Habukkuk and Prayer's Delays
The Times of the Gentiles
The Root Cause of Violence and Wars
When a Nation Self Destructs
World War 3
His name means "Embracer." Date: probably about 600 BC. (Samaria fell to the Assyrians is 722 BC. Nineveh fell in 612, Nebuchadnezzar defeated Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 BC, 160 years after Jonah's visit there. Invasion of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, 597 BC. Fall of Jerusalem, 585 BC).
Habakkuk identifies himself as a prophet in the opening verse. Due to the liturgical nature of the book of Habakkuk, there have been some scholars who think that the author may have been a temple prophet. Temple prophets are described in 1 Chronicles 25:1 as using lyres, harps and cymbals. Some feel that this is echoed Habakkuk 3:19b, and that Habakkuk may have been a Levite and singer in the Temple.
There is no biographical information on the prophet Habakkuk; in fact less is known about him than any other writer of the Bible. The only canonical information that exists comes from the book that is named for him. His name comes either from the Hebrew word (khavak) meaning "embrace" or else from an Akkadian word hambakuku for a kind of plant.
Although his name does not appear in any other part of the Jewish Bible, Rabbinic tradition holds Habakkuk to be the Shunammite woman's son, who was restored to life by Elisha in 2 Kings 4:16.
It is unknown when Habakkuk lived and preached, but the reference to the rise and advance of the Chaldeans in 1:6–11 places him in the middle to last quarter of the 7th century BC. One possible period might be during the reign of Jehoiakim, from 609 to 598 BC. The reasoning for this date is that it is during his reign that the Neo-Babylonian Empire of the Chaldeans was growing in power. The Babylonians marched against Jerusalem in 598 BC. Jehoiakim died while the Babylonians were marching towards Jerusalem and Jehoiakim's eighteen-year-old son Jehoiachin assumed the throne. Upon the Babylonians' arrival, Jehoiachin and his advisors surrendered Jerusalem after a short time. With the transition of rulers and the young age and inexperience of Jehoiachin, they were not able to stand against Chaldean forces. There is a sense of an intimate knowledge of the Babylonian brutality in 1:12–17.
The name Habakkuk means "embracer," not in the romantic sense, but in a comforting sense and this is a great book of comfort. Comfort is probably the most distressing problem that human beings have to face: the great question of why God allows certain things to happen. I do not know any more up-to-date and relevant question than that one. As you read through this prophecy of Habakkuk you will discover that the problem he wrestled with and eventually learned the answer to -- thus becoming a comforter and embracer of his people in their distress -- is exactly the problem that you and I wrestle with today. For the prophet lived in a time very similar to our day -- a time when everything was going wrong. He lived when there was great national corruption and distress, when the nation and land was filled with violence, with hatred, and with outbreaks of evil. His distress is reflected in the opening phrases of the book (chapter 1, verses 1-4):
The oracle of God which Habakkuk the prophet saw.Doesn't that sound like today? Why, Habakkuk says, does he have to cry "Violence!" and hear no answer? Here is the great problem of unanswered prayer. Here is a man who is disturbed about his nation. He sees everything going wrong. The people are living in wickedness; there is unrest, violence, injustice and oppression throughout the land. Those who have the responsibility to correct this do nothing about it. When the whole matter is brought before the courts, the courts themselves are corrupt. So Habakkuk is greatly troubled.
O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and thou wilt not hear?
Or cry to thee "Violence!"
and thou wilt not save?
Why dost thou make me see wrongs
and look upon trouble?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
So the law is slacked
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous,
so justice goes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:1-4 RSV)
He is a man of God and he knows that the thing to do with a problem is to take it to God -- and he has been doing that. He has been praying about his problem. But he does not get any answer. So his perplexed heart in bewilderment cries out, "Lord, how long do I have to keep this up, crying out to you like this? You do nothing about it. I have been watching for a change, watching for an outbreak of revival, watching for something to happen, yet nothing happens. How long must I continue?"
Have you ever felt that way? Look around at our nation and you can see everything breaking up, the shaking of long-standing foundations, people turning away from the faith and questioning things they never questioned before. People are expressing doubts, even outright unbelief, in circles where doubts have never been expressed before. Have you been praying for loved ones, wanting to see God change them and reach their lives, and nothing happens? This is the problem of unanswered prayer. It is a great problem and it perplexes the prophet.
