Joy in Demise

Habakkuk 3:16–19, Zephaniah 2:1–3

Imagine how Habakkuk is feeling. He understands the impending doom. He knows that Israel can no longer avoid the consequences of generations of bad behavior.

Habakkuk uses the imagery of rottenness in his bones. It’s a weird statement. Yet, most of us understand it if we’ve ever had the flu, broken bones, bone surgery, or (the ultimate) bone cancer.

This is a deep ache that is beyond mere flesh. Habakkuk probably did have a more spiritual intent, yet there is something in that phrase that makes many uncomfortable.

This is the feeling of utter and complete exhaustion, physical, mental, and spiritual. Most of us have been there a time or two (or more) in our lives.

While Habakkuk is not celebrating his (or the people’s) misery, at the same he understands that there is a difference between the immediate and the infinite. Habakkuk does not stand down on worshipping God. Bones that are rotten, yet walking on mountain heights like a deer? That is often the difference of a life truly lived in the embrace of God.

Zephaniah, too, sees impending doom. While Habakkuk still worships God in the midst of it, Zephaniah foresees an opportunity, an opportunity of repentance. Zephaniah understands that the impending doom is only impending when hearts are not yielded to God.

Seek the Lord. It sounds simple, but after years and generations of bad habits and practices, plus the taking on of foreign gods, the people of Judah are at a point that any path they chose would probably be wrong. In their case, they would have to truly start at the beginning. They would have to become like children. Who could teach them anymore, however? The priests and leaders were much of (but not only) the problem.

1) In the midst of struggles, especially of the heart, it is incredibly difficult to be like Habakkuk. What do see in Habakkuk’s words and attitudes, which may be different than yours?

2) Zephaniah’s conviction of God’s ever-present grace and willingness to forgive can be hard to understand. How can you share this with others who cannot understand?