Think of an occasion when you felt completely overwhelmed as a result of some unexpected experience. Or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed right now.
Habakkuk 3:15 NIV
‘You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.’
“You trampled the sea with your horses”. The prophet recalls God’s miraculous intervention on behalf of Israel at the Red Sea when the sea parted so the Israelites could pass through on dry land. When Pharaoh and his army tried to follow, the waters returned to drown the entire army. (Exodus 14)
Despite the fact that this historical event took place centuries earlier, it nevertheless served to remind Habakkuk of the sovereignty of God—and gave him the assurance that the Lord could be counted on to save His people once more as he had done in the past.
- Think back to that occasion you thought of at the start of this study. How did you handle it? Or how could you best handle it today?
From time to time in life we encounter situations where we begin to feel overwhelmed and drowning. When we appeal to God to remove the trying circumstances, He often will not actually remove the waters that are overwhelming us. Instead, He may choose to make a pathway through these difficulties as He made a pathway through the Red Sea.
OVERWHELMED WITH GUILT
We are on the brink of one of the most important days on the Christian calendar. As I post this, tomorrow we will celebrate Good Friday. and reflect upon our Lord’s sacrifice upon the cross of Calvary.
But today I want us to briefly give some thought to the twelve. When their Master Jesus was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane all of them became overwhelmed by feelings of guilt.
a) Judas Iscariot
Judas definitely felt the most guilty. What motivated him to betray Jesus is a mystery. All we know is soon after Mary anointed Jesus with costly perfume ( Mark 14:3-9), “Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them.” (Mark 14:10)
Upon Jesus’ arrest, he came to his senses and tried to reverse the procedure.
“Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.” (Matthew 27:3-5 ESV)
b) Simon Peter
During what we refer to as the last supper Peter made a bold declaration.
“Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter responded, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!”(Matthew 26:33 – 35 ESV)
Jesus was arrested, and Peter followed at a distance to the courtyard of the high priest. On three occasions he was challenged with regard to his association with Jesus. Each time he denied knowing Jesus.
Soon after a rooster crowed, And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:75 NIV)
c) Nine Disciples
At the last supper, the rest of the disciples, apart from Judas who had left to betray Jesus, echoed Peter’s words, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” (Matthew 26:35 ESV)
In the garden of Gethsemane after Jesus’ arrest we read, “..all the disciples left him and fled.” (Matthew 26:56 ESV)
d) John – the Beloved Disciple
John who had a very special relationship with Jesus must also have been overwhelmed by Jesus’ arrest. However, in the gospel of John he refers to himself as another disciple as he records:
“Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest,” (John 18:15 ESV)
Seemingly John witnessed the whole of Jesus’ trial and sentencing. Then along with some of the faithful women, he was the only disciple present at Jesus’ execution on Calvary’s hill.
Their Master was dead and ten of the disciples were devastated and retreated into their overwhelming feelings of guilt. One hanged himself, and one took his savior’s mother to live in his home as if she were his own.
AN OVERLOOKED MESSAGE
As Calvary drew near, on several occasions Jesus had warned those disciples that his arrest was imminent:
“From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Matthew 16:21 CEV)
While Jesus and his disciples were going from place to place in Galilee, he told them, “The Son of Man will be handed over to people who will kill him. But three days later he will rise to life.” (Matthew 17:22,23a CEV)
As Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, he took his twelve disciples aside and told them in private: We are now on our way to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law of Moses. They will sentence him to death, and then they will hand him over to foreigners who will make fun of him. They will beat him and nail him to a cross. But on the third day he will rise from death. (Matthew 20:17-19 CEV)
Two days before Passover Jesus said, “You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross.” (Matthew 26:2 CEV)
And even at the last supper, Jesus predicted his own arrest and their confusion. “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'” (Matthew 26:31 ESV)
What Jesus predicted took place. He was arrested, put on trial, falsely accused and condemned to crucifixion.
All the amazing things God did for Israel of old, cannot compare with what He has done for you and me when Jesus Christ His Son died on the cross for our sins.
There is nothing in all time and eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross—He made it possible for the entire human race, (that is; for every single person, ) to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God. The Cross is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there. (My Utmost for His Highest – Oswald Chambers – 6 April reading)
SHOW ME THE CROSS
“One of the reference points of London is Charing Cross…A little girl was lost in that great city. However, a policeman found her. Between sobs and tears, she explained she didn’t know her way home. He asked her if she knew her address. She didn’t. He asked her phone number, she didn’t know that either. But when he asked her what she knew, suddenly her face lit up.
“I know the Cross,” she said. “Show me the Cross and I can find my way home from there.”
“Keep a clear vision of the Cross on your horizon and you can find your way home.”
( from ‘And the Angels were silent” by Max Lucado)
When overwhelmed like that little girl, we feel lost. We don’t know which way to turn. Admit to God that you are confused. That you don’t know the best way forward. Don’t make any hasty decisions. Be still and trust the Lord to show you the way forward.
DON’T LET CIRCUMSTANCES OVERWHELM YOU
Paul exhorts believers to:
“…stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:58)
“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,” (Ephesians 6:14)
The prophet Habakkuk was aware that life at times would be overwhelming. But that the God who opened the Red Sea for the Israelites is still opening pathways through seemingly overwhelming circumstances for His people today.
Whatever the overwhelming circumstances you may be facing don’t despair. Don’t give up. Jesus understood how His disciples would be thrown into confusion at His death. He assured them that “…after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Mark 14:28 ESV)
Share your confusion with Jesus. Ask Him to provide you with a pathway through your problems as He made a pathway through the Red Sea.
If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.