Habakkuk 1 (day 904) 22 June 2012
1: Habakkuk is otherwise unidentified. We can place his writing to the years leading up to the Babylonian conquest of Judah, but no more definite time or place can be discerned. He introduces his book as an oracle, but we shall see that it reads more like a psalm with elements of the legal debate we remember from Job.
2-4: Habakkuk begins with a complaint common to the prophets of Israel: justice is perverted in the land. The peculiar bent here, though, is his demand to know why God hasn’t done anything about it.
5-11: God’s answer is that justice is on the way in the form of an invading army, the Chaldeans – a common reference to the Babylonians.
12-14: Habakkuk responds, acknowledging God’s decree against Judah. But then he protests: God is eternal and almighty. Compared to God, people are like fish or insects.
15-17: So why is God calling up an enemy that treats their foes like fish to be caught in a net? Is Babylon like God?
Habakkuk 2 (day 905) 23 June 2012
1: The prophet waits for God’s response.
2-5: God replies that although justice seems slow it is thorough. Injustice has a way of bringing about its own destruction in time. Meanwhile, the righteous keep the faith, a phrase quoted by Paul (Romans 1:17), while the unjust take advantage of the weak and poor.
6-8: The remainder of the chapter is a series of five statements that the prophet believes will one day be said against those who have perverted the law for their own gain at the expense of others, each statement beginning with the words, “Alas for you…” This first one accuses them of heaping up riches for themselves and points out that the day will come when they will be treated as they have treated others.
9-11: The second “alas” accuses them of building up their own house (family) at the expense of others, denounces them for setting themselves above others and warns that their deceitfulness will someday be published. If need be, “The very stones will cry out” – a phrase used on at least one occasion by Jesus (Luke 19:40).
12-14: The third “alas” continue to widen the circle of their crimes; now they have cheated others so that they can build and own an entire town or city.
15-17: The fourth “alas” expands the charge even further, from “neighbors” in verse 15 to “cities” in verse 17.
18-19: Now we get down to it: the real problem is that these people worship other gods than the LORD. Alas to them because the gods they worship are no gods.
20: They have forgotten that the LORD is present in the city.
Habakkuk 3 (day 906) 24 June 2012
1: This chapter is a psalm. It is introduced as a prayer, but the musical notation at the beginning (Shigionoth – see Psalm 7), the reference to instruments in verse 19, the use of the pause, “selah” at points along the way, the overall structure, terminology and subject are reminiscent of many of the psalms.
2: This verse is the prayer. The prophet beseeches God to act, to make himself known, and to act in mercy, not in wrath.
3-15: In answer to the prayer, Habakkuk describes the appearance of God. It is in the familiar imagery of the Psalms. God is pictured to come as a great and awful storm across the land, shaking the earth, making the mountains tremble and the moon stand still. The “arrows flashing by” and the “gleam of your flashing spear” are typical descriptions of the fury of a thunderstorm.
16: The prophet’s knees go wobbly. He has prayed for God to come. He has the assurance that God is coming. He will wait to see what God will do. That’s faith!
17-19: The troubles listed – a poor harvest of figs and olives, the disappearance of flocks and herds – are typical losses when an invading army scavenges the land. The point here is that the prophet has faith that God will act, and that faith enables him to have a cheerful heart in the face of trouble.