Development of a Practical Theodicy Through a Biblical Theology of Habakkuk

Development of a Practical Theodicy Through a Biblical Theology of Habakkuk

By D. L. DeBord, M.Div.

 

A theodicy is an attempt to establish that God is righteous despite allowing evil, pain, and suffering to exist in the world. John Hick, in his theodicy, popularized the concept of the present world as a “vale of soul making”[1] where mankind endures evil for God’s purposes. While this is true, it may be of little comfort to sufferers amid traumatic events. These academic endeavors are important to prepare believers before major trauma occurs, but there is a continued need for a theodicy which is practical for believers to hold to during traumatic events.

In the book of Habakkuk, God provided a paradigm for a practical theodicy. A “practical theodicy” is a defense of God’s righteousness which is faithful to the Scripture, simple to understand, acknowledges the progression in the grief process, allows the sufferer to grieve and cry out to God. This process can help the believer to have an improved faith relationship with God.  This is different than an “academic theodicy” which may be more helpful in the classroom than during a traumatic event. Since it is a practical theodicy, lengthy consideration will not be given to the origin of evil and other philosophical questions. Rather, the focus will remain on the sufferer’s grieving process and the trust to which the sufferer may hold during trauma.

To demonstrate that Habakkuk should be regarded as a practical theodicy, the book will be examined in its historical situation to present the struggles of the people. Then the prophet’s own struggle with the problem of evil will be discussed through examining the first two chapters of the book. Then the prophet’s conclusion will be examined in chapter three. Finally, the main areas of systematic theology will be used to discuss the exegetical discoveries from the book itself. It will be demonstrated that Habakkuk’s own spiritual development serves as a paradigm for believers to follow.[2]

Habakkuk struggled to remain confident with God while living in the corrupt world.[3] “The idea of growth or maturing in faith is essential to appreciating the genius of this prophecy. Trust in the purposes of the Lord despite confusing perceptions of precisely what he is doing lies at the center of the thought of Habakkuk.”[4] The book reveals the prophet’s struggle with reality and sovereignty in chapters 1 and 2. Ultimately, the prophet concluded that he will trust in the Lord and displayed that trust in the third chapter which is a psalm of praise to God for his redemptive acts. Habakkuk wrote, “וַאֲנִ֖י בַּיהוָ֣ה אֶעְל֑וֹזָה אָגִ֖ילָה בֵּאלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׁעִֽי” “yet I will glory[5] in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.”[6] (Habakkuk 3:18). Habakkuk’s practical theodicy is outlined as open grief, asking questions, struggling with the answers, and learning to trust in God. “Habakkuk, in hardship and privation, comes to know God more fully and to rejoice in Him for His own sake and not for the benefits He bestows.”[7]

 

The Historical Context of Habakkuk

Very little is known about the prophet Habakkuk. “Less is stated in the Bible concerning Habakkuk than almost any other prophet.”[8] Scholars are uncertain as to the proper meaning of the prophet’s name. One edition of Bel and the Dragon described Habakkuk as a Levitical priest. Some later documents claim that he is the son of the Shunamite woman.[9] Some have claimed that Habakkuk was the watchman mentioned in Isaiah 21. Habakkuk also made use of this “watchman” image in Habakkuk 2:1. These connections are interesting, but they are not convincing. “Like Elijah as well as John the Baptist, that prophet par excellence of the new covenant, Habakkuk appeared as a “voice” and nothing more. He must be heard because he was the bearer of God’s message, not because of what he was in himself.”[10]

The book was composed during Judah’s fall into depravity from its lofty foundation built by Josiah’s reforms. It is impossible to come to a specific date of the book. It was certainly written sometime before the Chaldean invasion of Judah (605-587 B.C.). Habakkuk was contemporary with Jeremiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah. This was a horrible time for the people of Israel. “The fabric of national life had begun to come apart at the seams.”[11]

 

The Text of the Book

Habakkuk was evidently a well-trained man. “The diction of Habakkuk is classical, the words are rare and often peculiar to himself, the style is artistic and independent of earlier models. Chap. 3, an example of the highest art in Hebrew poetry, pictures Yahweh coming forth from Sinai in theophany to judge the foes of his people.”[12] The main textual question of Habakkuk is the genuineness of the third chapter. Since the first two chapters are so similar and the third chapter is so different in genre and style, some have alleged that the third chapter does not belong with the first two. Jackson wrote,

It is scarcely possible to regard as a unit the prophecy ascribed to Habakkuk. At any rate chap. 3 gives no indication of a close relation with the first two chapters. The inscription (3:1) and the musical note (3:19) indicate the use of the chapter in the second temple, while the style and contents correspond to those of some of the latest psalms (e.g., Ps. 68).[13]

This supposed conflict is most likely just the result of Habakkuk’s growth. The first two chapters presented the struggle, but the final chapter presented the prophet’s submission.

The book has three literary forms. Brevard Childs noted that most scholars recognize the following divisions of the book. First, the major section is Habakkuk 1:1- 2:5, a unity described as a ‘‘dialogue’’ between the prophet and God, which consists of a complaint in Habakkuk 1:2-4; a divine response in Habakkuk 1:5-11; a second complaint in 1:12-17; and a divine answer in Habakkuk 2:1-5. The second major section is Habakkuk 2:6-20, a series of ‘‘woe’’ oracles directed against the wicked. The third major section is Habakkuk 3:1-19, a concluding psalm.[14]

The prophet skillfully employed the lament genre to communicate with his audience.[15] This lament genre is utilized by the prophets of that era who helplessly watched their people being punished for their sins. The proper conclusion of the book is the psalm of praise for God’s past redemptive work which culminated in the prophet’s expression of trust in God’s current and future work.[16] This arrangement is helps to walk the reader through suffering and to put the theodicy into practice.

