O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid; O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)
Habakkuk's song is wonderful; it is a beautiful prayer. Habakkuk says, "O Lord, I have heard Thy speech." In other words, God has answered him. God has said to him, "You think that I am not doing anything about the sins of My people, but I am. I am preparing a nation. But when I am through with the Chaldeans, I am going to judge them, and I will judge them on a righteous basis." God was moving to bring Babylon down.
The very interesting thing is that Habakkuk now reverses himself. What is he afraid of? Well, he had thought that God wasn't doing anything. Now he is afraid the Lord is doing too much!
Habakkuk says, "Lord, I didn't think You were doing anything, but I see now that You are moving in judgment. But remember to be merciful to Your people." Before, Habakkuk had been calling down fire from heaven not only upon his own nation who had departed from God but also upon the Chaldeans. Now he is saying, "Lord, don't forget to be merciful." Well, God is merciful, and God is gracious. He is not willing that any should perish.
It looks today as if God is not doing anything, but if you and I could ascend to the watchtower of Habakkuk, if we could learn that the just shall live by faith, if we could have a living faith in God and see what is moving behind the scenes and see the wheels that are turning, I think that we would be as surprised as this man was. I am not sure but that we, too, would cry out to God for mercy. A great many Christians today have thrown up their hands about the conditions in our own country — they've just given up. We all feel that way at times, don't we? But, may I say to you, God is moving today in judgment, and somebody needs to cry out to Him and say, "Oh, Lord, in wrath, as You are moving in judgment, don't forget to be merciful to us. We need Your mercy."
This great nation of ours needs the mercy of God today. What would we do in the time of a major crisis? Suppose we were attacked from the outside, how much gasoline would there be? How much of the many other chemicals that are so needed would there be? How long would we really last? It is my belief that God is moving in judgment, and we need to ask Him to be merciful to us. Shakespeare has Portia say in The Merchant of Venice (Act IV, Scene i):
The quality of mercy is not strain'd
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest.
We need His mercy. We talk about showers of blessing - what we need today are showers of mercy from Almighty God.
What a reversal has taken place in the thinking of this man Habakkuk. At first he said, "You are not doing anything, Lord. Why don't You do something? Why do You let them get by with their sin?" Now God has let Habakkuk see that He is doing something, and Habakkuk cries out for mercy. If we really knew how much God is moving in judgment, I am of the opinion that it would bring America to her knees before Almighty God.
Habakkuk's prayer is actually a recital of what God has done in the past history of the people of Israel. In view of the fact that He has done it in the past, He intends to do it again in the future. You can depend upon God's continuing to do what He has done in the past. Paul wrote about this to believers — in fact, this is my life verse: "Being confident of this very thing, that he who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6). My friend, has God begun a good work in you? He has brought you up to this present moment, has He not? He has begun a good work in you, and you can be sure He will perform it until the day He takes you out of this world and you will be in His likeness. This is our confidence, and this is the great confidence of this psalm of Habakkuk.
—From Dr. J. Vernon McGee's Edited Messages on Habakkuk ©1994