly as from the deep.

16He made streams come out of the rock

and caused waters to flow down like rivers.

17Yet they sinned still more against him,

rebelling against the Most High in the desert.

18They tested God in their heart

by demanding the food they craved.

19They spoke against God, saying,

“Can God spread a table in the wilderness?

20He struck the rock so that water gushed out

and streams overflowed.

Can he also give bread

or provide meat for his people?”

21Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;

a fire was kindled against Jacob;

his anger rose against Israel,

22because they did not believe in God

and did not trust his saving power.

23Yet he commanded the skies above

and opened the doors of heaven,

24and he rained down on them manna to eat

and gave them the grain of heaven.

25Man ate of the bread of the angels;

he sent them food in abundance.

26He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,

and by his power he led out the south wind;

27he rained meat on them like dust,

winged birds like the sand of the seas;

28he let them fall in the midst of their camp,

all around their dwellings.

29And they ate and were well filled,

for he gave them what they craved.

30But before they had satisfied their craving,

while the food was still in their mouths,

31the anger of God rose against them,

and he killed the strongest of them

and laid low the young men of Israel.

32In spite of all this, they still sinned;

despite his wonders, they did not believe.

33So he made their days vanish like3 a breath,4

and their years in terror.

34When he killed them, they sought him;

they repented and sought God earnestly.

35They remembered that God was their rock,

the Most High God their redeemer.

36But they flattered him with their mouths;

they lied to him with their tongues.

37Their heart was not steadfast toward him;

they were not faithful to his covenant.

Open in Bible
1 78:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
2 78:9 Hebrew armed and shooting
3 78:33 Hebrew in
4 78:33 Or vapor
Today’s Bible Reading material is taken from McCheyne Bible reading plan and used by Truth For Life with permission. Scripture taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text provided by the Crossway Bibles Web Service.

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