Joyful in the God of Our Salvation
“I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”—HABAKKUK 3:18.
1. Concerning what did Daniel have a vision before Babylon’s fall in 539 B.C.E.?
MORE than a decade before the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.E., the aged prophet Daniel saw a thrilling vision. It foretold world events leading right down to the climactic war between Jehovah’s enemies and his appointed King, Jesus Christ. What was Daniel’s reaction? He said: “I felt exhausted and . . . numbed on account of the thing seen.”—Daniel 8:27.
2. What conflict did Daniel see in vision, and how do you feel about its nearness?
2 What about us? We are living so much further along in the stream of time! How do we react when we realize that the conflict seen in vision by Daniel—God’s war of Armageddon—is very close? How do we respond when we discern that the wickedness exposed in Habakkuk’s prophecy is so rampant that the destruction of God’s enemies is inevitable? Likely, our feelings parallel those of Habakkuk himself, as described in the third chapter of his prophetic book.
Habakkuk Prays for God’s Mercy
3. On behalf of whom did Habakkuk pray, and how may his words affect us?
3 Habakkuk chapter 3 is a prayer. According to Hab 3 verse 1, it is expressed in dirges, songs of grief or lamentation. The prophet’s prayer is offered as if it were for himself. Actually, though, Habakkuk is speaking on behalf of God’s chosen nation. Today, his prayer has a great deal of meaning for God’s people, who are engaged in the Kingdom-preaching work. When we read Habakkuk chapter 3 with this in mind, its words fill us with foreboding but also with joy. Habakkuk’s prayer, or dirge, gives us strong reason to be joyful in Jehovah, the God of our salvation.
4. Why did Habakkuk become afraid, and of what exercise of God’s power may we be certain?
4 As we have noted in the two preceding articles, conditions were very bad in the land of Judah in Habakkuk’s day. But God would not allow this situation to continue. Jehovah would take action, as he had in the past. No wonder the prophet cried out: “O Jehovah, I have heard the report about you. I have become afraid, O Jehovah, of your activity”! What did he mean? ‘The report about Jehovah’ was the recorded history of God’s mighty deeds, such as at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, and at Jericho. These acts were well-known to Habakkuk, and they made him afraid because he knew that Jehovah would again use his great power against his enemies. When we see the wickedness of mankind today, we too know that Jehovah will act as he did in ancient times. Does that make us apprehensive? Of course! Nevertheless, we pray as did Habakkuk: “In the midst of the years O bring it to life! In the midst of the years may you make it known. During the agitation, to show mercy may you remember.” (Habakkuk 3:2) In God’s due time, “in the midst of the years,” may he bring his miraculous power into action. And at that time, may he remember to show mercy to those who love him!
Jehovah on the March!
5. How did ‘God proceed to come from Teman,’ and what does this indicate regarding Armageddon?
5 What will happen when Jehovah hears our prayer for mercy? We find the answer at Habakkuk 3:3, 4. First, the prophet says: “God himself proceeded to come from Teman, even a Holy One from Mount Paran.” Back in the prophet Moses’ day, Teman and Paran were on Israel’s route through the wilderness toward Canaan. As the large nation of Israel proceeded on their trek, Jehovah himself seemed to be on the move, and nothing could stop him. Shortly before Moses died, he said: “Jehovah—from Sinai he came, and he flashed forth from Seir upon them. He beamed forth from the mountainous region of Paran, and with him were holy myriads [of angels].” (Deuteronomy 33:2) When Jehovah moves against his enemies at Armageddon, there will be a similar display of his irresistible might.
6. In addition to God’s glory, what do discerning Christians see?
6 Habakkuk also states: “[Jehovah’s] dignity covered the heavens; and with his praise the earth became filled. As for his brightness, it got to be just like the light.” What a magnificent spectacle! True, humans cannot look upon Jehovah God and live. (Exodus 33:20) As for faithful servants of God, however, the eyes of their hearts are dazzled when they contemplate his magnificence. (Ephesians 1:18) And discerning Christians see something in addition to Jehovah’s glory. Habakkuk 3:4 concludes: “He had two rays issuing out of his hand, and there the hiding of his strength was.” Yes, we see that Jehovah is ready to act, using his right hand of strength and power.
