Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets: Habakkuk (Conclusion) December 2,2016
We end this study on a comforting and promising prophecy that occurred when G-d trod upon the land of Canaan during the time of Habakkuk, and how He will save Israel (all true believers) in the future. We begin at Chapter 3verse 13:
“You went forth to save Your people, to save your anointed one.
According to Rashi, G-d went forth for the salvation of King Saul and David, who were anointed as kings. However, there is much more to this than just the salvation of those individuals. We know that G-d went forth to save all true believers at the time that will be the situation in the future. The anointed one spoken of in this sentence refers beyond the anointed kings to the Messiah.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying bare from the foundation to the neck, Selah!
You laid bare the foundations of the walls of their enemies and together with their “neck-like” tall towers, they were destroyed (Rashi). Alternatively, just as G-d came to the salvation of His nation when they entered the land of Canaan, so too will He come to the rescue, take them out of exile, and lead them to the Land of Israel. We can easily expand this concept to the time when HaShem will bring all true believers out of exile in this earthly life and deliver us to the Land. Accordingly, your anointed one, refers the Messiah and the head of the house of the wicked refers to the head of the army of the wicked, Gog (Radak).
With his own staffs You pierced the head of his outspread troops, who came storming to scatter me. Their joy came when they could devour a poor man in secret. You trampled[them] in the sea with Your steed-like clouds, with mountains of abundant water. I heard my innards shuddered; my lips quivered at the report. Rot came into by bones and I shuddered in my place; because the time I should have rested will become a day of distress, for a people to come up with its troops. For the fig tree blossoms not; there is no fruit on the grapevines; the labor of the olive trees has failed and the fields do not yield food; the sheep are cut off from the fold and no cattle are in the stall. But as for me, in HaShem I will rejoice; I will exult in the G-d of my salvation. HaShem/Elohim, the L-rd, is my strength. He makes my legs [as swift] as harts; and He leads me upon my high places. To the conductor, [for accompaniment] with my songs.”
The commentators have different opinions/explanations of these verses. Rashi and Metzudos see Sennacherib and his officers as the subject of G-d’s punishment. Radak maintains that this verse is referring to Messianic times and that Gog is the subject. Mahari Kara maintains this verse refers to Pharaoh. I submit that each of these translations is correct based on all the information provided in the Old and “New” Testaments.
With his own staffs You pierced the head of his outspread troops.
This is an expression describing the fall of Sennacherib. G-d did to him that which Sennacherib intended to do to Israel. He intended to destroy the inhabitants of Jerusalem but instead he was the one killed. This sentence is equally applicable to the future invasion of Israel from Russia and her allies. When Gog will rise up to conquer Jerusalem, G-d will cause terror and panic to overtake his armies and they will strike one another in confusion (Radak). This is not hard to imagine as there will be much smoke and confusion when G-d intervenes on behalf of Israel.
The only joy of Sennacherib and his armies was that they were physically capable of destroying Israel. Little did they now the power of the G-d of Israel. Also, just as Pharaoh intended to destroy the Israelite nation and joyfully pursued them, so too does the nation of G-g rejoice at the thought of scattering and annihilating Israel. The poor man mentioned in the narrative refers to Israel as the poor nation (Isaiah 54:11).
You trampled[them] in the sea with Your steed-like [clouds].
This verse is figurative. G-d trampled Sennacherib’s army that was as numerous as the sand in the sea (Rashi). Alternatively, just as in the days of Pharaoh, it was G-d who fought for Israel at the Sea of Reeds (Exodus 14:28). G-d will also fight for Israel against the armies of Gog (Radak).
With mountains of abundant water.
According to Rashi, the reference is to the vast army of Sennacherib. According to Radak, this refers to the waters of the sea of Reeds. It may refer to the concept of overwhelming power of a supernatural power exhibited by G-d like that demonstrated at the crossing of the Sea of Reeds.