Lim conducted a structural analysis of the three chapters and found reason for the unity of the book.[17] The closing psalm and the opening chapter share many similarities which point to the inclusion of the chapter three as the conclusion of the book. Both sections emphasize the wickedness occurring around the prophet[18] and the greatness of God over the wickedness. The book’s unity is further defended by the prophet use of the same word to describe his anxiety over Babylon (1:14-15) and his rejoicing in God (3:18). The book is a seamless whole presenting the prophet’s journey from frustrated doubt to joyous praise through the development and practice of the practical theodicy.

 

The Biblical and Historical Context of Habakkuk

The internal evidence of the book is the best way to date Habakkuk’s writing. The book presented itself as having been written during wicked time just before the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Pinker listed 7 historical allusions which help to date the book to just before the Babylonian invasion.[19] One key event for dating the book is the Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C. This was not mentioned by Habakkuk, so one could assume it had not yet occurred. “Habakkuk could be placed about a generation earlier than this, since he looks forward to an event to come in your days (1:5).”[20] It is also likely that Habakkuk wrote before Zephaniah. “He still mentions the Temple in the formulaic phrase (heychal kodesho in v. 2:20) while Zephaniah does not.”[21] The prophet likely grew up during the reforms of Josiah. Those great days were filled with sorrow as the people fell into sin and its consequences. It was during that time (approximately 608-598 B.C.) during which Habakkuk penned this book.

The northern kingdom had been destroyed by the Assyrians and God now promised to do the same to the southern kingdom through Babylon. From 715-687 B.C., the people enjoyed renewal in the days of Hezekiah. Manasseh (687-642 B.C.) and Amon (642-640 B.C.) ushered in an age of gross immorality (2 Kings 21:6-9; 2 Chronicles 33:6-9). Those dark days were followed by the Josiah’s reforms (640-609 B.C.). During this epoch of Israel’s history, the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were preaching reform as well.

In 614 B.C. the Medes overcame the capital of Assyria. The Medes and Babylonians attacked Nineveh in 612 B.C. and destroyed it after a siege of three months. Babylon defeated the Assyrian remnant in 610 B.C. The Babylonian expansion continued until they finally besieged Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Habakkuk’s life saw the people surrounded with evil and warfare. He pondered why existed, questioned the actions of the sovereign God, and cried out for answers. God told Habakkuk that he was already doing something. He had not ignored suffering. He also had not ignored sin which would be punished. Ultimately, God’s justice would be enacted in the world.

A Brief Survey of Habakkuk

The Sufferer’s Complaint and God’s Response in Chapter 1

The book began with the prophet’s cry to God. God then response. The prophet spoke directly to God, but it seems that God responded to the entire nation. God’s response is to multiple individuals rather than the one prophet.[22] This shift helps the reader to understand the great spread of sin’s consequences. It was not just the prophet who was suffering. The entire nation suffered, and God chose to spoke to the entire nation through the prophet.

The book opened with “The oracle that the prophet Habakkuk saw” (1:1). “The oracle הַמַּשָּׂא֙))”[23] is a special word used by the prophets to describe their work of speaking for God. The word is often used to describe “what is carried about, with a focus on the effort needed to transport them.”[24] The prophet used the word to describe the intense effort involved with receiving and delivering the message revealed from God.

From the opening title, the prophet rushed into his complaint toward God. He argued that God had not protected his own righteousness. He had not protected his own people. It was time for him to act. Habakkuk was not alone in his rather direct speech to God.

The Midrash, attuned to thematic difficulties in the Bible, says, “There were four who prayed and spoke harshly to the Lord out of their love for Israel: Jeremiah, Habakkuk, David, and Moses” (Shocher Tov 90:2). This midrash states the obvious, that Habakkuk spoke harshly to the Lord (we characterize it as insolence). It tries to smooth over this jarring behavior in two ways: putting Habakkuk in exalted company and making love of Israel the motive. As is usually the case, the midrashic solution leaves much to be desired.[25]

It is difficult to approve of such rash words spoken to God. But God seems to have allowed the prophets to speak to him in such a way for his purposes.

Verse two contains the opening cry of the first complaint, “O LORD How long will I cry for help and you do not hear?” The prophet cried out “How long?” אָ֧נָה  [26] The concept of crying out is seen in שִׁוַּ֖עְתִּי [27] andאֶזְעַ֥ק  [28] is used twice in this verse to describe the prophet’s action. This was a common feeling for the people of God in just before and during the exile. Jeremiah wrote, “He was walled me about so that I cannot escape; he has made my chains heavy; though I call and cry for help (אֶזְעַק֙ וַאֲשַׁוֵּ֔עַ), he shuts out my prayer” (Lamentations 3:6 ESV). God had warned the people that kings would lead them into exclusion from God and that “in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day (1 Samuel 8:18)[29].

Habakkuk was familiar with God’s promise of mercy for his fallen people. God promised the Israelites, “If I shut the sky so there is no rain, or if I command the grasshopper to consume the land, or if I send pestilence on my people, and my people, who bear my name, humble themselves, pray and seek my face, and turn from their evil ways, then I will hear from Heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 CSB). Despite the promise of mercy, the exiled people suffered. They hoped for redemption.

