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Wrestling With God (Part 1)

February 5, 2010

Over the next few weeks, I will be leading the adult mid-week Bible study through the book of Habakkuk. In this post, I want to share a little bit of an overview to the book. The next post in this series will be an overview of the three chapters in Habakkuk. Most of this material is taken from a study/discussion guide I prepared for my small group at our previous church. Some of you may recognize it. If so, please bear with me. Beginning next week, I will try to share some thoughts and observations from our study and discussion. I will also share some of the points of discussion, as appropriate. If you are part of the group that has gone through this with us before, please feel free to share any input you may have. If this is new for you, we would also appreciate your comments. I am sure they would be very helpful as we discuss some very important topics.

Acknowledgments

When I agreed to take on this project, I thought it would be no big deal. But the more I read, studied, and prepared, the bigger deal it became. I could not have accomplished this without the encouragement and support of my LIFE Group. I hope it is a blessing and encouragement to you. Many of the ideas, and certainly the good ones, came from my very close friends, Chris Morgan and Keith Garner. Thanks for the good ideas and for spurring me on. A special thanks to Erick Hensley for the front cover graphic. And thanks to Catherine, who more than once heard something like, “Not right now. I really have to work on my Habakkuk study.” Your love and patience is truly overwhelming. I love you.

Introduction

Habakkuk is a book of struggles. In it, the prophet Habakkuk struggles with God and with the injustice in the world around him.

Other than what is in the short book, we do not know much about the book or its writer. We know the prophet Habakkuk wrote the book. It was likely written between 608 and 605 B.C. The prophet’s name is believed to mean “embrace” or “wrestle“. Martin Luther thought it signified that Habakkuk embraced his people to comfort and uphold them. The fourth century scholar and theologian, Jerome, interpreted it to mean that he embraced the problem of divine justice in the world. Many have also viewed Habakkuk’s name in relation to his apparent wrestling with God. In the first two chapters of this short book, he wrestles with God regarding the injustice he experiences around him; but in the third chapter, Habakkuk fully embraces God.

Habakkuk was a prophet in the nation of Judah during the rule of King Jehoiakim. This was the son of King Josiah. During Josiah’s rule, the nation experienced revival and returned to God. When Josiah died in 609 B.C., and the rule of Jehoiakim began, the decline of the kingdom of Judah resumed.

One aspect of what makes Habakkuk unique among the prophets is his interaction with God. The other prophets declared God’s message to the people. Habakkuk engaged in a conversation with God about people. Most of the prophets were given a message of divine judgment to proclaim to the people. Habakkuk pleaded for divine judgment.

As we study the book of Habakkuk together, we will look at the theme of the prophet’s faith as he wrestled with God. There will be questions to engage you. The discussions of this book should prove interesting. They will be even more meaningful if you plan ahead for the next session by answering the questions in advance.

The book of Habakkuk largely consists of Hebrew poetry. In designing this course, I read the text in several different translations. In my opinion, the one that provides the best balance of an accurate translation that is also fairly easy to read is the New Living Translation. Please feel free to use whatever translation of the Bible that you are comfortable with.

When is the last time you read the book of Habakkuk? I encourage you to sit down and read it. It is only three chapters. It should only take a few minutes. Let us know if you are planning to participate in the discussion here. Thanks.

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