Scripture reading – Habakkuk 3

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Habakkuk 3 concludes our study of the prophecies of Habakkuk, a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. Having witnessed the sins of Judah and Jerusalem, Habakkuk questioned the LORD, “Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance?” (Habakkuk 1:3a). The prophet reasoned, “For spoiling and violence are before me: And there are that raise up strife and contention” (Habakkuk 1:3b).

The LORD answered Habakkuk’s complaint and revealed He would raise up the Chaldeans (Babylon) to punish Judah and the nations for their wickedness (Habakkuk 1:5-11). When Habakkuk asked why the LORD would employ a heathen nation to punish the sins of His people (Habakkuk 1:12-17), the LORD answered his inquiry with a vision (Habakkuk 2:1). The vision was the judgment that would befall Babylon for its wickedness (2:2-19). Understanding the imminent judgment of Judah, Habakkuk declared God’s sovereignty, saying, “The Lordis in his holy temple: Let all the earth keep silence before him” (2:20).

Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk’s Prayer (Habakkuk 3:1-2)

Habakkuk 3 commences as a prayer (Habakkuk 3:1-2) and was a poem best described as a psalm or song. There is debate among Bible scholars regarding the definition of “Shigionoth” (Habakkuk 3:1), and many agree the word was a musical notation. The postscript at the book’s close reinforces that conclusion: “To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (Habakkuk 3:19).

Having his questions answered and understanding the inevitable judgment that would fulfill the LORD’s revelations, Habakkuk prayed: “O Lord, I have heard [listened to] thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make known; In wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk3:2).

The Sovereignty and Providence of the LORD

The Sovereignty and Providence of the LORD (Habakkuk 3:3-15)

Looking to the future through the eyes of faith, Habakkuk remembered the ways and works of the LORD in the past. He remembered how the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Habakkuk 3:3). We read, “God came from Teman (the south), and the Holy One from mount Paran” (located in the Sinai desert), and then he penned, “Selah” (i.e., pause and think about that, Habakkuk 3:3a). When Israel encamped in Sinai, the LORD descended from heaven, and “His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of his praise” (Habakkuk 3:3b). Though Israel was a nation of slaves, the LORD strengthened their faith with a display of His majesty and glory. He gave witness to the “horns [a symbol of power and authority] coming out of his hand: And there was the hiding of his power” (Habakkuk 3:4).

When Habakkuk recalled what the LORD did for Israel in the past, he was confident He would bring a “pestilence” upon the nations (for God uses plagues to punish the wicked), and they would tremble and be shaken at His presence (Habakkuk 3:5-6). Habakkuk then proposed three questions (Habakkuk 3:8), for He remembered the LORD used nature to do His bidding and bring judgment upon the wicked. Portraying the LORD removing His bow and arrows out of their sheath (Habakkuk 3:9a), the prophet remembered that God used the flood waters of the Nile (Exodus 7:20-21) and troubled the waters of the Red Sea, and caused Pharoah and Egypt to submit to His will (Exodus 14:15-28; 15:8-10).

Habakkuk then described the effect of God’s wrath in natural terms, making mention of how the mountains trembled and the waters overflow their banks (Habakkuk 3:10). Even the sun, moon, and stars are shaken in their courses by God’s judgment (Habakkuk 3:11; Joshua 10:12-14; Isaiah 38:8; 2 Kings 20:9-11). He described how when the LORD moves in judgment upon the nations, fierce lightning pierces the sky like “the light of arrows…[and His]glittering spear” (Habakkuk 3:11).

With faith in the LORD and trusting Him for strength

Habakkuk warned that no man or nation could stand before God’s wrath. Yet, the LORD would remember His covenant and not forsake His people (Habakkuk 3:12-13a). Babylon would wreak havoc on Judah, and destroy the poorer, weaker nations. Nevertheless, that wicked nation would be punished, and humiliated, for it would not withstand the wrath of God (Habakkuk 3:13-14).


The Prophet’s Response to God’s Revelation (Habakkuk 3:16-19)

Realizing the judgment of God was imminent, Habakkuk was overcome with emotion. His heart trembled, his voice failed, and his strength dissipated (Habakkuk 3:16a). Yet, his hope was restored when he remembered when trouble comes, the LORD also comes (Habakkuk 3:16b). Crops would fail. Flocks and herds would be no more (Habakkuk 3:17). Despite sorrows that were to come, Habakkuk declared, “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18).


Closing thoughts –

How could the prophet rejoice, even as he acknowledged troubles were imminent?

Habakkuk’s hope was not derived from pleasant circumstances. His hope was in his faith “in the God of [his]salvation” (Habakkuk 3:18). Though trials were at hand, Habakkuk declared, “The Lord God is my strength, And he will make my feet like hinds’ feet [fast and agile like deer], And he [the LORD] will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3:19).

With faith in the LORD and trusting Him for strength, Habakkuk declared he would climb and conquer mountains! (Habakkuk 3:19)

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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