Habakkuk’s distress led him to cry out, perhaps presumptuously, in 1:3. Habakkuk’s possible presumption in verse 3 is discussed by Pinker.

This verse, starting with “lamma,” is a complaint. Determining the tenor of the lamma is significant for the question at hand, whether Habakkuk was presumptuous in his prophecy. Lamma usually means the interrogative “why.” Bolle suggests as an altemate meaning “don’t” (Ex. 32:11). A break-up of the word into “/” [for] and “ma” [what] suggests the meaning “what for?” The crucial question is whether the lamma is inquisitive or rhetorical. Does Habakkuk inquire and try to understand the purpose for which he is shown those social and moral aberrations, or does he in essence say, “Why do You bother with this? I know it all” or “Don’t bother with this. I know it all.[30]

The Biblical usage of לָמָ֣ה is often used rhetorically. However, that alone does not imply presumption.

Habakkuk’s cry to God echoes what he would have sung in the Psalms. Many of the Psalms record the author’s cry out to God.[31] Perhaps, the most famous of these Psalms is Psalm 22. The Psalmist there recorded a cry out to God similar to Habakkuk’s opening complaint. The question even begins with the same interrogative לָמָ֣ה. The word לָמָ֣הis used 178 times in the Hebrew Old Testament and is “an interrogative marker of cause or reason.”[32] לָמָ֣ה is often used in emotionally tense circumstances as God is questioned man or man was questioning God.[33] The “why!” (לָמָ֣ה) is only found twice in Habakkuk (1:3 and 1:13), but it is common in the Psalms as man cried out to God for righteousness to be carried out.

Habakkuk had a Biblical foundation, the righteousness of God, upon which to base his complaints. He also had Biblical language with which to express his anger, disappointment, and doubt. Perhaps it is best to focus on the graciousness of God who allows mankind to speak to him in such ways when they are suffering. The Bible recorded mankind speaking to God much more freely than most modern believers would find suitable. Perhaps these tense cries were allowed and recorded by God so that future readers would find guidance and solace in their own suffering. Though bold, Habakkuk does not go beyond what others had said in their cries to God. The Psalms, Job, and others had cried out to God in similar fashion. Proverbs described God as the one who shapes his children through reproof (Proverbs 1:23). Those who fail to listen to reproof will suffer further (Proverbs 1:25).

In Habakkuk 1:3-4, the prophet took note of the wickedness around him. He then blamed not only the people around him, but God himself for not rectifying the situation. God made Habakkuk see iniquity (1:3). Because of the iniquity which went unpunished, good suffered and evil flourished (1:4).  Habakkuk wondered if at least some of the blame rested on God’s shoulders.  This is a great and common question which individual continue to ponder. God still allows atrocities to take place. God still allows evil to flourish and good to suffer. The almost “self-righteous” Habakkuk wanted to know if God would act, how he would act, and when he would act.

God’s response was to reveal to Habakkuk that he was raising up the Chaldeans to punish his chosen people. God’s response to Habakkuk is brief and caused more questions for Habakkuk. The reader should note that before Habakkuk complained, God was already in action. He was “raising[34] up the Chaldeans” (1:6). They would be his instrument of chastisement. God had acted to rectify the problem and to stand on the side of justice. The problem was that Habakkuk, and other sufferers, cannot see what God is doing. Habakkuk’s major question was about God’s inactivity. Habakkuk was simply unable to see what God had already began doing.

This is a common problem each sufferer encounters during traumatic situations. During the trial the sufferer will wonder why such a thing has happened and why God has allowed such a thing to happen and why God hasn’t done anything to stop the pain. The great decision each sufferer must consider is whether they will flee to God or flee from God during the pain. The record of Habakkuk’s practical theodicy shows the sufferer how to flee to God in times of pain.

Habakkuk’s second complaint concerns God’s actions rather than his inactivity. In verse 12 the prophet attempted to “remind” God of his perfect nature. The main question is “why (לָמָ֣ה) do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13). The prophet’s problem is not that the wicked are punished. Habakkuk had complained that the wicked were not punished (Habakkuk 1:3-4). The problem Habakkuk now addressed was that God was going to use an even worse people than Israel to accomplish his purposes. Habakkuk wondered how God could use such a horrible people as the Babylonians.[35]

This second complaint is more intense than the first. Habakkuk has heard the Lord’s first response and then boldly asserted himself, rather than God, as Israel’s watchman (2:1).[36]

The prophet’s problem is intensified by the fact that the Lord in his dealing with Israel appears to be contradicting those principles which he himself had laid down for his own people. God will not look on perverseness (wəhabbîṭ ʾel-ʿāmāl lōʾ ṯûḵāl, v. 13a); yet he makes his prophet look on perverseness (wəʿāmāl tabbîṭ, v. 3). The Lord had declared it wrong for a witness to keep silence when a matter was brought before the public (Lev. 5:1); yet the Lord himself remains silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they (Hab. 1:13b).[37]

Habakkuk supposed that God had violated his own nature and law in his dealing with Israel. Therefore, he challenged God to a dialogue. This “dialogue” was reminiscent of Job’s request to have an audience with God. Just as Job longed to dispute God for his suffering (Job 13:3), Habakkuk boldly situated himself for an answer from God.[38]

 

The Sufferer’s Next Complaint and God’s Explanation in Chapter 2

Habakkuk struggled to reconcile how God could use Babylon to destroy his own people as fish caught in a net (1:14). God did not respond harshly to the prophet’s daring accusations. Rather God provided a vision of hope for the future. The second response to Habakkuk contains one of the most influential verses in all the Bible. Dillard and Longman noted the record of the Talmud of a rabbi who wrote, “Moses gave Israel 613 commandments, David reduced them to 10, Isaiah to 2, but Habakkuk to one: the righteous shall live by his faith” (2:4).[39] This living by faith is the key to the practical theodicy. There will be and should be things which people do not understand. But the believer must live by faith rather than by his or her own understanding or feeling.

