How Can I Be Happy?
How can I be happy?
Good morning and welcome to CrossWay. Today's sermon, from the book of Habakkuk, is a continuation of our sermon series in the minor prophets titled, Eternal Questions From the Minor Prophets. Don’t let the word minor fool you. It merely means that the writings of these prophets, such as Nahum, which we heard from last week, and Habakkuk, whose prophesy we will study today, are only smaller in size when compared the major prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah.
In this sermon series, we have hoped to help answer what some may consider philosophical questions about God, faith, and life. When I say philosophical, I don’t mean theoretical or rhetorical. I mean genuine and honest questions. And the question presented to us from the book of Habakkuk is, “How can I be happy?”
I have attempted to answer that question in the following statement. Habakkuk discovered that “to be happy in any circumstance, whether good or bad, one must be in a right relationship with God that produces a life lived by faith in God.” And there is one verse that captures this statement well. It reads this way in the English Standard Version,
Habakkuk 2:4 ESV
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
which is from chapter two and verse four. If the answer to our question is that the righteous shall live by his faith, then we can assume that someone in our passage for today has a problem with being righteous and/or living life by faith in God. When we read our passage, that’s what I want you listening for. But before we read, allow me to set up our text with some historical information.
As far as a place in history, God gave this vision to Habakkuk in 605 B.C. Perhaps even on the eve of the Babylonian invasion that ultimately led to Judah becoming a vassal nation, that is, a nation conquered and ruled by another. This is when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, pillaged Judah, and carried away many of her inhabitants to serve him in Babylon. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among those taken into exile. But this is not where must begin. To understand Habakkuk we need to back up to the turn of the seventh century B.C.
Manasseh became co-ruler of Judah, that’s the southern kingdom of Israel, in 697 B.C. along side his father Hezekiah. In 686, when his father died, he became the sole ruler of Judah. He ruled for 45 years as the personification of evil. He rebuilt the pagan altars of idol worship that his father had torn down and led Judah back into idolatry. He sacrificed his own sons as burnt offerings. Killed many godly people who opposed his pagan practices and so on. You can read them for yourself in 2 Chron. 33.
The burning of the LORD’S great wrath was so greatly kindled against Judah because of Manasseh that even when Judah had a good king like Josiah, who brought religious reforms, restoring the worship of Yahweh and the like, that not even that was enough to change God’s mind about a pending judgment.
As I mentioned, Josiah was a great king. The grandson of Manasseh, he ruled from 640-609 B.C. Most likely, Habakkuk was born sometime around the beginning of Josiah’s reign. In 609, when Josiah died, two of his sons reigned. The first, Jehoahaz, who was the younger of the two, ruled for less than 100 days. He was deposed by an Egyptian Pharoah and was taken as a captive to Egypt. His brother, Jehoiakim now becomes ruler until 595 B.C. Both of these brothers were evil. In the span of four years, Jehoiakim manages to undo all the reforms of his father Josiah, leading Judah back into idolatry and unrighteousness. It is in this national context that Yahweh sends Habakkuk a vision.
Habakkuk 1:1–3:19 NLT
Our text easily divides into two sections. Section 1 is chapters one and two which consist of a dialogue between the prophet Habakkuk and God. Section 2 is chapter 3 which is a Psalm of celebration.
An outline of the book might look this way.
1. 1:1 – Title: This is a vision that God gave Habakkuk
2. 1:2-4 – Problem or Complaint #1: Why do the wicked go unpunished?
3. 1:5-11 – Response: The wicked will have their judgment day.
4. 1:12 – 17 – Problem or Complaint #2: Isn’t the remedy worse than the problem?
5. 2:1 – Waiting with eager anticipation of God’s response
6. 2:2-5 – The message to be heralded: “The righteous shall live by his faith.”
7. 2:6-20 – Response: The wicked will have their judgment day.
8. 3:1-19: A Psalm of hope and joy while faithfully trusting.
Observation #1: The righteous can freely ask the “why” questions.
Hab. 1:2-4, 12-17
>>(**slow down and breath**)<<
Having a right relationship with God includes not being afraid to ask God the why questions when done so honestly and appropriately and not demandingly.
Habakkuk is not afraid to ask God why, when His actions, or in the case of Habakkuk’s first complaint, God’s inactions, seem to be the opposite of what His word decrees they would be.
Observation #2: God condemns and justly judges unrighteousness among His own and among the peoples of the world
· What is unrighteousness? Simply put, living contrary to God’s law which sets us at odds with Him. The N.T. writers inform us that our rebellion and unrighteousness has lowered us to the place of being enemies of God.
· First happen in Genesis at the fall.
· God gave Israel, through Moses, His moral and ceremonial law and in Deuteronomy told Israel that if they would keep His laws thereby honoring Him with their lives, then he would bless them, keep them, and no nation would subjugate them. And that Israel would serve as His instrument of righteousness and justice for the earth so that His name would be great among the nations and many would turn to the living God.
· But this is not Judah’s relationship with God in 605 B.C.
· They have forsaken God’s law to the point that it appears to be ineffective.
· Violence against the one another and especially the righteous remnant rules the day among God’s own people
· And Habakkuk is asking God, When are you going to do something about this? He has a righteous indignation toward sin.
· But remember the problem lies with both the people of God and the pagan nations, and specifically the Chaldeans or Babylon in our text.
Observation #3: Since unrighteousness Is condemned in all, then the message of Habakkuk, “the righteous shall live by his faith,” is a made to all.
The heart or message of Habakkuk and the answer to this eternal question concerning how to be happy is found in chapter 2:2-5 in God’s second reply to the prophet’s complaint.
· Write the vision or my answer plainly on tablets and let a messenger carry the correct message to others.
· And that message? “The righteous shall live by his faith.”
· Again this a call to everyone.
It served as a condemnation against Judah’s wicked abandonment of God’s commandments on one side. Hab. 1:5-11
And served as a condemnation of Babylons arrogance. Hab. 2:2-20
Babylon thought that they were setting themselves up for an eternal dynasty. But 100 years after they destroyed Jerusalem, God sent the Cyrus and the Persian Army to bring that great nation Babylon. Today all that can be found of this great civilization is it’s ruins just south of Baghdad, Iraq
How does Habakkuk move from complaint, fear, anxiety concerning what God is doing to a place of peace and joy at what God is doing.
Define Happiness. “Peace of mind and heart accompanied by joyous expectation of what God is doing.”
This happiness remains in times of trouble
36 “Now therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword, by famine, and by pestilence’: 37 Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. 42 “For thus says the Lord: Just as I have brought all this great disaster upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I promise them. 43 Fields shall be bought in this land of which you are saying, ‘It is a desolation, without man or beast; it is given into the hand of the Chaldeans.’ 44 Fields shall be bought for money, and deeds shall be signed and sealed and witnessed, in the land of Benjamin, in the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, in the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb; for I will restore their fortunes, declares the Lord.”