Sermon #15 — Habakkuk Series
Title: “The earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the
glory of the Lord.”
Text: Habakkuk 2:12-14
Subject: Evil Made Good by God
Date: Tuesday Evening—November 30, 2010
Tape # Habakkuk #15
Readings: Bobbie Estes and Rex Bartley
Five hundred years ago a Polish astronomer named Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) made a shocking discovery, a discovery that would forever change the thinking of men about our universe. Copernicus demonstrated that the sun, not the Earth, is the center of our solar system. Up until that time everyone thought the Earth was the center.
You can imagine the effect Copernicus’ discovery had on astronomy. If everything you think about the universe has for its foundation the idea that the Earth is the of everything, then every calculation made concerning the entire solar system has to be, in some sense, wrong. Copernicus’ discovery changed everything. In fact, the change was so radical that Copernicus’ discovery is considered “the starting point of modern astronomy” and the discovery that began the Scientific Revolution.
The Sun the Center
As in our universe, in the Word of God, in the things of God, in all matters spiritual, in the salvation of our souls, in all the revelation and knowledge of God, the Sun is the center of everything — The Sun of Righteousness! The glory of God in Christ is central. If ever this religious world, pastors, preachers, evangelists, missionaries, and local churches come to see this, it will revolutionize everything.
Š Man is not central.
Š The glory of God is central.
Š And the glory of God is the redemption of our souls by Christ. — The glory of God, the shining of the brilliance, the display of the splendor of God is the salvation of our souls by Christ.
Š The preaching of Christ crucified is the revelation of the glory of God.
When you see this, when you see that “Christ is all,” when you understand that the glory of God is central, it changes everything.
Š Your Message
Š Your Music
Š Your Methods
Š Your Missions
With that as the background, I want you to turn with me to Habakkuk chapter 2, I want to preach to you about this wondrous fact: — “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.”
(Habakkuk 2:12-14) “Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! 13 Behold, [is it] not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? 14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Our text begins with a pronouncement of certain wrath upon all false freewill/works religion (v. 12). The name of the city here condemned, as it is given in Scripture is “that great city Babylon” (Revelation 18:2, 10, 21), “which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8), is built with blood and established by iniquity (v. 12). She is drunk with the blood of God’s prophets, his saints, and the souls she has damned by her poison. — The damning poison of Babylon is freewill/works salvation.
Horrible as the religion of antichrist is, it shall never prevail (v. 13).
“Behold, [is it] not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?” (Habakkuk 2:13)
Satan seeks, more than in any other way, by the delusions of will-worship, by the delusions of false religion, to overthrow the purpose of God in the salvation of his elect. The fiend of hell seeks, in all things, to rob God of his glory. — But, blessed be the name of the Lord, Satan shall not prevail! Babylon shall fall and “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (v. 14).
How are we to understand this marvellous declaration? — Are we to believe that even in the midst of such base darkness and corruption as we see in the world around us God is accomplishing his purpose of grace toward his elect? — Are we to believe that even in the midst of all the idolatry and satanic will-worship religion of this age God is filling the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Triune God and making himself an everlasting and glorious name (Isaiah 63:11-14)?
(Isaiah 63:11-14) “Then he remembered the days of old, Moses, [and] his people, [saying], Where [is] he that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherd of his flock? where [is] he that put his holy Spirit within him? 12 That led [them] by the right hand of Moses with his glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make himself an everlasting name? 13 That led them through the deep, as an horse in the wilderness, [that] they should not stumble? 14 As a beast goeth down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD caused him to rest: so didst thou lead thy people, to make thyself a glorious name.”
There is only one other place in the Book of God in which we find this declaration. In Isaiah 11:9, the prophet of God declares the very same thing that Habakkuk declares here in verse 14.
(Isaiah 11:9) “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Let’s turn back to Isaiah 11. Isaiah is here talking about exactly the same thing Habakkuk is talking about, only Isaiah gives us much more detail.
(Isaiah 11:1-9) “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
In Chapter 10 the prophet of God predicted the complete reign of the Assyrians whom God had raised up to be a rod in his hand to chasten and afflict and purge his church. —— But he also promised to deliver and save his elect remnant. He promised to gather his elect to himself and take away the yoke of the oppressor. That temporal deliverance of his church from the Assyrians was intended by God to be a picture and a prediction of the great, spiritual deliverance of God’s elect from sin and Satan by Christ.
