Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: God doesn’t measure time the way you do. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come” (2 Peter 3:9-10). “If it seems slow, wait for it” (Habakkuk 2:3).

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, October 14.

As a child, you probably drove your parents crazy sometimes, asking, “When will we get there? How much longer?” You might still be asking similar questions of God. Habakkuk did.

We’ve been looking at the life of this Old Testament prophet, discovering how relevant his questions still are today. Here’s Nancy to continue the series, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith.

Nancy: We’re learning so much about the heart and the ways of God as we go through the book of Habakkuk. I hope you’re reading it with us. We have on our website some questions for reflection as you study the book and make it personal in your life.

I hope that you’re making it your study—that you’re seeking the Lord and not just listening to the seeking that I’ve done from the book of Habakkuk. I’m hoping just to whet your appetite.

A friend said to me the other day, “After we’re done with these recording sessions on Habakkuk, I’ll know a lot more about Habakkuk than I did before.” That’s because you don’t hear this book talked about a whole lot. I hope you’ll not only know it but love it and love God more because of what we’re seeing in it.

We’re in chapter 2. We saw in the first two verses that Habakkuk stationed himself to wait and see what God would say to him in response to the turmoil that was going on in his heart over the world conditions: The fact that the Babylonians, the Chaldeans, were going to be the instrument God would use to chasten His people.

Habakkuk knew God’s people needed to be chastened, but he thought perhaps those measures were a little severe. He couldn’t see how God could bring on this kind of calamity in order to accomplish His purposes.

But once he told God what he thought about all this, he said,

I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what [God] will say to me (verse 1).

He prepared himself now to hear God’s answer.

We looked in the last session at those precious words in verse 2: “And the Lord answered me.” We talked about the fact that God still does speak to His people today through His Word, by His Spirit.

God spoke to Habakkuk and said, in essence, “I’m going to give you the message that is needed for your day.” The message is called a vision, as we read on in the text.

He told Habakkuk, “I want you to write that message down so that others can read it and hear it as well.” He says in verse 2, “The Lord answered me.”

Here’s what God said:

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets so he may run who reads it (verse 2).

Write the vision. God says, “I’m going to show you something. I’m going to tell you something. I’m going to give you My message.” And the rest of chapter 2 is God’s message. We won’t get to that today.

First He tells Habakkuk, “Before you even know what it is, this is something I want you to record. I want you to write it down. I want you to make it plain on tablets so he may run who reads it. What I’m about to show you, write it down and then publish it so others can hear it. Make it plain so that it can be read and understood—so he may run who reads it.”

These are in the days, of course, when people didn’t have Internet news coming into their house. They didn’t have USA Today. So when there would be an important announcement, it would be written down on a clay tablet or papyrus.

Then runners would take copies of the message out to all the outlying areas so people could get the message. This message was to be given to runners, figuratively speaking—messengers, who would take it throughout the land.

Now the vision or the message that follows (we’re not going to get to that part today) was a hard message, as we’ll see in the next several days. It was a message of judgment.

Sometimes the answer, the vision, the message God gives His servants from His Word is a message of judgment. God said to Habakkuk, “I want the ones who take this message out, the messengers, to run with it.”

Now, if you have to take somebody tough news, are you going to want to run with that message? I mean, “You’re going to get cancer” or “God’s going to destroy this city.” If you have a message like this, do you think you’d be hesitating to take that message?

But God said, “This is such an important message; and ultimately this message, hard as it is, is going to save lives. I want the messengers to run with it, to declare it without faltering.”

Sometimes God gives us a tough message to give. Sometimes on Revive Our Hearts I tremble inside. I’m thinking, “Do I actually say that? Is God really wanting me to say that?”

So much of what we say on this program is counter-cultural. It runs opposite to the flow, not only of the world but of the Christian culture; and sometimes I shake inside when I think of what I have to say in order to speak the Word of God to women today.

But God says, “Run with the message. Give it without faltering.” As you deliver the message of judgment, you’re not delighting in the fall of the unrepentant, but you’re earnestly seeking their repentance, their brokenness and their salvation.

