Sunday, July 27, 2008

the problem of demandingness (Habakkuk cont'd)

Here's week 3 of my lessons on Habakkuk-- after...

week 1's intro the big, difficult questions about suffering and pain within life (why and how long?)
week 2's discussion of various reasons for suffering and our optimal response to troubling circumstances

Chapter 2 opens with what seems to be "demandingness" at the end of Habakkuk's response to God's reply. Habakkuk opens with legitimate questions and properly takes them to God (1:2-4). God replies that He is working-- but not in the way Habakkuk had anticipated (1:5-11). Habakkuk questions the means to agreed-upon ends (1:12-17)-- before seeming to question God's competence in running His universe. (Again, this is why Habakkuk is a mini-Job; see: Job 1:13-22, 2:7-10 vs. 9:2-3, 13:3,15-19, 23:1-7, vs. 10:1-3.)

God, again, responds to Habakkuk-- this time with instructions (2:2-3), prophecy of judgment (2:5) and the punchline (2:4's the just shall live by [their] faith).

2:4 is a classic verse-- what has been called "a diamond in a mountain of soot". It is cited in Romans 1:17, in Galatians 3:11 as a pivotal part of Paul's argument, and Hebrews 10:38 as an opening to the "Hall of Faith" Chapter 11. It was key to Luther's conversion and was used as a rallying cry for the Protestant Reformation. (Wiersbe notes that Romans talks about "the just"; Galatians talks about how they should live; and Hebrews talks about "by faith". He says, "It takes three books to explain and apply this one verse.")

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 says it has to do with the "unseen". If I said I held a paperclip in my fist, would you believe? Yes or no? What if I added the testimony of others? Yes or no? If I showed you? No, now you know, rather than "believe".

In the rest of chapter 2, God continues with a series of woes, laying out judgment. By the end of it, Habakkuk is convinced and his demandingness is shattered in 3:1-2. (Again, the same thing happens to Job-- at length. Check out 38:1-3 to get the idea, but then it continues on for two whole chapters. Job interrupts, saying that he understands. But God is unconvinced and pounds him with two more chapters of beautiful poetry!)


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