Malachi Introduction

Malachi Introduction

Before we begin this narrative commentary, here is an aha moment to consider. We find in the Table of Contents of our Bibles that Malachi is listed as the last of the Old Testament books… BUT, it isn’t the last O.T. book written. It more likely is the Chronicles, if not Ezra. The original identity was simply The Chronicles, not the 1st and 2nd Chronicles. In the original Hebrew text, The Chronicles is put last in written Hebrew chronology. In the reorganized Christian bible, 1st and 2nd Chronicles has historical content, so it is listed with the other canonized historical O.T. books.

The last events in the Chronicles take place during the reign of Cyrus the Great, the Persian king whose forces had conquered Babylon in 539 B.C. Judeans shortly thereafter were released from Babylonian captivity. Sadly, only a few returned. We do not know who authored The Chronicles. It was divided into part one and two by those 70 Hebrew scribes who translated the original Hebrew O.T. into the Greek Septuagint. Ptolemy of Egypt ordered the translation. He wished that all could read the Old Testament. Greek was the common language for writing at that time. Few could translate Hebrew to Greek but trained Jewish priests could do so with incredible accuracy.

Dating can be of a Challeng.

We do not know when Malachi lived or prophesied. This is part of some Bible-dating challenge. We can deduce by relating other passages and events in the Bible as to possible time periods. Malachi came on the scene after Haggai and Zechariah. His book is the last of the Minor Prophets and the last book of the English version of the Old Testament. He is one of the three post-exile prophets. The minor prophet books are listed together as are the historical books in the Christian Bible.

The original remnant of Judeans who returned from Babylonian captivity was in 536 B.C. under Zerubbabel’s leadership. This is 70 years after Nebuchadnezzar enslaved the first wave of Judeans in 606 B.C. On his third exploit in 586/7 B.C., Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple. Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther present the life of Israel after the people’s return from their exile in Babylon. The book of Chronicles serves as a summary of the history of Israel. It begins with the genealogy of Adam and ends with Cyrus’ decree allowing the people to return to Canaan. 

JIV CAUTION: Some history revisionists say the Babylonian captivity was only 50 years. 586 B.C. to 536 B.C. The first captives, including the likes of Daniel was during Nebuchadnezzar’s first invasion in 606 B.C. 606 B.C. to 536 B.C = 70

Zerubbabel brought back 42,000 Judeans to Judah. Daniel had previously made a plea to Satrap or King Darius the Mede, who conquered Babylon, and Cyrus the Great of Persia for the release of the captive “Jews”. Daniel knew according to Jeremiah that Judean captivity was nearing the 70-year captivity mark. He calculated the captivity by studying Jeremiah. (Daniel 9:1-3, KJV) plus Daniel was part of the 606 B.C. captives taken. He knew his own Daniel lived into his 90’s.

King Cyrus of the Mede-Persian Empire along with Satrap/King Darius of the conquered Babylon agreed to the release of Babylonian captives. They were free to return to their homelands. Only a few returned. After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, Zerubbabel led a remnant of Judeans back to Judah. He was in the line and DNA of King David since he was a grandson of King Jehoiachin—the last king of Judah prior to the Babylonian conquest of Judah. Zerubbabel was born in Babylon thus his name Zerub-babel. Cyrus II (the Great) of Persia and King/satrap Darius of conquered Babylon soon there after released the “Judeans” to return home.  They needed someone to be in charge. King Cyrus II appointed Zerubbabel to govern the returning Israelis of the Kingdom of Judah and the territory of Jerusalem. God had promised only a descendant of King David would sit on that throne. Zerubbabel was a descendent within the Davidic line. He was appointed governor, not king, over the Judean territories. We know nothing about his death, but he did rule until the Temple was rebuilt (Ezra 5, 6). Zerubbabel was an older contemporary of Nehemiah and Ezra who came later to finally get the Temple built.

