Sunday, June 06, 2010

Habakkuk Study, Part 7

Chapter 3:1-2 Notice how Hab is hearing a report about God, and then sort of goes into a mode where he seems to be recounting a vision that he's seen of God.  Could just be his poetic flourish about a report and the God Who is behind that event reported, or it could be a theophanic vision.  I think it's a bit tough to tell.
Let's read through the chapter and notice how similar to later ideas of Jesus' Parousia it is. 
But let's also keep in mind the context - this is God appearing in the context of judging some nations and bringing destruction/chastening down upon them.  This is also biblically appropriate language for a non-Parousia "coming" of the Lord to chasten and judge and carry out temporal decisions. Let's look at a few examples so that we can be sure not to finish this study today, haha.

Matt 10:23
Matt 23:35-36
Lk 12:49
1 Thess 2:16
Rev 2:5
Rev 3:3

Now, obviously alot of other references in the NT are of the Parousia, of course.  No question about that.  But what I'm saying is that the Parousia is not the only way that Christ comes in judgment, and I'd argue that this Hab 3 passage is probably a non-Parousia example, though of course it's supposed to foreshadow and evoke the expectation of the Parousia by its very nature.

3 God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran.
--Probably a reference to the appearance of God to Moses on Mount Sinai - Deut 33:2. 
As He came once to deliver the Law to His people, so He will return again to deliver them from the hand of evildoers.

4 And there is the hiding of His power.
cf Psalm 2 - He clothes Himself with light as a garment.  Ps 104:2, Exod 24:17, 1 Tim 6:16
And if that kind of thing is the HIDING of His power...

5 Before Him goes pestilence
--When we hear about a plague or a bio-weapon, does it not strike fear into our hearts?  One envelope in the mail with some white powder on it can paralyse the entire Capitol building.  So that's one of the most fearful things imaginable; who can hope to stand before it?  And God reveals here that this is merely one of His tools, that He manipulates.  Reminds me of when God talks about Behemoth and Leviathan in Job - if you can't take on these things that I created, don't think you can take on God.
And what does God use pestilence for?
1) To punish evildoers.
2) To turn ppl's hearts to God for their provision or even their cure (cf Num 21:1-12). 
3) To chasten/discipline His children (cf 1 Cor 11 - "some of you are weak and sick and a number sleep").  Prov 3:11-12 and Heb 12:5-6 quotes it.
4) To glorify the work of God.
-cf 2 Cor 12:9,
-God chose Moses partly b/c he had a speech impediment of some kind
-Exodus 3:11
-John 9:3

6 Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, The ancient hills collapsed.
It seems that this is an expectation of things to come. 

7 I saw the tents of Cushan under distress...
Habakkuk continues his vision of God's appearing.  God approaches from the south, from Ethopia (Cushan) and then further north thru the Sinai peninsula (Midian).

8 Did the LORD rage against the rivers...?
Hab breaks from his theophanic vision to remind us why this is happening.  Is this action from God due to His wrath against inanimate creation?  Or does He have something else in mind? 

9 Your bow was made bare...
More description of God as man of war.  War to the extent that He'd even chop the Earth up with rivers - at the time of the Flood, maybe?  The miracles at the Red Sea, or water in the desert?  I don't know, but at any rate Hab is only glancing at it.

10 The mountains saw You and quaked;
Cf Ex 19:18, Ps 114:5-6 - when the Lord appears, even the mighty mountains are shaken.
(LXX says "peoples" instead of "mountains", and that's even easier to understand.)

11 Sun and moon stood in their places; They went away at the light of Your arrows...
The sun is the most brilliant and warming light that we can imagine, yet at the appearance of God's power and brilliance in His attacks on evil, they flee away, so the point is that you can't imagine how brilliant His arrows are. 

12 In indignation You marched through the earth...
More reference to the powerful, angry Judge, coming in righteous indignation against evil.

13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed.
You struck the head of the house of the evil...
A picture of God destroying the kingdom of Babylon, by striking at its head, and this head just happened to be Belteshazzar.  Ditto for v14.

15 You trampled on the sea with Your horses,
An allusion probably to the salvation of Israel from another oppressive power thru the parting of the Red Sea.  Past mercies are types of future deliverances.

16 I heard and my inward parts trembled,
When you hear that this God, Who is so powerful, majestic, and brilliant, is on the warpath and you know that His judgment would fall on you except for His mercy, you should tremble too.  You should be terrified of His wrath, because it would destroy you completely and mercilessly. And you fully deserve that destruction, make no mistake.

17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls...
When anyone invades you, it's going to cause a major disruption in your normal flow of goods and services, in your normal provision.  How much moreso when the Babylonians, who amused themselves by killing forest creatures by the truckload, invade you? No doubt they would chop down trees and vines, spoil fields, etc.  And they're going to take all the livestock to feed their army. What are you left with? 

18 Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Where is his heart?  Is it in the material possessions and lifestyle that make his life easy/enjoyable?  Or is it in the God of his salvation?
Heart check - where is your heart?  What if the orange trees don't blossom, and the corn and wheat and rice don't yield their grain?  What if the economy gets worse and you lose your job?  Will you yet exult in the Lord?

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