We now read Habakkuk 3:8-13
This entire third chapter is a prayer prayed by the prophet. In this second half of the prayer, we are going to see that G-d will use difficult circumstances to set things in order. G-d judges for the purpose of getting rid of that which is unredeemable, rebellious, full of pride and because of an unwillingness to humble ourselves. A remnant will humble themselves and will turn to G-d by seeking mercy, confessing their sin and affirming a new desire – to be submissive to the purposes of G-d.
Water is also spoken of frequently in this second half. When we think of water, within the context of judgment and prophecy, the flood comes to mind. During the days of Noah, the flood brought about great destruction – killing all humanity except eight people. The purpose of the flood was purification – to have a new beginning, a renewal of humanity. There was a re-establishment of G-d’s original purposes with the flood.
v8: Displeased (Angry) with the rivers: The L-rd’s judgement did not fall because He was angry with water. He used water for a saving purpose – to bring about a change. Through water, G-d saved creation and restored it back to His purposes. This restoration is known as salvation.
- Displeased … anger…wrath: These are all words that refer to G-d’s judgment.
Note: This verse is important because it tells us what G-d’s ultimate objective is: to bring about salvation, victory. There is an inherent relationship between salvation and righteousness. When we are unrighteous we do not experience victory – things are
not brought to a glorious conclusion.
v9: (literally)“Her nakedness, Your bow to awaken to our eyes. Sworn arrows spoken. Selah. You will split the earth with rivers.”
- Her: Referring to the earth.
- Nakedness (עֶרְיָ֤ה): There are two ways to understand nakedness in the Bible:
- It can be used to inform us that something is being revealed, a discovery or a disclosing
- For the purpose of shame.
In this verse the earth’s shame or wickedness is being revealed. This wickedness is going to cause G-d’s bow (His judgement) to – in poetic language – come to life. G-d is going to rise up in order to move against the shameful things in the world.
- Your bow to awaken to our eyes: This is a description, in poetic language, to warn us to get ready because G-d’s judgment is coming. We need to praise G-d for His judgement. It is a righteous judgement and sets things in order so that His Kingdom can be established.
- Sworn: We can think of this as a promise. G-d has sworn that His large arrows are going to come. The outpouring of His wrath is going to happen.
- Arrows (מַטּ֖וֹת): This is not literally the word for arrow but, because of context (speaking of a bow in the previous phrase), ‘arrows’ is the implication of this word. The word used here is a word for a pole or a beam – something significantly larger and more destructive than an arrow.
- Selah: A word of emphasis and affirmation.
- Split the earth with rivers: Rivers (like in the great flood) are used prophetically to speak about G-d’s judgement. The earth is going to change. G-d’s wrath is coming because of the shame on earth (sin, iniquity and injustice).
v10: Mountains: Biblically, mountains have to do withgovernments or seats of authority. We could understand this as nations in their totality – the governments of the world.
- Trembled: Shake – due to pain and suffering. A painful judgment is going to come upon the nations.
- He (G-d) will lift up His hands: G-d is going to raise up His hand in pronouncing this judgment. We could think of it as G-d taking an oath.
v11: Sun and moon: One of the purposes of light is revelation. Something is being revealed.
- Stood: This is written in the singular. This brings a single mindedness into the text. Although revealed by many prophets, there is only one revelation about what G-d is going to do.
- In their habitation: In their place.
- Light: There is an emphasis on revelation.
- Arrows they went (shall go): Again, a revealing of G-d’s judgment.
- Shining…glittering: Exceedingly bright light (נֹ֖גַהּ)G-d is going to reveal His judgment and He is going to do it in a very clear manner – there is not going to be any confusion. It is going to be obvious to all.
- (Lightening is Your) glittering spear: G-d’s spear is going to be like lightening in its brilliance, but also in its speed. It is going to move quickly and will be unpredictable.
v12: Indignation: Wrath
- Trampled the nations: G-d’s wrath will not only impact here and there. The entire creation, all of the nations, are going to experience His judgement.
v13: Salvation (יֵ֣שַׁע):The same word that the name Yeshua (Jesus) is derived from.
- The salvation of Your people: Without G-d’s wrath the victory or salvation of G-d’s people would not come.
- Anointed: Messiah.
- Struck: To strike and destroy in a very harsh manner.
- Struck the head from the house of wickedness: G-d is going to deal a death blow to the head of the house of wickedness (see Gen 3:15). He is going to completely punish the wicked.
- Bare (עָר֛וֹת): The same word for nakedness (shame) that we saw in 3:9, except now written in the plural. Something is being very powerfully and significantly revealed.
- Selah: A word of emphasis and affirmation.