Friday, January 13, 2023

The Vision (1.13.23): Although the fig tree shall not blossom


Image: Frozen pond, North Garden, Virginia, January 2023

Note: Devotion taken from the afternoon sermon at CRBC on Sunday, January 1, 2023.

The final chapter of Habakkuk is described as “A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet” (3:1). This prayer concludes in 3:17-29 with an affirmation of faith and a confident declaration that God is to be worshipped regardless of the external circumstances his people must face.

Pagan religions are based on a quid pro quo. You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours. But Biblical faith is not like that. The one true God is to be worshipped no matter what comes our way, no matter what the Lord in his all-wise providence decrees for us.

In contrast to the pagan view, Habakkuk declares:

3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail; and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

The evidence of a mature faith is not that you praise the LORD when things are going well, but that you turn to him when things seem awful and beyond your control. There is confidence even in such times that the Lord will be our strength and that he will cause us like the deer to walk in high places once again (v. 19).

This is the kind of faith that Job had. When he had lost everything, Job declared, “Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).

It is the kind of faith that the three Hebrew youths had when threatened with the fiery furnace. They said to the king, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king, But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).

It is the kind of faith that the apostle Paul had when he wrote from a Roman prison, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4).

Friends, we know not what will come our way this year. It may be our last year.

We pray it will be filled with great outward prosperity and blessing, but do we have that sort of mature faith, so that even if it is a year of emptiness we are still resolved to rejoice in the Lord, to joy in the God of our salvation, and to acknowledge him as our strength, even in our weakness?

I pray we will have the same spiritual orientation as the prophet Habakkuk in this year before us.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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