Monday, August 8, 2016

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm..." - Habakkuk

I've had a bee in my bonnet the last couple days about reading some of the shorter prophetic books of the Bible, and one that was niggling at me was Habakkuk.  Such a cool name.  And way shorter than Isaiah.

According to the various sources I looked at, Habakkuk dates from somewhere between 605 - 597 B.C., an era of Babylonian expansion that was capped by Nebuchadnezzar's victory over Judea and his capture of Jerusalem.  The city was pillaged and thousands were deported to Babylonia.  In 587 B.C. his forces destroyed the city completely.

Habakkuk is only 3 chapters long.  The first 2 chapters are in the form of a dialog with the Lord - Habakkuk's lament and questioning of the Lord's government of the world, his horror at God's use of evil and destructive men to bring His people back from their failings and sinful ways, and the Lord's answers.  The last chapter is a canticle, a hymn exulting the glory and power of God that ends with a statement of faith in the face of trouble:
For though the fig tree blossom not
   nor the fruit be on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fail
  and the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold
   and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
  and exult in my saving God.
God, my Lord, is my strength;
  he makes my feet swift as those of of hinds
   and enables me to go upon the heights. (Habakkuk 3: 17- 19)
This shift from lament to rejoicing reminds me of Psalm 22, the beginning of which is familiar to every Christian:
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? (Psalm 22:1)

Unlike many Christians of today,  faithful Jews of Jesus' time would have known that Psalm 22 ends in victory and rejoicing:
All the ends of the earth
  will worship and turn to the Lord;
All the families of nations
  will bow low before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
  the ruler over the nations.
All who sleep in the earth
  will bow low before God;
All who have gone down into the dust
  will kneel in homage.
And I will live for the Lord;
  my descendants will serve you.
The generation to come will be
  told of the Lord,
  that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn
   the deliverance you have brought. (Psalm 22:28-32)
But I digress...

Back to the Prophet Habakkuk.

Chapter 1 really got my attention.  Basically, the format is:

Habakkuk:  Lament
God:  Reply

How long, O Lord? I cry for help
  but you do not listen!
I cry out to you, "Violence!"
  but you do not intervene.
Why do you let me see ruin;
  why must I look at misery?
Destruction and violence are before me;
  there is strife, and clamorous discord.
This is why the law is benumbed,
  and judgment is never rendered:
Because the wicked circumvent the just;
  this is why judgment comes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1: 2-4)
I don't know about you, but this pretty well expresses how I feel day in and day out anymore.

The Lord answers:
Look over the nations and see,
  and be utterly amazed!
For a work is being done in your days
  that you would not have believed, were it told.
For see, I am raising up Chaldea,
  that bitter and unruly people,
That marches the breadth of the land
  to take dwellings not his own.
Terrible and dreadful is he,
  from himself derive his law and his majesty.  (Habakkuk 1: 5-7)
The prophet is horrified at the tool God chooses:
Are you not from eternity, O Lord,
  my holy God, immortal?
O Lord, you have marked him for judgement,
O Rock, you have readied him for punishment!
Too pure are your eyes to look upon evil,
  and the sight of misery you cannot endure.  (Habakkuk 1: 12-13)
You know how stuff just wanders around in the back of your mind before something makes you think about it?

Hm.  Where did Isis come out of?  Iraq and its neighbors...

Yeah, I'm not real happy with Habakkuk and his prophesy right now.


  1. Yep, what you see is what you get... Sigh

  2. As has been said, it's a lot more having a testimony than GETTING one. I'm afraid we're getting one, right now.

  3. We are in for some interesting and perhaps trying times.