Our last reading in Habakkuk: Habakkuk 3:14-19
v14: (literally) “With Your arrows You will pierce the head of his villages. They will storm and they will cast me out. Their rejoicing is like the eating of a poor one in secret.”
- Pierce the head: An image of destruction.
- Head: The leader
- Villages: Unwalled cities.These places of wickedness are vulnerable and will not be able to defend themselves. They will not be able to survive the death blow of G-d’s judgment. They will not have any ability to endure, because wickedness brings about weakness and instability.
- Cast me out: G-d allowed Israel to go into exile – to be cast out. However, there was a purpose for this exile. It was not for their ultimate destruction but to bring about repentance and renewal. The people went back to Israel after the Babylonian exile for the purpose of Messiah – for His first coming. In the last days Israel is going to suffer greatly. This suffering is going to prepare them for Yeshua’s second coming.
- Their rejoicing: This is the response of the nations to the exile of Judah (Judah being outside of G-d’s will). When the people of Israel are not where G-d wants them to be, when they are not in the land, the purposes of G-d will be delayed.
- Poor: When the destitute get food and are afraid that someone is going to take it from them, they flee with it and hide in a secret place. Once they are in that secret place, they take great pleasure in devouring their food. They know that they are in a position where they can safely enjoy their food, and no one can take it from them. This verse likens the rejoicing of the wicked nations (rejoicing because Israel was cast into exile) to that poor person enjoying his food in secret. They had great (in retrospect: short lived) joy because they did not want G-d’s will to be fulfilled. Exile (from their perspective) appeared to be accomplishing just that.
v15: You: The prophet is speaking about G-d.
- You walked: G-d, in light of the nation’s joy over the suffering of the Jewish people in exile, is going to move to act.
- Your horses: Referring to the power and might of the L-rd.
- Heap of great waters: This is reminiscent of the crossing of the Red Sea (Ex 14:21-29). At the Red Sea, G-d heaped up the waters. When Pharaoh’s army tried to pass through, the waters came upon them and destroyed them. This is what this verse is alluding to – G-d is going to destroy the enemies of Israel.
v16: (literally)“I heard this and my stomach shook; and my lips, at the sound of His voice, quivered. Rottenness came into my bones; my midsection shook. I will rest for the day of trouble, when shall go forth, to the people, his battalion.”
- I heard: This was very personal for Habakkuk (“close to home”).
- Stomach: When we feel anxious or stressed (or if we hear bad news) it can often make us feel sick to our stomachs. Habakkuk felt sick to his stomach concerning the Babylonian captivity.
- The sound of His voice: G-d’s proclamation of the coming exile.
- Rottenness came into my bones: All these images reveal to us how distressed Habakkuk was over what G-d had promised.
- Midsection: His very foundation or core. He felt shaken to the very core of his being.
- I will rest: Habakkuk reached a conclusion. He was now aware that difficult times were on the horizon. He knew that the wise thing to do was to position himself for that day of trouble. Rest does not always mean taking a nap or lying down. It can mean to position oneself by submitting to the will and purposes of G-d. When we do that, we have peace and are at rest.
- Shall go forth, to the people, his battalion: The people of Judah are going to be invaded by the enemy. G-d is behind this. He is using this invasion, this day of trouble, to bring change to His people.
v17: Note: In this verse the prophet is speaking about Israel’s spiritual condition. This is the reason why they had to go into exile.
- Fig tree: A reference to Israel. In the book of Hosea G-d likens Israel to a fig tree (Hos 9:10). Yeshua also did this in Matthew 24:32.
- Will not blossom – No yield: No produce.
- Fail: The olive tree is not doing what an olive tree should do – it is not producing oil. Punishment is coming because of a lack of measurable outcomes or results (Matt 3:8).
- Fields yield no food: Israel is not doing what she is supposed to be doing – she is empty of fruit (good works).
- The flock: Symbolically speaking of the people of Israel – the sheep of G-d’s pasture (Ps 100:3).
- Cut off from the fold: They were not going to remain in the land of Israel. They were going to be scattered. Many of the people were captured and exiled to Babylon.
- Fold: A place of safety.
- No herd in the stalls: In the evening the cattle usually go back into the stalls – these are places of safety and provision. This was not going to be the case with Israel. They were going to be outside of the land of Israel – in exile.
Note: Habakkuk realised that the people of Israel, because of their sin and lack of repentance, were going to go through a very difficult time. This Babylonian exile – a limited period of time, but with very intense suffering – foreshadows what is going to happen in the last days. In the last days, Israel is going to go through an intense time of suffering just before the second coming of Yeshua and the establishment of His Kingdom. This is a time of trouble called “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7).
v18: I will rejoice in the L-rd rejoice: Habakkuk chooses to rejoice in the L-rd despite these judgments. He knew hard times were coming, but he also knew that the way to stay strong was through rejoicing (Neh 8:10).
- I will joy (exalt) in the G-d of my salvation: Why? BecauseG-d is doing these things! It is only through the righteous judgements of the L-rd that salvation, victory, and that last day redemption will be experienced. G-d’s judgement has a wonderful outcome. Many people are brought to faith through it.
v19: (literally) “G-d, the L-rd, my wealth. He will set my feet as the deer, and upon the high places He will lead me. To the Chief Musician. In my melodies.”
- Wealth: (חֵילִי) This is a play on words. This word can mean suffering – like a woman suffering in labour. It is also, however, a word that can speak of an army, or as wealth. What Habakkuk is saying here is that there is going to be great suffering – pain like a woman in labour (see Jer 30:6-7). BUT…at the end of labour there is an incredible reward – G-d our “wealth”.
- High places: Habakkuk had a Kingdom hope.
- To the Chief Musician. In my melodies: When we think of prayers in the Bible, the book of Psalms come to mind. Many Psalms have inscriptions at the beginning of the Psalm. These are words of instruction (what melody to sing it to, how to chant it etc) or words of revelation (the circumstances that caused the author to write the Psalm etc) concerning the Psalm about to be read. Here we have an inscription not at the beginning, but at the end of Habakkuk’s prayer.
- Chief Musician: The leader of the choir. He was the one who led the chanting and the singing.
- Melodies (בִּנְגִינוֹתָֽ): Tune. Music. We all need to sing the same melody or tune. We all need to understand that G-d’s judgment will bring about a wonderful outcome (Rev 19:1-7) Habakkuk knew the dire situation that the people were about to encounter. He also knew, though, that G-d would never abandon His people. He knew that G-d’s righteous judgement was the only way to bring about a righteous change in the people – a way to prepare them to be used by Him for His Kingdom purposes.
Prophecy provides us with wisdom and knowledge, which we need to hold on to as we go through times of persecution and suffering. As we go through hardships may we suffer for the sake of righteousness (1 Peter 3:14) and not out of a need for discipline (Heb 12:5-11). Count it all joy when you suffer for the sake of righteousness (James 1:2-4).