Habakkuk Bible Study Commentary: The Book of Habakkuk - Then & Now
Habakkuk Chapter 3: The Coming Deliverer
by I Gordon
 ↩ If Habakkuk's day was 'in the midst of the years' then the 'early years' would have been the work and deeds of God in bringing Israel out of Egypt and all the many great wonders that entailed. So Habakkuk is saying 'perform your mighty deeds once again, even in our day, like you did in the days of old when Israel was born.' Sometimes we too need to pray for such things for our own lives. It is easy to get complacent and drift in 'the midst of the years' once the wonder of our early salvation has become a slightly hazy memory. In regard to this, note three things -
1. It is God's work to revive. Habakkuk said 'Revive YOUR work'. Trying to bring about personal spiritual revival based on human effort and will power is the fast road to dashed hopes! Admit it, even your new year's resolution was probably broken by Jan 3 rd or 4th!
2. Without a desire (leading to prayer) to see revival, it isn't going to happen in your life. God wants to be wanted. And He wants you to want to get to know Him better! He can even give you the desire to want to know Him better if you need to start there! But you do need to acknowledge your need to Him.
3. You have to see clearly 'where you are at'. You have to see your need. If you think you have no need then the status quo will continue. Habakkuk had to see Judah's great need for God to move before he could see and then ask, for revival.
 ↩ If people praying for a revival knew it meant that God would first judge, would they still want it? I doubt it. Even Habakkuk kind of wished he hadn't asked God to move once he found out how God was going to act! Ever since I have been a Christian I have heard people speaking about the 'revival' that is about to come. Biblically speaking, the Bible says more about a 'falling away' in the last days. A revival would be a good thing but we should remember that in parts of the world God is already doing great things and moving powerfully, with many miracles and people being saved. It just so happens that many of those same countries experience persecution and very real difficulties for living as a Christian. Would people in the West still want revival if it meant that? Habakkuk came to see that God's way were best and still prayed for this 'revival' even though it meant initial judgement for God's own people in Judah. But he does add the little sub-clause - 'In wrath remember mercy!'
 ↩ 'Selah' is found in the Psalms 71 times. The Bible Knowledge Commentary says ' The Hebrew verb from which the term comes means 'to exalt, to lift up.' It may mean a pause (a) to elevate to a higher key or increase the volume, (b) to reflect on what has been sung and exalt the Lord in praise, or (c) to lift up certain instruments for something like a trumpet fanfare.' As a general rule, when you see a 'Selah' in God's word, then 'stop and think about what has been written - praise God for what has been revealed.'
 ↩ Dr John Gill writes: "from Teman" as he of old came from thence, a city in the land of Edom ( Jer 49:7 ), it was five miles from Petra, in Idumea, where was Mount Seir, from whence the Lord arose, and shone forth from Mount Paran at the giving of the law, (Deu 33:2) to which the allusion is here.
Now that is all true, and you will find most commentators just think that Habakkuk is referring to a past event. But it is only HALF of the story! The fact is that the passage in Deut 33:2 is a 'Midrash' or picture of that which will occur again at the end of the age! Commentators with a clearer prophetic understanding such as Arnold Fructembaum and A.C Gaebelin recognise that this reference in Habakkuk will play out at the coming of Jesus Christ. See the footnote 6 for more in-depth details of how this occurs.
 ↩ The past reference is Deut 33:1-2 which was the blessing of Moses upon Israel:
'Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the sons of Israel before his death. He said, "The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousand holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightning for them.'
Thus, the deliverance from Egypt that God gave to Israel in the early days shall be played again in the latter days when Jesus shall come once again, with thousands of His holy ones ( Jude 14-15 , Rev 19:11-15 ), and deliver Israel from a sure destruction at the hands of the nations of the world.
 ↩ Most of the time when we talk or think about the second coming of Jesus, we think about the Lord coming back to the Mount of Olives as prophecied in Zech 14:4 (incidentally, the Mount of Olives is the same location from which Jesus ascended into Heaven in Acts 1:9-12 ). But at some stage during His return the Lord Jesus MUST come from Bozrah (also known as Petra) in Edom (modern day Jordan). The key prophecy concerning this is Isaiah 63:1 'Who is this who comes from Edom, Withgarments of glowing colors from Bozrah, This One who is majestic in His apparel, Marching in the greatness of His strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." Why does Jesus come back there? Because that is where the Jews flee to for protection from the Antichrist and his army during the second half of the tribulation. ( Micah 2:12 KJV - Bozrah is where the remnant of Israel assemble, Daniel 11:41 - Edom is specifically kept from the control of the Antichrist, Matt 24:16 - Israel has to flee to the mountains as a hiding place. The closest being those in the south of Jordan (Edom/Petra/Bozrah) With the nations closing in on the Jews hiding in Petra, Jesus will return there to save them first (more on this later) before moving his way back to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives.