In chapter 11 Isaiah moves from the temporal to the spiritual. This entire chapter speaks of Christ. It is a prophecy of the coming of Messiah, the Prince. It describes both the character of Christ as the Messiah, our Savior and King, and the blessed influence of his grace upon men. In these verses the Holy Spirit identifies God’s Messiah, his kingdom, and his people.
Proposition: The kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, a kingdom of grace in the hearts of men.
Isaiah is talking about the very same thing Habakkuk describes in his prophecy. This 11th chapter of Isaiah is a prophesy not of some earthly, material, millennial kingdom to come at the end of the world, but of the gospel age in which we now live and of the kingdom of God into which men and women are born by grace (John 3:3-7).
(John 3:3-7) “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and [of] the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
Divisions: There are five things revealed in these first nine verses of Isaiah 11 to which I call your attention.
1. The Ascent of God’s Messiah (v. 1).
2. The Anointing of Christ (vv. 2-3).
3. The Administration of Christ’s Government (vv. 3-5).
4. The Amazing Grace of God (vv. 6-9).
5. The Advance of the Gospel (v. 9).
First, Isaiah describes the ascent of God’s Messiah in this world (v. 1).
(Isaiah 11:1) “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
The Prophet has already shown us the Divine origin and nature of Christ. He is God the eternal Son. But he is the Son given by means of his incarnation and virgin birth to redeem and save his people (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7). Here Isaiah is describing our Lord’s earthly parentage and his ascent from among men. The Messiah, the Christ of God, must be a Man who in due time arose out of the house of David (Romans 1:3-4).
This text speaks of our Lord’s humiliation. God did not send his Son with pomp and pageantry, but in humiliation. Yet, he came from the royal house of David, as a direct, lawful heir to the throne of Israel (Acts 2:30).
Christ is here called “A Rod” and “A Branch.” — Both words represent a weak, small, tender stem, a twig and a sprig that might be easily broken (Isaiah 53:2). This speaks of our Savior’s real humanity.
Then Isaiah tells us that Christ arose from the stem of Jesse rather than David. — Jesse lived and died in obscurity. His family was of no importance or significance in the world (1 Samuel 18:18). David was ridiculed by his enemies as “The son of Jesse” (1 Samuel 22:7).
God sent his Son to us through the stem, or stump, of Jesse’s house. — At the time that Christ came into the world the royal family of David had been reduced to a lifeless, hopeless, insignificant stump. Joseph and Mary, though they were heirs of David, had nothing to inherit. They were in utter poverty. — God sent his Son into the world in such circumstances to teach us that…
Š The wealth and honor of this world are contemptible to him.
Š His kingdom is not of this world.
Š Earthly power and riches have nothing to do with the success of his cause.
Second, Isaiah describes the anointing of Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King (vv. 2-3). In the 10th chapter we are told that God’s elect, though sorely oppressed, abused, and persecuted by her enemies shall be delivered “because of the anointing” (Isaiah 10:27). Here he tells us that the anointing by which we are saved is Christ’s anointing as our Savior.
(Isaiah 11:2-3) “And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”
No prophet, priest, or king in Israel was qualified for his work without special anointing from God. And Christ’s qualification for his work as our Prophet, Priest, and King arose from his anointing.
“The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him.” — The Holy Spirit with all his power, gifts, and graces came upon Christ without measure and abode upon him (John 1:32; 3:34-35; Colossians 1:19; 2:9).
(John 1:32) “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.”
(John 3:34-35) “For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto him]. 35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.”
(Colossians 1:19) “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”
(Colossians 2:9) “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
When he began his public ministry, he proclaimed himself to be the Messiah, saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me” (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1).
(Luke 4:18) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,”
(Isaiah 61:1) “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
It was and is by this special anointing and unction of the Spirit that Christ executed judgment in His kingdom (John 5:22, 27).
(John 5:22, 27) “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son… (27) And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”
As a man, our Lord Jesus needed the ministry of the Holy Spirit as much as we do, that he might know and do the Father’s will perfectly. And he received all the fullness of the Spirit as our Head and Representative that we might receive the Spirit of his fullness. The Spirit of God abode upon and in Christ throughout his earthly life as…
Š “The Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding.”
Š “The Spirit of Counsel and Might” (Isaiah 42:4).
Š “The Spirit of Knowledge and of the Fear of the Lord” (Hebrews 5:7).
We receive the Spirit in exactly these same areas from the fullness of Christ our Lord, to order our steps in this world.
It was this special anointing of the Spirit which gave our Savior, as a man, such wisdom and understanding in this world (v. 3).
(Isaiah 11:3) “And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.”
Š He grew in wisdom and stature as a man.
Š As a boy he disputed with the elders in the synagogue.
