The Prophet Habakkuk

Habakkuk

The name Habakkuk means “to embrace”.

In Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Jesus Christ is described as ruling on the earth when all people will share in the peace and abundant life His righteous reign will produce (Isaiah 11: 1-9). Habakkuk doesn’t mention Assyria, but he does refers to the increasing Chaldean (also known as Babylonians) power. So we can assume that he prophesied in Judah, possibly during Jehoiakim reign and shortly before the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar (Habakkuk 1:6).

Habakkuk was instructed to foretell the invasion and destruction of the land by the Chaldeans. The northern kingdom of Israel had already gone into captivity to Assyria, and God was going to punish the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians.

In chapters 1: 1-4 we find Habakkuk’s first question. Was God indifferent to Judah’s sin, which was horrifying and wide spread? The nation was guilty of:
Violence Habakkuk 1:2
Plundering and violence Habakkuk 1:3
Strife and contention Habakkuk 1:3
Disregarding and abusing the law Habakkuk 1:4
Exploiting the righteous Habakkuk 1:4
Corrupting and misusing judgment Habakkuk 1:4
Habakkuk had trouble understanding why it appeared God was unconcerned about Judah’s sin. Even though he understood that God was not detached from the peoples ungodliness, Habakkuk needed answers.

In chapter 1: 5-11 we have God’s answers. God’s answer is that He would not leave the people of Judah unpunished but would raise up the Chaldeans a rod of chastisement and correction. The Chaldeans were a merciless and terrible people, who would reach down and invade the land.

In chapter 1: 12- 2:1 we find Habakkuk’s second question. How could a holy and righteous God punish Judah by using an even more wicked and unrighteous nation? The conqueror was worse than those appointed to be chastised.

Then in chapter 2:2-20 God’s answer is that all will be faithfully judged with righteous judgment. In the final determination only those who trust in God will live. No one will escape the penalty of evil and wickedness. God will punish arrogance, pride and wrongdoing.

The just living by faith is one of the major themes in Habakkuk. The faith that we are to live by is not man’s faith, but the living faith that God gives to those who live in harmony with Him. Habakkuk was told to write down the visions and make it plain so a runner could read it (2:2). Habakkuk was told that the fulfillment was “for an appointed time” yet in the future (2:3). Equipped with God’s response and the certainty that wickedness will be punished, Habakkuk delivered a series of five woes against those who opposed God and His laws. It seems that these woes are directed at the Chaldeans. They cannot escape the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). God’s law of retribution for those who in their minds consider themselves beyond reproach and punishment (Habakkuk 2:5). Habakkuk has recorded five types of wickedness found in the Chaldeans:

1. Aggression, pride, abuse of power and greed – 2:5-8
2. Covetousness – 2:9-11
3. Excessive violence – 2:12-13
4. Inhumanity and heartlessness – 2:15-17
5. Idolatry – 2:18-19

Habakkuk ends the book with a psalm of praise and prayer, chapter 3. When hearing God’s coming judgment, Habakkuk expresses his concern (verse 2), and showed his concern by asking God to exercise mercy when applying His judgment. He then proceeded to make a list of the extraordinary acts of God in the past history of His people.

1. God’s awesome presence at Mount Sinai and His power to intervene for His people – 3:   3-7
2. The division of the Rd Sea and later the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to enter the Promise Land – 3: 8-10
3. God’s powerful intervention for the Israelites in battle – 3: 11-15.

Habakkuk trembles at the thought of what is yet to happen, but nothing that happens on the earth can remove God’s promises: “ yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” – 3: 18-18

The book of Habakkuk is quoted several times in the New Testament. In Acts 13: 40-41 the apostle Paul quoted the warning in Habakkuk 1:5 and applied it to the people of Antioch. The warning that the prophet gave under inspiration can also be relevant for us today.

The lesson of Habakkuk is, Man shall live by faith. Faith in God no matter how dark the day is – have faith.

