Lessons from a Fig Tree

June 28, 2008

For about 7 years now, God has used Habakkuk 3 to minister to me on a yearly basis (and often even more frequently). It seems that each year, God uses personal study, public preaching, or the testimony of friends to use this passage to work in my heart in a big way. Here’s a few thoughts I jotted down a couple of years ago:

Deep within our Bible, there are untouched treasures. We often refer to them as the Minor Prophets. Many people avoid them, for fear of their harshness; boring end-time prophecies,; or simply not remembering they’re there. Yet we do ourselves a great disservice by doing so.

One of the rich books of this section is Habakkuk. The book begins with a turbulent song about Habakkuk’s concern for his nation, Israel. God continues to show His love and faithfulness. One of the really neat aspects of this portion of Scripture is that is points to Christ (though in reality, all of Scripture points to Christ!)

In Habukkuk 3:17, Habakkuk expresses his woes:

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls:

Wow! Life was pretty tough for Habakkuk-much worse than the trouble he probably had pronouncing his name.  (On a serious note, look at the context of the first part of the chapter!)

In truth, let’s look at what was going on:

All that he/Israel did seemed to be in vain, though there was much labor and hard work. (Edited: not only that, but they were also facing the judgment of God!)

Do you ever feel like everything that you do is without a cause? That no matter how hard you try, you have no success?

Everything that was being attempted here failed!  (Edit: This is just one aspect of applications; I realize that the whole picture is much, much more than Habakkuk just coming to grips with himself as a failure.)

But this is not the end of the story! Habakkuk knew his Saviour, and was set upon keeping his faith in him.

In Habakkuk 3:18, Habakkuk determines that he will look to his Savior for his joy:

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Ah, yes! How easy it is to forget about our God-our Savior-in times of difficulty. But we must remember, and we must remember that our hope and faith can only bring joy when it is placed in Him alone!

But Habakkuk does not stop here-he goes on to determine that the Lord IS HIS STRENGTH! And He is!

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. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Look to the Savior! He alone can satisfy; He alone gives strength!

In recent weeks, our pastor has been preaching through Habakkuk, and focused on Habakkuk 3 this past Sunday evening. I wish I had more time to expound on how God is using it on my life, but I think one aspect I came away with was understanding what the fig and olive tree were to the people in Habakkuk’s time. Though to us they are luxury foods, to the children of Israel, in their present situation, they were the basic food items.

For them to fail or be destroyed meant that the worst expected outcome had occurred. Our pastor exhorted us to look at our lives and come face to face with what could be the worst possible scenario, and give it to God in the same way that Habakkuk did.

It is so easy for me to try to come up with my own solutions for life’s troubles. But the “worst case” would actually be that I (or anyone else) could not come up with a solution. No oxen in the stall? How about no food? And no, I can’t go elsewhere to buy it, grow it, or etc…there’s simply no food. Would my attitude still be the same? It’s been great food for thought as I’ve reflected on yet another aspect of this passage, and am thankful for God once again using this passage in my life..

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