Š He knew his Father’s will.
Š He judged and reproved with supernatural, spiritual discernment.
How much more must we, who are but weak and sinful worms of the earth, seek to be filled with the Spirit of God at all times (Ephesians 5:18), that we many honor God in all things!
Third, Isaiah describes the administration of Christ’s government as Lord and King over all things (vv. 4-5).
(Isaiah 11:4-5) “But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”
Our Lord judges nothing according to appearance. But his judgment is always righteous as well as wise, equitable as well as prudent. In the administration of all the affairs of providence, and grace, and wrath, Christ always does what is right.
With righteousness He judges the poor of the earth.
Š The poor in spirit.
Š Not according to outward appearance, but according to the heart.
With equity He reproves, argues, and makes intercession, for the meek of the earth (1 John 2:1-2)
Š He reproves us for sin.
Š But he will never cease to be our Advocate.
And He shall smite the earth.
“With the rod of his mouth (The Word of God), and with the breath of his lips (The Spirit of God), shall he slay the wicked.”
Š Slay them in mercy to save.
Š Slay them in wrath to punish.
In all things Christ is both righteous and faithful (v. 5).
Š Righteousness is the strength of His work.
Š Faithfulness is the strength of His rule.
Saving Operations of Grace
Fourth, the prophet Isaiah describes the effects and results of the amazing operations of God’s grace upon the hearts and lives of chosen, redeemed sinners in Christ (vv. 6-9).
(Isaiah 11:6-9) “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Here Isaiah describes the peace and tranquility of Christ’s kingdom in this world. Grace produces peace. Grace makes sinners peaceable. Where the Prince of Peace reigns there is peace.
The church and kingdom of God is a peaceable kingdom. — Christ who is our peace has slain the enmity that once existed between his people in this world and he makes us one (Ephesians 2:13-16; Colossians 3:10-11).
“13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”
(Ephesians 2:13-16) “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:”
(Colossians 3:10-11) “And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: 11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.”
The wolf no longer threatens the lamb; and the lamb no longer fears the wolf. — “Behold,” said the saints of Saul, “he prayeth!” — Those who are in the ark, Christ Jesus, like the creatures that went into the ark with Noah, live together in peace.
Š They lie down together in the church of God.
Š A little child (pastor) leads them.
Š They feed upon the green pastures of gospel truth.
Š The sucking child, the newborn babe of God’s kingdom shall not be harmed by the old serpent.
Š The weaned child, weaned from his own righteousness, shall not be harmed by the den of iniquity — self-righteous religion.
And God’s church in this world is as safe and secure as it is pleasant and peaceable. — “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain” (Romans 8:35-39).
What a change grace has made in our lives!
Š We were, and are, all of us by nature wild and dangerous brute beasts.
Š Grace has changed us into peaceful, helpful, pleasant children of God.
Š The means of this change is the knowledge of the Lord (v. 9). —— (Gomer — Onesimus — The Gadarene — The Prodigal).
Christ’s Triumph by the Gospel
Fifth, Isaiah assures us of the advance of the gospel in this world. — It is the revelation of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ by the gospel that conquers the hearts of men. And it shall be by the revelation of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ through the preaching of the gospel that antichrist shall at last be slain.
“For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (v. 9). —— That is exactly the same thing Habakkuk asserts in Habakkuk 2:14. — “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea!”
Though there is today a great famine in the world, a famine for the Word of God (Amos 8:12), — Though gospel preachers and gospel churches are few and far between, — If I read the Book of God right, even in the midst of Babylon’s apparent rule, our God rules still, and in latter day the glory of this age God’s glory in Christ shall be made known in every corner of the earth! The glory of God in the salvation of his elect by the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus shall fill the earth as the waters fill the sea! — Gospel churches shall be found in every place. Gospel preachers shall be heard in every street. And Christ shall be known and worshipped in every corner. — “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord” shall cover the earth (Revelation 11:11).
Š Even now it is beginning to be fulfilled!
Š Babylon shall fall!
Š The Gospel shall be triumphant!
(Revelation 11:11) “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.”
(Revelation 14:6-8) “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, 7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. 8 And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
May God give us grace to publish the glory! — To preach the gospel! — To make known in all the earth the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Then, when the Lord Jesus comes in his glory, there shall come the restitution of all things to the glory of God; and all the Earth shall know that God has glorified himself in the salvation of our souls!
Between now and then, nothing shall destroy or even hurt God’s Holy Mountain, Zion, but only assist her! Then… —
(Ephesians 1:10-11) “In the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”
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