Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail…
Spiritual joy does not consist in mere placidity; it is not like the water, which in fertilising showers descends, and does not depend on our volition or agency; but it is like the water we draw from the well, there must be activity and labour. There can be no happiness without thought. Habakkuk thought of God, of His nature, His moral perfections, His covenant, His promise; he not only thought of God generally, but in the particular relation which He sustained to him. "I will joy in the God of my salvation." I understand Him in some measure, I feel an interest in Him and He in me. The mere fact of the existence or benevolence of God cannot make any creature happy; it is the conviction, the intelligent, deeply rooted, legitimate conclusion that He is our God, can produce joy. This was the case with Habakkuk, and must be so with every true believer.
I. TRUE RELIGION (i.e., ITS DOCTRINES, PROSPECTS, EMOTIONS) DOES IMPART JOY. Because —
1. True religion gives decision to the mind. Indecision or dubiousness is always painful, and painful in exact correspondence to the value of the object to which it refers.
2. True religion imparts true liberty to the mind. While bodily bondage is a great evil, spiritual bondage is greater; religion alone imparts to man the charter of freedom — the moment man receives true freedom he is happy, and not before.
(1) Freedom from eternal punishment. When we are brought under the influence of religion, we are led first to perceive our liability to it, and then to accept of deliverance through Christ.
(2) Freedom from the government of depravity. The moment a man feels that he is dependent for happiness upon God, he feels desirous to know, love, and please that Being.
(3) Freedom from the evils of affliction. Afflictions in themselves are evil, they make a man morose, unkind, bitter, despairing,, devilish: it is only when applied by God that they become useful to the believer s mind.
3. True religion imparts exercise and expectation to the mind. In order to be happy, there must be a right end in view — the glory of God; proper rule to guide — the Bible; and right motives to actuate — love to God and love to men.
II. THE NATURE OF THIS JOY.
1. It is always pure. When does the soul experience it! Only when it is pure. This is a question not only of facts but of degrees; not only the pure mind can be happy, but it is happy in exact proportion to its purity. When is it enjoyed? When the soul is raised to contemplate holy objects.
2. It is personal and progressive. It is secret, "I will rejoice in the Lord"; and when seen, seen only in its effects.
Parallel VersesKJV: Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
WEB: For though the fig tree doesn't flourish, nor fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive fails, the fields yield no food; the flocks are cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls: