2015-12-08 - Habakkuk
Form and Theme
- Form: Ungers speaks to the literary form of the work.
“Habakkuk, like Nahum and Isaiah, is couched in sublime poetry, reflecting the classical era of Hebrew prophecy. The magnificent lyric ode of chapter 3 contains one of the greatest descriptions of the theophany in relation to the coming of the Lord which has been given by the Holy Spirit, awaiting fulfillment of the Day of the Lord (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).
As has been the case of late, I will probably take at least one side trip during this series and that is to take one session to talk about “the day of the Lord.” This will probably occur when we look at chapter 3.
- Theme: The most important aspect of the minor prophets are their themes. These generally refer to the relationship between God and Israel, but they often go beyond this to God and the world. Blue says of the theme:
“In the dark days of Jehoiakim’s reign just before the Babylonian Captivity, the Prophet Habakkuk penned an unusual message of hope and encouragement for God’s people. Though doubts and confusion reign when sin runs rampant, an encounter with God can turn those doubts into devotion and all confusion into confidence.
Habakkuk’s book begins with an interrogation of God but ends as an intercession to God. Worry is transformed into worship. Fear turns to faith. Terror becomes trust. Hang-ups are resolved with hope. Anguish melts into adoration.
What begins with a question mark ends in an exclamation point. The answer to Habakkuk’s “Why?” is “Who!” His confusion, “Why all the conflict?” is resolved with his comprehension of who is in control: God!”
“… the prophecy of Habakkuk–contains important truth which no reverent student of the Word of God can afford to overlook. Brief as it is, it is directly referred to, or quotations made from it, a number of times in the New Testament.
The great apostle to the Gentiles is particularly partial to it, finding in it the inspired authority for the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith, and the certainty of judgment to come upon all who reject the testimony of the Holy Spirit as to the Lord Jesus Christ. … There is evidently a very close connection between Hab. 3:17, 18 and the 4th chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians.”
Consider the following comparisons between Habakkuk and the New Testament writings.
“Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: “‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”” (Acts 13:40–41 ESV).
“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5 ESV).
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Romans 1:17 ESV).
“Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”” (Galatians 3:11 ESV).
“… but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him” (Hebrews 10:38 ESV).
“See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright–but the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4), ESV).
“The theological value of Habakkuk, however, cannot be limited to a few, though crucial, NT quotations. The prophet asked some of the most penetrating questions in all literature, and the answers are basic to a proper view of God and his relation to history. If God’s initial response sounded the death knell for any strictly nationalistic covenant theology of Judah, his second reply outlined in a positive sense the fact that all history was hastening to a conclusion that was certain as it was satisfying.
In the interim, while history is still awaiting its conclusion (and Habakkuk was not told when the end would come, apparently for him prefigured by Babylon’s destruction), the righteous ones are to live by faith. The faith prescribed-or “faithfulness,” as many have argued that emunah should be translated–is still called for as a basic response to the unanswered questions in today’s universe; and it is this, a theology for life both then and now, that stands as Habakkuk’s most basic contribution.”
- Larson, Gary N., reviser, The New Unger's Bible Handbook, Moody Press, Chiciago IL, 1966, p. 331
- Blue, Ronald, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 1, Habakkuk, Victor Books, Wheaton IL, 1086, p. 1507
- Ironside, H. A., Notes on the Minor Prophets, Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., Neptune NJ, 1966, p. 271.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.
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CFD | November 2015
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