God’s response to Habakkuk, and those to whom Habakkuk would spread the news, was to be clear (2:2-3). The message was that God would judge iniquity, but that job was for God and not for man. Man’s responsibility was to live by faith. The certainty and importance of the declaration from God is emphasized by the allusion to the original giving of the Law to Moses. Habakkuk had taken his stand on the watchtower and received a message on tablets from God. The clarity of the words written on the tablets echoes the command in Deuteronomy 27:8, “you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” The command to “run” with the message is a way of describing the prophets’ preaching (Jeremiah 23:21; 2 Kings 4:26; Zechariah 2:4). God’s act of judgement would fall at “the appointed time” (לַמּוֹעֵ֔ד). This demonstrated further his control over all things. God had chosen a method and a time for judgement to fall on the wicked. God had made his decision and acted on set the verdict in motion. Habakkuk and the readers would have to trust his will and his power.

The most famous verse of Habakkuk’s prophetic career established the contrast between those who try to live by their own power and those try to who live by faith. Habakkuk wrote: הִנֵּ֣ה עֻפְּלָ֔ה לֹא־יָשְׁרָ֥ה נַפְשׁ֖וֹ בּ֑וֹ וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָת֥וֹ יִחְיֶֽה.[40] Calvin wrote, “when all sorts of temptations beset our minds, we can do no better than rely upon the Word of God.[41] This is how to live by faith. Habakkuk 2:4 presented the two parties with whom God will deal—the unrighteous and the righteous. The unrighteous were those who lived by their own understanding for their own pride. They are “puffed up” (2:4) and they would fall by their pride (2:5). Those who lived by trusting God would live through that faith.

“The righteous will live by faith” could mean that faith is the basis of finding life or that one who is faithful will live.[42] The varying translations present the difficulty in interpretation and communication of this phrase. Perhaps the options are wrapped up in the same phrase to communicate that the faith which alone brings life is never alone. The faithful are contrasted with the unfaithful. The source of life and outcome of life is presented for both parties. The condemnation of the prideful “is their implied though unstated end, in contrast to the life which awaits the righteous. This desired preservation of life will come to Judah if they show faith, waiting in patient assurance that Yahweh will act as he promised in verse 3.[43] Calvin described what it means to live by faith when he wrote, “to live by faith means to abandon voluntarily all the defenses which so often fail us. One who knows himself destitute of all protection will live in his faith if he seeks whatever he needs from God alone; if he disregards the world and fixes his mind on heaven.”[44] Sinfulness finds its root in faithlessness. Righteousness finds its root in faith. Habakkuk 2:4 reminds the reader that the sin will be punished, and faithfulness will be rewarded with life.

The word “righteous” refers to “being a person in accordance with a proper standard” or innocent, guiltless, i.e., pertaining to not having sin or wrongdoing according to a just standard (Ex 23:7).[45] To be righteous one must live in accordance with God’s own character. No one is righteous through their own actions.[46] However, those who are striving to “live by faith” in a covenant relationship with God are accounted as righteous by God’s mercy. In the day of turmoil and destruction, the righteous person shall live by his faithfulness to God.[47] That faithfulness is a necessary aspect of faith. It is impossible to fully separate the two concepts. Faith without faithfulness is not faith (James 2:24). At the same time, no one is able to live by their own righteousness and must depend upon God’s mercy (Genesis 15:6).

The promise of life would come through the faithfulness wrought by faith. BDB translated the phrase: “a righteous man by his faithfulness liveth[48] The word אֱמוּנָה is defined as “a state or condition of being dependable to a person or standard.”[49] In this context, those who live are those who are preserved by God through the punishment to come because of their faith. God has encouraged his people not to live by their own merit, but rather to trust him and be patient. “When Habakkuk promises life to the faithful in the future tense, there is no doubt that he goes beyond the bounds of this earth and promises them a life which shall be better than the one they had in this world where it is beset with so many calamities.”[50]

Habakkuk likely left the phrase with enough ambiguity to include the life which comes from faith and the faithfulness which gives life. This interpretation fits with the emphasis on faith and faithfulness in the rest of the Old Testament. Genesis 15:6 described Abraham’s faith with was reckoned as righteousness. Passages like Amos 5:21-24 describe God’s demand of faithfulness to be in relationship with him. Faith and faithfulness go hand in hand. They are inseparable and held together by God’s mercy.

The prophet then recorded the pronouncement of five woes upon the wicked Chaldeans. This important series displayed God’s justice in using the Babylonians as punishment, because they too would be punished. “In a series of five separate oracles of woe, Babylon is mocked. Judah is not mourning the impending fall of her overlord, but uses the literary form of a dirge to ridicule her. Even though she looked invincible when Habakkuk was speaking, God’s power would bring her low by 539 B.C.”[51] Habakkuk’s record of God’s woes against the Babylonians display how God would turn their strengths upon them. Every strength which the Babylonians enjoyed would be turned against them. Babylon would be plundered (Habakkuk 2:6-8). Their evil would now be turned upon them (2:9-11). The glory which they enjoyed would be turned to humiliation (2:15-17).

