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"Though the Fig Tree Should Not Blossom" (Sermon for Thanksgiving Day, on Habakkuk 3:17-19) ^ | November 22, 2018 | The Rev. Charles Henrickson

Posted on 11/21/2018 8:38:10 PM PST by Charles Henrickson

“Though the Fig Tree Should Not Blossom” (Habakkuk 3:17-19)

A long time ago, as a young man, I decided to go backpacking in the Sierra Mountains of California. I had cousins who lived in Fresno, so I went out there and stayed with them for a couple days before heading up to the mountains. They had an above-ground swimming pool, and there were some fig trees right alongside the edge of the pool, within arm’s reach. So here I am, on a nice sunny California day, swimming around in a swimming pool, picking these delicious figs right off the tree and popping them into my mouth. Now for a city boy from Chicago, this was a rare treat! I tell you, it was easy to be thankful to God for his many blessings on a day like that, swimming around in a pool, picking figs off a fig tree.

But that raises the question: What about when there is no swimming pool and there are no figs to pick off a tree? What about when all the trees in California are burning to the ground, and the wildfires are taking a bunch of homes along with them? Can we still thank God on those days? Because, to be honest with you, there are a lot more days that are Midwest overcast than California sunny. There are more days now with achy knees than with young legs ready to go backpacking in the mountains. On days like these, can we still give thanks to God?

Let’s ask Habakkuk. You know Habakkuk, don’t you? Old Testament prophet? At the end of his book, Habakkuk talks about giving thanks to God and rejoicing in the Lord, even when things are not going so well, when the fig trees are not blossoming. Habakkuk 3:17-19:

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

Habakkuk lived in Judah about 600 years before Christ. These were really the closing years for Judah, before the Babylonians would sweep in and destroy Jerusalem and take the people captive. Rough times were on the horizon, and the prophet Habakkuk could see it. The Lord let him know what was in store for Judah, and the thought of the coming destruction and devastation caused Habakkuk great distress. How could the Lord let this happen? When a pagan nation like Babylon comes in and conquers a people, bad things are bound to happen: violence, death, economic ruin, physical devastation. Not much to be thankful for in that list.

Well, maybe you are perplexed by rough times, too. You’re sorrowing over the death of a loved one. You’re sad about a failed relationship. You’re worried about money. You’re anxious about health. What is there to be thankful for? And then there’s the state of the church. Numbers are down in our congregation. Numbers are down all across the synod. Numbers are down in pretty much all churches, all across America.

And speaking of America, this is supposed to be a Day of National Thanksgiving. But our nation seems so far from being thankful. Natural disasters, mass shootings, political discord. Everybody is angry. Everyone is upset. The nation is divided. Nobody’s satisfied. People are grumpy, not grateful. And they’re not too optimistic that things are going to get better.

But this is nothing new. Habakkuk was not optimistic when he considered what would happen to his nation. And in his case, they really would happen! Babylon would come in and devastate Judah. Ruin and misery would result. Habakkuk cried out: “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Destruction and violence are before me.” This is what Habakkuk could see looming on the horizon, and it was not pretty. In fact, it was pretty grim.

But as a prophet, Habakkuk could see through that gloomy forecast, and he saw God’s saving purpose and long-range plan at work. God’s mighty--and sometimes mysterious--hand was at work in those strange and perplexing times. The Lord answered Habakkuk’s complaint: “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” You see, even when it looks like God doesn’t know what he’s doing, that he’s not being a very good God and that we would do a much better job of being God--when we begin to doubt God’s goodness and wisdom, he reminds us that we are not in charge of things. He is, and he knows what he’s doing.

And so God had a plan at work even in the midst of the coming devastation. The Lord would work things out for his saving purpose--even if seeing the outcome of that plan would have to wait. Salvation is coming! Your deliverance is on the way! Waiting and weeping may last for a while, but I have not forgotten my promises, declares the Lord. Thus the Lord answers Habakkuk: “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

Trusting in the Lord’s promise, even though it means waiting--this is how you, dear Christian, how you will endure the tough times. “The righteous shall live by his faith,” Habakkuk famously wrote. And it’s as true now as it was then. Back then, the people of Judah had to wait 70 years for the end of the Babylonian Captivity. And then it would be another 500 years till the coming of the promised Messiah. But Habakkuk could see that salvation coming. He knew that God would not forget his people. He knew that God would not forget his promise.

