Friday, September 14, 2007

Jumping for Joy by Faith

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls —
Yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
(Habakkuk 3:17-18)
Here is a man who is not moved by outward conditions. Maybe things did not appear to be going well for him. Maybe his crops had failed, his trees were barren, and his stalls were empty. And yet, he rejoices in the Lord and joys in God.

These two words, “rejoices” and “joys,” are not tame words. Habakkuk is not speaking merely of some quiet, inner peace in his soul. No, his words describe a wild exuberance, uncontained and uncontainable. The Hebrew word for “rejoice” is alaz and means to “jump for joy.” The Hebrew for “joy” is gheel, and means to whirl and twirl and spin; it is dancing for joy.

Habakkuk is describing exultant jubilation, extreme elation, unrestrained and outright joy — even in the face of difficult circumstances. But he is not moved by what he sees; he is not troubled by the farm reports; he does not worry that he presently has no cattle in his stalls. These are merely facts, and the facts are subject to change. But Habakkuk is connecting with the truth, and the facts must eventually line up with the truth.

What is the truth he is connecting with which allows him to remain full of joy in the midst of adversity? Simply this: He is in a covenant relationship with God, and God is his salvation. He rejoices in “the LORD;” this is the Hebrew YHWH (Yahweh), the name by which God reveals Himself in covenant with His people. He joys, not just in “the God of salvation,” but “the God of my salvation.” His relationship with God is not generic or hypothetical, but real and personal.

The Hebrew word for “salvation” is yesha, which speaks of safety, deliverance, victory and prosperity. Things may not have been looking too well at the moment, but Habakkuk was hooked up with the God of his prosperity, and that is something to cut loose and dance a jig about. God made covenant vows to His people, if they would trust in Him and obey His voice (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14), and the facts would soon have to line up with that truth. Habakkuk tuned into those promises and pressed into his relationship with God. That is why he could jump and dance for joy, and confidently declare:
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer's feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
(Habakkuk 3:19)
Your prosperity and future are not determined by your present circumstances, but by your relationship with God. That is why Jesus came. Trust in Him as your salvation, rescue, victory, and even your prosperity. When you put all your confidence in Him, no matter what setbacks and adversities you may face, you will still be able to jump and shout for joy, because He is the Lord of your covenant and the God of your salvation.