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 In the reorganized Christian bible, 1st and 2nd Chronicles has historical content, so it is listed with the other canonized historical O.T. books.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

Zephaniah 1

Zephaniah 1 [All verse quotes use the NKJV unless otherwise stated]

Contrary to his predecessor Habakkuk, Zephaniah can be time-stamped.

Zepanian had a define place in time.

Zephaniah 1:1 reads: The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of [K]Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah. He was the son of an evil king. King Amon was so disliked that his own administrators killed him. He ruled from 642 B.C. to 640 B.C…a meager 2 years (probably only 18 months). If Zephaniah is in the lineage of King Hezekiah, he traces his lifeline through those other than through the kingship of Judah. Explanation: It was a practice of tracing king-to-king of royalty. Other sons of a king may trace through other descendants of the ruling king. The practice may have been to trace them through those who did not sit on the throne of Judah to make it difficult for aggressors who try killing off royal blood. It is also highly probable that King Amon was so evil, his blood connection was avoided.

How stark is verse #2? God will utterly consume all things from the face of this Judean land. The list of things to be consumed by God in Judah extends through verse 6.

Zephaniah is the last of the pre-exile (Babylon) Minor Prophets. The last three, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are post exile Minor Prophets. These three come after our narrative commentary of Zephaniah.

Zephaniah 1:2I will utterly consume everything from the face of the land,” Says the LORD

When the remnant returned from Babylon, the land was found dry and barren.

Zephaniah 1:3I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, The fish of the sea, And the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” Says the LORD.

This is probably the plague of End Time on the unbelievers and nations during the Tribulation.

Zephaniah 1:4 “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, And against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, The names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests

God’s curse was not on only Jerusalem but the Promised Land.

Zephaniah 1:5 Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; Those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom; also known as Molech.

Verse 5 means Jehovah God had been reduce in the minds and hearts of Judeans to a god comparable in the eyes of many in Judah to Milcom. Two groupings of people are those who worship the true God of Israel and those who worship him AND the Ammonite god Milcom.

Zephaniah 1:6 Those who have turned back from following the LORD, And have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.”

JIV NOTE: Jeremiah as was Isaiah were contemporary to Zephaniah. Zephaniah prophesied for a few years, beginning some say in the same year as Jeremiah [627 or 626 B.C]. Others place Zephaniah a few years later. Because there is no hint of Josiah’s reformations even mentioned in Zephaniah’s book, some believe Zephaniah prophesied before the reforms began. There are some who believe King Josiah’s reformation was already underway and encouraged Zephaniah to “step out” and make known his word from God. Josiah is considered a good King of Judah. His father and grandfather were evil.

JIV (cont.) The words of the prophet in 1:2-6 appear to indicate that he prophesied prior to any significant repentance by the nation of Judah or introduced by King Josiah. The wording in Zephaniah could mean the prophecy indicated End Time tribulation judgements: the Day of the Lord.

Zephaniah 1:7 should remind one of Revelation 8:1silence in the presence of the Lord God Jehovah. Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate. In Revelation “the lamb” (Jesus) opens the seventh and last scroll seal. Heaven goes silent for half an hour. This is a moment that exceeds awesome. One might say, all creation holds its breath; heaven included. Zephaniah 1:7 is similar: Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; For the day of the Lord is at hand. Zephaniah 1:8 explains verse 7 to the chagrin of some who are religious. Too many religious people fail to recognize the holiness of God. Friends, neighbors, and those we consider over or under privileged will be judged. They will have nothing to say in their defense. No political correctness. Just HOLY justice.

Zephaniah 1:8 The question most often raised when this passage is explained, “how can a loving God do such a thing?” God is love, right? Asking such a question or even thinking explains why most do not understand the meaning of HOLINESS. Be silent in the presence of the Lord. God is not one to take advice from what he created. If a goblet or cup is designed to hold a liquid, then its job is not to request to be something else. God created Adam and Eve, humans, to worship and have fellowship with him. Anything else put first or alongside is an idol. This violates the 2nd commandment of “no other priorities [idols] shall come before one’s dedication to me.” [paraphrased].

Something that could be totally confusing to one who is a casual Bible reader is v8b… I will punish the princes and the king’s children, And all such as are clothed with foreign apparel. One’s initial confusion is the wording. Why would God punish those who wear foreign clothing? What makes it foreign? As we may see on the surface, wearing foreign apparel is not what it means. It means, anyone who has adorned him or herself in the ways of the world. Bluntly put, anyone who has adopted or adapted to the ways of the world just to FIT IN is wearing foreign apparel to God…men dressed as women?

Zephaniah 1:9    This passage (v9) is like the saying: no stone left unturned. God through Zephaniah is defining his inclusive punishment of his creation and all that have drifted away from God’s purpose for creating man. The person guilty of “leaping over the threshold” is one who has not honored another’s possessions. Taking without personal guilt what another has worked to get. In other words, God is just.

F.B. Meyer: Notice the successive classes of those who were to suffer. They constitute a series of concentric circles, narrowing down to those who had turned back, and to those who had never sought the Lord.

Zephaniah 1:10 Note once again the often used three words by many prophets on that day. This means the Day of the Lord; the day of judgment; the day of End Time. It would take a volume to list, then discuss all the prophesied events that happen with the opening of the 7th seal per the scroll of Revelation. The most breath-taking event is Heaven going silent for half an hour Revelation 8:1. Even the Seraphim go silent (cf. Isaiah 6:2-7).

