Habakkuk 3:16 — Body, Belly, and Bones
I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. (ESV)
One childhood memory that I have is of my father taking me to a tractor pull. A tractor is attached to a weighted sled. The farther the tractor pulls the sled, the more resistance the sled gives to the tractor. The tractor which can pull the sled the farthest wins the event. I remember watching several tractors trying to pull the sled. Then a tractor drove to the line. A man had taken the engine from a surplus army tank and put it in his tractor. The tractor began to pull and the engine went to work. The engine roared, and the ground began to shake. The engine worked so hard that I remember as I stood watching that I felt my bones vibrate because of the sound of the laboring engine. What an odd and exciting sensation that was! It still gets my testosterone flowing.
Habakkuk uses a similar sensation to illustrate the greatness of God’s punishment upon those who hate Him. God will use His awesome power to destroy His enemies. Habakkuk encourages the people of Judah to worship Jehovah. Habakkuk desires for his audience to respond with reverent fear. God’s revelation of Himself is the basis for the worship. All worship is based in a revelation of God. Every instance of worship found in the Bible is closely connected with some aspect of God’s self-revelation. True worship can only be done when you are affected by some aspect of God’s revelation of Himself to you. You may respond physically to the worship of God.
Worship always stems from some aspect of God’s self-revelation. For example, Isaiah 6 describes what happened when God revealed Himself to the prophet in a vision. Isaiah could only respond with worship, and he fell on this face in holy reverence. The example found in Isaiah is only one of a host of passages connecting the revelation of God to man’s worship and man’s consequent worship response.
When was the last time you were physically moved by the revelation of God? Perhaps you had to jump and shout for joy. Perhaps you had to fall on your knees in humble confession. Perhaps you wept for joy; perhaps you wept for fear or for guilt. True worship of God demands a response.
The Northeastern culture in which I live tends to be stoic in worship; I would go so far as to say too stoic. To illustrate how stoic we are, let me ask another question. Let us say that someone entered our church to worship with us. During the singing of one of the hymns, that person raised his hands. If you were honest with yourself, you would most likely consider that person to be a charismatic, whether they really were or not. Yet, we read in Psalm 63:4, “So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.” David responded physically to the worship of God. Is lifting the hands in worship a wrong response? If it is, then we must say that Habakkuk was wrong too. We would have to say that many people in the Bible were wrong for their physical responses to worship.
Spontaneous physical responses to the self-revelation of God are not wrong, if they are not done from self-seeking, attention-getting motives. Yet, who can say that gasping at the beautiful mountain scene is self-seeking? When you gasp, do you gasp because of yourself or because of the scene? When a person responds to God by some physical posture or gesture, are they responding because of self or because of God? God desires that we love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. The strength in that verse refers the body.
The worship of God ought to inspire in us a spiritual and a physical response. Habakkuk could not help but respond physically to the awesome revelation of God. The spiritual response of Habakkuk was rejoicing and trust. The next time that your heart leaps for joy because God has revealed Himself to you in His Word, in the preaching of His Word, or in even the ordinary circumstances of life, allow yourself to respond physically to the spiritual work God is doing in your life.
What are your thoughts on this verse?
What physical responses do you generally connect with worship?
What would you say to someone who said that physical responses to worship were wrong? were right?
When was the last time God’s self-revelation in His Word moved you to a physical response in your worship?