The foundation for rebuilding the Temple was laid early on. Then Judeans tired of the job refocusing on building their own homes. Plus, were distracted by the harassing neighbors, mostly Samaritans.  About 17 or 18 years later, only the foundation of the Temple and the alter were in place. Then the Lord raised up two prophets—Haggai and Zechariah. With the arrival and encouragement of Haggai and Zechariah, building of the Temple resumed…but only for a short while. Darius II was now king of Persia which included the conquered Babylon. This is not the same Darius the Mede who became ruler when Babylon first fell. 

The first Darius was 62 years old [Daniel 5:31]; the Darius in Daniel of the Lion’s Den. He was appointed to rule over and reorganize the Babylonian Empire. He appointed 127 governing satraps over which Daniel was their chief. Darius the Mede was initially appointed as a temporary king in Babylon by the Persian ruler King Cyrus II aka: the Great.

After many years of nothing other than the Temple and alter foundations being laid, Haggai and Zechariah were raised up to nudge the Judeans back into completing the Temple. This was probably 17 or 18 years after Zerubbabel initially returned 45,000+ to Judah from Babylon.

Ezra did lead a much smaller constituency or band of Judeans back to Jerusalem with large amounts of gold and silver. He ran into issues with raiders, robbers, and anti-Semitism attitudes. Ezra 8:22 states:

“I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” 

AHAMOMENT: Ezra is credited with pulling the Old Testament writings together. Ezra-Nehemiah were originally one book. For the need-to-know Bible student, it is possible that Ezra also authored the Book of Nehemiah. The Septuagint and Vulgate identify the Book of Nehemiah as 2nd Ezra.

Around 450 to 445 B.C., some 80 years after the initial return of some Judeans with Zerubbabel, *Nehemiah, a cup bearer of King Artaxerxes, requested a leave of absence to go to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. This was the 20th year of King *Artaxerxes reign. The king granted his request. This is also after the time of Queen Esther.

*Nehemiah eventually replaced Zerubbabel as governor of Judah.

*AHAMOMENT: 

1. Persian king Artaxerxes, the son of King Xerxes aka: Ahasuerus, had a stepmother. Her name? Esther! 

2. Some historians make Esther the queen-mother of Xerxes’s son, Artaxerxes, aka: Ahasuerus. If so, Esther was Artaxerxes wife, not Xerxes’. The fact is, Esther is either one or the other. This validates the Book of Esther and her cousin, Mordecai.

We at ahabiblemoments lean toward #2 being factual. In the Septuagint, the Book of Esther refers to this king as ‘Artaxerxes’ (Ancient Greek: Ἀρταξέρξης). This fits scenario #2. The Septuagint was written by 70 Jewish Rabbis under the direction of Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s great generals. This probability has more leverage than some later historical revisionist. 

Wikipedia tries to change what the Bible and 70 Jewish scholars of the Septuagint say as factual. Both the latter sources say Ahasuerus was Artaxerxes. Know your Bible history before taking what Wikipedia states as the truth. This website tends to give just enough truth to entrap one into thinking all they say is fundamentally the truth. This simply is fake historical reporting. Revisionists!

For the sake of keeping things and events in order: (> means prior to the next name)

Zerubbabel> Haggai> Zechariah> Queen Esther> Ezra> Nehemiah [all post-exile]

Let’s continue with the chronology of events leading up to Malachi. With the assistance of Darius II after finding the original orders and decree of King Cyrus to the return of the Babylonian captives from Judah and build the Temple, he ordered the Temple to be completed. Some 60 years later by king Darius’s decree, Nehemiah is allowed to build the walls around Jerusalem. This was in the 6th year of the reign of King Darius II of Persia. Once the Temple was finished and dedicated, the prophet Haggai announced by prophecy that there will be an even greater Temple in the future. Some say this was the New Testament value-added temple features of King Herod. Some, including this commentary, see it as the Temple in which Jesus will ultimately set his throne after the End of Days. This will be the center of power during the millennial reign of 1,000 years. 