The message God gives us, the message God gives you for one of your children from His Word, may be a hard message. But God says, “Don’t drag your heels. Run to tell it.”

Now, in response to Habakkuk’s burden and his questions, God is going to reveal to Habakkuk what’s going to happen to both the Babylonians and to the Jews. Judah is about to be swallowed up by the Babylonians. That’s the thing Habakkuk has really been struggling with.

But God wants Habakkuk to look beyond that and see that one day God will swallow up the Babylonians; that these vicious, ruthless people who are going to swallow up the Jews—that’s not the end of the story.

God is going to deal with the Babylonians as well. Their judgment is certain, too. God is going to judge the Babylonians for their sin as He is about to judge the Jews for theirs.

But the fulfillment of this promise, the fulfillment of this story, the working out of it will not happen right away. So before God even gives this message to Habakkuk, He warns him that the vision he is about to see is not going to be fulfilled right away. He says, “You’re going to have to wait to see its fulfillment.”

Look at verse 3:

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

What is God saying? “The vision awaits its appointed time,” the vision being the message, what God is going to do. God is saying there is an appointed time for its fulfillment. It’s God’s appointed time—His time, not ours.

And that time is not yet. “I’m going to tell you what is going to happen,” as God has told us many things in Scripture about what is going to happen in the future. But God says, “It’s not going to happen yet. It will happen. It will certainly happen, but there’s an appointed time.”

God has appointed the time. God knows when that time will happen, and it will happen in its appointed time and not before.

That’s important for us to remember because sometimes God shows us in His Word things that are going to happen, and then we get impatient because it’s not happening. God says, “There is an appointed time. I have ordained when this will happen.”

The plan of God, the promises of God may seem slow to be fulfilled. They may seem to lie. They may seem to deceive us. It may seem sometimes as if they are not going to be fulfilled at all.

You read promises like the one we’re going to see later in Habakkuk: “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea” (see verse 14).

Well, it doesn’t look like that’s happening. If anything, paganism is rampant. Liberalism is rampant. People are opposing God. It looks like evil is winning.

But we read in the Scriptures that righteousness and God are going to triumph. It looks like God’s promise isn’t being fulfilled. But God says, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Now, it may delay as far as we measure time, but we are so earthbound. We don’t live in the realm of eternity in the sense that God does.

That’s what Peter said in the book of 2 Peter, chapter 3, to people who were tired of waiting for Jesus to come back. He said,

Don’t overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. [God doesn’t measure time the way you do.]

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come (verses 9-10).

“If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay,” God said to Habakkuk.

One mother was just sharing with me about a teenage child who is severely handicapped and has major issues. They’re struggling to deal with those issues, and it goes on and on and on and on.

Whatever the situation is, the circumstance that you’re going through right now is not the end of the story. It may feel like it’s going on forever. It will not go on forever.

For those who believe, God’s promises are a source of comfort and peace and hope. But for those who do not believe, they are a sober warning to be heeded. The day of the Lord will come.

You see, if you’re not a believer, that’s a threat. If you are a believer, that gives you hope. The day of the Lord will come! This day that you’re living in now will not be forever. God is going to finish the story.

So God says to Habakkuk, if it—the vision, the fulfillment of God’s promises, the fulfillment of God’s plan—if it seems slow, wait for it. Wait for it. It will surely come. It will not delay.

Now, we’re going to come back to this theme of waiting later in the book of Habakkuk. You’ll have to wait for that. But I want to pause here for just a moment because the book addresses it a couple of different times, so I think it’s worth repeating.

This verse from Habakkuk chapter 2, “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay,” is quoted with a little bit of variation in the New Testament, in Hebrews chapter 10. You may want to turn there.

The context in Hebrews 10 is that New Testament believers are suffering greatly for their faith. They’re being persecuted. In verse 36 the writer says,

For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For [and here’s the quote from Habakkuk], “yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay” (verse 37).