Zephaniah 1:11 could be interpreted as the time when the mark of the beast will be required to buy, sell, and trade. We know from other studies that the antichrist desires the Israelites, God’s chosen, be annihilated. This battle between God, Satan, and by proxy to God’s chosen, goes back the Garden of Eden. Eve is having a conversation with the serpent Satan. God condemns the serpent.. Genesis 3:15 “…I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between *your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”  [NKJV] Satan versus God’s chosen of Abraham.

JIV NOTE: *Some have asked of this verse “who might be Satan’s seed?” They are all who reject God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit; one or all three. It is not as some teach, Satan’s minions of fallen angels. This is so true today. The most rejected State today is Israel. Their very existence is challenged on the floor of the United Nations year after year. Eve’s seed is Jesus [Luke 3].

Maktesh (v11) is probably a reference to the market street(s)

The idea of business as usual in Jerusalem will be null and void. Merchants are cut off from their sources and money men can no longer do business. This happens in the second 3 ½ years of the Tribulation.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Zephaniah 1:12 We will always find complacent people who try to ride the middle of the road to avoid taking one side or the other. Zephaniah identifies the complacent In That Day as the self-assuring, self-satisfied,and/or self-sanctioned. They will find themselves on the wrong side of the road In the Day.

“God will do neither good nor evil.” These people who take this stand basically nullify God as any type of actual influence over humans. Their theory is man makes his own heaven or hell while on earth. To search Jerusalem with lamp means to sweep every nook and cranny. No one will hide or avoid God’s discerning judgement [Hebrews 4:13-15]. Most who take this position toward God in the past, present, or future use it as a form of denial. This is the unpardonable sin. Denial of the Holy Spirit.

Zephaniah 1:13-17 refers to the merchant once again and one’s average way of life. For something to become booty it must be someone’s ill-gotten gain. At the rapture and in the Day of the Lord, many will go into hiding, be taken to be with God, flee the rage ongoing in the populated world, or try to be as scarce as possible. (cf. Deuteronomy 28:30). For a fuller understanding also read Deuteronomy 28.

  • A day of wrath
  • A day of trouble and distress
  • A day of devastation
  • A day of darkness and gloom
  • A day of clouds and darkness
  • A day of alarm

Mankind who rejects God will be vanquished and vanish. This is the Great White Throne judgement. Let us conclude the uncompromising actuality of Zephaniah 1:17 & 18. The meaning of 17 and 18: The Mercy seat is removed. It is no longer. THAT DAY has come for eternities: Heaven of Hell.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Zephaniah introduction

Zephaniah introduction

Few summarize the life and circumstances around Zephaniah better than does Chuck Swindoll. Click on the below link to read Swindoll’s overview of Zephaniah

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/zephaniah

One significant point to be made per Zephaniah’s prophetic life is what he said about the population of Judah. He identified four specific groupings.

  1. Those who worshiped other gods
  2. Those who worshiped other gods AND God
  3. Those who in their own eyes stood neutral
  4. Those who still adhered to the God of Israel.

Once again, commentaries are all over the place regarding this book. Many identify the Book of Zephaniah as the sacrifice of God. Others identify this book as the great day of God. Even the lineage of Zephaniah casts some commentators into confusion. In verse one he traces his lineage back to Hezekiah. The confusion: is this the 4th generation tracing back to Hezekiah, the *13th king of Judah, or another by the same name? The math works out that he could be of royal blood, but then why trace one’s lineage for three generations through non-royalty? We conclude it is of royalty.

*Halley’s Bible Handbook identifies Zephaniah as the great-great grandson of King Hezekiah.

God’s 70-year judgement of the Kingdom of Judah is prophetic at this time, soon to occur. Like other minor prophets, Zephaniah points to the time the Kingdom of Judah will fall. Some see this as a close parallel prophecy of God’s End Time judgment of the world. This parallel is highly probable since Zephaniah mentions all living things will be judged. We also find evidence to support this distant prophetic parallel message. In Zephaniah 3:15 God himself is called the King of Israel. Israel to the north of Judah was destroyed and exiled by the Assyrians 90 years earlier. Only Judah remained.

An outline of Zephaniah by J Vernon McGee

Introduction (1:1)
               JIV NOTE: Unlike some of the minor prophets, we can time stamp Zephaniah by reading 1:1

“I. Judgment of Judah and Jerusalem, Chapter 1

v. 1 — Zephaniah completely identifies himself and his time period
v. 2 — Worldwide devastation is predicted. The Book of the Revelation and Matthew confirm placing the time as the Great Tribulation.
v. 3 — All living creatures are included in the judgment.
v. 4 — Judah and Jerusalem are singled out for judgment (NOTE: Not the church).
v. 5 — The reason for the judgment is idolatry — three types of idolatry are mentioned.
v. 6 — Also they have turned completely from God. Two classes are mentioned: backsliders and those who were never saved.
v. 7 — “The day of the LORD” is judgment (see TWO THOUGHTS, also notes on Joel 1:15). Here the coming of Nebuchadnezzar is treated as a picture of the day of the LORD.
“Hold thy peace” means to hush; to keep still.
v. 8 — The “sacrifice” is the judgment of Judah.
v. 10 — “That day” is the day of the LORD.
v. 12 — Evidently this is one of the first groups to say that God was dead. They were the self-sufficient of an affluent society.
v. 13 — This marks the end of prosperity and the beginning of a depression.
vv. 14, 15 — This is a doleful, dreary, and dreadful picture of the Great Tribulation.
v. 16 — It is a day of fear.
v. 17 — Sin of man brings the judgment.
v. 18 — There will be no deliverance. Silver and gold are their gods, and they are powerless to save any possession or self.

