Saturday, March 13, 2010

Habakkuk Study, Part 1

In the Sunday School class that I teach, we've been going through what is probably my favorite book of the Old Testament - Habakkuk.  The notes I prepare each week for the class are not stripped-down so that I have a "teacher's copy" and the others in the class have something else.
Anyway, they may be terrible notes, but I'm going to post them here just in case anyone else out there likes Habakkuk.  The extent of the notes will reflect how far my class got that particular Sunday.
I think the class will go 8 or 9 weeks total, so I'll post 8 or 9 posts in this series.

Here's week 1.

Read Habakkuk chapter 1 aloud.
Where is this taking place?  Judah - the prophet's own country.  Not Nineveh, not Egypt, not Edom or Moab or anywhere else, though possibly we could guess he'd say the complaint is relevant with respect to those places as well. 
Let us review the timeline and where this is.
Kings:  Saul - David, under these two kings the nation of splintered tribes becomes a nation, when they specifically asked God and Samuel for a king (and God and Samuel warned them that they wouldn't particularly like having a king).  
Solomon - Israel rises to the height of peace and prosperity, as well as territory.  Israel is literally a world power under Solomon.
Rehoboam - an idiotic decision leads to 10 tribes splitting off and forming their own nation in the north - Israel, leaving the other 2 tribes to Judah, in the south. 
Each nation experiences ups and downs over the course of ~250 years; Judah has some good kings and the majority bad.  Israel has no good kings, ever, and goes into sin quicker.  They are eventually destroyed and exiled by Assyria.  The Assyrian invasion reaches into Judah as well, under Hezekiah.  God miraculously spares Judah and the Assyrians return home.
Hezekiah's son Manasseh, however, who was king ~55 years, was probably the worst king of any, and his reign and leading the nation into gross sin seals Judah's fate; they have no hope of escaping God's punishment thru Babylon.  King Josiah comes soon after and his excellent reign postpones their destruction, but after he dies in an ill-advised battle with Egypt, it's all over.  This is around when Habakkuk is writing. 

What is happening? Let's make a list of all the things he's complaining about.  v 1-4
What words would we use to describe the state of mind, heart, spirit, emotion of someone who is making a complaint to God like this? 
Does "agony" describe it?  What can we learn from the fact that this book exists, given the prophet's state of mind, heart, spirit, etc?

What does Habakkuk assume here?
-That God can do something about the evil.  ie, He is sovereign.
-That God hates sin.
-That sin is contrary to God's character and commands.
-That God is yet allowing the sin to take place.

It would appear that Habakkuk is familiar with the Law.  For a long time before the middle of Josiah's reign, the Law had been lost to Judah; no one knew it or read it, or apparently even possessed it.  In 2 Kings 22, they happen to find a scroll of the Law as they're renovating the Temple, and it's read to Josiah, and he tears his robes.  Never heard it before!  The Law then made its way around the people, and the nation engages in short-lived revival.  Perhaps Hab got his knowledge of the Law that way.


Darlene said...


Actually I'm not commenting on Habakkuk. Rather, I thought I'd get an opinion from you on an ad campaign that my husband saw on t.v. today.

It is called "I am not ashamed of the gospel" campaign. Their website is: I went there, and actually it looks like a great way to introduce people to Christ, as far as the basics go. From what I saw on the site, it crosses denominational lines.

Have you heard of this campaign? If so, what do you think about it?

Rhology said...

I haven't heard of it, but at the bottom of their site it says: "Powered by"

So chances are if I were to dig into it more deeply, I'd find most of it good and useful, and have a few quibbles here and there.

My first reaction is that I'd be concerned that they'd include Rome and EOC within their ranks and accept them as co-laborers. So it'd be reassuring about their grasp of the Gospel to know whether that were the case. I am very interested in crossing denominational lines, for sure, and actively do that at my own local church level. But there does come a point when we stop being diff denoms and start being diff RELIGIONS, and Rome, EOC, LDS, JWs, UCC, Unitarians, Congregationalists, liberal Episcopalians, Quakers, etc have most definitely crossed that line, and others are well on their way like liberal Lutherans, liberal Methodists, lib Presbys, etc. Outside the pale of orthodoxy, you might say.