Now, if you’re looking at the two passages, compare them. There’s a little difference there. In Habakkuk it says, “It will surely come.” That is, the fulfillment of God’s vision and promises. “It will surely come; it will not delay.”

What does Hebrews say? “The coming one will come and will not delay.” It talks about it in Habakkuk. It talks about someone in Hebrews.

Who is the someone who will come? It’s Christ! Jesus! The writer of Hebrews applies Habakkuk 2:3 to the second coming of Christ: It will come.

Now, in Habakkuk God is talking about this vision of the destruction of the Babylonians. That’s the immediate situation, the immediate vision. That’s what he’s saying. “If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

But when we get to the New Testament, the writer says, “It’s not only the destruction of the Babylonians. That has come and gone by now. But it’s the return of Christ to finish this story.”

So when you are suffering and you don’t think you can go on any longer, what does the writer of Hebrews say? You need endurance.

What will keep you going? What will help you endure in the hard and nasty here and now while you’re waiting for God’s promises to be fulfilled and it feels like they never will be? What will keep you going? It’s the promised return of Christ.

So he says, “Keep your eye on what’s ahead. If it seems slow, wait for it. For yet a little while . . .” You say, “A little while?! We’ve been waiting centuries, millennia for the return of Christ!”

A thousand years is as a day to God. So a couple of days have passed since this promise was made. You say, “It’s been thousands of years!” That’s in our economy. In God’s economy, just a couple of days.

“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.” So the return of Christ may seem to be delayed. You say, “Lord, come quickly. Get me out of this mess.”

He says, “You have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, ‘Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.’”

He will come. It’s certain. He will come to judge the wicked. He will come to rescue the righteous. So endure. He will come to your situation in His way and in His time. So wait. Don’t give up.

As the old gospel song says,

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.1

In yet a little while the coming One will come. He will not delay.

So we see from this passage in Habakkuk that God has made His way plain. He said, “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets.”

God has revealed to us in His Word what’s going to happen. We know the end of the story! We know who wins. We know that the rider on His white horse is going to come and conquer all evil, and righteousness will prevail. Jesus will reign as King and Lord forever and ever and ever. We know the end of the story. God has made His way plain.

We know what’s going to happen to the proud. They’re going to be judged. We know what’s going to happen to the faithful. They’re going to be rescued. These are themes that run all through the Scripture. And we know that what God promised will happen in His appointed time.

So in the meantime, God is saying to Habakkuk, and the writer of Hebrews is saying, “In the meantime you will be sustained through hard times. You will be carried through hard times. And you’ll be able to carry on when things don’t make sense and it looks like evil is winning.”

How? By believing God. By faith. As we’re going to see, that is the theme of this book. We’re not there yet, but it’s setting the stage: by faith. It’s faith that will enable you to wait patiently, to wait quietly and not to be anxious or perturbed by your circumstances.

Why do we live these whining, worrying lives when we could live in hope? When we could sing? When we could rejoice? We say, “I’ll sing and rejoice after God gets me through this mess.” And God says, “No. In the middle of this mess, hold on; endure, because the coming one will come, and He will not delay.”

Believe God. Yet a little while the promise will come. God has a purpose. He has a plan for this world. He has a plan for your life. And all of God’s purposes and plans will be fulfilled in His time, on His timetable, not yours. You have need of endurance.

How do you get endurance? By getting all your prayers answered in the next three minutes? That doesn’t build endurance.

Some of you are runners. How do you get endurance? By running. Not by running a hundred yard dash, but by running miles and miles and miles. That’s how you build up endurance.

How do you build up endurance in this life? “You have need of endurance.” You do it by running through difficult places, hard paths, temptations and tests and problems and challenges and tears and fears. But you keep your eye on the finish line and you run by faith that God is going to fulfill His plan and His promises.