II. Judgment of the earth and of all nations, Chapters 2:13:8

Chapter 2

v. 1 — A call to Israel to come together to plead for deliverance from the wrath of the day of the LORD.
“Not desired” means that they were by choice oblivious to the shame of their sinful condition.
v. 2 — This is a brief but vivid description of the day of the LORD.
v. 3 — The call is extended to the inhabitants of the earth who in meekness seek the Lord.
vv. 4-11 — This is judgment upon surrounding enemy nations and their idols.
v. 12 — Judgment on Ethiopia.
vv. 13-15 — Judgment on Assyria (literally fulfilled).

Chapter 3

vv. 1-5 — Judgment on Jerusalem. Judgment is in ratio to her privilege.
vv. 6-8 — Judgment on all nations — this is *Armageddon, which ends with the return of Christ to the earth. *Some consider Armageddon the final battle with Satan after the Millennial reign.

III. Judgments removed; kingdom established, Chapter 3:9-20

v. 9 — This does not mean there will be one language for the entire world, although there may be only one language — perhaps the language prior to the Tower of Babel. The thought here is “pure” in the sense of the removal of the filthy, profane, and nasty language.
vv. 10-12 — These are kingdom conditions.
vv. 13-16 — The remnant of Israel enters the kingdom. Their attitude and speech are changed. Fear is removed. The Lord Jesus Christ personally reigns over them. This refers to the second coming of Christ.
v. 17 — This verse is the key to the book. This is the white light in a black background. The purpose of judgment is not vindictive, but to cleanse and purify in order that blessing and goodness might ensue from the ordeal.
vv. 18-20 — This describes kingdom [of Judah] conditions.”

 Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of a Godly King Josiah in the mid to late 600’s B.C. If Zephaniah descended from *King Hezekiah, a Godly king, then he would have had access to the royal courts and King Josiah. Whether they worked in concert we do not know but they lived with a common goal of God in the lives of Israel (Kingdom of Judah). However, if Zephaniah descended from and was tutored along with or under Hezekiah, why did Hezekiah’s king son and king grandson fall so far from Jehovah God?

*Hezekiah’s son (king) Manasseh and grandson (king) Amon were very evil. They undid or reversed many of the reforms instituted by King Hezekiah. King Amon was so bad that after reigning for two years, he was killed by one of his own officials. Hezekiah himself found such favor with God he was given a 15-year reprieve in life following a deadly disease.

This means what we study in Zephaniah is akin to King Josiah’s reformations. What one reads about one in likelihood applies to the other. Even with the reforms instituted by King Josiah and ministered by Zephaniah, Judah would still fall to the Babylonians. Do not exclude Isaiah from this period. He too is contemporary to this historical scene [2 Kings 20:5-7].

Hezekiah recognized his people wanting to worship a tangible object. The bronze serpent Moses had made while all Israelis were still in the wilderness was one of those worship objects. Certainly, Zephaniah and Isaiah knew about this practice. Hezekiah made one major mistake, which is recorded in 2 Kings 20. Ambassadors on a secret mission from Babylon happened to “visit and overly proud King Hezekiah in Judah allowed Hezekiah to arrogantly show them all the gold in his treasury, armaments, and the riches of Jerusalem. Afterward, the prophet Isaiah criticized him for his pride. Isaiah foretold that everything would be taken away, including the *king’s descendants. This all lead up to the 70-year captivity in Babylon.

Zephaniah was still the era of the Assyrians. Within 90 years of this time the Assyrians would be no more. The Babylonians would rule the then known world. How it sequenced: Babylonians, along with the Medes, overran the Assyrians. Then they overran the Kingdom of Judah. Then began the 70 year captivity of the Jews (Judeans) and those who resided in Judah.

Now, let’s turn to Hezekiah’s contemporary, the Prophet Zephaniah.

PS; Archaeologists found Hezekiah’s royal seal in 2010 in an area at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Yes, in JERUSALEM. Israelis were dominant in this area over 2,500 years ago. Muhammad was born around 570, AD, 1,000 years later.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3  [cntrl/click to read Habakkuk 3]

Have YOU ever questioned God?

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 either. 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 Shigionoth 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 obedience. 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:

Repent and be saved,

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 pointed 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.

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. Nature and life are both God’s creation. Only man has free will.

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. You decide.

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 refuses to counter God’s direction or instructions (cf. Luke 19:40). Why then does man not follow the lead of nature? [verse 12] Perhaps Free Will?

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 possibly constant during the day sending its life-giving values (and vitamin D) to all. After the flood, the earth may have 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

Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk 2  [cntrl/click to read chapter 2]

God justifies his own judgment(s)

This chapter could be titled the “woe” chapter of Habakkuk. Four times he writes woe as a word of warning. Chapter 2 centers around the unusual…God justifies his own judgment(s). Why would God need to justify anything? Let’s consider the “what” and “why” in chapter 2.

Charles Spurgeon stated this regarding the task assigned to Habakkuk:

“Chaldeans, who were treading down the people, were themselves far greater sinners (then were the Assyrians), — that, certainly, in the matter of oppression and bloodthirstiness, they were a far more guilty people than those whom they came to punish.” [Chas. Spurgeon Library of Messages]

Spurgeon summarizes the dilemma facing Habakkuk. Not only were the very evil Chaldeans going to overrun the evil Assyrians, but soon after capture, enslave, and mistreat the people of the Kingdom of Judah. Habakkuk understood the quest against Nineveh for they were a very dangerous people. But the brutal Chaldeans were also going to invade and conquer Judah. Habakkuk questioned his vision.

