Sunday 21st June

Service Transcript & Video

Back to the future… How to prepare your heart for the hard times to come.      

                                Habakkuk   3v 3-16

I’m not sure how aware you are of the intense levels of persecution, suffering and pain that Christians have been going through in Northern Nigeria…. at the hands of Isis type groups who are burning down Christian villages… looting, raping, stealing and abducting women, children and animals. 

        They just massacre the men.

There are stories of horrific and horrendous  darkness, evil and pain.. 

all of which gets little or no exposure on our media news channels..

Q. What would YOU do… if you knew that something like this was going to happen to you and your families?

Q. How would you prepare yourself for such an onslaught of evil, tragedy, suffering and pain?

 

I don’t know what I would do!!

By the time we get to chapter 3.

Habbakuk… NOW knows that the Babylonians are coming…  this vicious, heartless, brutal people who will pillage, rob, steal, destroy everything and everyone in sight…. and carry back to Babylon men and women who will never see their homes again.

 (Daniel and his friends were some of those abducted and forcibly marched off to Babylon.)

 

Q.So How does Habakkuk prepare His heart and prepare His nation for such impending disaster and tragedy that he knows is coming to His city Jerusalem and to his people… the people of God.

Answer: 

He does it in Chapter 3… this poetic prayer and worship song in which Habakkuk prepares for the future by reciting God’s faithfulness in the past.

In very BIG.. broad strokes.. flowery poetic language… throughout this chapter…

Habakkuk recites God’s famous victories on behalf of His people in the past and then with faith and confidence… 

he declares to them and to us in the present.. 

that..

This same God …  who came to the help and rescue of His people in past generations will come to help us.. in our generation… 

in the present difficulties you are facing                           and

 in the future.. whatever challenges the future holds for you..

Many of you will already know that and have experienced that in your own lives…

You have stories of how God has brought You through some very dark and difficult times in your past..

And you know… You believe in your heart and have a quiet unshakable conviction … that He will help you to face whatever You are facing in the present 

and whatever struggles and battles you will face in the future..

Q. Isn’t that One of the greatest Joys of being a follower of Jesus??

 

What a faithful GOD we have.. faithful in every way!!

Or… Words of old hymn some will know..

“I do not know what lies ahead, the way I cannot see but One stands near to be My guide, he’ll show the way to me.

know who holds the future, he guides me with His hand. With God, things don’t just happen, everything by him is planned.

So as I face tomorrow, with it’s problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him My all.”

That’s exactly what Habakkuk is saying here in chapter 3. 

Look at the verses with me.

V1 God you’re famous…Everyone knows what you’ve done for your people in the past… 

Your awesome glorious salvation story… of how you 

brought your people out of slavery and suffering in Egypt, 

led them gloriously through those 40 wilderness yrs in the desert…

 and

  brought them victoriously into the Promised land, where they overcame all their enemies… 

by Your mighty strength and great power, as you fought on their behalf.

V 3-16 is really Habakkuk reciting and recalling, celebrating these glorious, miraculous  delivering miracles of GOD.. who is mighty to save His people

The GOD who came (v3) to the help, the rescue, the salvation of His people Israel in times past.

Teman is  south of Israel.. towards Egypt.

Mount Paran is the mountain range where Mt Sinai is… where God made His covenant promises to his people and gave them the 10 commandments..

 as the fire of God came down upon the mountain, smoke billowed from it, darkness covered it and the whole mountain trembled violently before the terrifying Presence of this awesome Living GOD.. (Ex 19v18)

 

This same GOD … who with 10 plagues and pestilence (v5) shook the nation of Egypt so that they could stand it no longer and let God’s people go free after 400 yrs of slavery.

This same God… who miraculously opened up the Red Sea, stood  the waters up on either side (v8-10) to allow His people to pass through in safety…

 and then caused torrents of waters (v10) to come crushing down upon the pursuing Egyptian armies and chariots… sweeping them away forever.

No wonder Moses says to God’s people in Deut 4 v32f

“Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?

 Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 

You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other.”

 

This same God… who after Moses.. in the days of Joshua.. when the people had entered the Promised land and fought against nations that were stronger and more powerful than them…

 God fought on behalf of His people… 

(v11-13).And in one of those battles, caused the very SUN to stand still and miraculously extended a full day..

 so that Israel might pursue and completely defeat their enemies in the most glorious victory…

This same Mighty Warrior GOD… who fights on behalf of His beloved people.. 

