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Praying in Difficult Days

sermon discussion questions

1. What does Habakkuk choose to praise God for in vs. 12-13? Are there some aspects of God’s character you need to praise Him for in your difficult days today?

2. Why is Habakkuk troubled by God’s decision to use Babylon to bring judgment on Judah (vs. 15-17)? What is the cause of his wrestling with God?

3. Why is Habakkuk taking a stand on his watchpost (2:1)? What is he doing, and what does this indicate about his hope and expectations?

sermon outline

Scripture: Habakkuk 1:12—2:1

I. You pray in difficult days by praising God for who He is.

A. Habakkuk’s prayer started with praising God. Habakkuk didn’t know what God was doing. So, he began his prayer with what he knew was true about God. He held on to what he was confident of about God (verse 12). Habakkuk begins his praise of God by saying that God is eternal. God is the eternal King. He not only knows what is coming. He actually ordains (vs. 12) what is coming. He orders it from heaven. After praising God for being the eternal King, Habakkuk praises God for being both the promise-keeping God and for being the holy God.

B. He praises God by calling him in vs. 12, “O LORD my God, my Holy One.” Yes, God is perfect and pure. He is holy and righteous. So, He must punish Israel for her sin. But God is also LORD. This is God’s covenant name. He is the God who makes and keeps promises. This means, “We shall not die” (vs. 12). Yes, many Israelites would lose their lives in war to Babylon. But the nation as a whole would not die. Why not? Because God has made some promises. Habakkuk concludes his praise by calling God O Rock. God is a rock who gives firm footing.

II. You pray in difficult days by wrestling with what God is doing.

A. The wrestling begins in verse 13. Habakkuk knows for sure that God is holy. But God’s tolerance of Babylon seemed inconsistent with His holiness. So, what did Habakkuk do? Did he get angry with God and stop talking to God in prayer? No. He wrestled with God in prayer. Habakkuk believed that God was on the throne. God was the king over everything that was happening in Israel. And God was using Habakkuk’s prayers to accomplish His purposes in the world. James 5:16: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

B. We see why Habakkuk wrestled with God in verses 14 and 15. The Babylonians treated people like fish. The Babylonians bring all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net (vs. 15). And this is in fact historically true. The Babylonians would use hooks and nets that you would typically use on fish to take their captives into Babylon. Can you see why Habakkuk wrestled with God about using such evil people to discipline God’s chosen people? These cruel Babylonians not only treated people like fish; they also worshiped a false god (vs. 16).

III. You pray in difficult days by expecting God to answer.

A. Habakkuk closes his prayer in Hab. 2:1. Habakkuk realized that he had boldly said some things to God that maybe he should not have said. He argued that the means God was going to use to discipline His chosen people – the means of the Babylonians – were inconsistent with His holiness. Notice what Habakkuk did next after he prayed. He waited. He waited for God to answer him. And He expected God to answer him. Only God can clear up our confusion as to what He is doing in the world. So, we need to wait for His answer. And we need to wait with humility and hope. Do you know where all of your wrestling with God is leading you toward? Jesus. At the cross, God poured out all of His holy wrath against sin and evil. At the cross God entered into our suffering and experienced it Himself. But at the cross God also showed His mercy for His chosen people. By God’s mercy it was Jesus who suffered at the cross and not us.

Application:
The prophecy of Habakkuk

Commentaries on Habakkuk by Walter Chantry, O. Palmer Robertson and Cameron Bucey
Sermon by Alistair Begg

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