Habakkuk 2:1 Mystified by his vision, Habakkuk gives us an example of the correct way to “wait on the Lord.” Be in expectant. There are those today who sit in church contributing little to nothing to the worship service or gaining any spiritual growth. For years s/he has sat in her or his pew claiming to be waiting on the lord for guidance. They miss the entire point of Habakkuk. He is not just waiting. He is also expecting and watching for the coming guidance and reproof of God. We see this in the opening sentence. He is standing his watch.

Habakkuk 2:2 Here is his part of waiting on the Lord. He was actively seeking. God tells him, make good note of what I am about to reveal to you. You can’t share it with others until you yourself have it in hand. This is why we have the Book of Habakkuk. “That he may run who reads it”. This does not mean to run from, but to run to God’s instructions. So often misread are these few words at the close of verse 2. Verse 3 explains this well.

There is an appointed time for everything.

Habakkuk 2:3 There is an appointed time for everything. The Book of Ecclesiastes 3 is all about this; a time for everything. Habakkuk is not told to stand still. He is told to move forward in his mission to the Tribe of Judah and the Assyrians. Write out your vision, Habakkuk, in plain language. He is told what will happen and to make it plain and understandable to the people. He is waiting but not for the vision. He is watching for the fulfillment of his vision. He will live to see the very thing for which he is commissioned of God to foretell. We know this because Habakkuk is told to personally wait for it will surely come.”

JIV NOTE: Habakkuk is only mentioned in his own book. He is not mentioned anywhere else in the rest of the Bible. However, in the deuterocanonical additions to the Book of Daniel, he is mentioned in Bel and the Dragon. Habakkuk is held in high esteem not only by Christians but within Judaism and Islam.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous shall live by his faith.Puffed up means proud of self. One can imagine this person feeling if not stating Oh how religious I am. Listen to the sound of the coins of gold as I drop them into the offering.” One might ask this same person, “you give moneys but why is it you only sit in your pew week after week?” In a very real sense this is symbolic of the person whose testimony only goes back to accepting Christ as Savior. It is as if nothing has happened since. This attitude is reflective of Judah and Nineveh.

 Habakkuk 2:4b makes this verse pointed. BUT the righteous shall live by his faith.” This is not static Christianity. Rev. David Guzik regards pride:

There may be as much pride inside a beggar’s rags as in a prince’s robe; and a harlot may be as proud as (may be) a model of chastity. Pride is a strange creature; it never objects to its lodgings. [emphasis mine)

There is a connection with this pride and the soon-to-invade Chaldean-Babylonians. Look at the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had to deal with this pride of Nebuchadnezzar just as did his prototype Habakkuk with the people and leaders in Judah. Assyria was falling. So did the Kingdom of Judah 5 to 8 years later.

Habakkuk 2:5 is not about Judah or Assyria as much as it is about the Babylonians. He does not stay at home means the Babylonians will conquer other nations… unto himself. He will gather under his tree (recall the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:1-37) all peoples by captivity.

Habakkuk 2:6 We are now in a part of Habakkuk where two proverbial sayings apply.

  1. That which goes around comes around
  2. The Pied Piper will be paid

Verse 6 declares this to be a proverb but against who? Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon! It will also be a riddle to him. This is the calling of Daniel when he continually interprets different dreams for Nebuchadnezzar. God is explaining to Habakkuk the consequences of Assyria being replaced by a nastier Babylon. A nation Habakkuk calls into question as an evil Assyria being destroyed by an even more evil people (Babylonians). We related this in the previous narrative commentary by saying ‘God might bring judgement upon America by bringing to power socialism.’ How can this be thought thinks Habakkuk?

Habakkuk gives verse 6b/7a an unusual twist by saying: (6b) to him who loads himself with many pledges’? (7a) Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? This metaphor exemplifies the indebtedness of one who owes too much to pay back his debt. This is not necessarily monetarily speaking but of good or evil done to others. One today might say or hear, I will get you for that! When God declares that vengeance is his it does not always mean direct intervention. He uses others to carry out his vengeance on the evil ones of this world. In End Time tribulation God will use evil to destroy the evil ones before he finally steps in and directly intervenes at his second coming.

Ahamoment: Who owns America’s huge debt?

Habakkuk 2:7 In short, others who hold a grudge as creditors will unite against a debtor. They will be his or her demise in a united front. The Medes and Persian-Caledonians did this to Assyria. The Babylonians then did this to the Medes. Alexander the Great did this to the Persians. These are but a few examples of how unpaid or perceived debt is redeemed be it financial or otherwise.

PS: China holds most of United States’ debt.

Habakkuk 2:8 underscores the above. Some call this a blood-debt. Some call it “getting even.” There is no end to this cycle of retrieving what one assumes to be a debt to be repaid. When one accumulates too many creditors (suppressed nations and kingdoms), they unite. Once that is settled, the tendency is creditors to think inwardly to settle the score with a previous ally. This is how the world will end. Son against father, daughter against mother, personal groups (kingdoms) against other groups (kingdoms), nation against nation, race against race, have-nots against those that have, neighbor against neighbor. We can easily see this is already being fulfilled. Those in the U.S.A. and other countries are now taught and instructed to report on his or her neighbor for even the smallest of infractions.