The major question should be why any of the wicked (Jews or Babylonians) are allowed to live. God extended patience to both Israel and the Babylonians. Both were wicked and both deserved death. Both were used by God and punished by God. God proved himself merciful despite the sinfulness of all his creation. In view of the righteousness of God, Habakkuk said, “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

 

The Sufferer Relearns Trust in God in Chapter 3

The third chapter brings the story to its grand conclusion. Evil yet surrounded Habakkuk, but the prophet looked above the suffering to God the Divine Warrior and Savior. In the opening complaint, Habakkuk questioned God. In the closing hymn, Habakkuk praised God and expressed his trust in him. Verses 1-16 described God’s awesome nature and Habakkuk’s expectations based on the nature of God. Habakkuk’s description of the judgment to come upon Babylon and the redemption of the elect is another cycle of creation, punishment, and restoration which is so common in the Old Testament.

Several elements in Habakkuk’s theophanic portrayal of the Lord’s future judgment (Hab. 3:2–15) recall events in Israel’s early experience, including God’s defeat of the Egyptians at the Red Sea, His self-revelation at Sinai and the victories accomplished through Joshua, Deborah, and David (cf. 3:3–15 with Ex. 15:1–18; 19:16–19; Deut. 33:2; Josh. 10:12–14; Judg. 5:4–5; Pss. 18:7–15; 77:16–19). By describing the future in the language of the past, Habakkuk affirmed that the God of Israel is an everlasting God (cf. Hab. 1:12) who is ever active in history (3:6) and always capable of intervening for His people.[52]

Despite his repeated doubting questions, Habakkuk remembered God’s past redemptive work which were a guarantee of what the future would hold.

The Lord is pictured as marching from the south (Habakkuk 3:3) to bring judgment upon the Babylonians and salvation for the elect. He approached in the storm (3:4-5). All nature shuttered in his presence (3:6-7). God led his hosts into battle and unleashed his full force against the evil doers (3:8-15). The prophet’s song began “O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:1-2). These opening words are important to the entire book because they demonstrate the Habakkuk’s understanding of God’s nature.

 

Habakkuk’s Theology

The Sufferer Looks at God’s Nature—Theology

God’s nature is both the source of Habakkuk’s problems and the source of Habakkuk’s praise. The book of Habakkuk presented God as sovereign, longsuffering, and just. The actions of God are based upon his nature. Habakkuk 3:1-2 described Habakkuk’s understanding of who God was (“I have heard the report of you”); his understanding of what God would do based upon his nature (“and your work”); the reverence which the mankind should have in toward God (“O LORD, do I fear”); and mankind’s prayer for God to act. One of the major themes in Habakkuk is the concept of theodicy. Baylis wrote, “Like Job, Habakkuk qualifies as a theodicy—a defense of God. In airing the prophet’s problem, the book addresses the question of injustice. The prophet, concerned about injustice in Israel, could not understand the use of a more unjust people to bring judgment on God’s people.”[53] Habakkuk’s defense of God’s righteousness is not the traditional well-developed academic argument. Rather, it is the divine presentation of a practical theodicy—one which the believer can live out during suffering. The struggle with God’s actions and with evil God allows is certainly present in both books. However, there is no thorough defense of God’s actions. Job is told to trust God who is greater than he is. Habakkuk learned to trust God’s will and praised him for his actions. Habakkuk and Job are not technical theodicies for the classroom, they are practical theodicies for life.

The principal theme of Habakkuk is that the sufferer should trust God At the conclusion of the book, Habakkuk affirmed God’s existence, his righteousness, and praised him for his actions. “Rather than insisting on a satisfactory resolution to the problem of suffering as a condition for faith, Habakkuk poses his questions from the position of faith.”[54] Habakkuk learned from experience to trust God to act justly. “Scripture never assumes that God must explain his actions but rather asserts that he has the right to be trusted.”[55] The Old Testament presents the LORD as the God who vindicates himself by redeeming his people from difficult situations. The Bible shows how God used “evil” to accomplish his purposes for good. All the difficulties experienced by creation were to be solved by the Messiah as he became the lightning rod of God’s judgment and mercy (Isaiah 53). Habakkuk learned that he must trust God despite the appearance of evil and his own interpretations of world events. “The resolution to his questions is thus both promised and deferred, and his experience of waiting for the fulfilment is to be one characterized by the mode of faith.”[56]

Since God would ultimately save his people, Habakkuk described God as his Savior יִשְׁעִֽי (Habakkuk 3:18; cf. Zephaniah 3:17). “יִשְׁעִֽי” was primarily used to describe physical rescue but then also spiritual salvation. Both are properly understood here as Habakkuk has learned to trust God for all things. God is the one who accomplished salvation for his people (3:13). Therefore, the Psalmist described God as “my light and my salvation” in Psalm 27:1. Habakkuk learned, “I wait for your salvation, O LORD” (Genesis 49:18). The description of God as “Savior” is demonstrated by God’s willingness to listen to prayer (Habakkuk 1:2). Because he is the Savior, he removes injustice (1:3, 5).

Habakkuk, like other prophets, described God as “an angry, vengeful warrior who violently punishes the nations for their arrogance. Each applied to Him the title “Lord of Hosts” (or “Lord of Armies”; Nah. 2:13; 3:5; Hab. 2:13; Zeph. 2:9) and referred specifically to His anger or vengeance (Nah. 1:2, 6; Hab. 3:8, 12; Zeph. 1:15, 18, 3:8).[57] This Warrior God went out to defend, save, and/or punish his people. God is powerful. God is active. God refused to tolerate evil (Habakkuk 1:3, 13). He delivers the righteous from the wicked (1:4) and protects his people from evil (1:5-11, 17).