That promise would be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ, the salvation of God in the flesh. He, Jesus, is the answer to our anxiety. He is the yes and amen to all of God’s promises. What is this salvation that has come in Christ? It is forgiveness for all your sins. God’s judgment fell on Christ on the cross, in your place. Salvation is the righteousness that avails before God, so that you will be able to stand in the Day of Judgment. It is healing for all our woes--for achy knees and aching souls. We may have to wait on the knees, but there is rest for our souls even now. The salvation that is in Christ will be the resurrection of our bodies, whole and glorified. It will be the restoration of creation. No more hurricanes or wildfires. Salvation in Christ is the eternal life we will enjoy with our Lord in glory, along with Habakkuk and Hosea and Haggai and all those guys from way back when. And it will include saints of more recent vintage also, like the grandpa who went with you to church or the old lady with the warbly voice who sat in the pew behind you. They’ll all be there, with you, giving thanks forever to our gracious God. And I bet we’ll even be enjoying figs from the fig trees that grow twelve months a year, alongside the river of the water of life in the New Jerusalem.

TOPICS: Religion
KEYWORDS: habakkuk; lcms; lutheran; sermon; thanksgiving; thanksgivingday

1 posted on 11/21/2018 8:38:10 PM PST by Charles Henrickson
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To: squirt; Freedom'sWorthIt; PJ-Comix; MinuteGal; Irene Adler; Southflanknorthpawsis; stayathomemom; ..


2 posted on 11/21/2018 8:40:34 PM PST by Charles Henrickson (Lutheran pastor, LCMS)
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To: Charles Henrickson

And how did God reward the Holocaust victims?

3 posted on 11/21/2018 8:49:21 PM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: Charles Henrickson; SkyPilot; Roman_War_Criminal; null and void

Habakkuk has particular meaning for me.

That being said, what is actually Habakkuk (in essence) I thought had come from Jeremiah. You referenced it.

That’s all I’ll say for now.

4 posted on 11/21/2018 9:11:03 PM PST by SaveFerris (Luke 17:28 ... as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold ......)
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To: Charles Henrickson

Wow. I have been meditating on Habakkuk more than usual lately, how timely. It can be such a bittersweet and challenging read... Bookmark.

5 posted on 11/21/2018 9:16:18 PM PST by CondoleezzaProtege
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To: yldstrk

The Holy Land Would Be Ruled By Gentiles

Jesus also predicted the nation Israel would be dominated for a long period of time by the Gentile (non-Jewish) peoples.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

The land remained under Gentile domination for two thousand years. Except for a few short years in the second century the Jews had no rule over Jerusalem until 1967. The prediction that the nation would be subject to Gentile rule has been literally fulfilled.

The Jewish People Would Be Persecuted

The people would not only be scattered, Jesus also predicted that the Jewish race would be persecuted. He said.

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For indeed the days are coming in which they will say, “Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.” Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” (Luke 23:28-30).

History records that the Jewish people have gone through terrible persecution as Jesus predicted. From the ghettos of the Middle Ages, to the Holocaust of World War II, the Jews have been a persecuted race, like no other people in history.

Though Persecuted, The Nation Will Survive

Though scattered and persecuted, Jesus also predicted the Jewish people would not perish. Though the nation was to suffer terribly, Jesus made it clear they will still survive.

And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24).

They would be persecuted until the times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled. Once this period of Gentile rule was over, the Jews would again have self-rule.

6 posted on 11/21/2018 9:17:33 PM PST by ATOMIC_PUNK (I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath.~ Sherlock Holmes)
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To: yldstrk

The Holocaust set the stage for the State of Israel.

7 posted on 11/21/2018 9:18:04 PM PST by null and void (Those who make change through the vote impossible make changes by force inevitable)
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To: Charles Henrickson

So well written. Thanks for posting.

8 posted on 11/21/2018 9:27:01 PM PST by georgiegirl (Count me Deplorable)
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To: null and void

As always, great to see a post by your most honorable Nullness. May a Null devoid of nullepathy greet the great Void.

9 posted on 11/21/2018 10:35:01 PM PST by Fungi
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To: null and void

It was too high a price.

10 posted on 11/21/2018 11:52:05 PM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk
..."It was too high a price."....

I don't think you can thwart the will of God. It has been ordained to be worse than the Holocaust in the Last Days, or a a Jew might say, "Jacob's Trouble". According to the Word of God, you really have only one choice to avoid another Holocaust, become a Messianic Jew. Jesus is Your Messiah, and He has come already. He will come again to rescue Israel, but it will be after 7 years of Tribulation with Israel being surrounded by 200 million soldiers. But he will have come to His church to take them out of the misery before the first seal is cut in Revelation 6:1. People left here after the Rapture will have to give their lives to be saved in Heaven. The ones that take the mark of the Beast will die of a horrible plague and then go to Hell.

