I've been working on the attached study for a number of years. Any comments/constructive criticism would be appreciated. I hope at least some here will find it profitable. I've not included the text of Scripture here but I've annotated which chapter and verses I'm dealing with in each post so you can follow along in the Scriptures.
The entire study will comprise several posts. Again, I hope this meager work will be profitable to some, and if you all have any comments or critique please feel free. (But try not to kick me to hard )
Grace and Peace,
Gleanings from the book of Habakkuk..
Verse 1. Here we are given the name of the author, which likely means "embraced by God". How wondrous to be one who is embraced by our Great and Sovereign Lord. To be lovingly taken into the arms of our Father as the prodigal was in Luke 15:20-24, " And he arose and he came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ' Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' " But the father said to his servants, ' Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry." Ah, to be accepted in the Beloved to the praise of God's glorious grace wherewith He made us so (Ephesians 1:6).
Yes, Habakkuk is a child of God. One who has been embraced by Him and yet, we see also in this verse that the book is "The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw." (Vs. 1) (Some translations say oracle, but the word in the Hebrew is massa', pronounced mas-saw', meaning a burden, an utterance of doom, an especially singing mental desire. And, considering the content of the book, burden is an apt translation.) This verse, and the rest of the book, testifies (on top of everything else it tells us) to the fact that even God's elect have their cares, questions and concerns. Christ Himself said that while we are in this world we will have tribulation, but He also said that He has overcome the world (John 16:33). God answers our concerns. As the Psalm writer says, "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1).
It is also likely that the meaning of the author's name works the other way around. That is "embracer", "one who embraces", or "to embrace". It could also mean "wrestler". Have not we all known what it means to wrestle? How often have situations arisen in our lives that have seemed a struggle? Hold on to your hope in Christ dear ones! There may be a light of blessing at the end of the dark tunnel! We have a good example of one who wrestles with God and prevails in the 32nd chapter of Genesis verses 22-30 wherein Jacob wrestled with God until the break of day. In this altercation, initiated by God, He removes Jacob's ability to use his own strength, yet Jacob emerged victorious by clinging to the Lord for His blessing. Essentially what Jacob says to the One with whom he wrestled is this, " I will cling to you! For only in you is there any blessing! I cannot stand on my own apart from you oh Holy One! So I will cling to You until I get the blessing that You have ordained for me! I will not let go of You until I get what You want for me!" In much the same way the prophet here wrestles with God in prayer. So considering the way that Habakkuk wrestles with God in prayer, and how (as we shall see later in the book) he humbly embraces God's sovereignty (Oh! That He would enable us to do this!) and rejoices in it (ch. 3), we see that all of these meanings adequately describe the man.
But we have not yet exhausted verse 1. The verse also tells us that Habakkuk is a prophet. One who is tasked by God and enabled by Him to proclaim divine revelation. Prophets in the Scripture were held to a very high standard. If proven to be a false prophet it would cost him his life. Deuteronomy chapter 13: 1-5 describes the fate of any "dreamer of dreams" that spoke to turn the people to other gods. However, Habakkuk is a true prophet. He speaks only that truth which God has revealed to him and nothing else.
Doctrinal integrity is the "acid test" of a true prophet. In this day we have the canon of Scripture and we are to judge the veracity of those who would endeavor to teach the Scriptures in much the same way that Israel judged the authenticity of the prophets. Namely, does what is preached square with the revealed Word of God. We are to be as the Bereans mentioned in Acts 17:11 who searched the Scriptures daily to find out if what the disciples preached was true. God did not turn off our brains when He saved us by His grace! On the contrary, He gives new light to our minds that we may understand the things of God (1st Corinthians 2:10-16). Therefore, we should employ our own minds in the study of God's Sacred Scriptures. We should examine that which is preached in the light of the revealed Word to see if what is preached is indeed true.
This is really all we need know about this man Habakkuk. He is a man who has been embraced by God. He is a true prophet of God. He is a man who wrestles with God in prayer (Ch.1 verses 2-4 & 12-17), and humbly accepts God's answers without grumbling against Him. On the contrary, he bows before God's immutable sovereignty and erupts into a song of wondrous praise to our Sovereign Lord (Ch.3).
*To be continued*
Note* Scripture references are from the NKJV.