So in the meantime, while we’re running, while we’re building endurance, while we’re waiting, we wait for the Lord. We wait for Him. He will work. He will vindicate righteousness. He will right all wrongs. As the Scripture says in Habakkuk, “ If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Oh ladies, that verse ought to give you so much hope. It ought to give you courage. It ought to give you faith, in whatever your circumstance is today that seems to be taking so long to deal with.

You pray for revival. Lord, there are women in this room who have prayed for revival for years, for decades.

I know some of you. Some of you pray more for revival than I do, by far, and you’ve longed for it, and you’ve waited for it, and you haven’t seen it coming. In fact, it looks darker today than when you first started praying for revival.

But I heard a woman just a little bit ago talking to someone else in the room, and she said, “I know God’s going to send it.” God has put faith in her heart. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come, in God’s time and in God’s way; it will not delay.

Don’t get weary. Don’t give up. Keep believing God. Keep exercising faith. In the meantime, be careful not to take matters into your own hands and try to fix it yourself, to fix your circumstances.

I get so many letters and emails from listeners who regret having taken matters into their own hands rather than waiting for God to fulfill His purpose in their lives. I got a long email this past week.

I don’t have time to read the whole thing, but the woman grew up in a horribly dysfunctional home and became sexually promiscuous. She ended up marrying a very ungodly man. In the midst of trying to survive this terrible marriage, a friend introduced her to Christ.

But her husband didn’t come to faith. He didn’t get right with God. He continued his sinful behavior. She said, “I finally caved in. I divorced my husband.”

Then she talks through this whole series of events. She actually ended up remarrying, and in the process of marriage this second time came back to the Lord. She had become angry with God because God hadn’t changed her first husband, and she’d moved ahead without God.

She had become angry and impatient, so she got rid of the first husband. God was merciful. She got a second husband who loved the Lord, who loved her. She’s come back to faith.

But it’s interesting now, as God is dealing with her; she’s saying, “I’m wondering now, if I’d stayed, might my husband eventually have come to the Lord as well? Did I give up too easily?” God has brought her to the place where she’s realized she needs to repent of having not waited on the Lord in the first marriage.

Now, that doesn’t mean she should get out of her second marriage. She’s in that now, and she can be blessed in that. She can be right with God in that. But she’s dealing with some of these past issues in a way that I think is important.

She’s saying, “I’ve finally understood that my happiness should never come at the expense of obedience to God’s Word.” She said, “I’ve been struck by God’s amazing grace in spite of the fact that I didn’t wait, that I plowed on ahead, that I didn’t wait on the Lord. God has been merciful to me.”

I think of that wonderful passage in Psalm 37:5-11:

Commit your way to the Lord; 
  trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
  and your justice as the noonday.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
  fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
  over the man who carries out evil devices!
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!

Fret not yourself; it only tends to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off;
  but those that wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.
In just a little while [that’s in God’s economy], the wicked will be no more.

Think about that! In just a little while, the wicked will be no more. Do you think, “I can’t go on living in this circumstance”? You can. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
  though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek [the humble, those who believe God] shall inherit            the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.
Though it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come.
The coming One will come. He will not delay. Amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been providing some great perspective on waiting, judgment, and eternity. It’s the type of practical insight we’ve been getting from the book of Habakkuk.

Women have been surprised to discover how relevant the questions of this Old Testament prophet can be. Nancy’s been encouraging us to read and re-read the book of Habakkuk while this series airs, and I hope you’re doing that.

To help you dig into this helpful book, we want to send you a booklet. It’s a 30-day study of Habakkuk called Worry, Woes, and Worship. It will walk you through Habakkuk, help you apply its ideas to your situation, help you worry less and trust more.

We’ll send you the study Worry, Woes, and Worship as our thank you when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. This radio program comes to you every day thanks to the gifts of our listeners. Your donation will help us connect hurting, needy women to life found in God’s Word.

You can donate by calling 800-569-5959. When you call, ask for the Habakkuk study, Worry, Woes, and Worship. Or you can donate online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

What is faith? It goes beyond simply what you believe intellectually. Nancy will explain tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1"When We See Christ." Esther Kerr Rusthoi.

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