But now God answers Habakkuk. The amazing thing about this prophecy is that it is not addressed to the people at all. Rather, this is a dialogue between a man and God. That is why it is so up-to-date. Every one of us is named Habakkuk and each of us faces this problem from time to time. God answers (verse 5):
Look among the nations, and see;In other words, God says, "I have been answering your prayer, Habakkuk. You accuse me of silence, but I have not been silent. You just do not know how to recognize my answer. I have been answering but the answer is so different from what you expect that you will not even recognize it or believe it when I tell you. But let me tell you what it is." Then God goes on (verse 6 ff):
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told. (Habakkuk 1:5 RSV)
For lo, I am rousing the Chaldeans,Does that sound like anyone you know? You could substitute the communists, or, in the last generation, you could have replaced Chaldeans with Nazis. Here is God's answer to the prophet's problem: God says that he is preparing to raise up this nation of the Chaldeans. Now at the time Habakkuk wrote, the Chaldeans were not an important people. (Another name for Chaldeans is the Babylonians.) These names are used interchangeably in the Old Testament but at the time the prophet wrote, the great nation that frightened all the other nations and ruled as the great tyrant of the world of that day was the Assyrian nation. Their capital was Nineveh, referred to in previous prophecies.
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize habitations not their own.
Dread and terrible are they;
their justice and dignity proceed from themselves.
Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Yea, their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
They all come for violence;
terror of them goes before them.
They gather captives like sand.
At kings they scoff,
and of rulers they make sport.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they heap up earth and take it.
Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god! (Habakkuk 1:6-11 RSV)
This is what bothers many people as they look at what is happening in the world. The thing that has threatened the faith of many has been the problem of history. Why does God allow things to happen the way they do? Why does he permit such terrible events to occur in human history? I recently saw the results of a survey of the questions that non-Christian students were asking on campuses around our country. Number one on the list was: "How can a just or loving God allow men to suffer? Why would God create us and then allow disease and starvation and all those other terrible things?"
Now there are many who ask that question today and many whose faith is actually faltering because of this. They are saying, "How can this be? What kind of a universe do we live in?" Of course, others are quick to supply an answer. They say, "Well, the answer is that there is no God and it is no use thinking there is one. We are living in a machine-like universe, with ponderously clanking gears, and nobody really knows what makes it operate. Chance put it all together. You only fool yourself when you imagine a father image out of the desire of your heart, and you call it God."
The reason they say this is because of the apparent inactivity of God. That is one of the mysterious things about God, isn't it? The poet, William Cowper, said, "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform." And the ways of God are full of mystery to us. We have to recognize that there are times when we just cannot understand how God is moving. It does not seem to make sense, and the instruments he chooses are sometimes so out of the ordinary. God is so unorthodox. He is always doing things the wrong way, and picking up the wrong people and operating in the most surprising fashion. One of the things that you learn about God after you live with him for a while is that he is always doing the unexpected. It is not because he delights to puzzle us, but because the variety of his workings are so infinite that our feeble human minds cannot grasp them.
Now that was the problem that afflicted Habakkuk. He was puzzled by this strange silence and then when he heard how God was moving, he could not understand that either. But now he does a very wise thing and the next section of this book is a most important passage because it tells us how to handle this kind of a problem. What do you do when you are confronted with this sort of a threat to your faith? When you see what looks like inaction on God's part and then maybe you see that he is acting, but in a way that seems utterly unbelievable, what do you do? One of the great needs in our Christian life is to understand the method of approaching problems like this. And the method can be outlined very simply. There are four very simple steps and as we go on you will see how the prophet follows them through.
First of all, stop and think. Do not react emotionally to the problem. Do not let panic grip you, or some terrible fear come over you. Stop and think. All right, think about what? Second, restate to yourself the basic things you know about God. Do not try to solve the problem immediately. Back away from it and begin with God. Go back to what you know about God and his character as it has been revealed to you in revelation and by experience. Then, take what you know about the character of God and bring it to bear on the problem. That is the third step. And finally, if you have not come to an answer, leave the rest with faith in God and ask him to show it to you. That is the way.
Notice how the prophet does this. First, he starts thinking about God (verse 12):
Art thou not from everlasting,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die. (Habakkuk 1:12 RSV)
Habakkuk has reminded himself of some great things in that statement, "Art thou not from everlasting?" The first thing that he thinks about is that the God he knows is an everlasting God. God sits above history He is greater than any span of human events. He created history. He is from the beginning and he is at the end. He preceded the beginning; he lasts beyond the end. He is the God of eternity. That is the first thing the prophet reminds himself of. When these Chaldeans come, they will trust in their own might as their God. "Oh, yes," Habakkuk says, "but my God is not like that. My God is not one of these localized tribal deities. He is the God who covers history, who himself governs these events, the everlasting God."