Habakkuk learned to trust in God’s sovereignty. Sovereignty occurs when the omnipotent God interacts with an aspect of his creation. The omnipotent God created all things (Habakkuk 1:14). Even though the world seems to be in chaos, God is still in charge. Habakkuk’s book began by his complaint to God and questioning of God. However, those complaints were turned to praise as Habakkuk once again focused on God’s sovereignty and his sovereign acts. Even though Habakkuk did not understand, The Lord was at work to accomplish his purposes and to act justly and mercifully toward all.

 

The Sufferer Looks at Mankind—Anthropology

The book of Habakkuk presented God’s creation as subject to God but also struggling against God. Habakkuk was aware of his own people’s wickedness and the wickedness of the nations around him (Habakkuk 2:13). He understood that both groups deserved to be punished.[58] Implicit in Habakkuk’s argument is the recognition those who are striving for righteousness and those who are not.[59] This distinction was recognized by the prophet in the elect of God and those who were not part of the elect. God was yet sovereign over all. He used the nations to punish his elect (Habakkuk 1:6).[60]

Habakkuk learned that the purpose of mankind was to enjoy and glorify God. This is the conclusion represented in chapter three. The conditions of life faded in the grandeur of God’s holiness. Habakkuk was not content to endure life. He would exult in God despite the circumstances surrounding him (Habakkuk 3:17-18). “Habakkuk exhibited the kind of relationship with God which enjoyed the divine Person more than the things he could do for the prophet. He put God above the fray of life, rejoicing in him and worshiping him regardless of the circumstances.”[61]

 

The Sufferer Looks for Help and Healing—Soteriology

The pronouncement of “the righteous shall live by faith” in 2:4 is an overarching principle of life for God’s people of all ages. “When Habakkuk promises life to the faithful in the future tense, there is no doubt that he goes beyond the bounds of this earth and promises them a life which shall be better than the one they had in this world where it is beset with so many calamities.”[62] Again, the real question is why any of the wicked are allowed to live. God extended patience to both Israel and the Babylonians.

The prophet’s vision of God gave him hope for future salvation despite the chaos around him. Just as God conquered chaos at creation, God will conquer the chaos brought about by sin. God had brought his people into captivity before because of sin and his own purposes. Habakkuk learned that God would redeem them from the coming punishment and dwell among them again. “The prophet knows God as Savior even as he continues to wait for God’s historical deliverance. Salvation depends on trust in God’s word, in faithfully being righteous even when God does not appear to be (2:4). Salvation is not prosperity now. Salvation is trust amid hardship while God plans his actions according to his ultimate knowledge and will.”[63]

 

Conclusion

A father once cried out, “πιστεύω· βοήθει μου τῇ ἀπιστίᾳ.”[64] Perhaps that too was the cry of Habakkuk. To survey the world is to see depravity. Suffering believers often wonder how and why God allows suffering and evil to continue. Those questions will continue. Faith, must continue as well. Habakkuk’s work provides a theodicy which believers can hang on to during the storms of life. The book successfully outlines how to endure suffering and find grow in devotion through the suffering. Habakkuk shows us to have seasons open grief, soul and Scripture searching, struggling, and finally learning to trust in God. In the book of Habakkuk, God has provided a model for a practical theodicy. Habakkuk’s book is a defense of God’s righteousness which acknowledges the progression in the grief process and allows the sufferer to grieve and cry out to God. While the sufferer is able to cry out, he is also reminded that there is a benevolent Sovereign to whom he might call. God responded to suffering by acting in this world and by challenging believers to “live by faith” as they look for God’s vindication. This process can help the believer to have an improved faith relationship with God.

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Baker, David W. Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: A n Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, 111.: InterVarsity Press, 1988).

Barker, Kenneth L. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, vol. 20, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999).

Baylis, Albert. From Creation to the Cross: Understanding the First Half of the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Brannan, Rick. and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014).

Bruce, F. F. The Minor Prophets: A n Exegetical & Expository Commentary, Volume 2: Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, ed. Thomas McComiskey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993).

Childs, Brevard S. Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979).

Dillard, Raymond B. and Tremper Longman III. An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

Frame, John M.  Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1994).

Haroutunian, Joseph. and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958).

Hick, John Evil and the God of Love (1966; repr. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).

Lim, Dong-Weon. “Structural Analysis of the Book of Habakkuk” Korean Journal of Christian Studies (2013, Vol. 72).

Jackson, Samuel Macauley ed., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908–1914).

Kaiser, Walter C. “1421 נָשָׂא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).

MacArthur, John and Richard Mayhue, eds., Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017).

Pinker, Aron. “Historical Allusions in the Book of Habakkuk” Jewish Bible Quarterly (Vol 36, No. 3, 2008).

–. “Was Habakkuk Presumptuous?” Jewish Bible Quarterly. (Vol. 32, No. 1, 2004).

Prior, David. The Message of Joel, Micah & Habakkuk: Listening to the Voice of God (Downers Grove, 111.: InterVarsity Press, 1998).

Robertson, O. Palmer. The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990).

Schultz, Carl. “עָלַז,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).

