Grow your Faith with Habakkuk -- By: Robert Spender
EMJ 11:1 (Summer 02) p. 51
Grow your Faith with Habakkuk
What an amazing book is the work of Habakkuk. This gem is tucked away in a group of greatly neglected Old Testament books called the Minor Prophets. Eighth in a list of twelve (at least according to the Massoretic Text) its scant three chapters carry a profound message of faith and assurance quite relevant for the third-millennium believer.
Outline of Habakkuk
The book of Habakkuk divides nicely into two parts, each beginning with a title about the prophet.1 The opening dialog between the prophet and God (1:1–2:5) concludes with a series of five messages of woe (woe oracles, 2:6–20). These woe oracles are collected into a taunt-song as indicated by the title (2:6). The second part is a psalm (theophanic hymn) that both praises the Lord and illustrates the faith of Habakkuk (3:1–19).
The Prophet and The Book
Little is known about the life of the prophet Habakkuk. Jewish tradition has linked him with the Habakkuk of the Apocryphal book of Bel and the Dragon which is an addition to Daniel in the Septuagint. More recent scholarship links Habakkuk with the priests in the temple, primarily on the basis of the opening and closing notes of chapter three, but there is little firm evidence to support
EMJ 11:1 (Summer 02) p. 52
either of these suggestions. The text clearly tells us that Habakkuk was a prophet and the endnote to chapter three suggests that he may have had musical abilities.
The book of Habakkuk is unique among the prophetic writings for several reasons. Prophets generally brought God’s revelation to the people, but this book begins with the prophet bringing questions to God. The usual proclamations of God’s authority, “Thus says the Lord,” (messenger formula) are not found in Habakkuk. In addition, his use of traditional genre (מַּשָּׂא, maśśāʾ or ‘burden’ and the lament) is developed in unusual ways in this book.
God called this unique individual to help Israel by strengthening his, and ultimately their, faith in the Lord. One can only pray that a thorough study of this insightful book will do the same today.
Setting of the Message
Habakkuk served during a time of domestic trouble and international turmoil. The final years of the...
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