Second, the prophet reminds himself that God is the self-existent one because he uses a very special name for God. He says,
Art thou not from everlasting,When the word "Lord" is all in capital letters as it is here, it is a translation of the Hebrew word for Jehovah. Jehovah means "I am that I am." The great name that God revealed to Moses when he was in Egypt. At that time he said to him, "Go down to Egypt and tell Pharaoh that 'I am that I am' sent you." (Ex. 3:14) Do you know why Habakkuk reminded himself of this? Because there were people in his day going around saying that God was dead. There always are. There is absolutely nothing new in this. Let us get rid of this egotistical idea that we are the first generation that has had any problems. They have happened to all the people before us. There is nothing new. While people went around saying that God was dead, Habakkuk went right back to what he had learned about God. God is self-existent and cannot die. It is impossible for a self-existent person to die. "I am that I am."
O LORD my God? (Habakkuk 1:12a RSV)
Third, Habakkuk reminds himself of the holiness of God. "My Holy One." Now what does holiness mean? I dare say most of us use this word without any idea of what it means. Does it mean that he is some sort of a fearsome being and that we had better be careful not to get too close to him because he is holy? No, holiness is wholeness, completeness; it is being a whole person. It means essentially that God is consistent with himself. He is always what he is. He is never anything different, never a phony. He never pretends or puts on. That is holiness.
You can find this reflected all through the Scriptures -- the unchangeability of God. The writer of Hebrews says, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands...they will be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years will never end." (Hebrews 1:10-12) Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. With him there is no shadow of turning, no changeability at all.
After the prophet reminds himself of this, he immediately adds these words, "We shall not die." What does he mean? He is thinking of the fact that God has made a covenant with Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would raise up a nation that would forever be his people and that he would never allow them to be eliminated from the earth. The prophet is reminding himself of that, in the face of this fearsome threat. The Chaldeans are going to come rolling across this land. He will see his own beloved Jerusalem ravished and captured and his people led away into captivity. But there is the reminder that God is not going to let the worst happen. They will not die. They will not be eliminated. God's faithfulness remains. He is unchangeable.
So the prophet comes now to a conclusion that settles at least the first part of his problem. He says (verse 12):
O LORD, thou has ordained them as a judgment;
and thou, O Rock, hast established them for chastisement. (Habakkuk 1:12b RSV)
"Now I understand why you are raising up the Chaldeans; it is your way of waking my people up to their folly, to their awful stupidity in turning away from you. They think they can live without you, and yet how many times have you sent prophets to them, pleading, begging and reminding them of your word? You have poured out blessing after blessing upon them, and still they go on in their senseless folly, taking it all for granted, thinking they can go on living without you. Now I see what you are doing. You are raising up a people to shock them into reality, to awaken and chastise them. I understand this now."
Is there any question that God does this in history? Doubtless this is why the Nazis were allowed to come so suddenly to power, to ravish Europe and then be suddenly struck down again. It was to awaken the Western world to its greediness, its covetousness, its wickedness, and to its departure from the things of truth and of God. God is saying something through this. He is shaking the nations. This is God's pattern throughout history.
Then the prophet says, "I see that, but now I have another problem." He goes on (verse 13):
Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evilAnd Habakkuk goes on to describe the wickedness of the Chaldeans. "Now," he says, "I can see how you are raising up this nation to punish these people, but I don't understand this. Despite the wickedness of my own people, they are not as bad as these Chaldeans. How is it that you are using a wicked, godless, ruthless people like this to punish your own people? This I don't understand." Have you ever heard that? Have you ever heard anybody say, "It is true that America has problems, and maybe are kind of a wicked people, but we are not as bad as the Communists (or the Nazis, or whoever else might be our enemies at the time). God won't let these people take over here, because after all, they are far worse than we are."
and canst not look on wrong,
why dost thou look on faithless men,
and art silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he? (Habakkuk 1:13 RSV)
So the prophet says, "I don't understand this." And since he does not know what to do, he follows the fourth step; he just leaves the problem with God. Now that is a very wise thing to do because out human minds do not grasp all the intricacies of history. There is so much that we do not understand. So at this point many people say, "It must mean there isn't any God" or "God is not like the Bible says he is" or "I can't believe this. If God won't explain to me what he is going to do, I can't believe in him any longer."
