Study of the Prophets: Habakkuk (Cont.) November 25, 2016

Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue

Study of the Prophets: Habakkuk (Cont.) November 25, 2016

In verses 7-12 Habakkuk continues his review of Israel’s history. He points out that although G-d often did miracles for His people, at times He displayed His anger toward them when they sinned against Him and did not follow His instructions(Torah). This is a clear validation of scripture found throughout the Old and “New” Testaments that we are accountable for our actions and that our salvation comes at a price. YHVH/Yahshua gave us His commandments/instructions for our good. These commandments are not requests based on our mood and are not negotiable. We cannot explain them away under the false sense of security taught by Christianity under the attribute of G-d’s grace. G-d is merciful and full of grace, but He is just and true; a righteous Judge who will one day exact His wrath on those who believe His commands are no longer required, just as He did in the time of Habakkuk. We cannot attribute this or any other book to “the Jews” as Yahshua defines a Jew in Romans chapters 2-3. Therefore, no one, including the Christian clergy, can disregard the admonishments given to “true believers” whether Jew or Gentile that G-d provides throughout His Torah.

The good news; as soon as they return to Him, He again miraculously delivered their enemies into their hands (Abarbanel). There is still time to return to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; to be reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice. However, there will be a time when there will be no more chances; when the judgment will be held described in the book of Revelation. We must repent and turn our lives to obeying and loving G-d while it is yet day (Isaiah 55:6).

This week we continue our study beginning with Chapter 3:7 and beyond, describing G-d’s wrath at the time of Habakkuk and that which will be exacted in the future.

Because of [our] iniquity I saw the tents of Cushan; Because the Israelite nation worshipped heathen gods, G-d punished them by delivering them into the hands of the armies of Cushan-rishathaim (Judges chapter 31). We must understand that heathen gods can be anything or anyone and not only physical idols

“…the curtains of the land of Midian trembled.”

When Israel repented and returned to G-d, He miraculously saved them through the judge Gideon (Judges 6-8) who attacked the Midianites. Again, we see repent and return indicating a heartfelt remorse for a previous lifestyle and a return to G-d expressed through love that is evidenced by obedience (action) and not simply profession.

According to Malbim, the miracles referred to in these verses will take place at the time of the final Redemption of Israel. The first miracle listed is the return of the Ten Tribes to Israel who, in Malbim’s opinion, were exiled to the land of Cush. The Ten Tribes will leave the land of Cush and wage war against the Ishmaelites on the way back to Israel. Malbim maintains that the land of Ishmael is synonymous with the land of Midian (Gen. 37:28;36).

 “Was HaShem angry with the rivers; was your wrath with the rivers, or Your fury against the Sea”?

During the days of Joshua, G-d miraculously stopped the flow of the Jordan River, enabling the Israelite nation to cross into Canaan on dry land. Similarly, in the days of Moshe, He split the Sea of Reeds and the nations crossed on dry land. This question is speculative as G-d demonstrated His power over the waters.

 Rather You rode upon Your horses, Your chariots were [our]salvation”

It is because You wished to bring salvation and victory to Your nation that You performed these miracles (Metzudos). The horses and chariots are used figuratively as symbols of G-d’s Glory that fought and brought victory for Israel against Pharaoh at the Sea of Reeds (Radak).

Alternatively, Targum Yosanan and Rashi explain that G-d’s wrath was directed at the kings and armies of the nations who were as abundant as the waters of a river. The revelation of Your miracles on behalf of Israel demonstrated Your strength and salvation. The use of the word waters and seas is often used throughout the Torah to refer to nations.

 Your bow bared itself;

G-d’s might is portrayed as a warrior preparing to shoot an arrow from His bow (Radak; Mahari Kara).

the oaths to the tribes,

G-d’s strength was revealed so that He may fulfill the oaths that he swore to the forefathers that He would give the Land of Israel to their descendants.

 an enduring word.

The word amar (to speak or say) used for this phrase in Hebrew is vowelized and accented in a way that makes it a noun and not a verb. The word selah means everlasting. Therefore, we may understand that the oath G-d made to the forefathers will last forever just as will the Torah; His written and Living Word.