Habakkuk 2:9 This is the first of four ’woe’ verses in chapter 2 (v9, v12, v15, & v19). The Hebrew for woe (hoh’ee) is the prolonged version of ho and o’-ee. It is an adamant or unwavering attention-getter. One might experience this type of (hoh’ee) WOE if driving down a street. Unexpectantly a police car pulls in behind one with flashing lights and siren. It is time to (hoh’ee) pay attention. Habakkuk is told by God in his vision to pay particular attention. Very simply put, some will do evil to protect him or herself (family) from other evil or pending disaster. This too will be a defining moment during the Tribulation.

Habakkuk 2:10 This verse is what Matthew 24:7 means. Households during the second half of the Tribulation will fortress themselves by any means possible. They take what they can “…cutting off many people bringing sin against his or her own soul.” Habakkuk 2:10 belongs with verses 11 and 12. Three verses but one statement. We might akin or parallel this to Numbers 32:23… one’s deeds will find them out.”

Joseph Benson Commentary identifies this woe as inclusive of and applicable to all covetous, unjust, and oppressive methods used to raise a fortune. Each of these is a possession idol.

Habakkuk 2:12-14 is essentially one woe. Habakkuk ventures prophetically into the far future. Verse 14 reads: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, (just) As the waters cover the sea.” Knowledge does not mean acceptance. Isaiah 11:9 says the same thing. This is a reference to the Holy Mountains of Jesus i.e., the New Jerusalem of the Millennial age. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my Holy Mountain. Habakkuk is seldom given credit for this assurance of a Millennial Kingdom, but the wording is obvious. Woe to him or her who tries to do otherwise.

Habakkuk 2:15 points out not only the lewdness of mankind but the process through which his/her scheming mind works. This verse points out something else. Get someone drunk so s/he can be seen for what s/he is. Drunkenness weakens the immune system of thinking.

Reminder: Habakkuk is not only speaking to and of the Kingdom of Judah but to the end of mankind going without God’s judgement. What he is saying identifies man today. In short, get another person talking so what s/he says gives naked insight into that person, group, contract, on sale item, etc. We call it the fine print. King Hezekiah was guilty of this. His pride made him drunk and his lips “sunk his ship.”

Habakkuk 2:16 is another imagery or metaphor. Judah, which is one tribe within the chosen people of God, is supposed to be that light on the hillside. A light that others can see and emulate. Sadly, they were not a shining light. Therefore, the pending judgment Habakkuk states about Nineveh will also fall upon Judah. We KNOW this by what Habakkuk says in the second half of this verse.The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.” Judah did not have long to wait. The invasion and captivity by the Babylonians began in 607 B.C., just five years after the fall of Assyria.

It was King Hezekiah who showed off the wealth of his Judean Kingdom. [See Isaiah 39:2]. Hezekiah was king of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar invaded, conquered, then began deporting the people from their homeland. Of course, he took the wealth that Hezekiah had boasted about and put on display. His vanity was to impress the previous Babylonian emissaries visitors claiming to be Babylonian ambassadors. His nakedness was exposed.

Habakkuk 2:17 mentions Lebanon. “For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you.” How does Lebanon fit into this prophecy? Much of the temple was built with the great cedars of Lebanon; the very Temple that Nebuchadnezzar razed. The people within the Kingdom of Judah will be redeemed after 70 years of Babylonian captivity due, in part, to Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the temple In Jerusalem. Lebanon cedar was the core of the temple structure. It was later rebuilt using Babylonian/Persian money. It was not destroyed again until 72 A.D. This time by the Romans 400 years later.

Habakkuk 2:18 is obvious. It means just what it says. Why does man build for himself idols then worship them? This is a great discussion in its application to what man does today, but not here. Essentially, what a person devotes his or her life to is their god.

Habakkuk 2:19 is the sarcasm regarding verse 18. Oh wood wake up? Hey stone. Don’t just sit there.

Habakkuk 2:20 is the contrast with other items of idolatry. God is for real and permanent. He is in his Temple and will be glorified. It is as inevitable as were the prophecies of Habakkuk.

JIV Note: Verse 20 tells us that the Temple, including during the Millennial Reign is God’s Temple. The New Testament tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that to the Christian our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

The Temple in Jerusalem is the abode of God. The true believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep this distinction in mind as we progress through our narrative commentary or as one reviews previous articles.

Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Habakkuk

Habakkuk 1

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Ahabiblemoments begins this narrative commentary series on Habakkuk quite differently. You can click on the following and hear a three-minute overview of the Book of Habakkuk.

https://duckduckgo.com/?t=ffab&q=Habakkuk&iax=videos&ia=videos&iai=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D-qJ23qgcsJI

Has anyone ever asked of God WHY(?) this or that? Habakkuk did this 2700 years ago and he was a prophet of God. Some amazing understandings and clarity of our Christian issues today are revealed in the very first chapter Habakkuk. Answers to many of our common questions come to light.

One of the spiritual concerns of Habakkuk was that God seemingly would not answer his pleadings, petitions, prayers, and requests. He prophesied around 612 B.C. This is at the time of the fall of Nineveh and Assyria. Jonah wished the Assyrians (Nineveh) to be judged many years earlier but much to the chagrin of Jonah they repented. The Book of Micah exemplifies what Jonah had wished to be ill on the Assyrians. He also pointed the warning finger to both northern and southern kingdoms of Israelis. Nahum tells the Ninevites, you will have no more warnings. Here comes God’s judgement. Habakkuk sees God’s punishment happen (as also did Micah). But, he had difficulty understanding why God would replace the Assyrians with an even greater nation of evildoers.