Swanson, James. Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

Whitehead, Philip. “Habakkuk and the Problem of Sufferig: Theodicy Deffered” Journal of Tbeological Interpretation (10.2 2016).

Wolf, Herbert. “75 אַי,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999).

Zuck, Roy B. A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991).

 

 

[1] John Hick, Evil and the God of Love (1966; repr., New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), 253–6.

[2] The problem of evil is outlined by Frame. “Premise 1: If God were all-powerful, he would be able to prevent evil. Premise 2: If God were all-good, he would desire to prevent evil. Conclusion: So, if God were both all-powerful and all-good, there would be no evil. Premise 3: But there is evil. Conclusion: Therefore, there is no all-powerful, all-good God. John M. Frame, Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1994), 150.

 

[3] “His puzzlement represents one of the most basic questions that must arise if God is to effect redemption among a fallen humanity. Finding its precursor in the constant query of the psalmists of Israel (Ps. 22:3 [Eng. 2]; 44:25–26 [Eng. 24–25]; 74:1, 11), this question reaches its apex of perplexity in the “Why?” of Christ from the cross (Matt. 27:46).”O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 160.

[4] Ibid., 136.

[5] The word עָלַז refers to “an emotion of joy which finds expression in singing and shouting. It is inappropriate for one in anguish (Jer 15:17) and for one who has sinned (Jer 11:15). By contrast it is a natural response of the faithful (Ps 149:5)” Carl Schultz, “עָלַז,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 670. The prophet who once had agonized over the condition of the world now refused agony and by faith chose . עָלַז   to rejoice

[6] Author’s own translation.

[7] F. F. Bruce, The Minor Prophets: A n Exegetical & Expository Commentary, Volume 2: Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and Habakkuk, ed. Thomas McComiskey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993), 835.

[8] David W. Baker, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah: A n Introduction & Commentary, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, 111.: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 43.

[9] This connection is based on Habakkuk’s name which may mean “embrace” and the use of the term “embrace” in 2 Kings 4:16.

[10] O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 135–136.

[11] David Prior, The Message of Joel, Micah & Habakkuk: Listening to the Voice of God (Downers Grove, 111.: InterVarsity Press, 1998), 203

[12] Samuel Macauley Jackson, ed., The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge: Embracing Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology and Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Biography from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (New York; London: Funk & Wagnalls, 1908–1914), 105.

[13] Ibid., 105.

[14] Brevard S. Childs, Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1979), 448.

[15] Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III. An Introduction to the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994): 409.

[16] “The musical terms in the psalm in chapter 3 also suggest liturgical use. Levitical musicians did have a prophetic function (1 Chron. 25:1-6). The description of a theophany (chap. 3) is perhaps also most natural in a cultic setting.” Ibid., 409.

[17] Throughout the book of Habakkuk, therefore, the sequences of alignment are: for the righteous, death — death — in suspense — death — life —life —life; for the wicked, life —death —life —death —death —death. The prophet(the righteous) initially found himself on the side of death, but ends up on the side of life. On the other hand, the wicked were initially on the side of life, but end up on the side of death. The battle of alignment between the righteous and the wicked is D — ?— D—L —L —L versus L —D —L —D —D —D in which D stands for death, L for life. Dong-Weon, Lim “Structural Analysis of the Book of Habakkuk” Korean Journal of Christian Studies (2013, Vol. 72): 80.

[18] The wickedness around the prophet is emphasized in 1:1-4 and the closing emphasis 3:17 forms something of an inclusio to the opening complaint. In 1:4 the work of God is paralyzed by wickedness, but in 3:19 the Lord’s worker is empowered by grace to abound.  Habakkuk 1:5-11 recorded the might of the Babylonian army, but Habakkuk 3:10-15 records the superior might of God.

[19] “1: An extraordinary even will occur in the listener’s lifetime (Hab. 1:5). 2: The Chaldeans will rise to dominance (1:6). 3: A calvary attack (1:8-9) followed by a description of siege-tactics (1:10). 4: Allusion to the Chaldeans as a nation that will serve as God’s punishing agent against the iniquities committed in Judah (1:12). 5: A reference to King Zedekiah, who reigned 596-586 BCE (2:4). 6: The possibility that Habakkuk 2:17 refers to a political-military event, in which Egypt reacts to Babylon’s moves in Aram and Lebanon. 7: A reference to ‘exiled’ (3:2). Aron Pinker “Historical Allusions in the Book of Habakkuk” Jewish Bible Quarterly (Vol 36, No. 3, 2008): 143.

[20] Ibid. 144.

[21] Ibid. 145.

[22] “Clearly a change of speakers occurs in 1:5. In response to a single individual addressing God (“How long, O Yahweh, shall I cry for help,” v. 2), the Lord himself addresses all his people (“Look [ye] among the nations and see,” v. 5). Yet the prophet employs none of the standard formulae for introducing a divine oracle, so that the reader is left to his own devices to determine who happens to be the speaker at any given point in the dialogue. Not until 2:2 is a speaker specifically identified.” O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 137.

[23]The word הַמַּשָּׂא֙ is a common word in the Hebrew Bible with rich meaning. “The Qal form of this root is used almost six hundred times with basically three separate meanings: “to lift up”; “to bear, carry, support”; and “to take, take away.” Walter C. Kaiser, “1421 נָשָׂא,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 600.

[24] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[25] Aron Pinker. “Was Habakkuk Presumptuous?” Jewish Bible Quarterly. (Vol. 32, No. 1, 2004): 30.