I heard and my innards shuddered; my lips quivered at the report. Rot came into my bones and I shuddered in my place
Radak interprets that it is Habakkuk who is trembling, for he has prophetically heard of the suffering that the Jews will endure on the day Gog will come upon them. According to Mahari Kara, Habakkuk heard that G-d will again bring salvation to Israel with the fall of Babylonia, and his insides trembled. I submit the prophecy Habakkuk received throughout his ministry had layers of significance that applied to his time and the future, culminating during the period spoken of in the book of Revelation. Such news should cause anyone’s lips to quiver, innards shudder, and a feeling of rot in their bones! How casually people read the Bible if they read it at all; mistranslating, ignoring, and modifying the Text to fit personal agendas. Habakkuk’s response demonstrates how seriously he took the prophecies given him by G-d. May we feel such concern for future events described in G-d’s Torah.
Because the time I should have rested will become a day of distress.
This is the rude awakening that awaits those who think that salvation is instantaneous and all inclusive. This applies to Jews and Gentiles as there are misunderstandings on both sides. The Tribulation is real and there will be people who live through it. The Church will not be raptured out and those who are chosen to be raptured may be taken before the Tribulation starts or perhaps somewhere during this terrible time. We cannot assume an escapist attitude. Rather, we must follow the instructions/laws of G-d out of our love for Him and pray for strength and peace to stand fast until G-d decides when to take us home.
The day that Gog will rise up against Israel is referred to throughout Scripture as a day of great distress (Daniel 12:1 And there shall be a time of trouble such as never was (Radak).
For the fig tree blossoms not.
The commentators explain this verse figuratively. Rashi sees this verse as referring to the Babylonians. From this day forward, the Babylonians will not be successful in anything they attempt. Targum Yosanan describes this as meaning many nations; the Babylonians, the Medes, the heathen nations in general, and the Romans. They will all ultimately fail in their attempts to destroy Israel and Jerusalem. This has been borne out to date. Although Israel has been outmanned and out gunned in many of her battles so far, she has enjoyed victory. Many nations will ally themselves with Gog in the near future to destroy Israel, but will not be successful. Metzudos sees the fig tree as representing the thus-far unblossomed Israelite nation. They have not garnered the power and strength to stand up in a battle against Gog, therefore Habakkuk prays that G-d will assist them in the fight against G-g. AS Messianic Jews, we have the privilege of knowing how the story will end; that G-d will indeed have the archangel Michael stand up for Israel and assist her to victory.
There is no fruit on the grapevines
The verse figuratively describes Israel’s lack of strength and lack of understanding on the tactics of war at the time of Habakkuk. Today we know that Israel has an excellent understanding of the tactics of war and her strength is beyond that of many larger nations. Israel’s officers and government is wise to keep much of her military capability secret; demonstrating her knowledge of the tenets of war.
But as for me, in HaShem will I rejoice.
Now we turn to the faith and trust in YHVH and His promises to save the nation Israel (includes all true believers). The Israelites will rejoice with G-d’s help at the destruction of Babylonia and when the armies of Gog are destroyed. Although Israel and the Jews (all true Jews according to Romans chapters 2-3), are a minority, G-d will save them. The unusual Name of G-d (YHVH) which has the spelling of the Four-Letter Name but the punctuation of Elohim, combines G-d’s attributes of Mercy and Judgment, implying the plea that even in judgment, G-d should temper His decree with mercy (Genesis 15:8).
He makes my legs as swift as harts.
He makes me light-footed to pursue my enemies. Harts are known for their swiftness (Mahari Kara).
And He leads me upon my high places.
The term high places refer to places in the Land of Israel in general and to Jerusalem specifically. Habakkuk is pleading on behalf of Israel, “Help me tread upon the high places of my country and help me destroy my enemies” (Radak).
To the conductor, [for accompaniment] with my songs.
Habakkuk instructs the Levites who played musical instruments in the Temple to accompany the reading of this prayer with a particular tune chosen by Habakkuk (Metzudos).
In conclusion, through the prophecies of Habakkuk, his questions and prayers to G-d, we can take great encouragement and comfort that G-d is in control and that even in our darkest physical and spiritual times, G-d never loses sight of those who love and obey His instructions; G-d’s Torah, both written and Living. There are going to be some devastating times we must endure before reaching the Land and finishing our earthly race. But as Habakkuk came to realize and as it is written in Philippians 4:12-13; “I know how to live humbly, and I know how to abound. I am accustomed to any and every situation—to being filled and being hungry, to having plenty and having need. 13 I can do all things through Yahshua who gives me strength.”
May HaShem bless you with wisdom from above and knowledge as you continue your studies. May HaShem be glorified.
Rabbi Tamah Davis