But the prophet says, "Well, I don't understand, but then you are mightier than 1, and I will just wait for you to reveal it to me." Notice how he begins chapter 2:I will take my stand to watch,
Can you do this? When you bring a problem to God and explain it all to him in prayer, do you get up and start worrying about it again? (How is this going to work out? What do I do next?) That is the thing that defeats us so many times. But the prophet leaves it there. He says, "It is up to you." Verse 2:
And the Lord answered meIn other words, "Habakkuk, I am going to tell you the answer. Now I want you to write it down and I want you to write it so plainly that anyone who reads it will be able to immediately tell the answer abroad, spread it all over the land." Then God adds these significant words (verse 3):
"Write the vision;
make it plain upon tablets,
so he may run who reads it." (Habakkuk 2:2 RSV)
"For still the vision awaits its time;God is saying, "Habakkuk, this isn't going to happen right away. There is going to be a lapse of time, but it will come." This is the character of God's revelation. First God says that an event will happen. Then he says, "Don't you worry about what happens in between. Even though it looks like everything is going wrong, what I have said will happen is going to happen, and if it seems to delay, wait for it. It will come."
It hastens to the end -- it will not die.
If it seem slow, wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay." (Habakkuk 2:3 RSV)
Then God goes on to state a principle that is quoted three times in the New Testament and forms the basis for the greatest movements that God has ever had among human beings. He says these words (verse 4):
"Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fall, but the righteous shall live by his faith." (Habakkuk 2:4 RSV)These words are quoted in the New Testament in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews This is the word that lit a fire in the heart of Martin Luther, "The righteous shall live by faith." Not by circumstances or by observations or by reasoning, but by faith in what God has said will happen.
In these words the prophet is shown that there are only two possible outlooks on life. There are only two attitudes by which we can face life. Either we face it in faith depending upon God, or we face it in unbelief depending upon our own ability to reason out everything. These are the two fundamental attitudes, and they are the only two. You can only have one or the other. If you look around you will see that every human being on the face of the earth can be put into one of these two categories. Either they are trusting in the wisdom of the human mind to study events and arrange solutions, and they try to analyze the writings of clever men and come to conclusions about human events based on these sources, or they take what God has said and believe that when he has said a thing will happen, it will happen and that all of history converges into and hinges on that promise.
Now that is the difference between a man of faith and a man who lives by his reason. One of the saddening things to me is to see how many Christians are being trapped into actually living by reason, and by the cleverness of the human rational processes, in the name of Christianity. There are many who say that the job of the church is to organize people who are disadvantaged in some way so they can exercise political influence and power, bringing pressure to bear on the leaders of the nation to correct abuses, and that this is the Christian thing to do. Now I am not suggesting that it is wrong to help people in need. This is entirely right, as God leads. But the processes of depending upon pressure blocks and picket lines and so on is not even remotely Christian. That is not what the word of God says to do at all. In contrast, look at the stories of the men and women in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews How did they change the world of their day? It says that they endured as seeing one who is invisible. They were not expecting man to do anything. They were expecting God to work and God always did work. As he worked, things began to change, and the history of that kind of working is the amazing success story of men and women who stopped the mouths of lions, subdued kingdoms, toppled thrones, won empires and changed the course of history by faith -- not by counting on man to work but on God.
Throughout the rest of the chapter, then, there is a very interesting analysis of the Chaldeans and what God plans to do with them. To summarize, God says to the prophet, "Now Habakkuk, don't you worry about the Chaldeans; it is true that I have purer eyes than to behold evil and it is also true that I am raising up this people to judge the nation of Israel, but in turn I will judge the Chaldeans. The very thing in which they trust will prove to be their downfall. Their very gods will overthrow them." And he pronounces five woes on these people (verse 6):
"Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own (Habakkuk 2:6b RSV)
[Woe to the man who lives by the philosophy, "I will get everything I can and it doesn't matter how I do it."]
Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm! (Habakkuk 2:9 RSV)
[Woe to the fellow who is devoting all his efforts towards being secure and safe in his old age. God says that he will find the foundations pulled out from under him
and everything he has invested himself in will be swept away.]
Woe to him who builds a town with blood,
and founds a city on iniquity! (Habakkuk 2:12 RSV)
[Woe to those who trust in violence to achieve what they want.]
Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink of the cup of his wrath,
and makes them drunk,
to gaze on their shame! (Habakkuk 2:15 RSV)
[Woe to the man who creates fear in those around him in order to rule over them, and to gain from them.]
Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake... (Habakkuk 2:19a RSV)
[Woe to the man who trusts in a false god, who thinks that the forces around him are able to control him, give him life and fulfill his desires.]
Finally, in chapter 3 the prophet concludes with a most remarkable prayer. Here he has seen his answer. God is the God of history and he is moving; he has everything under control. The thing we need to remember is that these forces and the problems created by them are not solved by trying to come to grips with only the immediate problem. That is like taking aspirin to cure cancer. It will never work. No, these problems can be solved only by the relationship of man to God. Habakkuk says (verse 20):
But the Lord is in his holy temple;Then he begins this mighty prayer (chapter 3, verse 2):
let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2:20 RSV)
O Lord, I have heard the report of thee,Habakkuk began this book by saying, "Lord, why don't you do something." Now he says, "Lord, be careful, don't do too much. In wrath remember mercy. I see you are working Lord, but remember in the midst of it that you are still a God of mercy." That is all he has to say. there is no more philosophy, no more theology, no more arguing with God.
and thy work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years renew it;
In the midst of the years make it known,
in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2 RSV)
This prayer is one of the most remarkably beautiful, poetic passages in all the Scriptures. Read it and see how the prophet is doing nothing more or less than going back and remembering what God has done in the past. That is what convinces Habakkuk that God can be trusted. He rests upon events that have already occurred, events which cannot be questioned or taken away or shaken in any way; the great fact that God has already moved in human history. And this is where faith must rest. We do not live by blind faith. We live with a God who has acted in time and space, who has done something, who has indelibly recorded his will in the progress of human events. The prophet looks back to God's action in Egypt when Israel was in trouble and remembers here how God moved (verses 3, 4):
God came from Teman,Remember how he hid his power from Pharaoh, and then flashed out in sudden acts of miraculous intervention? The prophet says (verse 5, 6):
and the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens,
and the earth was full of his praise.
His brightness was like the light,
rays flashed from his hand;
and there he veiled his power. (Habakkuk 3:3-4 RSV)
Before him went pestilence,He remembers how the people of Israel were afflicted and in the wilderness, and how in the land of Midian they trembled. Then he thinks of the crossing of the Red Sea and how God made a way through the waters, and he is reminded of how the Jordan River was rolled back when they came into the land (verse 10):
and plague followed close behind,
He stood and measured the earth;
he looked and shook the nations;
then the eternal mountains were scattered,
the everlasting hills sank low.
His ways were as of old. (Habakkuk 3:5-6 RSV)
The deep gave forth its voice,Habakkuk recalls how at the request of Joshua (verse 11)
it lifted its hands on high. (Habakkuk 3:10b RSV)
The sun and moon stood still in their habitation (Habakkuk 3:11a RSV)
This is the kind of God we have. The God who actually moves in human history to accomplish events that no man can duplicate. As the prophet thinks of all this, his mind goes out to the greatness of God and this is the way he concludes (verse 16):
I hear, and my body trembles,He sees the problem and he knows it is coming. The fearsomeness of it grips him, and he feels the pressure. But that is not all. He adds (verses 17-19):
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones,
my steps totter beneath me.
I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us. (Habakkuk 3:16 RSV)
Though the fig tree do not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like hinds' feet,
he makes me tread upon my high places. (Habakkuk 3:17-19 RSV)
Have you discovered that? That though the problem remains and the pressure is still there, there can be a strengthening of the inner man that makes the heart rejoice and be glad even in the midst of the difficulty. That is what Habakkuk discovered. "The Lord himself," he says, "is my strength." And that is New Testament truth. That is the great secret of a Christian. Not that God takes the problem away. The world is desperately trying to find a way to get rid of the problem. But God has ordained that the problems shall remain. "In the world you have tribulation," Jesus said, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John. 16:33) 1 love the title of a book by Dr. Edman, former president of Wheaton College. It so gloriously sums up what a Christians' attitude should be in the midst of difficult times. Do you know what it is? "Not Somehow, But Triumphantly." Not just getting through it somehow, but triumphantly.