Short Outline of Habakkuk

A. The problem of the apparent triumph of sin – Chapter 1
1. Why does sin go unpunished? – 1-4
2. God says he has used the Chaldeans to punish sin – 5-11
3. Are they confined to evil forever – 12-17

B. The impending punishment of the Chaldeans – Chapter 2
1. Waiting for the vision – 1-3
2. Vision of the five destructive woes, – 4-20

C. An age of confidence in God – Chapter 3
1. Prayer of the disquieted prophet – 1-2
2. Past history has shown God will finally destroy Israel’s enemies – 3-15
3. The prophet must joyously trust God and wait when in perplexity – 16-19

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Book of Romans Chapter 2

Chapter 2 part 2

Scripture taken from the NRSV translation

Paul has established two central truths……
1. All mankind did engage in and continues to engage in rebellion and depravity.
2. Gentiles are clearly guilty of disobeying the truth.
We need to remember that Paul’s key audience are the Jewish leaders of this church and they must begin to see themselves under the same condemnation of sin as the Gentiles.

Romans 2: 17-24
17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relation to God
18 and know his will and determine what is best because you are instructed in the law,
19 and if you are sure that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,
20 a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth,
21 you, then, that teach others, will you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal?
22 You that forbid adultery, do you commit adultery? You that abhor idols, do you rob temples?
23 You that boast in the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?
24 For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’

We need to remember that not all members of this church were Jews, but there is still a Jewish factor in the church. Now Paul very carefully attacks that key factor of Jewish self-righteousness. We get a sense of what Paul’s dealing with here, we should look at the discussion between Jesus and Pharisees in John’s gospel. The Pharisees were unbelieving men, even though they thought of themselves to be very righteous men. They clung to their heritage as their basis for salvation, after all they would be saved just because they were Jew, descended from Abraham.

John 8: 31-44
31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples;
32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’
33 They answered him, ‘We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, “You will be made free”?’

34 Jesus answered them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there for ever.
36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word.
38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.’
39 They answered him, ‘Abraham is our father.’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing what Abraham did,
40 but now you are trying to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did.
41 You are indeed doing what your father does.’ They said to him, ‘We are not illegitimate children; we have one father, God himself.’
42 Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now I am here. I did not come on my own, but he sent me.
43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot accept my word.
44 You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Jesus is telling them that they are not who they think they are; they are not God’s children, but in fact, they are slaves of sin, and are condemned by their sin. Jesus calls them out repeatedly for their hypocrisy, even as they declare their innocence. The Pharisees are dismayed at Jesus accusation, since they see themselves as the height of righteousness after all they are born of Abraham, they bear the name Jew, as Paul says in Romans, and as such, they are saved and automatically going to heaven. Jesus clearly contradicts that logic, saying that their physical birth gives them no automatic place in heaven. And so Paul says that if you bear the name Jew, you better not rest on that alone. Have you noticed that we still do this today, but in a Christian version of the same error.

We already talked about the name Jew, those who relied on their birth heritage from Abraham. Now Paul moves through a list of assumed advantages of being a Jew, they rely upon law, they boast in God, they know His will, and approve the things that are essential. And with these advantages, the Jews secured a superior attitude. They were the ones leading the blind Gentile nation into the truth, and they can correct the foolish and disciple the immature concerning how to please God, and based on their having access to a form of God’s knowledge of truth. In these statements, Paul simply repeats the prevailing attitudes and beliefs common to the Jewish culture. Even though Paul gave careful argument for how all men are corrupt by nature and under condemnation, the Jews still didn’t get it.

Paul asked them to consider the various ways in which they fall short of the very rules and standards they claim are their advantage. As Jews, they claim to be an authority on righteousness for others. Paul ask them a list of questions, do Jews steal, do they commit adultery, do the take idols from temples for their own use? So the Jews are breaking the very Law that they brag about. How is this an honor to God? Then Paul quotes Isaiah 52:5 to them, through a Jewish prophet, God spoke to them saying that he behavior of the Jewish nation didn’t reflect righteousness. It shamed the name of God among the Gentile nations.

Romans 2: 25-29
25 Circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law; but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26 So, if those who are uncircumcised keep the requirements of the law, will not their uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?
27 Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you that have the written code and circumcision but break the law.
28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.
29 Rather, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart—it is spiritual and not literal. Such a person receives praise not from others but from God.