You split open the earth with rivers.

You spilt the dry earth to give your nation water. This applies to the account of creation in Genesis and to the water G-d gave the Children of Israel in the desert that flowed in such great abundance that it appeared as rivers flowing in the desert (Psalms 78:16; Radak).

 Mountains saw You and shuddered;

Radak understands this verse figuratively. The mountains characterize the Canaanite kings who became terrified when they heard of the great miracles that G-d performed for Israel in the Wilderness. [A confirmed report, although only heard is often described as seen. This may explain the use of the word Re’eh (see) instead of sh’ma (hear) (Gen. 42:1).

 a stream of water flowed.

Rashi explains this refers to the interruption of the flowing waters of the Jordan River that allowed the Israelite nation to cross over a dry riverbed (Joshua Ch.3).

The depth raised its voice,

The inhabitants of the earth praised G-d for the miracle at the Jordan River (Rashi).

 and the heights of [Heaven] raised their hands.

The heavenly hosts also raised their hands in praise to G-d. Some commentators say it was in response to the miracle at the Jordan River. The traditional teaching states that while the water was stopped so the Israelites could cross over dry land, the water that flowed from upstream raised up into a column instead of rushing in to fill in the dry area. The appearance was as if the depths of the water rose up and lifted its hands high. 

 The sun and the moon stood still in their abodes.

The sun and moon temporarily ceased their heavenly orbit when Joshua led the Israelite nation against the Canaanite kings in Gibeon (Joshua 10:13) (Rashi;Radak).

 [Israel] would travel by the light of Your arrows, by the lightning flash of Your spear.

Israel pursued her enemies (Rashi) by the glistening metal of G-d’s arrows (Metzudos). There is no definitive explanation of this phrase but the concept is that Israel was victorious due to Divine intervention and not because of her own strength. Radak explains that G-d’s arrows are bolts of lightning, for together with the hailstones that fell upon the Canaanite kings (Joshua 10:11), there were bolts of lightning. Malbim interprets these verses as a reference to the future Redemption of Israel and explains that just in the days of Joshua the sun and moon stopped in their orbit, so too, will this miracle occur again when Israel fights her enemies.

There will be hailstones, thunder and lightning again described in the book of Revelation, consistent with what is described in Habakkuk’s prophecy. Let’s compare some of these events:

 It is the fulfillment of Joel 2:30-31, where the Lord says that in the “latter days” He will–“Shew wonders in the heavens’ and in the earth, blood, and FIRE, and PILLARS OF SMOKE. The sun shall be turned into DARKNESS, and the Moon into BLOOD, before the Great and terrible Day of the L-rd Come.” The DAY when He shall come to take vengeance on His enemies. The Lord is going to repeat the “PLAGUES OF EGYPT.” They were literal, why not the “Trumpet” and “Vial” Judgments? The literalness of these Judgments give us the “key” to the LITERALNESS of the Book of Revelation. No less than 5 of the 9 Plagues of Egypt are to be repeated during the Tribulation Period. This Plague is the same as the “SEVENTH EGYPTIAN PLAGUE.” “And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be HAIL in all the Land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the Land of Egypt.” And Moses stretched forth his “rod” toward heaven: and the Lord sent THUNDER and HAIL, and the FIRE ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained HAIL upon the Land of Egypt. So there was HAIL, and FIRE mingled with the HAIL, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the Land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the HAIL smote throughout all the Land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the HAIL smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field (Ex. 9:22-26). The only people who were not affected were those in the land o Goshen. In the future, it will be those who have obediently fled to Petra who will be protected.   

 In fury You trod the earth; in anger, You trampled the nations.”

In rage You trod upon the land of Canaan to drive out the seven nations who inhabited it (Rashi; Radak). This validates what was previously said [v.8]. It was not that G-d vented His anger against the rivers or seas, but against the heathen nations (Mahari Kara). We must remember to read all of Scripture regarding various events to correctly understand what is being said. Taking shortcuts leads only to misinterpretation and confusion.

Next week we will conclude our study on Habakkuk.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Tamah Davis