We are running amid the arrows of this life, some very poisonous. However, because of ‘the feet of deer’ which God has given us we always evade the final, fatal blow. How did Israel survive the successive brutalities of Babylon, of Persia, of Greece, and of Rome? For millennia true faith has survived on earth — only God knows how. The saints came safely to their appointed rest. All have had the gift of ‘feet like the deer’s’.
Habakkuk asked God to remove wickedness and injustice from a nation that professed to believe in the High and Holy One who inhabits eternity. He was told of God’s purpose to chastise severely this wayward people. The rod with which the Lord would correct them would be a violent invasion by a cruel and bloodthirsty enemy. The aggressors would destroy the ‘land’ which God had given Israel and would carry large portions of the Jewish population into captivity.
When it became certain to the prophet that there would be no escaping the ferocity of the Babylonian enemy his entire being trembled.
‘I hear, and my body trembles;
My lips quiver at the sound;
Rottenness enters into my bones;
My legs tremble beneath me . . .’
This ancient saint fully shared the weakness of human flesh, experiencing to the depths fear in the face of extremity.
The people of God often cannot escape the coming to pass of their greatest fears in this life. It may be national collapse as they are vandalized by conquering enemies. It may be death at the stake for those most prominent in declaring the unwelcome gospel. It may be a very personal struggle that is lost when seeking to escape the long-felt pains of dreaded incurable disease. Some are called upon to come to death in many unwanted circumstances.
Recognition of Coming Loss
In prayer Habakkuk’s imagination ran to the survey of consequences from the coming brutal invasion of the land by Babylon. Like a horde of locusts the heathen army would strip Israel of its beauty, productivity and pleasure.
‘The fig tree would not bud.
No fruit would appear on grape vines.
Olive trees would bear no crop.
From the fields would come no grain.
Flocks would be cut off.
Stalls would stand empty, having no herd to inhabit them.’
(From Hab. 3:17)
The army of Nebuchadnezzar would consume all that supports life, leaving behind a hungry nation, a broken economy and an unproductive, barren landscape. Fruitfulness of the earth, the sign of God’s blessing and the joy of Israel, would disappear.
This is not an unrealistic description of a region over which there have been major military operations. War and oppressive government bring about more famine than do natural conditions. Jeremiah was not the only prophet to lament Jerusalem’s fall. The sad moan of grief is well expressed in Habakkuk 3:17.
Joy in God During Times of Deepest Privation
In his struggle with God in prayer about revealed future events the great prophet came to an inward resolution of his discontent.