Reminder of the sequence of prophetic events:

  • Amos: The book of Amos was to announce God’s holy judgment on the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern ten Tribes of Israel). This happened 120 years before Habakkuk prophesied in 712 B.C.
  • Obadiah: His prophetic mission as an Israeli was to the cousins of the Israelites; the Edomites or descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau.
  • Jonah: Like to Obadiah, Jonah took the same type of message to the Assyrians in their capital city of Nineveh.
  • Micah: As does Isaiah, the book of Amos announced God’s judgment on the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern ten Tribes of Israelis).
  • Nahum: Nahum 100 years earlier was essentially God’s follow up of the warnings to the Assyrians by Jonah. They repented then but fell back in their old ways within their next generations.
  • Habakkuk: He witnessed the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. (Assyrians) to an even more merciless people called the Chaldeans (Babylonians). He also saw the fall of the southern Kingdom of Judah to the same Chaldean-Babylonians.

Habakkuk 1:1,2 He begins his book by asking God a very blunt question. It almost reads like Habakkuk thinks God does not listen. “How long shall I cry; will you not listen; I cry out to you; will you not intervene” (paraphrase mine)? This is like Jeremiah 12:1. Jeremiah is asking the same thing of God. It is different circumstances but like Habakkuk questioning the ways of God.

Habakkuk 1:3 Christian believers who are some studied in the Word of God ask the same question today. Even do those who are believers ask…Where do we not see or hear of strife, contentions, iniquities, trouble around us, plundering and violence? It is everywhere and NOT just in the United States. We can add to this by reading the next verse in Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 1:4 “The law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” Are we not seeing this all around us today? Habakkuk sees it daily. It is around 612 B.C. (BCE: Before Current Era).

Habakkuk 1:4 God responds to Habakkuk in a vision; “this is what Habakkuk saw” [verse 1]. There is ruthlessness all around and the just seem to be the minority. God does not deny this. Even the laws of the land do not stop the evil. At times there seems to be a two-tier justice system. One set of enforced laws for the commoner and another set of limited laws for the elite. Let’s make it a three-tier system. The third tier is those who follow not any law other than domination, strength, and force…my gun is bigger than your gun attitudes. The laws of nature. Woe to those then and now who didn’t have let’s say, a means to defend self and family. What is going on with Habakkuk if he doesn’t feel or think GOD is a defense against such woes?

Habakkuk 1:5 God tells Habakkuk to not be nearsighted but look to the nations in existence at that time. God is telling Habakkuk to be more observing. Recall what has happened and what will happen. One should underline the following. Habakkuk saw the fall of Assyria and the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. He saw some of Jeremiah’s prophecies fulfilled. Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk were contemporaries. He knew of the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel. More on this human attitude in Habakkuk 2:5

Importantly is what God tells Habakkuk in verse 1:5b. “I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.” It is amazing that Habakkuk, a prophet of God is told by God that he would not believe even if God told him? This in and of itself is astounding.

Habakkuk 1:6 is part of that unbelief God says Habakkuk will have…even though God is telling him. God says that he is raising up a counter-nation to Assyria, one that has an even worse attitude than did/do the Assyrians? How can this be? How can a God of creation do such a thing? Instead, how about a Red Sea event? Maybe another plague as in Egypt but now upon these bad Assyrian people? What about another Jericho Wall miracle? Perhaps a reuniting of all the Tribes of Israel, a strong leader, and a swift victory for their armed forces such as in the time of Jehoshaphat?

NOPE God says! I will use an even worse and evil nation to dissolve Assyria for the life of this planet earth.

Habakkuk 1:7-11 (NIV) God admits his solution is to use a more troubling nation than were the Assyrians. God even gave Habakkuk a long list of the reputation against humanity by those soon to invade Nineveh then Judah itself.

  1. They are terrible and dreadful
  2. Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves
  3. Their horses are as swift as leopards
  4. They are as dreaded as the evening wolf packs on the hunt
  5. They seem to not weary of their long travels
  6. They soar as eagles hunting for prey
  7. Their arrival or sight on the horizon means pending violence
  8. They gather captives as does the fierce easterly dust storms gathers sands
  9. They make mockery of other kings (and their gods)
  10. The Chaldeans are elated at their success just to transgress even more

One would think that Habakkuk’s complaint to God to this point in chapter 1 is personally dangerous waters. But he isn’t done trying to remind God who God is yet seems to violate HIS own standards.

Habakkuk 1:12  First Habakkuk recognizes and compliments God for who he is. Then…(v13b).Cntrl/Click on this link and read it for oneself. In verse 13a Habakkuk points out that God is pure, then he asks why he tolerates evil against mankind and God himself. Verse 13 also addresses a personal question some may hesitate to admit to wanting to ask but it is in one’s mind. Why does God allow the less righteous to dominate those who are trying to live a righteous life?

Habakkuk 1:14  Now Habakkuk, in a way, accuses God of not being a God of justice. Habakkuk says that God allows men to create a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished. It is as if there were no God of concern. He compares the world to the sea; men to fishes; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Jameison-Fausset-Brown).

Dr. David Guzik expresses this passage quite well in his commentary on Habakkuk:

It would be like crying out to God about the state of the church in America, and hearing God respond by saying, “I’ll fix the problem by [allowing] a Communist invasion of America.” We would say, “Wait a minute LORD – the problem is bad, but your cure is worse than the disease!”

We at ahabiblemoments see it similarly. It is like a former Christian nation like America crying out to God about the church being repressed and God says…”I will fix it by bringing socialists to power in your congress.”