Once the Zerubbabel Temple is built, there is no additional Bible or historical mention of Zerubbabel. This is where Ezra picks up the focus in Bible history. The flow of significant Persian Empire rulers to this point were Cyrus the Great, Cambyses II, Darius I, and now Artaxerxes (aka Ahasuerus). The original ruler over conquered Babylon upon the defeat of the Babylonians was a short-time ruler by the name of Darius the Mede. He was “appointed to rule Babylon” by king Cyrus the Great. Darius, a Mede general, was already 62 years of age at the time of his appointment. He knew Daniel.

Nehemiah’s prayer (Nehemiah 1), as was Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9), petitioned God for the people to be released from Babylonian captivity with a confession of the sins of Israel. Both pleaded for the prosperity of their people. Nehemiah governed Judah for about 12 years before returning to the Persian land of Susa to again serve as the cup bearer of the king. 

Summary: In Malachi’s time and as we narrate commentary on his four chapters in the Old Testament, about 100 years pass between the Zerubbabel-led return from Babylon and the rebuilding of the walls around Jerusalem. Most if not all the original Judean returnees had died by then.

JIV NOTE: Since the name or word Malachi means messenger of the Lord, it is possible that this word is a title, not the real identity and name of the author of Malachi. In the entire Bible, the name or word Malachi is mentioned only once: in the first line of the Old Testament book that bears the name Malachi.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Zephaniah 3

Zephaniah 3

Many theologians, ministers, Bible teachers, and educational institutions wish to identify April 1948 as the God-promised return of all Israelis to Israel. This is only partially correct. We will find out why such thinking in this chapter of Zephaniah it s functionally incorrect.

WOE!!!

Zephaniah 3:1-3 WOE!!! We have discussed the word woe in previous narrative commentary. The woe used here is the “prolonged form of o’ee” in the Hebrew; hoh’ee. There is an emphasis on how it is said. The her identified in this chapter (“…woe to her…”) of Zephaniah is Jerusalem/Israel. It is not, as often assumed or desired by some, to be the woe of Nineveh. The filthy labels rebellion, bitterness, disobedience. The polluted are identified in conjunction with the word filthy. According to Strong’s H1351 it means to free. Free what? To free oneself from following the Law of Moses (O.T.). To make God to be what the people wish instead of the people being what God wants. Jerusalem and Judean leadership including citizens of the State had rejected and renounced God as their only God of Israel. They wanted gods they could see.

V2: She has not obeyed His voice,
She has not received correction;
She has not trusted in the Lord,
She has not drawn near to her God.

NOTE: The “she” is Jerusalem

Let’s look closer at highlighted line four (above) of Zephaniah 3:2. James (N.T.) explains this conditional dilemma expressed in verse 2 of Zephaniah; a factor in the cause for God’s judgement. James 4:8 defines the problem we see in Israel/Judah. Contrary to the ignorant Christian prayer of “asking God to be with so-in-so”, such is not scripture based. According to scripture, so-in-so must first draw closer to God (If you ___, then I ___). Don’t take our word for it. Re-read James 4:8 then read Deuteronomy 31:6 and Hebrews 13:5. Every sin comes from not being in the will or drawing nearer to God. This is the free-will of mankind. There is a continual need for the true believer to be disciples continually drawing closer to God through Bible study and prayer. Those who decide that expectation is too demanding may need to question his or her salvation in the first place. Israel (722 B.C.), now Judah had compromised their relationship with God.  They had walked away from God…If one walks away, then God will not bless.

Zephaniah 3:3 The word prince(s) does not limit itself to mean only royalty. Princes (Sar) means anyone in a leadership position who comes from the rank and file. Roaring (shaw-ag’) means to mumble, grumble, or complain. The word judges can also be misleading if one compares it to the culture of what traditionally is meant by a judge. Shaw-fat’ (judge) in this verse is not a pronoun but a verb meaning to judge someone from his or her own perspective.”

