Advent Devotion for December 16
Candle Lighter says: “I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
Response: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength!”
SCRIPTURE: Habakkuk 3:13-19
(This is a portion of a prayer that Habakkuk sang.)
13 You went out to rescue your chosen people,
to save your anointed ones.
You crushed the heads of the wicked
and stripped their bones from head to toe.
14 With his own weapons,
you destroyed the chief of those
who rushed out like a whirlwind,
thinking Israel would be easy prey.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
and the mighty waters piled high.
16 I trembled inside when I heard this;
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
SOME THOUGHTS: There is uniqueness about this passage of Scripture in that specific directions are given that it is to be accompanied by stringed instruments! Clearly, not all music was sung unaccompanied! Now to reflect on the text itself… With the wave of crises over the last several months—Maria, Irma, Harvey, wildfires in California, a mass killing, NFL troubles, North Korea, (this definitely dates when I am writing this!), things in the states are definitely off center. The rest of the world has its own significant troubles. Evil is clearly very present in this world. There is an element of fear and bewilderment in our society along with an arrogant attitude of blame. Our day is not so different from the days of Habakkuk. In chapter two he writes, (v.18) “What good is an idol carved by man…how foolish to trust in your own creation.” Our world has carved idols. Our culture has idols carved by man. One of the idols is “I have my own truth, you have yours.” In the words of Groucho Marx, “I have my own principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” That would be our world. Habakkuk sheds perfect light on how to read the situation. The importance of knowing history is again borne out here. He remembers and recites God’s actions from the past. God, you rescued your chosen people in referring to the destruction of Egypt’s army as it chased down the Israelites as they fled through the Red Sea. (v.13-15). The whole prayer, which is chapter three, reiterates the power and workings of God in protecting and providing for His people. In the close of the chapter, Habakkuk reaffirms his trust in God. Note the verbs in his response. “I trembled, my lips quivered, my legs gave way, I shook.” Then his trust in God rises to the surface with the words “I will wait quietly.” Notice then how he describes “wait quietly.” There are three “even though’s.” The outward situation remains bad, (like today). Yet he says “I will rejoice. I will be joyful in God.” “The Lord is my strength!” The Lord makes him as sure footed as a deer running up a mountain! As a follower of Christ, do not sing the tune of “doom and gloom.” The Lord is your strength today and enables you to run up the mountain…accompanied by stringed instruments!!
GOATS RUNNING UP THE MOUNTIAN: (YouTube)
MUSIC: And the Glory of the Lord by Atlanta Symphony and Chorus (YouTube)
PRAYER: God, my God, give me a heart to thank Thee; lift up my heart above myself, to Thee and Thine eternal throne; let it not linger here among the toils and turmoil’s of this lower world; let it not be oppressed by any earth-born clouds of care or anxiety or fear or suspicion; but bind it wholly to Thee and to Thy love; give me eyes to see Thy love in all things, and Thy grace in all around me; make me to thank Thee for Thy love and Thy grace to all and in all; give me wings of love that I may soar up to Thee, and cling to Thee, and adore Thee, and praise Thee more and more, until I be fitted to enter into the joys of Thine everlasting love, everlastingly to love Thee and Thy grace, whereby Thou didst make me such as Thou couldest love, such as could love Thee, O God my God. Amen.
—E. B. Pusey, 1800-1882