Habakkuk 1:15They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.” They delight in giving misery to others. Recall Habakkuk is not talking about the brutal Assyrians but of a force God is going to bring to uproot the Assyrians. These same people will within a couple years do the same to the Kingdom of Judah.

The last two verses of Habakkuk chapter 1 are, in a sense, similar to Matthew 13:12-14. God already told Habakkuk earlier in this chapter that even if God attempted to explained it to him, he would not understand. This is NOT a viable excuse for a Christian to neglect studying the Words of God. One cannot hide behind the excuse of not understanding. First gain knowledge then seek understanding. Read how Habakkuk handles this in verse 1 of chapter 2.

Rev Dr Jstark
2022

Nahum 3

Nahum 3 (all references refer to the NKJV unless otherwise stated)
The final chapter of Nahum is brutal and explains well why God’s judgement is to be upon the Assyrians. This chapter should be a parallel to Jonah knowing what he knew about this bitter enemy of Israel prior to his reluctant message to Nineveh. After reading chapter 3, one would have little doubt God’s patience exists and why they came to an end with the Assyrians.
We begin by abstracting descriptive bible phrases defining the cruelties of Nineveh, Assyria from the first four verses in Nahum 3.
• It is a bloody city full of captured victims
• Full of lies and robbery through unjust law, judges, deception by intent
• Any victim is doomed to death or cruel slavery if in Nineveh
• The sound of whips on victims is constant (the normal sadistic behavior of the Assyrians)
• Swords and lances are used within the city, not just at war (but are their fetish brutalities)
• The slain are a multitude piled in heaps
– This may remind us of the pictures of the holocaust camps of Germany in WWII
• There are countless corpses throughout the land
• Multitudes of harlots walk the streets
• Families are sold to others in the public marketplace
• The skins of many are spread upon the walls of the city
• Eyes are plucked out and limbs severed, then the victims left to die
• Those who dared to object against this cruelty are treated even more cruel
• Pillars of skulls could be seen
• The living and bodies of those slain are burned as a reminder to those who may rebel
• Captives are stripped naked without shelter or food
• No provision given to the captured or revolting leaders in Nineveh per weather conditions be they hot, cold, wet, dry, or storm.
NOTE: Is it any wonder Jonah wanted God’s wrath upon Nineveh, not a message of repentance.

There is more than scripture alone describing the cruelties of the Assyrians. Hundreds if not thousands of clay tablets have been discovered that describe the gruesomeness of the Assyrians upon their perceived enemies. At verse 5 God’s reprisal is prophesied as at-hand.
Nahum 3:5 “I am against you”. This is an absolute in the Hebrew. It simply means God will not withhold punishment. Ninevites have no chance of seeking or finding God’s mercy a second time. Jonah had warned them. Now Nahum 90 years later is telling Ninevites of their pending and certain doom.

As Jesus said at the cross of Calvary…IT IS FINISHED! This is God’s view of Assyria. It is finished! This condemnation is upon them who committed these horrible crimes of absolute and unrestrained cruelty. This included those Assyrians who stood idly-by watching. This same phrase is found in Nahum 2:13…”I am against you”.

JIV NOTE: This is like the world conditions will be during the End Days, God’s final days judgement [on that day] of humanity. There are three groups of people. The believer, and the unbelievers and those who lead and commit the sins against believers. Those who stand idly by trying to take no side at all by not intervening are as guilty as those committing attacks on believers. Taking no side at all is still not an acceptance of Jesus.

Nahum 3:6 means by deduction that God’s punishment will not be a swift death. The Assyrians will see it coming and pay a huge price for their repenting then rejection of the God of Jonah. Nahum is not there to redeem or evangelize them. He is there for one reason; to tell the Assyrians their final days are at hand. In the short of this verse, Ninevites no longer have any opportunity to repent “a second time.” This too will be true of those who take the mark of the beast yet continue to walk the face of the earth for a short time in the Tribulation “on that day.” It begins with the first bowl and angel of judgement found in Revelation 16:1-21.

So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth; and it became a loathsome and malignant sore on the people who take the mark of the beast and who worshiped his image” [NASB; Revelation 16:2].
No second chance will exist for those with the mark of the Beast!

Nahum 3:7 can be compared to the filthy rejection of the labor or concentration camp conditions of Nazi WWII. They were vile. All who looked upon these concentration camps rejected the conditions to which humans were subjected. “Who will bemoan her?” Who will feel sorry for Nineveh? This is followed in 3:7 with “where will I find comforters [anyone to feel sorry for them] for you”? If God can’t find anyone to feel sorry for the judgment of the Assyrians, who can? Answer: No one! This verse doesn’t state who might God find but WHERE might he find one to sympathize with Assyria. There were none.

Nahum 3:8 No’ Amon is mentioned. This is better known today as Thebes in Upper Egypt. A very great city yet destroyed so fully there hasn’t been found a fully standing wall or monument after King Sargon, the great Ashurbanipal, then Nebuchadnezzar who twice destroyed it. No peoples were found still occupying it after three kings: Sargon of Mesopotamia, Ashurbanipal of Assyria, and Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, leveled it. No’ Amon; the city of No’ and their local god Amon. Is somehow Nineveh greater than was No’ Amon asks God through Nahum? By comparative thinking we can imagine how great this Egyptian city in Upper Egypt must have been. Their greatness did not repel destruction.

