Habakkuk – Chapter 3 – the Voice
We’ve been working our way through the final chapter in the book of Habakkuk. We’ll pick up in 3:16, but before we do I have a question for you. How do you think you would respond to the audible voice of God? What if God literally spoke to you using His actual voice – a sound you could hear with your physical ears? Would you brush it off saying, “I must be hearing things”? Do you think you would respond casually, “Oh, hello God! What’s up”? Would you be afraid? Do you think it might be hard on you physically? Habakkuk records for us his experience of hearing God’s audible voice in chapter three.
When I heard, my body trembled;
My lips quivered at the voice;
Rottenness entered my bones;
And I trembled in myself,
That I might rest in the day of trouble.
When he comes up to the people,
He will invade them with his troops.
The Prophet tells us four specific things that happened to him when he “heard”.
- My body trembled
- My lips quivered
- Rottenness entered my bones
- I trembled in myself
If we are being careful to only observe what is in the text and not read into it, this verse does not actually indicate whether or not it was God’s voice or His message that caused such a harsh physical reaction in the body of Habakkuk. This is a shining example of the benefits of “context”. Looking back in the same chapter to verse two provides us with the answer.
O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid;
O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years!
In the midst of the years make it known;
Some may not agree, but I think based on the verse above, a compelling case can be made that the physical voice of God affected the physical body of the prophet. I strongly suspect if I were to hear God speak I too would react strongly. I’d probably pass out from fear. It doesn’t take much of an imagination to believe I would fall on my face trembling and paralyzed by fear.
Of course, we don’t have to worry about how we would respond because God does not speak audibly in this church age. Yet I am seriously concerned the world we live in today is almost completely void of any fear of or reverence for the message of God as recorded in His Holy Word. Both the Bible and the message of the Bible hardly merit a glance or healthy respect, to say nothing of reverence or fear. Why doesn’t the written Word of God garner the respect it so clearly deserves?
I believe the answer is quite simple. The message of the Word of God is generally not believed. Why is it not believed? Because rarely, even among Christians, is the Holy book ever even cracked open. If it is cracked open it is read like a novel with hard to understand passages skipped over. Little or no time is set aside for studying the Word of God. If you don’t know the message you obviously will have no respect for it.
Daniel spent the night with Lions with no indication of fear. And yet many years later he was afraid when encountering the Word of God.
Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to receive Word delivered to Daniel as a message to each one of us personally? What if we were to “set our hearts to understand”? What if we truly “humbled ourselves before our God”? Do you think God would hear our words and respond by saying, “Do not fear”? Would we receive instruction and encouragement as Daniel did as a result?
I have a healthy respect for weapons. A sharp sword displayed on a wall commands a certain respect. But that same sword in the hands of a man has my full attention.
Hebrews 4:12 is probably my favorite verse in all of scripture.
12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
God is Holy and His message true. Both are worthy of our respect and reverence. Spend some extra time in the Bible today and enjoy the encounter.
All Scripture Quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.