Though the fig tree do not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength. (Habakkuk 3:17-19a RSV)
Our Father, thank you for this revelation of the great truth we find running throughout the Scriptures, that you are the God of history. No event takes place but that is in your program and all things are moving in relationship to your divine kingdom. What you have said will occur will occur, and the record of the past corroborates it, and all the twistings and maneuverings of men will not prevent it. Lord, help us to lift our eyes to you in the midst of our problems and remember the God of our salvation, the God who is our strength, and thus find the answer right in the midst of affliction. We ask that you will make us to live this way -- not somehow, but triumphantly. We ask in Christ's name. Amen.Habakkuk: History is in God's Hands, by Ray C. Stedman, August 28, 1966. See also: Habukkuk and Prayer's Delays
1 The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw.
Verb tenses are not as clearly specified in the Hebrew language as they are in English. In a number of prophetic passages of the Old Testament the verbs are commonly translated as past tense in our English Bibles. However, the prophetic future tense can equally well be used. (Note: When the Hebrew letter waw ו added before a word it means "and." When added as a suffix it means "his." Waw before a verb indicates a change of the tense of the verb from past to future and vice versa (a verb in the past tense with a waw in front of it is to be understood as future tense).
Notice in the passage quoted below how the words of the prophet Habakkuk take on new meaning for the end of the age if one switches the verb tenses from past tense to future.
Habakkuk lived just before Nebuchadnezzar's siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple so he was downhearted and grieved because God was bringing great Israel against the chosen people through a foreign people of even great wickedness. It was a dark hour for history similar to the hour that Israel faces in our own time, so Habakkuk's words and prayers applied both to his immediate situation. Yet his prayer would seem to apply equally well to the end of the present age.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.
O LORD, I have heard the report of thee, and thy work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years renew it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.
God will come from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran (i.e., from Bozrah/Petra). His glory will cover the heavens, and the earth will be full of his praise. Selah. His brightness is like the light, rays flash from his hand; and there he will veil his power. Before him goes pestilence, and plague follows close behind. He will stand and measure the earth; he will look and shake the nations; then the eternal mountains will be scattered, the everlasting hills sink low. His ways will be as of old
I see the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian tremble. Is your wrath against the rivers, O LORD? Is your anger against the rivers, or your indignation against the sea, when you ride upon thy horses, upon your chariot of victory? You will strip the sheath from thy bow, and put the arrows to the string. Selah. You will cleave the earth with rivers. The mountains will see you, and writhe; the raging waters sweep on; the deep gives forth its voice, it lifts its hands on high. The sun and moon stand still in their habitation at the light of your arrows as they speed, at the flash of your glittering spear. You will stride the earth in fury, you will trample the nations in anger. You will go forth for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You will crush the head of the wicked (one), laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah. You will pierce with your shafts the head of his warriors, who come like a whirlwind to scatter me, rejoicing as if to devour the poor in secret. You will trample the sea with your horses, the surging of mighty waters.
I hear, and my body trembles, my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones, my steps totter beneath me. I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds' feet, he makes me tread upon my high places. (Habakkuk 3:1-19)
The Second Coming of Jesus
In this description, Habakkuk [makes] five points concerning the Second Coming of the Messiah. First, he pointed out the place of the Second Coming (vs. 3a), God [will come] from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Teman is in Mount Seir, within the land of Edom or Southern Jordan, which is just north of the city of Bozrah. Mount Paran is in the Southern Negev, across the Arabah from Mount Seir. According to Micah 2:12-13, Isaiah 34:1-6 and 63:1-7, the initial place of the Second Coming will be the city of Bozrah or Petra. He will first come to the city of Bozrah or Petra, and from there He will move on into Israel. This verse gives the route that He will take. He will first go north of Bozrah or Petra till he comes to or by way of the city of Teman. From Teman, He will make His way down Mount Seir, cross the Arabah proper into the Negev Desert, and come by way of Mount Paran, and then into the land of Israel from the southeast. So as to place, He will return to Israel from the direction of Teman in Edom and Mount Paran in the Southern Negev.
Secondly, when the Second Coming occurs, it will come in conjunction with the Shekinah Glory (vss. 3b-5). The Shekinah Glory at the Second Coming is described in five ways: first, the Glory will cover the earth, secondly, the brightness will be the brightness of light; thirdly, rays will issue from His hands, fourthly, there will be a bright light that will hide His power, and, fifthly, the Glory will be destructive against the sinners, because these rays coming out of His hands will ~ be death rays by which He is going to destroy the enemy--the armies of the Antichrist.