His anointed One (v13) 

His chosen people… the people whom He loves… as HE strides across the land, like a Mighty Warrior and strips the enemy of his weapons and overcomes all who would seek to destroy His precious people..(v13-15)

 

This God.. is the same GOD and Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST…

The word Christ means ‘anointed One’ The One who has  been anointed by GOD and appointed by Him…  

to redeem, to rescue and to bring salvation to His people..

(v13) points us forward to JESUS

 

The glorious story of salvation is that God has not only come to rescue His people in the Old Testament…

We NOW know…

 In a way that they could never have grasped…  that GOD has sent His One, His only, His most beautiful Son Jesus…

 the Christ.. The Anointed One…

To set us free from our years in slavery to sin…

To break the grip that Satan once had upon our lives..

To overcome all these powers of sin and   death and Hell… our great enemies who oppose and hurt and harm us..

 By His glorious victory at the Cross… and HIS mighty, mammoth, miraculous  resurrection from the dead… sets us gloriously  free!!

 

“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 

He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.  In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities.

He shamed them publicly… by his victory over them on the Cross…”

                                 Colossians 2v 13-15

 

This same Christ… this glorious, victorious, conquering Christ….  

who has now gone into Heaven.. 

is seated at the Father’s right hand… 

Has all authority … all power in Heaven and on earth… 

to overcome all His enemies and ours….

 

This same Christ… will come again to earth…. like a Warrior Prince to wrap up this world as we know it and to bring all  His enemies and ours….

 under His rule and reign..

 

Here is Jesus own description of his 2nd coming…

So if someone tells you, ‘Look, the Messiah is out in the desert,’ don’t bother to go and look. Or, ‘Look, he is hiding here,’ don’t believe it! For as the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes…

And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”…

“And he will send forth His angels to gather together His chosen ones from all over the world – from the farthest ends of the earth and   heaven.” 

Matthew 24v26-27 and Mk 13v27

But before that return… 

Jesus warns us that there are some very difficult, painful times ahead for us if we want to seriously follow Jesus.

“Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world.   But all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

 “Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other.   And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.  But the one who endures to the end will be saved.  And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.”   Matthew 24 v7-14 NLT

 

Q. What will sustain and strengthen Habakkuk and God’s people in his day as they face an uncertain and fragile future??

Answer:

 This Vision of the greatness, the grandeur, the glory of GOD who fought for His people in the past and who will fight for His people against the Babylonians in the future?

V16 referring back to v2…

 “I heard…     invading us.”

 

Q. What will sustain the followers of Jesus in Nigeria and what will sustain  and strengthen us here in the West as it becomes more and more difficult and costly to follow Jesus in an increasingly antagonistic culture?

Answer:

A vision of the greatness, the glory and  the grandeur of ..

 the resurrected, glorious, Victorious, ruling ,reigning, King JESUS …

 who fought for His people in the past and will fight for us in the future.

Q. Well… wasn’t that  why the Book of Revelation was written to followers of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire who was suffering unspeakable atrocities because of their faith in Jesus…??

To strengthen them and us… in the face of  those who would persecute, attack and seek to destroy God’s people across the world.

 

Revelation begins with this Majestic stunning, Vision of Jesus in heaven.. 

in all his awesome beauty, glory and power…

“ When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands.  And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. 

He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire.  His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves.  

He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance.

 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as if I were dead. But he laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last.  I am the living one. I died, but look—I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave”

 

Just like Habbakuk here in v16… 

the apostle John in the Book of Revelation is completely overwhelmed and drained out by this awesome Vision of the splendour  and greatness of JESUS.

 

Folks that what we desperately need to-day as church…

We need to recapture a Vision of the grandeur, the glory, the greatness of our GOD and Saviour…

Who in His faithfulness and power… rescued, saved and delivered his people in the past..

And who will rescue, save and deliver His people in the present and in the future…. 

So…

Whatever the future holds for you..

However difficult the future is for you…

Whatever battles you may have YET to face and to fight as you follow Jesus..

 

Just like Habakkuk remember this:

 

GOD.. Your faithful GOD and Saviour

has kept You in the past

 is keeping you in the present

 will Not fail you in the future

Q. Will you trust Him whatever the future brings? 

 

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