AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
The prophet, Habakkuk, is a rather obscure figure, but his book is one of the gems of the Old Testament. It seems to have been written shortly before the Battle of Carchemish in 605 B.C., when the Babylonians became the undisputed power in the area. Habakkuk's theological problem was theodicy (divine justice). Internally, he saw that violence, lawbreaking, and injustice was going unpunished, so he questioned God about it. God's answer only troubled him more, so he raised the question of God's justice again. God reassured Habakkuk by telling him that if he could only wait, all would become clear to him. This satisifed Habbakkuk, and with renewed faith, he seemed to conclude that, given God's holiness, his own questions were unjustified (Hab.2v20). Hab.3 is a prayer-psalm which ends with another strong statement of faith. For a book of such small size, Habakkuk has wielded remarkable influence.
The Habakkuk Commentary is the most well-preserved Old Testament commentary of those found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and reflects a type of Old Testament exegesis which helps us understand much of the New Testament use of the Old Testament.
More significantly, Hab.2v4 was used by Paul in Rom.1v17 to introduce the principle of justification by faith rather than by works. And it was Martin Luther's interpretation of this verse which totally re-oriented his thinking and contributed to the spark which led to the Protestant Reformation.
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