 ↩ And of course Jesus gave three of the disciples a glimpse of what His 2nd coming and Kingdom would be like on the Mount of Transfiguration and in recording what they saw it was this revealed that ' He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light.' ( Matthew 17:2 )
 ↩ You see, you have to picture the scene at that time. The nations will hate God and will take their stand against Him according to Psalm 2. Under the rule of the Antichrist, the Jews and any believer in Jesus will be punishable by death. With ALL the armies of the world united in their desire to destroy the Jewish people, who could possibly stop them? They have the Antichrist leading the way and as all the world has already said about him "Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?" ( Rev 13:4 ) Yep... the plan of a united world under the Antichrist without Jews and believers in God is finally set to come to fruition. It is a sure thing... well, right up till the heavenly bodies no longer gave forth their light, the heavens split open and as lightning up the east to west, there comes one in brilliant light riding upon a white horse...
 ↩ By the time of the last rebellion against God and His people at the end of the tribulation, this darkness will be both spiritual and physical. It is a spiritual darkness for the nations joined to the Antichrist will have given themselves over completely to this wicked world ruler. The darkness will also be physical for the sun and the moon will not give their light on that day. But the coming of the true Son will overcome the darkness for He is the light of the world... spiritually and soon to be literally!
 ↩ When I was a young Christian I read a book called 'The Pre-Tribulation Rapture' by Allen Beechick. In it was a chapter called 'The Winepress'. There are lots of things I have forgotten about that book but that particular chapter is not one of them! At the time I did not know what 'the Winepress' was in relation to Jesus' 2nd coming and I didn't realise that so many scriptures spoke about it. I have recently seen that this whole chapter and book is available online so if you are interested have a look here: http://www.rapturesolution.com/beechick/Book/Wine.htm
Beechick starts the chapter by saying ' The most terrifying ordeal for any human being, outside of hell itself - what is it? The winepress.' Here is a far shorter (but inferior) version. Previously in this study I quoted from Isaiah 63:1 which shows that Jesus will come back to Bozrah in Edom (modern day Petra in Jordan). From there He begins His defence of the Jews and His warfare against the nations. Here is the following part of Isaiah 63 that I didn't quote earlier (on purpose!):
'Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like the one who treads in the wine press?" I have trodden the wine trough alone, and from the peoples there was no man with Me. I also trod them in My anger and trampled them in My wrath; And their lifeblood is sprinkled on My garments, and I stained all My raiment. "For the day of vengeance was in My heart, and My year of redemption has come. "I looked, and there was no one to help, and I was astonished and there was no one to uphold; So My own arm brought salvation to Me, and My wrath upheld Me. "I trod down the peoples in My anger and made them drunk in My wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth." ( Isaiah 63:2-6 )
When Jesus came the first time it WAS NOT the day of vengeance - it ushered in (and still is) the day of grace. His return though is in the day of vengeance. The book of Revelation even tells us how far the blood flows for and how deep it is during this trampling of the nations in 'the winepress':
'So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from the wine press, up to the horses' bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.' ( Revelation 14:19-20 )
It is possible, as Beechick suggests, that the blood will be from Jerusalem to Bozrah and down to the Red Sea. Have a read of his chapter using the link above. Other passages to read in the Bible are Joel 3 and Isaiah 34:1-8 .
 ↩ Messianic scholar Arnold Fructenbaum, in his book Footsteps of the Messiah (page 331), states there are two conditions that must be met by the nation of Israel that lead to the second coming of Jesus. First, there must be the confession of Israel's national sin ( Lev 26:40-42 , Jer 3:11-18 , Hos 5:15-6:3 ); and second, a pleading for the Messiah to return ( Zech 12:10 ; Matt 23:37-39 , Isa 64:1-4 ). The pleading for His return will occur in difficult days as we have seen. With all the nations of the world coming against them, and all hope lost, they will cry out for their Messiah. AND HE WILL COME! Larry Norman's song 'Messiah' captures this event:
'Messiah took this world by force, Messiah took this world by force.
I could see people dying, I could hear the children crying
I could see cities falling, and I could hear the Savior calling
Messiah, Messiah, He took this world by force
Messiah, Messiah, He took this world by force
Red clouds blotted out the sun, Darkness fell on everyone
Rivers of blood were running, I could hear the armies coming
I could see the weapons falling, I could hear the angels calling
The bear from the north and the dragon from the east
Descended upon the armies of Israel... and slaughtered them
And in that day the chosen of Israel cried out for Messiah
And Messiah came... Messiah!! MESSIAH!!!
 ↩ We live in an age that rejoices and thanks God quite often... when things are going well. What about when nothing is going well? Our testimony and track record has not been so good then. What are your thoughts concerning God in such times? Do you still love Him? These are the times when your faith is seen or exposed. And I do need to be real concerning such times for I have struggled with thoughts about God during prolonged times of difficulty that are certainly not worthy of the Almighty. Darkness causes doubt to rise. But how wonderful when faith rises even further and lifts you above your circumstance so that you can say with Habakkuk that I too will praise and rejoice in God even though 'the fig tree does not bud, nor the fields produce any food.'
J. Vernon McGee writes: 'My friend, God is the answer to your questions. God is the answer to your problems. Therefore, it does not matter who you are or where you are; you can rejoice in Him, and you can rejoice in His salvation. You can say with Habakkuk, who was such a pessimist in the beginning, "I will joy in the God of my salvation." This book opened in gloom, but it closes in glory. It opened with a question mark, but it closes with a mighty exclamation point. And it ends with his wonderful song. May you and I be encouraged today by the Word of God!'