7. God’s triumphal march means what for those rebelling against him?
7 God’s triumphal march means disaster for those who rebel against him. Habakkuk 3:5 says: “Before him pestilence kept going, and burning fever would go forth at his feet.” When the Israelites were close to the boundaries of the Promised Land in 1473 B.C.E., many of them rebelled, engaging in immorality and idolatry. As a result, well over 20,000 died of a pestilence sent by God. (Numbers 25:1-9) In the near future, when Jehovah marches to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” those rebelling against him will similarly suffer for their sins. Some may even die by literal pestilence.—Revelation 16:14, 16.
8. According to Habakkuk 3:6, what is in store for God’s enemies?
8 Hear now the prophet’s graphic description of Jehovah of armies in action. At Habakkuk 3:6, we read: “He [Jehovah God] stood still, that he might shake up the earth. He saw, and then caused nations to leap. And the eternal mountains got to be smashed; the indefinitely lasting hills bowed down. The walkings of long ago are his.” First, Jehovah ‘stands still,’ like a general surveying the battlefield. His enemies shake in fear. They see who their opponent is and are shocked, jumping in agitation. Jesus foretold the time when “all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation.” (Matthew 24:30) Too late they will realize that no one can stand against Jehovah. Human organizations—even those that seem as permanent as “the eternal mountains” and “the indefinitely lasting hills”—will crumble. It will then be like God’s “walkings of long ago,” like the way he acted in ancient times.
9, 10. Of what are we reminded by Habakkuk 3:7-11?
9 Jehovah’s “anger has become hot” against his foes. But what weapons will he use in his great war? Listen as the prophet describes them, saying: “In its nakedness your bow comes to be uncovered. The sworn oaths of the tribes are the thing said. With rivers you proceeded to split the earth. Mountains saw you; they got to be in severe pains. A thunderstorm of waters passed through. The watery deep gave forth its sound. On high its hands it lifted up. Sun—moon—stood still, in the lofty abode thereof. Like light your own arrows kept going. The lightning of your spear served for brightness.”—Habakkuk 3:7-11.
10 In the days of Joshua, Jehovah caused the sun and the moon to stand still in an astounding demonstration of power. (Joshua 10:12-14) Habakkuk’s prophecy reminds us that this same power will be used by Jehovah at Armageddon. In 1513 B.C.E., Jehovah showed his mastery over the earth’s watery deep when he used the Red Sea to destroy Pharaoh’s armies. Forty years later, the river Jordan at full flood level was no obstacle to Israel’s triumphant march into the Promised Land. (Joshua 3:15-17) In the days of Deborah the prophetess, torrential rains washed away the chariots of Israel’s enemy Sisera. (Judges 5:21) These same forces of flood, torrential rain, and watery deep will be at Jehovah’s disposal at Armageddon. Thunder and lightning too are in his hand, like a spear or a quiver full of arrows.
11. What will happen when Jehovah unleashes his great power?
11 Truly, it will be awe-inspiring when Jehovah unleashes his great power. Habakkuk’s words suggest that night will turn into day and day will be brighter than the sun could ever make it. Whether this inspired prophetic description of Armageddon is literal or symbolic, one thing is sure—Jehovah will prevail, allowing no enemy to escape.
Salvation Sure for God’s People!
12. What will God do to his enemies, but who will be saved?
12 The prophet continues to describe Jehovah’s actions in destroying His enemies. At Habakkuk 3:12, we read: “With denunciation you went marching through the earth. In anger you went threshing the nations.” Still, Jehovah will not destroy at random. Some humans will be saved. “You went forth for the salvation of your people, to save your anointed one,” says Habakkuk 3:13. Yes, Jehovah will save his faithful anointed servants. The destruction of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, will then be complete. Today, however, the nations are trying to wipe out pure worship. Soon, Jehovah’s servants will be attacked by the forces of Gog of Magog. (Ezekiel 38:1–39:13; Revelation 17:1-5, 16-18) Will that satanic assault succeed? No! Jehovah will then angrily thresh his enemies, pounding them underfoot like grain on a threshing floor. But he will save those who worship him with spirit and truth.—John 4:24.
13. How will Habakkuk 3:13 be fulfilled?
13 The thorough annihilation of the wicked is foretold in these words: “You [Jehovah] broke to pieces the head one out of the house of the wicked one. There was a laying of the foundation bare, clear up to the neck.” (Habakkuk 3:13) This “house” is the wicked system developed under the influence of Satan the Devil. It will be shattered. The “head one,” or anti-God leaders, will be crushed. The whole structure will be demolished, down to its foundation. It will no longer exist. What a wonderful relief that will be!
14-16. According to Habakkuk 3:14, 15, what will happen to Jehovah’s people and to their enemies?