AHAMOMENT: The last line in verse 3 says…[those] “that leave not a bone until morning.” We say it today as one who has a bone to pick with another

Zephaniah 3:4 does not bring accusations against the people of Judah. These are God’s charges for all Israel; guilty as charged. The qualifier of guilty as charged is found in verse 5. The Lord is righteous and will do no unrighteousness.” God righteously charged them through the prophet Zephaniah. What a person thinks in his or her mind as okay does not always line up with what God says is okay. This literally means a continual scenario of personal evaluation. It is a moment-by-moment scenario. What is in the heart IS.

What is in Your heart?

Zephaniah 3:6 The people and leadership of the Kingdom of Judah, much like as had the Kingdom of Israel, forgot that God’s judgement of others around them and in the past has already occurred. They were not immune. Zephaniah is saying, God has done it before to you and others. Unless you (Judah) draw closer to God, he will judge once again. They didn’t so God did. Just a couple years later Nebuchadnezzar brought that judgement.

Zephaniah 3:7 is Israel’s balance beam. If one who is not coached falls off a balance beam, much to her demise or injurious consequences, s/he will then have a deeper respect for a coach. In this verse God is saying we should fear God’s position as our creator; receive, then follow his coaching instructions (before getting back on the balance beam). Zephaniah is the final minor prophetic book before Judah goes into Babylonian captivity.  One can guess they heard but rejected God’s instructions given to them by “coach” Zephaniah. Now for the consequence of falling from the balance beam once again.

Zephaniah 3:8 is a serious consideration. Verse 7 states that the warning and instructions were not heeded by Judah. Now the consequence (if you do or don’t, then I will…). Zephaniah is also prophesying End Time. A time when the earth, mankind, and beast will suffer for humankind rejection God. God is not a religion divided into compartments by denominations. God is GOD! The created cannot command the creator to do this or that. Denominations damage the unity of the true church body of believers.

DEVOURED!

Verse 8b reads: “All My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.” The word “all” used twice in this passage is kole in the Hebrew. It is emphatic. It means “without exception”. 

Zephaniah 3:9 For then…” means, after this 70-year Babylonian judgment. Zephaniah shifts gears in verse 9. This passage defines the Millennial Reign of Christ. He will bring absolute justice to ALL mankind. This verse uses the word pure (Baw-rar’) as in a pure language. Some translations substitute clear language (Baw-rar’ also means pure). It is less of a language change of God’s people than identifying and removing what is no longer to be on his or her lips. This must include the mind and the heart. “…to call upon the name of the Lord with the desire to serve in one accord.” The significance and point of this verse goes back to why God originally created Adam. 

Zephaniah 3:10 A prophet of God again references Ethiopia. Once more at the exclusion of other African nations. Here is a clue that refers to the DISPERSED ones of God’s chosen. My worshipers, the daughters (offspring) of my dispersed ones.” God is identifying location, location, location. Of those dispersed from Israel by Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks (Alexandria), Romans, and many others, many are located even beyond the borders of Ethiopia in Africa and north into Scandinavia including Ukraine and Russia. It appears or hints that the confusion of language at the Tower of Babel may then be reversed by God. 

To identify all Israelites as Jews is incorrect. The term JEW was never used by Moses in the first five books he wrote for the Old Testament. The first use of this word was derogatory. II Kings distinguished between those of the Tribe of Judah and scatterings of other tribes in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (Jews) versus the ten Northern Tribes in the Kingdom of Israel (Israelis). The king of the northern ten tribes was planning an offensive against the Kingdom of Judah. He called them Jews. The first use of the word Jew as regards an individual is in the book of Esther; a reference to Mordecai. Mordecai was actually a Benjamite but descended from the territory of the Kingdom of Judah. This made him a Jew-dean.

Zephaniah 3:12,13 contrasts the personalities of the Israelis then, with those God will give a millennial “pure language.” Included in this transformation is a clean heart. Those who are offensive will be removed. Israel will tend to their business(es) and fear no outside interference.

