Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Christ in Habakkuk

In my study of Habakkuk in recent months I've come across something that I haven't found in any of my commentaries (which are considered some of the best commentaries available today in broadly evangelical circles). Normally I take this as a cue that I'm wrong. And that may be the case this time as well. But as I turn this thing around, I am more and more convinced that I'm on to something. And it is something beautiful.

It is my habit to read all Scripture looking for Christ. This is no less true (and in fact is more true) when reading the Old Testament. I was reading Habakkuk one day when I noticed a nice analogy. Let me outline the book briefly...

1:1 Introduction
1:2-4 Habakkuk complains about the leaders of Judah treating the people of God unjustly.
1:5-11 God responds by informing Habakkuk that he is raising up the Chaldeans to judge Judah.
1:12-2:1 Habakkuk questions the justice of such a move on the part of God.
2:2-20 God responds by revealing that in the end the Chaldeans will be destroyed and Judah will be saved.
3:1-19 Habakkuk confesses his faith in God and his wisdom.

As I was reading this book repeatedly I thought how Judah fit neatly as a type of Christ and his people. The Chaldeans are death (see 2:5 where the Chaldeans are "like death") and Satan. Christ took the sins of his people upon himself, which immediately resulted in death, but in the long run resulted in life and salvation.

In 1:2-4 Habakkuk is crying out for salvation from the sin of the covenant community. God pronounces judgment on their sin in 1:5-11. 2:4 says "the righteous shall live by faith alone." Habakkuk cries to God in 3:2 " wrath remember mercy." From 3:3-15 he recounts the saving works of God on behalf of his people. In 3:16 he expresses his utter dependence upon God for salvation. And again in 3:18, "I will rejoice in the God of my salvation." And so there is a theme of salvation running through this prophet...salvation from their own sinfulness and its consequences. God will heal them, but by bringing a terrible judgment. However, the instrument of judgment will itself be destroyed.

I was thinking this over and remembered Gen. 3:15...the offspring of Eve would have his heel bruised, but he would in turn crush the head of the serpent, a serpent that is the progenitor of many serpents (offspring of the serpent). How great would it be (I wondered) to find the language of Genesis 3:15 in Habakkuk. I continued reading and came to 3:13, "You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck."

Although the Hebrew here is not the same as Genesis 3:15, the theme is precisely the same...that of the Messiah striking the enemy down by a mortal wound to the head. Like Satan and his serpentine offspring, this enemy in Hab 3:13 is leader of the house of the wicked.

The history of the people of Judah in their deportation and return is nothing less than an image or type of God's salvation of his people in Jesus Christ as promised in the proto-evangelium.

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