The third thing about the Second Coming of the Messiah is the effect it will have upon the nations (vss. 6-7). It will have two effects: first, the nations will be driven asunder; and, secondly, they will be filled with fear. The fourth thing describes the oath of God (vss. 8-11). The judgment of God will affect the waters, so the question will be raised (vs. 8), "Was it against the waters that the judgment of the second coming came?" The answer will be, "No" (vs. 9). The judgment came because of God's oath to save the tribes of Israel. But (vss. 9-10) the earth and water will be affected by the judgment, and so will the heavens (vs. 11).
The fifth thing about the Second Coming (vss. 12-15) will be the Campaign of Armageddon. Here Habakkuk [makes] four points. First, there will be the marching of the Messiah, and the threshing of the nations (vs. 12; the same point is made in Isaiah 63:1-6). Secondly, the reason why He will thresh the nations at the Second Coming will be for the salvation of Israel (vs. l3a). Before He comes, Israel will be saved spiritually, and when He comes Israel will be saved physically from their enemies. Thirdly (vss. l3b-14a), he describes the fall of the Antichrist: Thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked man. Thou didst pierce with his own staves the head of his warriors. The word "head" is singular, so there is only one ruler over all the armies of all the nations. This one head will be the Antichrist himself. That head will receive a deadly and fatal wound. The fourth thing about the Campaign of Armageddon is that it will lead to the fall of the Gentile nations (vss. l4b-15). (Arnold Fruchtenbaum, The Book of Habakkuk)
The latter chapters of Isaiah contain a remarkable series of dialogs between God the Father and His servant the Messiah, or between the prophet and Messiah. In Chapter 42, Messiah is God's humble servant who will not only save Israel but aid the gentiles and bring world-wide justice:
"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands [isles, or continents, that is, the gentiles dwelling to the corners of the earth from Israel] wait for his law." (42:1-4)
In Isaiah 43-44, Messiah is seen as restoring Israel by forgiving them of all their sins and delivering Jacob from all his enemies. In Chapter 44, Cyrus the Mede is designated and called by name (!) many decades before he was born. God chose him to aid in the restoration of the Jews from their captivity in Babylon. Messiah gives a personal description of his commission from the Father and contains an intimate discussion between God and His Messiah which reveals much about the content of the prayers of Jesus with His Father during his time on earth which would come 700 years later.
In Isaiah 50, Messiah is the true Israel who fulfills all that the nation had failed to attain because of persistent rebellion and disobedience. In Isaiah 52:13 through 53, Messiah is the suffering servant of the Lord whose death and resurrection are vividly foretold. In Chapter 49, Messiah is Israel's goel, or kinsman-redeemer:
[God]..."saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intervene; then his own arm brought him victory, and his righteousness upheld him. He put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, and wrapped himself in fury as a mantle. According to their deeds, so will he repay, wrath to his adversaries, requital to his enemies; to the coastlands he will render requital. So they shall fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun; for he will come like a rushing stream, which the wind of the LORD drives. 'And he will come to Zion as Redeemer, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,' says the LORD. 'And as for me, this is my covenant with them, says the LORD: my spirit which is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, or out of the mouth of your children, or out of the mouth of your children's children, says the LORD, from this time forth and for evermore.'" (59:15-21).
In Isaiah Chapter 63, the dialog takes the following form:
Who is this who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments (Heb.: "garments of glowing colors") from Bozrah, he who is glorious in his apparel, marching in the greatness of his strength?
MESSIAH, THE WARRIOR KING AND KINSMAN-REDEEMER:
"It is I, announcing vindication, mighty to save."
Why is thy apparel red, and thy garments like his that treads in the wine press?
"I have trodden the wine press alone, and from the peoples no one was with me; I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood is sprinkled upon my garments, and I have stained all my raiment. For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and my year of redemption has come. I looked, but there was no one to help; I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold; so my own arm brought me victory, and my wrath upheld me. I trod down the peoples in my anger, I made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."
The blood spattering His garments is not the blood of His crucifixion, for that work on the cross was completely finished and ended 2000 years earlier. The blood is that of His enemies, slain in battle, and especially the blood of apostate Jews who have joined the armies of Antichrist to oppose Him. This is clear by the reference to the treading of the wine press. Grapes and vines are a picture of Israel. The harvest of the gentiles is described by the figure of the wheat and the tares. Two separate judgments are involved: a judgment of apostate Jews, and a judgment of the gentile nations. This is clear from Revelation Chapter 14:
"Then I looked, and lo, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat upon the cloud, "Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe." So he who sat upon the cloud swung his sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has power over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Put in your sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe." So the angel swung his sickle on the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God; and the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse's bridle, for one thousand six hundred stadia." (Revelation 14:14-20).