*Shem was the spiritual one of Noah’s three sons. He lived 500 years after the flood. It is possible if not probable that he is the Melchizedek of “…Salem”. Melchizedek, whose name means “king of righteousness,” was an early king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6–11; 6:20—7:28). In the book of Genesis Melchizedek’s sudden appearance then disappearance to Abraham is somewhat mysterious. Some theologians claim that in pre-New Testament (Old Testament), Jesus is the embodiment of Melchizedek.

Zephaniah 3:14 instructs the remnant of Israel, in that Day, to shout and sing praises. Peace at last. True joy in the heart. A pure language. No enemies from within or without. The daughter of Jerusalem refers to the offspring of long past and future generations of Israelis. The constant is Jerusalem itself i.e., the City of David and possibly *Shem (son of Noah), God’s holy city. Zephaniah defines this in the next verse.

*Shem was the spiritual one of Noah’s three sons. He lived 500 years after the flood. It is possible if not probable that he is the Melchizedek of “…Salem”. Melchizedek, whose name means “king of righteousness,” was an early king of Salem (Jerusalem) and priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18–20; Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6–11; 6:20—7:28). In the book of Genesis Melchizedek’s sudden appearance then disappearance to Abraham is somewhat mysterious. Some theologians claim Jesus id the embodiment of

Zephaniah 3:15the LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more”. If this is difficult to understand, one has a severe case of denial. Israel is God’s chosen in the Old Testament and during the Millennial reign.

Zephaniah 3:16 Again we find that identifying phrase, “on that day.” Where we read “let not your hand be weak” means Israelis will no longer need to look over his or her shoulder or have a need to be aware of defensive posturing. Be strong in the confidence of the Lord Jesus who will then be on the throne in Jeru-Salem. (NOTE: This spelling helps us understand the connectivity of Melchizedek/Salem and what we now call JeruSalem)

Zephaniah 3:17-20 (THAT DAY). Note that nowhere in this passage does God ask mankind for their opinion. Neither does God ask man’s opinion of the method by which he plans to end the world as we know it, then begin a new world. We do know that Matthew 5:18 and 24:35 tell us the current heavens above and earth will be gone. So will Satan. After being bound for 1,000 years, he will have an address somewhere in the Lake of Fire.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Zephaniah 2

Zephaniah 2

IF YOU WILL...

The promises or covenants given by God to man always follow this pattern: If you___, then I will ___ (will do such-and-such). This is even true of God’s final judgement. If one repents then God will withhold punishing judgement. If we don’t, consequential judgement is promised. What is the constant in God’s directions to man? The guarantee of one of two eternities. How does this apply to the person who has sat in a pew for years “waiting on the Lord”? Satan has no concerns about the religious or pew dwellers. He encourages such pointless religious practice as one day he will try to set himself up as a god to be worshiped by all mankind or suffer Satan’s wrath. 

Zephaniah 2:1 requires no explanation other than understanding the adamant calling to gather the people of this Old Testament nation of Judah. Gather you leaders TO THE HEARING to heed what prophet Zephaniah is going to say to them in chapter 2. 

Zephaniah 2:2 ‘Before the decree is issued” means before the order from God is given for Zephaniah to go. Troops always align themselves to attack at the command of their commander. They are on the ready. Zephaniah is saying the same thing to his fellow Judeans. Come. Let me [Zephaniah] tell you of God’s guarantee. Repent or be judged. The analogous of chaff, fierce anger repeated twice is like the New Testament stating Verily, verily I say unto you. The urgency is in the phrasing.

STUDY THE WORD! Get to Know our God Who knows you and He loves you.

Zephaniah 2:3 [2:3a] “Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth…” Meek does not mean the people who are at or near the low of the economic food-chain. It is a condition of the heart. One cannot justify his or her meekness without first forfeiting his or her conditional attitude. Not only must Judean attitudes and actions be challenged, but they must give up trying to make their worship being man made conditional. So must modern man.