[26] “Most of its thirty occurrences are in rhetorical questions. It is often used in contexts where the author wished to express exasperation with the situation. God used the term to express his exasperation with Israel (Exodus 16:28; Numbers 14:11). Joshua utilized it in Joshua 18:3. In the Psalms, the word is often used just as Habakkuk used it. The Psalmist cries out to God for action and wonders how long till God will act (Psalm 13:1-2).” Herbert Wolf, “75 אַי,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 35.

[27] שִׁוַּ֖עְתִּי is defined as, “plead for relief, i.e., ask or request something, with a focus that the asking is intense or desperate, imploring for aid in a difficult or dangerous situation” James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[28] אֶזְעַ֥ק is found some 73 times in the Hebrew Bible and very often is used to describe mankind crying out to the Lord for help. “In the Qal stem, the word is used almost exclusively in reference to a cry from a disturbed heart, in need of some kind of help. The cry is not in summons of another, but an expression of the need felt. Most frequently, the cry is directed to God” Leon J. Wood, “570 זַעַק,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 248.

[29]Perhaps this also helps the readers of Habakkuk to appreciate the moral and spiritual decline led by the two kings following Josiah’s reforms.

[30] Aron Pinker. “Was Habakkuk Presumptuous?” Jewish Bible Quarterly. (Vol. 32, No. 1, 2004): 28.

[31] Psalm 43:2 says, “Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” Psalm 44:24 records the cry, “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Wake up! Do not reject us forever!” Psalm 74:1 records, “O God, why do you cast us off forever?” Psalm 41:11 states, “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them!” Psalm 79:10 records words which sound similar to Habakkuk’s own feelings. “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!”

[32] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[33] Jeremiah 2:29; 6:20; 14:8; 14:9; Lamentation 5:20; Psalm 2:1; 10:1; 88:15; Habakkuk 1:3 and 1:13.

[34] “Raising up” is from מֵקִים֙ which often carries the idea of “bringing about” a thing or situation (Deuteronomy 29:22; 2 Kings 23:25; Nahum 1:9).

[35] At this point the prophet is comparing degrees of wickedness. The real question is why God tolerated any of the sinful creatures.

[36]On my watchtower I shall stand. Three earlier instances of prophets who had to “stand in waiting” as did Habakkuk for God’s self-revelation may be noted: Moses hid in the cleft of the rock and “stood in waiting” to see God’s glory pass before him (Exod. 33:21–23). Balaam went aside to “stand in waiting” for the revelation that God might bring to him (Num. 23:3). Elijah was commanded to go to the mountain and “stand in waiting” for the revelation of God that would come (1 K. 19:11).” O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 166.

[37] O. Palmer Robertson, The Books of Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1990), 160.

[38] “Job longs to “dispute” (hôḵēaṭ) his case with God (Job 13:3). He urges his friends to hear his rebuke (tôḵaṭtî) and the controversies (riḇôṯ) of his lips (v. 6). He longs to find God so that he can fill his mouth with arguments (tôḵāṭôṯ) (23:4). By this bold manner of entering into dispute with God, the wise of Israel hoped to receive divine clarification of their perplexities.” Ibid., 167.

[39] Raymond Dillard and Tremper Longman An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994): 409.

[40] There is a textual difficulty with the first part of the verse. “The LXX offers “If he draws back, my life does not find pleasure in it” instead of “Look! His spirit within him is puffed up; it is not upright.” Heb 10:38 uses this reading.” Rick Brannan and Israel Loken, The Lexham Textual Notes on the Bible, Lexham Bible Reference Series (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), Hab 2:4. Either text still presents the same contrast between the one who lives by faith and the one who lives by self rather than faith. The Hebrew text is to be favored in this study.

[41] Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 223.

[42] “Another interpretation has the faithfulness on God’s part, life coming because of God’s covenant promises to preserve his people.”David W. Baker, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 27, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 59.

[43]David W. Baker, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 27, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 58–59.

[44] Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 224.

[45] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[46] Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10-18. Psalm 14:1-3, 53:1-3.

[47] Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, vol. 20, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 324.

[48] Francis Brown, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs, Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977), 53.

[49] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

[50] Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 226.

[51] David W. Baker, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 27, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 61.

[52] Roy B. Zuck, A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 415.

[53] Albert Baylis. From Creation to the Cross: Understanding the First Half of the Bible. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996): 307.

[54] Philip Whitehead “Habakkuk and the Problem of Sufferig: Theodicy Deffered” Journal of Tbeological Interpretation (10.2 2016): 280.

[55] John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, eds., Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2017), 222.

[56] Philip Whitehead “Habakkuk and the Problem of Sufferig: Theodicy Deffered” Journal of Tbeological Interpretation (10.2 2016): 276.

[57] Roy B. Zuck, A Biblical Theology of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 416.

[58] Habakkuk was certainly familiar with the covenant obligations God placed upon the people and the wrath which would befall them if they rebelled. Deuteronomy 6:15 recorded that punishment, “For the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.” Even Judah would be punished because of their sin (Zephaniah 1:2-18).

[59] This striving for righteousness is an aspect of living by faith which is prescribed in Habakkuk 2:4.

[60] The nations themselves were most often punished because of their prideful arrogance (Habakkuk 1:6-11, 16; 2:4-5; cf. Nahum 2:11-13; 3:1-4).

[61] Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, vol. 20, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 376.

[62] Joseph Haroutunian and Louise Pettibone Smith, Calvin: Commentaries (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 226.

[63] Kenneth L. Barker, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, vol. 20, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 281.

[64] Mark 9:24.

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