Meanwhile the believing remnant of Israel has been gathered under the care of the Great Shepherd of the Sheep at Bozrah. Messiah, the Breaker, is the One who breaks forth with his sheep out of their safe refuge in Bozrah--in the midst of great celebration. He has three titles: Breaker, King, and Yahweh:
The Lord's return (at the parousia) to care for his remnant at Petra and his leading them safely back to Jerusalem by way of Bozrah is then compared by Isaiah with God's care for the Jews through the wilderness in the Days of Moses:
"I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob, I will gather the remnant of Israel; I will set them together like sheep in a fold, like a flock in its pasture, a noisy multitude of men. He who opens the breach (breaks open) will go up before them; they will break through and pass the gate, going out by it. Their king will pass on before them, the LORD at their head." (Micah 2:12-13)
I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us, and the great goodness to the house of Israel which he has granted them according to his mercy, according to the abundance of his steadfast love. For he said, Surely they are my people, sons who will not deal falsely; and he became their Savior. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence (compare 1 Cor. 10:3) saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
But they rebelled and grieved his holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them. Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock? Where is he who put in the midst of them his holy Spirit, who caused his glorious arm to go at the right hand of Moses, who divided the waters before them to make for himself an everlasting name, who led them through the depths? Like a horse in the desert, they did not stumble. Like cattle that go down into the valley, the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest. So thou didst lead thy people, to make for thyself a glorious name.
Now follows a prayer of the remnant for deliverance:
Look down from heaven and see, from thy holy and glorious habitation. Where are thy zeal and thy might? The yearning of thy heart and thy compassion are withheld from me. For thou art our Father, though Abraham does not know us and Israel does not acknowledge us; thou, O LORD, art our Father, our Redeemer from of old is thy name. O LORD, why dost thou make us err from thy ways and harden our heart, so that we fear thee not? Return for the sake of thy servants, the tribes of thy heritage. Thy holy people possessed thy sanctuary (the Third Temple) a little while; our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom thou hast never ruled, like those who are not called by thy name. (Isaiah 63)
All true followers of Jesus Christ now alive on earth are presently "earth dwellers" constrained by earth clocks and calenders. This will change for us at the time of the Rapture. At that time we all go through a complete review, the Judgment Seat of Christ. This judgment (the Bema) is a performance review rather than a judgment of sin, but all remaining unconfessed sin will be left behind when we graduate into New Jerusalem.
Thereafter we will no longer by "earth dwellers" but "heaven dwellers." We will watch all ongoing events down on earth from the Mezzanine as heaven dwellers. A new sinless body is waiting for us when we die, or when the Rapture happens. The Bride of Christ must be holy! The time period from the Rapture to the Second Advent we will see as observers--sinless new creatures. Please remember that when Christ died on the cross He died for ALL our sins past, present and future. In fact, ALL of our sins were future when Christ died.
Most Bible prophecy scholars are stuck down on the planet as “earth dwellers” when as followers of Jesus they ought to be “heaven dwellers.”
This is sad because they are missing the action! Please catch up! Ray Stedman notes:
"There will be one class of people who will follow this leader (the Antichrist) blindly. They are called "those who dwell on the earth." We have seen this term before. It is a moral class, those who live for this world, who think only of the earth and its advantages, who are materialists and humanists, and who have no use for the things of God or the life beyond. There is one group that resists this leader, and that is those "who tabernacle in heaven," whose names are written, we are told here, "in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world." That is an amazing statement. We will say more about the book of life later on where it is mentioned again. I would like now to focus on the phrase, "the Lamb that was slain from the foundation of the world." That confirms again how time is not a factor in eternity. The death of the Lamb actually took place in time, on earth, at a specific date on the calendar, but here it is reckoned as an eternal event which has meaning for peoples from the very beginning of time, the creation of the world itself. The Lamb was slain, and the cross has impact upon all creation. Thus the Old Testament saints could be born again by faith because they were saved by the cross even though it had not yet occurred in history. John now picks up on the phrase that Jesus used frequently and gives a word of encouragement to the saints of that day.”
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