2:3c “that you may be hidden?” This does not mean that one may as in a possibility. The correct wording in this case should be “will be”. It means permission granted. The last few words in this part of verse 3 state in the day of the Lord’s anger”. This is the *Day of the Lord. God will scorch the earth with fire, not flood it once again [Isaiah 24:6 who is a contemporary of Zephaniah] Also read or click on Revelation 16:8; II Peter 3:10]

*JIV: Zephaniah mentions this phrase more often than any other prophet in the Old Testament. This repeating of “in the Day of the Lord” is a constant reminder of End Time judgement. (JIV: Jim’s Introspective Vew)

This punishment is not limited to Judah/Israel. The next few verses identify either symbolically or as identified who will suffer the same curses as will Israel. This is Zephaniah’s way of identifying the world as we know it today [see our closing comment per chapter 2]. This description and prophecy of desolation is two-fold. Desolation was historically accomplished by Assyrians, Babylonians (Chaldean’s), Greeks, and the Romans. Secondly, it is a sign of end time making this portion of Zephaniah a two-fold prophecy. Add to this history already completed “in the Day of the Lord” one has now identified to whom Zephaniah is speaking. First to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

[cf. https://www.oneforisrael.org/bible-based-teaching-from-israel/to-the-jew-first-what-does-it-mean-and-why-does-it-matter/]

Skip to Zephaniah 2:9. [Verses 4 through 8 are self-evident]. Although symbolic in name, these verses are as stated…God’s judgement. Verse 9 can be a study challenge. Per time and the calendar, Zephaniah is now speaking of a time long after the Children of Jacob (Israel) possessed the Promised Land. The Tribes of Gad, Manasseh, and Reuben had once possessed the lands of Ammon and Moab east of the Jordan River (but they failed to rid the lands of all these descendants of Lot). They eventually left it to the Assyrians. Zephaniah 2:9 is a prophecy well beyond his own current era. According to verse 9 God’s chosen will once again possess these lands. How can they once again possess what they already possessed? This passage simply means it is a future that has not yet materialized. This is End Time geography.

To better grasp this event, we need to break down the Hebrew of two words in this verse: residual of my people and the remnant of my people. The residual, she’êrı̂yth, and the remnant, yeh’-ther may seem to be two words of the same meaning but not so in Hebrew. She’êrı̂yth means those who had escaped or survived. Escaped or survived what? Yeh’-ther means the excess of the remainder. These Israelis shall possess, in the future, the lands of Ammon and Moab. Today this is still south-west Jordan.

JIV: Moab and Ammon fall within the boundaries of the New Jerusalem [1400 miles by 1400 miles – 12,000 strada/furlongs; Revelation 21:15-21).

We can be assured this is End Time and the Millennial Reign of God/Jesus by reading Zephaniah 2:11. When has all mankind ever worshiped God from his and her place up to verse 10? It hasn’t! This is a time yet to come. How else can this total man-kind worship be universal unless those who reject God be gone. Up to this time on earth, most mankind has and still does reject God.

Zephaniah 2:12 Why is it that the Ethiopians are directly mentioned but the Egyptians, Libya, and so many other nations are seemingly overlooked? In verse 12 the Assyrians to the north are mentioned. These places represent directions as to the north, south, east, and west. The world will be in judgement. All will see the new Jerusalem and recognize God for who he is. Earlier in this chapter Zephaniah has already identified a sense of direction to the west of Israel when he included the Philistines and those of Gaza. 

Zephaniah 2:13 corroborates this idea of geography rather than actual fixed locations. The first line in verse 13 states: I will stretch out my hand (judgement) to the north.

