This past Sunday was week 8 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. Because the class is 13 weeks and I do both an introductory and summary week, that means that there is one week where I double up and do two minor prophets. So I combined Habakkuk and Obadiah.
Little is known about Habakkuk other than he saw this prophetic oracle and in response wrote the prayer/psalm that comprises chapter 3. He likely received this prophetic revelation after the death of King Josiah (609 BC) and the initial invasion by the Babylonians (605 BC). One thing that makes this prophetic book unique is that it take the form of a complaint by the prophet and God’s response.
That complaint centers on how long God will wait before bringing judgment on sinful Judah (1:2-4). God’s shocking response is that he will use the Babylonians to execute judgment on them (1:5-11). Habakkuk responds with incredulity; how can God use a people more wicked than Judah to bring judgment on them (1:12-2:1). God responds by assuring Habakkuk that he will also in due time bring judgment on Babylon as well (2:2-20). Habakkuk in turn responds with a prayer that celebrates God’s sovereignty in judgment and salvation (3:1-19).
While there is much to glean from Habakkuk, I would summarize the theological big idea as this: Even when we cannot trace God’s hand of justice or providence, we can patiently trust and rejoice in His character. Habakkuk models for us how to properly question God when we don’t understand what is happening around us. He does so with humility, ready to receive correction (2:1). Those who are righteous will live by faith, trusting in God’s faithful character (2:4). The ultimate example of this is the cross. What seemed like the end of God’s plan was in fact the centerpiece of saving his people.
Like Habakkuk, we know little about the man Obadiah. Depending on how his name is vocalized, it means either “servant of God” or “worshiper of God.” Although there are no clear indicators of when he ministered, the most likely date is sometime shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC). The main focus of this brief minor prophet is judgment on Edom for not only failing to help Judah in her hour of need but actively mocking and looting them. God assures his people that Edom will one day pay for her sins, just like all the nations.
The final line of the book points towards the theological big idea: God will soon defeat the enemies of His people and establish His rule over His people forever. Jesus began his ministry by announcing that the time the time was fulfilled and the kingdom of God was at hand. He could claim that because he was the long-promised Davidic king inaugurated that kingdom through his life of perfect obedience, his miraculous ministry, his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from the dead, and his triumphant ascension to the right hand of the Father. And one day he will return in glory to consummate his kingdom in a new heavens and new earth where we will dwell with him forever.
Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:
Week 8 – Habakkuk & Obadiah (AUDIO)