The Jews have been chosen since Abraham to receive all of God's covenant's, all His oracles, and His Word. The Jews have set the example for the whole world to see God work. To act like we haven't done things to deserve death is fooling yourself. Abraham was told that his descendants would be in slavery for 400 years while the Amorites sin was completed. All things have been told and completed in scripture except the last days. Jesus will come back as it was in the Days of Noah and as it was in the days of Lot. You can probably figure out what the days of Lot look like, but it will take some study to know what was going on in Genesis 6:1. Finding out about Nephalim and what they were and did is the answer to that. Understanding the spirit of Esau or the Edomite spirit will lead to understanding the spirit of Antichrist.

We are right at the cusp of many prophesies in the OT and NT. Do a word search in scripture on "the Assyrian" to find out more about the Antichrist. The pope will most likely be his false Prophet from the church of Babylon. Don't even look at the RCC religion! The church at Thyatira speaks on them in Revelation 2. The RCC is the Whore of Babylon in Revelation 18. Stay away from "denominations". They are traditions of men. There will be a peace treaty for 7 years with Israel. Then read Maccabees to find out about the 3rd Temple and how it will fool Israel into thinking they are winning. Sacrificing animals are no longer in effect with Jesus giving His blood. The 3rd Temple is just a sign Jesus is coming. The 4th Temple (EZE 40's) will be built by God in the Millennium. The Antichrist will announce he is god in the next temple. It will be too late for the Jews by then.

Avoid it all by being Raptured before the trouble starts. The fig tree will will blossom,... but it will be after much trimming.

If you are Jewish, seek Jesus and you will find Him. Knock and the door will be opened because He is the Door. There is only one way and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him.

11 posted on 11/22/2018 1:56:27 AM PST by chuckles
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To: yldstrk


12 posted on 11/22/2018 2:21:43 AM PST by null and void (Those who make change through the vote impossible make changes by force inevitable)
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13 posted on 11/22/2018 4:51:39 AM PST by Big Red Badger (Despised by the Despicable!)
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To: chuckles

Why would I? The second I hear someone has become a Christian, I know they are in for a lot of heartbreak.

14 posted on 11/22/2018 5:51:36 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk
A real Christian is the Bride of Christ. How can that ever be bad? If you have brotherly love for you fellow man, you are the church of Philadelphia, which will not see the wrath of God. The wrath of man, ....probably. If they hated Jesus they will hate you. As we see everyday in the news, the spirit of Esau hates anyone that seeks righteousness. Up is down, right is wrong, and evil is good. Jesus is our Strong Tower.

If you live to 100 here on earth, that will be a twinkle in the eye of eternity. The Bible is an instruction book on how to become eternal. The spirit man is reality and the flesh man will die and rot in the earth and won't even be remembered. Man is drawn like a moth to the flame to destroy themselves. Jesus came that we might be saved from ourselves. Our nature must become like Jesus or we will perish. The whole purpose for Jesus was to save His people for Himself. We all die, but Jesus promises that we will have only one death. The second death is the killer. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. Our lives down here are just to sanctify ourselves to belong to Jesus. Any other purpose is waste and will burn up. Trying to save your life here will lose it to Heaven. Denying Jesus before men will get you denied before the Father. Jesus is our only refuge with what is coming.

It's like going to the dentist. You know you need to do it, but we keep putting it off. Eventually, the tooth will rot and have to be pulled instead of repairing it. If your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. Abandon your flesh and come to Jesus and He will save you. The Tribulation coming to he whole world will be worse than anything the world has ever seen, even the Holocaust.

15 posted on 11/22/2018 11:14:04 AM PST by chuckles
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To: chuckles

what kind of God does things through tribulation?

16 posted on 11/23/2018 4:42:38 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk

.....what kind of God does things through tribulation?....

The God of the Bible, the only true God. You got His Son killed. You think someone will pay? If you want love and grace, then love Him back. Time will run out and it will be too late, just as the rain started for Noah.

17 posted on 11/23/2018 11:16:42 PM PST by chuckles
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To: chuckles

I didn’t get His Son killed. I wasn’t here. What kind of loving parent would condemn His Son to such treatment?

18 posted on 11/24/2018 4:53:35 AM PST by yldstrk (My heroes have always been cowboys)
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To: yldstrk

I’ve never met anyone that has never sinned. Good luck with self righteousness at the Judgement Seat.

19 posted on 12/04/2018 12:46:35 AM PST by chuckles
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To: Albion Wilde

bump for later

20 posted on 12/07/2018 12:50:43 PM PST by Albion Wilde ("The word 'racist' is used to describe 'every Republican that's winning'" --Donald Trump)
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