Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. Habakkuk 1:5
Judah was celebrated – as implied by its name “Praise” – as the apple of God’s eye. The prophet saw his nation as a rotting apple and sought divine intervention. Had Yahweh not always delivered it on the strength of sacred Covenant? God’s enigmatic answer did not leave him puzzled long. “For lo, I am rousing the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize habitations not their own…Dread and terrible are they; their justice and dignity proceed from themselves.”
We cannot fathom the horror of that Babylonian invasion and exile. Habakkuk knew the time had come “to face the music.” God’s music! He ended his prophecy on this footnote, “To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.” So, do we continue our dirge over the decline of the good old days? What if we must change our tune? “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Peter 4:17)? (Part 2 of 2)
Comment: Wisely, the Lord instructed Habakkuk to write down the vision He had given him, making it “plain upon tablets.” Trying to make it plain on the spot to the opinionated readers of the Jerusalem Post would have ignited a firestorm of controversy. People would have weighed in from the left and right, tossing all moderation to the winds. In the courts of public opinion Habakkuk would have been roundly condemned as a spiritual fraud and national traitor. How preposterous to promote a violently hostile nation as God’s legibly signed prescription for Judah’s ills!
Habakkuk served God faithfully between 621 and 609 B.C. The Chaldeans of his vision invaded Judah three times. In 605 B.C. Daniel and many nobles were deported to Babylon. In 597 B.C. Ezekiel was taken captive. In the third siege of 586 B.C. Jerusalem and its fabled temple were reduced to rubble. This is the “oracle” – burden in Hebrew – which the prophet “saw” and shaking inwardly, recorded. Habakkuk means “embracer.” It’s the Bible’s only clue to his identity. He had clearly accepted God’s call on his life, but it wasn’t the “tough gig” one might grimly envision. By “clinging” to the Holy One of Israel, he left us with a legacy of gladness that is the most astounding footnote to an “unsung” hero’s story: “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, yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments” (3:17-19). This is exactly how Christ’s loving embrace of His joyfully obedient disciples will replace the harrowing hype of our day with divinely resilient hope. Habakkuk 1