Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Study of the Prophets: Habakkuk (Cont.) October 7, 2016
Last week we discussed Habakkuk’s questions to G-d about why He would allow a sinful nation, much “less righteous” than Israel to attack her even though she too has sinned? The prophet cannot understand why G-d does not intervene for His glory and in His own defense. We also discussed that many believers today ask the same questions about all that is going on in our world today; “kicking” G-d out of our society; allowing and even promoting abortion under “freedom of choice,” supporting those who are actively practicing homosexuality, and those who change their G-d-given gender. These are just a few of many abominations against G-d and His instructions for humankind.
This week we will discuss G-d’s answer to Habakkuk. In His mercy and unmerited kindness, G-d takes the time to explain His plan. This plan has a dual application. It outlined what G-d had in store for Israel’s foes and Israel (all true believers) then, and the future. Much of what is written parallels the words of John in Revelation, and Yahshua in the book of Matthew. Let us continue our study at Chapter 2 verse 1 where Habakkuk states he will stand fast and await an answer from G-d.
Chapter 2:2-3: “And HaShem answered me and said,’ Write the vision and clarify it upon tablets, so that a ready may read it swiftly. For there is yet another vision about the appointed time; it will speak of the End and it will not deceive. Though it may tarry, await it, for it will surely come; it will not delay.”
This prophecy was to be written on tablets and not a scroll. This was done because tablets were used by the masses, and would thereby be available for everyone to read, whereas scrolls were read by individuals. The writing was to be in clear language without cryptic meaning so that people could easily understand what G-d said. G-d meant this prophecy to be easily read and understood so that the people would not be led astray but the enemy’s success. Targum Yonasan explains that G-d told Habakkuk that His answer had been written in the Torah long ago, but cryptically. Habakkuk should now write it onto tablets and clearly explain that the vision will yet be revealed at the proper time. Targum Yosanan’s reference is to Leviticus 26:34: “Then the land will be appeased for its Sabbaticals.” Due to Israel’s neglect of 70 Sabbatical years [61 Sabbatical years and 9 Jubilee years], they were to endure 70 years of exile. Also see II Chronicles 36:21 and Ezekiel 4:5 (Rashi). Anyone who has studied Torah for any length of time may attest to the fact that many verses in Scripture are difficult to understand; some initially, and some even years into Torah study. However, just as G-d revealed a specific vision to Habakkuk, one which he was to write clearly on tablets for the masses, the Ruach reveals certain truths of G-d’s Torah as the true believer continues to seek, ask, and knock (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9-13).
The subject of the other prophecy regarding the appointed time of the destruction of Babylon and the redemption of Israel, will be revealed to a different prophet at a future date (Rashi). Rashi most likely did not understand how right he was because he did not have the benefit of the B’rit Chadashah and John’s writings in Revelation. Blessed be our G-d and the prophets, we have this information that makes the prophecies such as this one given so long ago so incredible and marvelous. In the book of Revelation, we read about the destruction of Babylon once and for all and the redemption of Israel (all true believers who will be redeemed because of their repentance and G-d’s grace), who will become the bride of Yahshua. The bride is NOT the Church! No man could have written a book of such magnitude and accuracy that tells the complete history of Israel, the prophecies that applied to the time they were written and to events that would occur far into the future. Abarbanel maintains that the word for “end”, is used in Scripture only when referring to the ultimate redemption that will take place during the Messianic era. Abarbanel also had insight into the dual applicability of this prophecy. Jeremiah was granted a vision of the destruction of the Chaldeans, and Daniel prophesied regarding the Messianic era (Malbim).
Habakkuk addresses those who will be exiled to Babylon and encourages them not to give up hope. Although their captivity will seem to be exceedingly long and the appointed time will seem to be delayed, they should wait for it, for it will surely come. The exile will not last even one moment longer than the seventy years prophesied by Jeremiah (Rashi). Indeed, we can draw the parallel about the appointed time and the End in the B’rit Chadashah. Yahshua told His disciples and all who would become true believers that it would seem that He would tarry in His return, but that He would surely come again as He said (2 Peter 3:8-9). He also spoke in the book of Matthew about the end times and the signs of His return
Matthew Chapter 24: Yahshua left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; everyone will be thrown down.”
3 As Yahshua was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
4 Yahshua answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
15 “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16 then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20 Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.
22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.
26 “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the wilderness,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. 27 For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 28 Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.
29 “Immediately after the distress of those days
“‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
30 “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth] will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
The Day and Hour Unknown
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,] but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
45 “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. 47 Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My master is staying away a long time,’ 49 and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. 50 The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. 51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The precious verses/narrative is provided in its entirety to reinforce the fact that what was prophesied in cryptic language for the future was clarified by Yahshua. What is the significance of two being in the field and one being taken? This is reference to the Rapture, the day and time no one knows, just as no man knows the day or the hour of messiah’s return.
Another important teaching from these verses may be found in the words “await it.” The Chofetz Chaim interprets this phrase homiletically, to wait for G-d’s sake; for G-d’s honor. When we pray for the coming of Messiah, we should not pray with the motive that speedily and soon come only to end our troubles and the troubles of all true believers. This would be a selfish motive and could surely result in many being lost before they choose to repent and turn to YHVH/Yahshua. Recall that in previous verses we learned that He only seems to tarry but that it is that people might not be lost. Only G-d knows when the right time for His return is at hand; when the last person who will repent and choose life through G-d and His Torah will make his/her move. It would be wrong for us to pray for the Messiah’s return to meet our personal agenda, although true believers long for that day. As our verse, Habakkuk 2:3 says “Though it may tarry, wait for it for it will surely come, it will not delay.”
Next week we will continue with the subject of Nebuchadnezzar’s advance on Israel.
Rabbi Tamah Davis