“I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved” (Habakkuk 2:1).
As we sat in our boss’s office waiting to receive our new memory verse for the week, he handed this verse to us. He read it aloud, and then we put it aside to go on with our daily devotions. I wasn’t really sure of the context of Habakkuk 2:1, but I knew I wanted to learn more about it. I decided to read the chapter when I got home to see what it was about.
The next day a gentleman who works with us spoke on this same verse during our morning devotions. He explained in depth the conflict and corruption and the idolatry that were rampant in Habakkuk’s day. He also explained how Habakkuk struggled with the notion that God was not concerned. The prophet was frustrated with evil men and wondered why God wasn’t dealing with them in the way Habakkuk thought He should. Because our modern society appears quite similar to the days of Habakkuk, this devotional stirred my heart. I wanted to find out more.
As I studied the second chapter of Habakkuk, I realized that this man of God had to trust the Lord for the future coming of the Messiah. I, on the other hand, trust God for the past work of Christ on the cross. First Corinthians 15:3, 4 describes how this was accomplished: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scrip- tures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” The saints of old trusted God and looked forward in their salvation. On the other hand, we New Testament believers look behind to see the finished work of redemption in Jesus’ death and His resurrection for our salvation.
During my years as a Christian I have found that I need to reflect on the past, to recall how God has worked in and through my life. I am not waiting to see my salvation, because that has already come in Christ and the work that He did on the cross for mankind.
Looking behind helps me to move forward in my walk with the Lord. I have only to look back to that miraculous day that He saved me from my sins and made me His child. We, like Habakkuk, walk by faith, not by sight. The trust that is required in us is given to us by the Holy Spirit. If a person does not trust and believe that Jesus came, died, shed His blood for the remission of our sins, and lives to be our intercessor seated at the right hand of God, then that person does not possess saving faith.
Looking back to consider how the Lord has given me the perseverance to continue seeking Him and serving Him is humbling. God’s great grace in perseverance enables me to press forward in Him. To me, looking back to reflect on how the Lord’s hand of protection has been my shield throughout times of trials and temptations is overwhelming. To go forward is to look back and see how merciful my God has been to me, even when I was not His child. He loved me even when I was yet in sin! That is the greatest love I have even known. To love me and to take all my sins—past, present and future— and apply them to His Son so that I might be forgiven is the greatest love, and that great love empowers me to go forward with Him! He is the One whom I am trusting in as I follow the forward path toward a closer walk with Him.
In Christ, we know that we have the victory over sin by looking back to His vicarious atonement and by daily going to God’s Word. His Word is our sustenance, and we won’t go far in our walk with the Lord without a daily filling of it. To eat is to live! To say that we don’t have time to feed on God’s Word equals a declaration that we want to starve ourselves spiritually. His Word is our strength. It is the fuel we need to press forward with God in a victorious life of walking close with Him. As a mother, I wouldn’t consider not feeding my child several times daily. Similarly, we who are Christians shouldn’t neglect our time of filling from God’s Word. Such neglect will lead to a spiritual decline in our lives. When we don’t take delight in God’s Word, we’re bound for the slippery road of apathy.
Practically speaking, I look back and see how God’s Word has guided me in making crucial decisions. His Word has shown me that, by trusting in His promises and standing on His Word, I won’t be fearful when great trials confront me. Looking backward also helps me to recognize that, without Jesus Christ in my life, I would be unable to say I live for God. It is impossible to know God but not believe that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. Jesus Himself stated in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” So, as I progress in my sanctification, I am reminded of the past work of my Savior, and that gives me my strength to go onward with Him.
A Message for Today
Rereading the book of Habakkuk, I noticed that in the closing verses the prophet did have his hope and faith in God. He trusted God, and even during evil times Habakkuk believed that God was aware of the evil and that He was in control. If we believers today will pause and reflect on how God has worked in our lives, we too can press forward in Christ and with confidence say like Habakkuk, “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation”(3:18).
We need not be fearful during times of persecution, trials, or discouragement. But fearfulness will result when we trust self, not Christ, in difficult days. Trusting in self leads to living for self. In contrast, we Christians know that God wants us to depend on Him. As His Word admonishes, “[Cast] all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1 Pet. 5:7).
Habakkuk’s Old Testament message is still a good one for today. To know that our God is the God of the Old Testament, and that He still works as He did then, is such a blessing to ponder. As Habakkuk recorded in chapter 3, verse 19, “The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”
Our hope as believers stems from the past work of Jesus Christ, which gives us eternal salvation and a shining future. Yes, let’s look back and see the great things God has done, and then let’s march forward with the good news of His precious Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Biographical information at the time of original publication: Gayle Thompson is a freelance writer living in Greenville, South Carolina. She is employed at WMUU Radio.
(Originally published in FrontLine • May/June 2004. Click here to subscribe to the magazine.)