Nahum 3:9 Ethiopia, Egypt, Put (Cush), and Lubim (lybia) is a comparison to the greatness against which Assyrians consider themselves to be. The primaries would be Ethiopia and Egypt. Nahum asks if Assyria is greater than the historical greatness of Egypt and/or Ethiopia. Recall that the Queen of Sheba at the time of King Solomon came from and ruled over Ethiopia. No’ Amon [Thebes] is in Upper Egypt.

NOTE: Today many only think of ancient Egypt as one historical EGYPT; one country. This would be incorrect. In ancient times Egypt was one country or it had two sections, north and south. At times both had their own pharaoh. At other times both upper and lower parts were united under one pharaoh. Take note that No Amon is better known by their Greek name Thebes of Egypt. In actuality, No’ is the city and Amon is their god. No’ Amon means the city of the god Amon. The Assyrians knew this comparison well. It was their armies that had previously devastated No’ Amon.

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Nahum 3:10 When one understands what happened to No’ Amon according to this verse, the brutality of the Assyrians becomes even clearer. It was the Assyrians who desecrated No’ Amon. look up the passage Nahum 3:10 and see for what other cruelties for which the Assyrians were known. They did this to the great No’ Amon and its population. Now it was Nineveh’s destiny for similar devastation in 612 B.C.

Nahum 3:11 What Assyria had done to others is now upon them. They will get what they sowed in cruelty. Verse 11 means they will try to hide in drunkenness, just like people still try to do today. They will run to-and-fro in attempts to avoid the consequences of invading enemies. An interesting understanding of the Hebrew for strength or refuge in verse 11 is “they will seek safety anywhere including former conquered peoples within the Assyrian Empire.” This offers a partial explanation as to what God meant by saying “they will be known no more.” They were scattered like ashes in the wind totally losing their identity as Assyrians. This, in part, is what happened to the Northern ten Tribes of Israel when the Assyrians scattered them to the corners of the earth, uninhabited places without clothing, shelter, and weapons for protection.

Nahum 3:12 The imagery of a fig tree full of ripened fruit is not something of encouragement to the Ninevites. A ripened fruit tree will drop its fruit with little encouragement from a picker. No longer is it a part of the tree (nation?). In modern agriculture and husbandry, the first fruit pickings often come from vibrating or shacking the fruit from the tree. It takes little effort and the tree itself is not damaged but the fruit, aka: Assyrian defenses, will fall without effort. Right into the hands of their enemies.

Archaeologists document the burning and fall of Nineveh. “The excavators of Nineveh have remarked on the large deposits of ash, which are evidence of a gigantic conflagration.” (Boice)

Nahum 3:13 “…are women?” This would be totally rejected as sexist in today’s societies. The fact remains that the majority of soldiers during this time period of Nahum was men. Yes, some women defended their homes and homelands when aggressed upon, but women did not constitute the army of their land. Nahum is describing the people of Assyria upon judgement from God.

The word for people in Hebrew is ‛am. This word is not exclusive to women but all people from any walk of life within a tribe or grouping of people such as a kingdom or nation. Assyria’s strength will fall as if their forces were women. Many running in disarray and total fear. Men can do the same thing. Such is called desertion.

Verse 13b: “The gates of your land are (will be) wide open” for the enemy to simply walk into their no longer fortified city walls [emphasis mine]. This may support the secular hypothesis of floods and excessive rains upon Nineveh undermined the walls and gates of Nineveh. This allowed the enemy of Medes, assisted by the Babylonian Persians, to walk into the city. If this is a reference to the natural barriers that surrounded Nineveh north and east, the heavy and relentless rains would hinder or blind Assyrian guards to any invading forces moving in closer. Perhaps the soldiers at the “gates of the land” would be like most in heavy rains. They were initially hiding from the deluge. The guards did not see the enemy closing in around them.

Nahum 3:14 Some may read this verse as Nahum providing the Assyrians good advice to protect Nineveh. This is false. Nahum is making a mockery of any attempt to make void God’s “I am against you” declaration in Nahum 2:13 and in 3:5-7. This mockery is emphasized in 3:15.

Nahum 3:15 Look this passage up and read it for oneself. Modern bulldozers have discovered a great amount of charred remains in Nineveh.

Nahum 3:16 One may wish and perhaps to his or her study chagrin, take note that the Hebrew has ten different names for locust. None are for the good of the land. Nineveh will be wiped clean just as do locust to a field. Nothing will be left. This is precisely what happened when the Medes attacked, laid siege, then utterly destroyed this hated enemy of so many who were held under its powerful thumb of oppression. They vanished as do locust descending on green vegetation. Once the Medes, assisted by the Persian-Babylonians, destroyed Nineveh, they left it in such ruin it was not archaeologically discovered until 1840 A.D. [The Discovery of Nineveh by Austen Henry Layard, Esq., D.C.L.]. This means people walked over the face of the former great city for over 2,000 years without knowing what was below their feet.

We can best sum up chapter 3 of Nahum by looking at verse 19:

“Your injury has no healing, Your wound is severe. All who hear news of you Will clap their hands over you, For upon whom has not your wickedness passed continually?” [NKJV]


Rev. Dr. Jstark
2022

Special JIV ahamoment: Most know of the Queen of Sheba and her trip to Jerusalem to test Solomon’s wisdom. Just as many question her name i.e. Queen of Sheba. Where was “SHEBA”. The original name of Ethiopia was the lands of the Habesha people. “Ha” in Hebrew is the word “the”. This makes the lands of Ha-besha people “the besha.” This famous queen of the gold coast with little play on spelling, the famous Queen of the Sheba (Basha) people.