God Only Wise

God Only Wise

(This is the manuscript basis of the message preached to the congregation of Ikthus Bacolod on 30 January 2022. Please note that the actual sermon varies a bit from this manuscript.)

Habakkuk 3:1–6

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

O LORD, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O LORD, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
God came from Teman,
and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah
His splendor covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
His brightness was like the light;
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power.
Before him went pestilence,
and plague followed at his heels.
He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered;
the everlasting hills sank low.
His were the everlasting ways. (ESV)

The message Last Sunday was a call to meet the challenges to our faith, such as this pandemic, by trusting in the Lord with all our heart instead of leaning on our own understanding because we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. As Lord says in Habakkuk 2:4, The just shall live by faith.

And here is an important principle in dealing with the things that trouble our faith. In order for our faith to emerge triumphant in spite of the perplexing providences that confront us it is necessary that we know who our God is. Daniel 11:32 says, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” What we know and believe about God will affect how we behave towards the challenges to our faith. If we think of God as someone who is not in control of what is happening, then it follows that we will be shaken by our circumstances. But if we know that God is both great and good, we will not be afraid whatever the circumstances.

That is why last Sunday we talked about the need to remember that God is sovereign, God is sagacious, and God is sufficient. Or maybe a simpler way of putting this is: we have to remind ourselves that God is in control of everything, God knows what he is doing, and God is more than enough.

We already learned about the the sovereignty of God: God is in control of everything. He does whatever he pleases. But it does not follow that he is despotic or arbitrary. He never acts whimsically and capriciously. Yes, he does what he pleases and he is in control of everything. But all his actions are guided by his perfect wisdom and conform to his perfect holiness. God does everything he does for wise and good and holy reasons and purposes.

Our text says, “His are the everlasting ways.” (Habakkuk 3:6) Everything God does, he does for wise and holy purposes in line with his eternal counsel. As far back as eternity past he already determined what he was going to do. In eternity past the Father, the Son, and the Spirit planned out everything that would unfold in history. He has already anticipated everything, he knows everything, he cannot make a mistake and he cannot be caught by surprise. He has a goal and he will succeed in reaching that goal. Everything he does is in relation to that goal. And that goal is a great and holy and good and wise goal. And as you will find out later on, that goal involves us.

Isaiah 46:9–10

‘Remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Let us explore the wise and holy reasons behind everything God does. He is not only in control of everything; he knows what he is doing. And in everything he does, ultimately he intends to do at least these three things:

He intends to display his glory clearly.
He intends to demonstrate his mercy fully.
He intends to deliver his people completely.

  1. He intends to display his glory clearly.

Habakkuk 2:13–14 — Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (ESV)

We suffer from some sort of insanity: we think the world revolves around us. We imagine that we are at the center of the universe and that everything therefore must subserve our interests, our welfare, our happiness and our comfort. We have this sense of entitlement and feel aggrieved if we do not get what we want. Let me disabuse your minds of that notion: We are not at the center of the universe. God is.

And because God is at the center of it all, the glory of God is the most important consideration in everything God does because after all he is God! It is as simple as that. He is worthy of all glory, all honor and all praise. Therefore it follows that in everything he does he does so for himself and for his glory.

“To God only wise be glory, through Jesus Christ, forever.” (Romans 16:27)

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (ESV)

The heavens declare the glory of God. (Psalm 19:1)

Proverbs 16:4 (KJV)

The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

But that is not all. For reasons known only to himself the display of God’s glory is bound up with the good of his people.

You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified. (Isaiah 49:3)

And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 42:38-41)

For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. (1 Samuel 12:22)

For my name’s sake I defer my anger; for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another. (Isaiah 48:9–11)

[God] predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:5–6)

But going back to our text:

Habakkuk 2:13–14 — Behold, is it not from the LORD of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing. For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (ESV)

During this pandemic, I have seen something that I had never seen before: bible studies online proliferating all over the world. For two years now I have been handling Bible studies via Zoom for my relatives — my mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews and nieces, brothers and sisters — in California and Texas, in Luzon and Palawan. This could never have happened if not for the pandemic. Some of these relatives I have not seen for decades. Some I have never been particularly close to. But in the course of our bible studies, I was able to share the gospel, I have seen family members reunited, and some I believe have even come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. And this has happened to many others all over the world. I believe a very important reason why God allowed this pandemic to happen was because he wants the knowledge of the glory of his grace in the gospel of Jesus Christ to fill the earth.

2 Corinthians 4:3–6

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

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