Think of an occasion when you felt completely overwhelmed as a result of some unexpected experience. Or perhaps you are feeling overwhelmed right now. 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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.


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.


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)


“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.


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.

With the Poor in Mind

What should our attitude be towards the poor?

Habakkuk 3:14 ESV

“You pierced with his own arrows the heads of his warriors, who came like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret.”

Image by Sri Harsha Gera from Pixabay

The prophet Habakkuk speaks of God coming to the rescue of His own from the assaults of their enemy.


The term ‘heads’ could possibly indicate the conquering kings. Many commentators feel ‘heads’ may also refer to the heads of the enemy villages as comes across in the King James Version, “Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages”.

God not only dethroned kings in his vengeance but He devastated the enemy’s villages in retribution for what they had done to His people, Israel.

Notice the prophet associates himself with his people when he describes how the foe ‘came like a whirlwind to scatter me.


The Babylonians (Chaldeans) were extremely cruel in their conquest of neighbouring nations. They especially preyed on the poor.

Whereas our text, taken from the ESV, speaks of the ‘poor’, various other versions have other interpretations:

  • Wretched – NIV
  • Refugees – CEV
  • Inflicted – ISV
  • Humble – LITV
  • Meek – MKJV
  • Weak – NIrV

As I prepare for this study the world is devastated at the horrific onslaught against the Ukrainians. All of the above terms describe the predicament of the Ukrainians. Millions of the aged, women, and children, have had to flee from their homes and country. With little more than they were able to carry they have become refugees in neighbouring nations. This has caused a major problem for those nations having to cope with such an alarming influx.

Although reporters are telling of atrocities taking place on both sides of this pointless war, there have also been many stories, supported by the media, where Ukrainians have been loving toward captured enemy soldiers, feeding them, tending to their wounds and even allowing them to make contact with loved ones back in Russia. by cellular phone. 

The saying, ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,’ is so true in our country in South Africa.  Funds available for the poor and needy have been selfishly seized and utilized by the more fortunate. As we watch global news it becomes apparent we are not the only country going through this dishonesty and corruption.


  • What is your general attitude towards the weaknesses and misfortunes of others? Do you look down upon them or seek to help them?

I’ve heard a story of an English professor who was throwing questions at his class. One of his students rose to answer with his book in his left hand instead of his right hand, as was the general practice. Angrily the professor thundered at him, “Take your book in your right hand and be seated!

The student held up his right arm, which had been amputated at the wrist. The great man hesitated for a moment. Then he went up to the student and, with tears streaming from his eyes said, “I never knew about it. Will you forgive me?”

This request for forgiveness resulted in that student becoming a Christian.


Jesus has a special place in His heart for the poor. and oppressed.

As Christ’s followers, we are stewards of what the Lord has given us.

‘God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.’ (2 Corinthians 9:8,9; Psalm 112:9 NIV)

Jesus said, ‘The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. ‘ (Mark 14:7)

Yes, the poor will always be around.  And we cannot help them all. Therefore we need to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit as to whom we reach out to and help.


  • What is your general reaction to the folk on street corners who are hoping to appeal to your sympathy?

Here in South Africa in the major cities, it is the practice of folk seeking a handout to stand at busy intersections with placards requesting help.

A group of seniors from a retirement village noticed a lady standing at a particular corner day after day. They decided that they would offer her a paid job in each of their homes once a week so that she would have a regular daily income. When one of the group approached this lady with their offer, she simply laughed and said, “I get more by standing here on this corner than you could ever pay me.”


As a minister in Beaconsfield, Kimberley, we soon discovered that Kimberley was a halfway house between Johannesburg and the Cape so we were constantly approached by folk wanting a handout. Because of these numerous appeals my wife and I had to be sensitive to the Spirit’s prompting.

On one occasion, I was approached by a man who said he had just been released from prison and needed to get to Cape Town. I arranged for him to meet me at the station when the next train to Cape Town was due. My wife made up a small food parcel and I bought him a second class ticket to Cape Town. I saw him onto the train and watched as it departed. When I got back home I commented, “Well if he’s pulling a fast one He will have to remain on the train for a long way before the train’s next stop.”

Weeks later I received a phone call from my parents in Cape Town to say that the same gentleman had looked up our not common surname in the phone directory. He had found out where they lived and had called on them. He asked them to please convey his thanks to their son for helping him to get to Cape Town.


Some months ago, a group of us walked to a store a few blocks away from my son’s home. We passed a shabbily-dressed man squatting on the corner. We greeted him, and he returned our greeting. He didn’t ask for anything. While we were in the shop, one of our daughters-in-law picked up a bunch of bananas. We pointed out there were plenty at the house, but she proceeded to the till and paid for them.

On our way home, she cross the road, handed the bunch of bananas to the man, and joined us again. Such a simple gesture and they hadn’t cost much. But, besides being nutritious and filling, I’m sure that simple gift made that man’s day. 

It’s a great feeling to know that you have been able to help someone with a genuine need, but there are so many con artists that guidance of the Holy Spirit is essential.

In closing please give serious thought and prayer to whether and how the Lord wants you to help someone you know of who is in desparate need. If you’re in a group, or perhaps seek out a friend to chat with, discuss ways you can help the poor in a constructive way. It could be as simple as a bunch of bananas.

PS. If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.