One of the most disheartening things that can happen to a preacher is finding a great resource for a particular sermon a week too late. That happened to me this past week.
I just found out that Intervarsity Press published D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ sermons on Habakkuk in 1953. Lloyd-Jones, if you’re not familiar with him, was the Pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for nearly thirty years. He was one the most influential figures in the Reformed and Evangelical church in Britain in the 20th century.
Though I never met him—he died a year after I was born—Lloyd Jones has become one of my mentors, primarily in the area of preaching. His book Preaching & Preachers was the most influential book I read on preaching in seminary, and over the course of the last tenyears or so, I’ve listened to at least a couple hundred of his sermons online. He is, in my opinion, one of the greatest practitioners of expository preaching that has ever lived.
And so, I learned, after preaching half of Habakkuk, that Lloyd Jones’ sermons on this great book were available. Published in a slim little volume entitled, “From Fear to Faith.” I located a copy from a small book house in Britain and had it airmailed to me. It arrived Wednesday of this past week, and I’ve found little snatches of time this week to read through all six expositions. As you might imagine, it is remarkably good.
I took some small comfort in noticing his textual and application focus on Habakkuk 2:1-4 paralleled what we covered in last week’s message, namely, waiting upon the Lord. But what I enjoyed about Lloyd-Jones message was how he spent substantial time illustrating the principle of waiting upon the Lord from the Bible. Whether it was Noah, or Daniel, or Jeremiah, he showed that God’s people very often learn the most from God when they wait upon Him.
He finished his sermon on Habakkuk 2:1-4 with these words:
“For Christian people today, in perplexity with regarding to so much that is happening in the church and in the world, this is still the answer of God—wait. Not only is the whole future course of history known to God, and His purpose for the church made plain, but what He has decreed will most certainly come to pass. It may at times be difficult to understand the delay. Yet, ‘with God a thousand years are as one day and one day as a thousand years.’ Wait for the vision; it is certain, it is sure, it can never fail.”
These words are even more impactful when you realize that Lloyd Jones was speaking to a war torn audience in Britain at the time. After the ravages of World War II, Europe saw some of the bleakest days of hunger and disease. Many were without work and a whole generation of young soldiers had been killed. The questions circling their minds were, “What does all this mean? What is happening?” Or, as Lloyd Jones put it in his opening sermon, “Is God in control of world history?”
These are the questions many in the world today are asking. What is going on? Is God in control? Habakkuk is teaching us what it means to not stifle such questions but to instead take those questions to the Lord and probe His Word for answers. In the end, we may not get all the answers we want, at least not yet. But, we will most certainly get The Answer we really need.
Wait for it.