We close this portion of Zephaniah with a quote from Dr. David Guzik:

Zephaniah never mentions why the nations are ripe for judgment. Perhaps he assumes we’ve already read Amos, Isaiah, and Nahum, which do detail the sins of these neighboring nations. HINT: “as in the time of Noah” (Matthew 24:37)

JIV: As we discussed earlier in this chapter, it probably isn’t the nations being judged as much as it is the people who have rejected God and his son Jesus. David Guzik is right-on per Amos, Isaiah, and Nahum. We have already written commentary on Amos and Nahum. They discuss the common sins of this world that is without God.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2021

This article belongs back with our series on the Book of Habakkuk

Habakkuk 3  [cntrl/click to read Habakkuk 3]

Now that Habakkuk has had his question-and-answer time with God, he settles into a prayer and praise mode. He fully realizes who God is. His questions come from an inquiring heart, not from a heart that questions God himself. Habakkuk now inquires to gain understanding, not to accuse or to cross-examine. He fully understands who God is and will always be.

In Habakkuk we do find an oddness. Habakkuk begins his book with a statement or question to God of why he does not answer Habakkuk’s prayers. Habakkuk can’t figure out why God seems to do nothing about the evils of this world. He wants judgment from God. Then a sudden reconciliation. In chapter 3 Habakkuk asks God to be careful with his judgments…”in your wrath don’t forget your mercy.” First, he wanted God’s judgments then he wants God’s restraint.

Habakkuk 3:1 uses the term Shigionoth. We do not know its exact meaning. This word is only used once in the entire Bible. We can connect some possibly related dots as to its intended implication or application. Chapter 3 is poetic. We often find the word Selah in the poetic Psalms. Selah is also found in Habakkuk 3. We do not fully understand its meaning. Since these words are used in poetic passages, they must have something to do with song, perhaps prayer. Chapter 3, as noted in verse 1, is a prayer or song of praise to God from the lips of Habakkuk. As written in the LITV, MKJV, and the YLT Shigionoth is written erring ones. We suggest this word Shingionoth means the inner most strings of one’s heart…a prayer, confession, joy, a song being composed from within one’s heart, a Psalm such as King David or Solomon would write.

Habakkuk 3:2 Habakkuk realizes that revival within his people of Judah (perhaps all Israelis) requires a work of God (Holy Spirit) not an achievement of man. Cry out confession to God and expect (wait for) atonement. He is asking God for a return to the times when Israel followed in obeyance. Habakkuk fears for the loss of Israeli worship of Jehovah their God. PROBLEM? Habakkuk forgets the free will of man, or does he? Next paragraph:

He does understand God’s judgment per chapters 1 and 2. In chapter 3 he fears for the consequences. Habakkuk begs God to remember mercy in his wrath against his chosen people. It is the opposite of his opening verse in chapter 3. He questions why God does not judge the evils of the world especially within Judah itself hoping to restrain the harshness of God’s judgments upon his chosen people of Israel (Judah).

Habakkuk 3:3 Teman? Where is Teman? God came from there? The Holy One came from Mount Paran? These are physical locations near Sinai but the implication is not that God the Holy One originally resided there. It means, out of Teman and Paran God’s official commandments came into the hands of Israel via Moses. Habakkuk is giving God praise for his continual guidance. [Mt. Paran; see Deuteronomy 33:2]

Habakkuk 3:4 (aha moment) Does the reader recall watching a TV show, cartoon, or movie where the villain and/or the good guy radiate what seems to be power charges from the fingers of his or her outreached hand? Guess from where this originates? Yup! Habakkuk 3:4b. “He had rays flashing from His hand…” Even so-called magicians allude to the power of the raised hand and point fingers. Abracadabra, BOOM!

In verse 4c we read…”and there his power was hidden.” As off the wall or odd as it may seem, perhaps this scripture of punishment by God with the tips of his fingers is not far off from Habakkuk’s plea to show mercy in his wrath. He wants the enemies of Israel to see God’s wrath, but is asking like the final plague in Egypt, to overlook the sins of Israel. Pass your finger of judgement over the Egyptians (meaning enemies of Judah) but have mercy on Israelis.

