In Wrath Show Mercy
Tension: What should God’s people do as they wait for the mercy at the end of his wrath?
Resolution: Rejoice confidently in his salvation.
Exegetical Idea: While we wait for God’s mercy at the end of his wrath, we rejoice confidently in his salvation.
Theological Idea: We can rejoice confidently in the gospel while we wait for Christ’s return.
Homiletical Idea: While we wait for Christ to return, we must rejoice confidently together.
Intro: Are we there yet?
God will come in wrath to show his mercy.
Habakkuk’s request: "In your wrath show mercy.”
Revive your work, make it known. What is that work? It is mercy in the midst of wrath.
The first cycle
Come up from the desert (3a)
Splendor over the heavens and earth (3b)
His brightness is like his sun, yet even this is only a veiled representation of him (4)
He sends forth pestilence and plague like an animal (5)
His look shakes the earth (6)
He is able to scatter the everlasting mountains because his were the everlasting ways (6b)
Far away nations come fear at his power (7)
The picture of God’s salvation over the waters as in Exodus (8)
God’s wrath will give way to his salvation
God’s word is his power (9)
The second cycle
God splits the mountains with the rushing waters (9-10)
At God’s command, teh sun and the moon stand still (Joshua) or they move (11)
God marched through and stamped down the nations (12)
God goes out to save his people (13a)
In doing so he crushes the head of hte wicked (13b) with first a hit to the belly and then a hit to the head, a sign of a divine victory in the ANE
God will turn the ways of the wicked back on themselves (14)
God will defeat the waters by carrying his people out (15)
Christ will come in wrath to show his mercy (Rev 19:11-16)
Notice how Christ comes as a conquering warrior to trample down the enemies of God. Yet, just before this is the wedding super of the lamb (19:6-10). All those who have put their faith in Christ will be with Christ in teh end. Yet, to receive this mercy, Christ must show judgment to those who have refused him.
Christians do not fall into the error of utopianism. We know that left to its own devices, humanity will not continue to get better and better. Rather, even in our most advanced societies, even in the best of best societies, stark injustices prevail. There will always be haves and have nots. Until Christ comes and sets it right, no amount of education, no amount of government, no wars, no activists, no social network will make it right.
Christians do not fall into the error of apocalypticism. We do not despair about the future. We are not afraid. We don’t need to spend our time wondering about which way the world will come and get us. Whereas today in our world, we have any number of people predicting disaster from either political party, from global warming, from nuclear war, from disease and death. Rather, we know that when Christ comes to show his wrath on the world, he will come to show his mercy on his people.
Rather, Christians are profoundly hopeful about the mercy that God will show his people in his wrath.
So how should we wait for Christ to return? with confident joy together.
Though I might be nervous, I will quietly wait for God to show his wrath on our oppressors (16)
The things that we count on to sustain us in this world will give way (17). ALl of these things were necessary for life in the ancient world. For us it would be the equivalent of saying, though my car doesn’t work, i can’t pay my bills, my bank won’t lend me money, I lose my job, my marriage crumbles, my children leave me. Though allt hese things fail.
I will rejoice in the Lord, take joy in the God of my salvation. NOtice here how this is joy in God. If you spend your life aiming to find joy in anything else, than you will always feel empty. But if you spend your life aiming to find joy in God, then nothing else will satisfy.
He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me sure footed and makes me tread on high places. Confidence. (Illustration, like a child on a dam)
Notice all of these worshipping instructions (vs. 19b, 1a)? Notice all the selahs throughout? That is to show the original purpose. That is to show that this worshipping would take place together. You see, when we worhsip with God’s people, it helps us to rejoice together. Hebrews 10:25, “Don’t neglect to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
About this joy
Sometimes joy is put on Christians like a law. Like you must be joyful or else. Which is why it makes it difficult for some Christians to have joy. Because sometimes my life doesn’t seem joyful.
Yet this joy is a promise for us. Not that taking joy in God will be easy, not that we will always feel like it, but rather that it will make us strong and confident in God’s love for us.
Does this describe your joy in Christ? Your relationship with Christ?
Conclusion: Are we there yet? Not yet. But we’re closer now than we’ve ever been before.