14 At Armageddon, those trying to destroy Jehovah’s “anointed one” will be thrown into confusion. According to Habakkuk 3:14, 15, the prophet speaks to God, saying: “With his own rods you pierced the head of his warriors when they moved tempestuously to scatter me. Their high glee was as of those bent on devouring an afflicted one in a place of concealment. Through the sea you trod with your horses, through the heap of vast waters.”
15 When Habakkuk says “warriors . . . moved tempestuously to scatter me,” the prophet speaks for Jehovah’s anointed servants. Like highwaymen lying in wait, the nations will leap out upon Jehovah’s worshipers to destroy them. These enemies of God and of his people will be in “high glee,” confident of success. Faithful Christians will appear weak, like “an afflicted one.” But when the anti-God forces launch their attack, Jehovah will make them turn their weapons against themselves. They will use their arms, or “rods,” against their own warriors.
16 But there is more on the horizon. Jehovah will use superhuman spirit forces to complete the destruction of his foes. With the “horses” of his heavenly armies under Jesus Christ, he will push onward victoriously through “the sea” and “the heap of vast waters,” that is, the surging mass of enemy humanity. (Revelation 19:11-21) Then the wicked will be removed from the earth. What a forceful demonstration of divine power and justice!
Jehovah’s Day Is Coming!
17. (a) Why can we have confidence in the fulfillment of Habakkuk’s words? (b) How can we be like Habakkuk as we await Jehovah’s great day?
17 We can be sure that Habakkuk’s words will soon be fulfilled. They will not delay. How do you react to this foreknowledge? Remember that Habakkuk was writing under divine inspiration. Jehovah will act, and there will be havoc on earth when that happens. It is no wonder that the prophet wrote: “I heard, and my belly began to be agitated; at the sound my lips quivered; rottenness began to enter into my bones; and in my situation I was agitated, that I should quietly wait for the day of distress, for his coming up to the people, that he may raid them.” (Habakkuk 3:16) Habakkuk was very agitated—understandably so. But was his faith shaken? In no way! He was willing to wait quietly for Jehovah’s great day. (2 Peter 3:11, 12) Is that not our attitude too? Surely it is! We have full faith that Habakkuk’s prophecy will be fulfilled. Until it is, however, we will wait patiently.
18. Though Habakkuk expected hardships, what was his attitude?
18 Warfare always brings hardship, even to the eventual victors. Food may run short. Property may be lost. Standards of living may go down. If that happens to us, how will we react? Habakkuk had an exemplary attitude, for he said: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of the olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food; the flock may actually be severed from the pen, and there may be no herd in the enclosures; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17, 18) Habakkuk realistically expected hardships, perhaps famine. Still, he never lost his joy in Jehovah, from whom his salvation came.
19. What hardships exist for many Christians, but of what can we be sure if we put Jehovah first in our lives?
19 Today, even before Jehovah’s war against the wicked, many suffer severe distress. Jesus foretold that wars, famines, earthquakes, and pestilences would be part of ‘the sign of his presence’ in royal power. (Matthew 24:3-14; Luke 21:10, 11) Many of our fellow believers live in lands severely afflicted by the fulfillment of Jesus’ words, and they suffer great hardships as a result. Other Christians may be similarly affected in the future. For many more of us, it is quite possible that ‘the fig tree will not blossom’ before the end comes. However, we know why these things are happening, and that gives us strength. Moreover, we have support. Jesus promised: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) That does not guarantee a comfortable life, but it does assure us that if we put Jehovah first in our lives, he will watch over us.—Psalm 37:25.
20. Despite temporary hardships, what should we be determined to do?
20 Whatever temporary hardships we have to face, we will not lose faith in Jehovah’s saving power. Many of our brothers and sisters in Africa, Eastern Europe, and other places have to face extreme hardships, but they keep on ‘exulting in Jehovah.’ May we, like them, never cease to do the same. Remember that the Sovereign Lord Jehovah is our Source of “vital energy.” (Habakkuk 3:19) He will never fail us. Armageddon is sure to come, and God’s promised new world is certain to follow. (2 Peter 3:13) Then “the earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14) Until that wonderful time, let us follow the good example of Habakkuk. Let us always ‘exult in Jehovah and be joyful in the God of our salvation.’
Do You Recall?
• How may Habakkuk’s prayer affect us?
• Why does Jehovah go on the march?
• What does Habakkuk’s prophecy say about salvation?
• With what attitude should we await Jehovah’s great day?
[Picture on page 23]
Do you know what forces God will use against the wicked at Armageddon?