I am blogging this Advent from #decolonizelutheranism’s Advent devotional, Shut Up. (That would be the sanitized version)
He stood and measured the earth; he looked and shook the nations; then the eternal mountains were scattered; the everlasting hills sank low. His were the everlasting ways. (Habakkuk 3:6 ESV)
Long ago, I was Muslim. And The Qur’an speaks powerfully of the Judgment Day — يوم القيامة yaum al-qiyama or “The Day of Standing” — when the earth will be rolled up and the mountains made flat and all humanity gathered to account for their deeds.
And they ask you concerning the mountains, say: “My Lord will blast them and scatter them as particles of dust. Then he shall leave them as a level smooth plain. You will see therein nothing crooked or curved.” (Qur’an 20:105-107 Khan/al-Hilali translation)
The ways of God are the foundation of the world, more foundational that the ground itself. The mountains, which seems so permanent and unchanging to us, are mere dust to God, things to be scattered when they day comes.
This is the power of God. This is the place of God. Habbakuk stands in awe of a terrible and powerful God, a God who, as in Leviticus, is a frightening presence, even in our midst, even as he is asked to come and defend us. There is no “softly and tenderly” here. There is no gentle breeze. There is no helpless, crying babe in a manger. There is just fear, our fear, that God is angry with the world as bows are drawn and spears are wielded and the nations trampled down in wrath.
But there is hope here, too. Habakkuk waits “for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.” He is hopeful, for justice, for vengeance, to be championed by the Lord. And so, even while the land is bare and yields no fruit, he rejoices. “The Lord is my strength!”
Strength to wait. Strength to see God’s work beneath the foundation of the world.