Paul now introduces the final, and perhaps the most personal symbol of righteousness within the Jewish culture – circumcision. Circumcision was an outward sign given to the Jewish of the Abraham Covenant. Paul says that if the sign was going to signify righteousness, it would only be because the person was completely obedient to the Law. But if someone has a label of uncircumcised, but they were to live according to the Law, so it’s the ones who are actually righteous who wear the label of righteousness.

That last verse does shed some insight on where Paul is headed in his letter. True circumcision was never meant to be an act in the flesh of the human body. God gave men the physical circumcision to observe a covenant and to point to a redeemer. But the Jews came to think that circumcision automatically gave them righteousness and eternal security. But Paul says that there is a kind of circumcision that does grant righteousness. There is circumcision of the heart, given by the Spirit.

Prophet Daniel

Daniel Part 2

Daniel 9: 24-27
24 ‘Seventy weeks are decreed for your people and your holy city: to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place.
25 Know therefore and understand: from the time that the word went out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the time of an anointed prince, there shall be seven weeks; and for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with streets and moat, but in a troubled time.
26 After the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing, and the troops of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its* end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.
27 He shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall make sacrifice and offering cease; and in their place shall be an abomination that desolates, until the decreed end is poured out upon the desolator.’

Verse 24 list 6 things that are to be accomplished by the end of the 70 weeks:
1 finish the transgression
2 make an end of sin
3 to atone for iniquity
4 bringing in everlasting righteousness
5 seal up vision and prophecy
6 to anoint a most holy place
By the end of His ministry Jesus at least partially fulfilled the first three items. By His sacrifice Jesus provided a way for sin to be forgiven and become the atonement for our sins, reconciling us to God, Colossians 1: 19-20. Jesus will finish completing these first three and fulfill the final three after His return.

Verse 25 introduces the time of the fulfillment of the prophecy.

Verse 26, the first phrase say that the Messiah would be “cut off” after 62 prophetic weeks. Verse 26 also introduces an evil prince who will destroy the city, Jerusalem, and the sanctuary.

Verse 27 can be a little tricky to read when trying to decide between Messiah and evil one. So from my studies this is what I am understanding: verse 25 talks about the Messiah, verse 26 refers to the evil one, verse 27 the first part refers to the Messiah and the second part refers to the evil one.

Abomination of desolation, chapter 11 covers prophecies that would be fulfilled from the time of the Medo-Persian Empire through the end of time. After providing specific detail regarding the successive kingdoms, in verse 31 we read of daily sacrifices taken away and of an “abomination of desolation” that would be placed in the temple. These even were a type of a future fulfillment that will happen before the return of Christ, Matthew 24: 14-15.

A second fulfillment happened when Roman armies destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple and alter were desecrated. Luke 21:20 identifies the armies as the cause of the desolation of Jerusalem.

A future fulfillment, in reference to “the end” of this age when He would return to earth a second time, Matthew 24: 13-14. Then in Matthew 24: 15-16 Jesus said, “So when you see the desolating sacrilege standing in the holy place, as was spoken of by the prophet Daniel (let the ruler understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Daniel, the prophet to whom Jesus referred was told in a vision that the words he had been given were “sealed till the time of the end” Daniel 12:9.

The time of the end. Beginning in Daniel 11:40 we read of events that will happen “at the time of the end.” This includes conflict around Jerusalem between “the kings of the North” and “the kings of the South.” Daniel also refers to a severe “time of trouble” Daniel 12:1, which is referred to as “great tribulation” in Matthew 24:21.

Short outline of Daniel

A. Daniel’s history chapters 1-6

1. His youth and education chapter 1
2. Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s image dream chapter 2
3. In the fiery furnace chapter 3
4. Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s tree dream chapter 4
5. Interpretation of the hand-writing on the wall for Belshazzar chapter 5
6. In the lion’s den chapter 6

B. Daniel’s vision of the Kingdoms chapter 7-12

1. The four beasts chapter 7
2. The ram and the he-goat chapter 8
3. The seventy weeks chapter 9
4. The final vision chapter 10-12

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You