Habakkuk 3:5 This verse has much controversy in other commentaries. Speculation is dominant. Keep in mind that chapter 3 is a psalm or something of a poem to be sung. Perhaps verse 5 is a phrase to be recited. Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet. Similar to King Saul has killed his thousands but David has slain his ten thousand [I Samuel 18:7], this is a recital or chant.

We Teach – You Decide

Habakkuk 3:6 This recital continues into verse 6. It is a remembrance of God’s power and judgment: yesterday, today, and forever. Habakkuk is exalting God in praise and celebration. He recognizes that God is Jehovah-God. He praises God for who and what he is. God’s ways are everlasting.

Habakkuk 3:7 Habakkuk continues with his vision of God-in-charge. The world recognizes God but that does not mean they put trust in him. It has been, is, and continues to be more of an avoidance of God. Frank Sinatra sang the song…I Did It My Way. This is the basic attitude of the world, to do it their way.

I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction;
The curtains of the land of Midian trembled

Habakkuk 3:8 The Expositor’s Bible states per verse 8: “it is not with hills, rivers, or sea that God is angry, but with the nations, the oppressors of His poor people…” God is displeased with the people.

Habakkuk 3:9,10 Note that “selah” is inserted after the first two sentences of verse 9. It is a break from one thought going to another just as in poetry or verse in a song. ”You divided the earth with rivers” could easily be a part of the next verse (v10). Nature is defined as different from mankind. BUT…even nature recognizes God as its creator and sustenance. [See Luke 19:40]

Verse 10b is not clear enough to understand its application. It may mean that the earth such as during a volcanic eruption, the deep rumbles its voice. Throwing up or lifting its hands on high, into the skies, closely resembles that of an active volcano.

Habakkuk 3:11 Habakkuk continues to acknowledge that all creation is in God’s hands and will stand still or respond according to his thoughts, wishes, or command. Even nature refuse to counter God’s direction or instructions (cf. Luke 19:40). Why then does man not follow the lead of nature? [verse 12]

V12: to trample nations (ethnos). There is a difference in translations between the King James and the New King James. KJV says the heathen whereas the NKJV says nations. The thought is the same. Habakkuk’s thought here is the difference between nature and mankind. ‘Erets or earth understands the might of God and recognizes it owes its very existence to him. Mankind, in many cases, has lost obligation to God. God assigned free-will to man but not to all creation. [Matthew 12:37]. We note here that the words’ Free Will are not found in scripture. We conclude the free will of man by study of what it takes to find salvation and eternity through God instead of spending it with Satan and his minions. We have choice…that equals free will.

Habakkuk 3:13 concludes this section of Habakkuk’s prayer and recognition of God. God wished that all mankind would bow a knee to him in true worship. He intended this beginning in the Garden of Eden when all creation was peaceful.

JIV NOTE: This curse at the Garden of Eden includes climate change and seasons we know of today; the tropics, north and south poles. At the time of creation, the sun was constant during the day sending its life-giving values (and vitamin D) to all. After the flood, the earth tilted to the 3o wobble of today giving us the four seasons. Hot, cold, and moderate, but changing weather.

We Teach – You Decide

V13 has an interesting sentence…”you struck the head of the house of the wicked.” Note that this is not the heads of the houses of the wicked, but it is singular, head of the house. There is but one house of the wicked and from where rebellion against God began…SATAN! Satan had already been cast out of heaven. Prophetically he will be given the final blow from God. He will not be destroyed but eternally condemned. As head of the house of all wickedness, there can be no other inference. SELAH.

Habakkuk 3:14-16: Instead of Habakkuk continuing to question God or his character as in chapters 1 and 2, he now trembles at the very thought of God’s pre-eminence. As he does in chapters 1 and 2, he no longer wishes to question God.

Habakkuk 3:17-19 This is Habakkuk’s faith in action. We might call these three closing verses of Habakkuk 3 a hymn of his faith. Verse 19 is from where we get the chorus “Like (as) a Deer Panteth.” (cf. Psalm 42)

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022