Revealing God’s Word in Habakkuk!

 1 June 2021 |

When I first went to college, as I have often said, I knew very little about the Old Testament. We were given short introductions to all the books which was both daunting and exciting. There was a lot of ‘introduction’: how on earth was I expected to get all this information into my head, I kept asking myself. Well, forty years later, I have acquired a fair amount of material to help me see my way around this part of the Bible. What is a great delight is to discover, even now, parts of the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible that either I knew once but have forgotten, or to find some new writings that stir up passion and a keen interest. I no longer have my introductory notes but even if I had still kept them, over the past forty years much has changed in our appreciation of these ancient texts.

Habakkuk is a recent re-discovery. Even the translation in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, not known for its poetry, has many soaring phrases to delight the eye and the ear, a sign that the Hebrew is an exceptional piece of writing. Have a look at it yourself. It is one of the shortest books at three chapters, found between Nahum and Zephaniah, but is full of good advice for modern life with some wonderful turns of phrases. In chapter two you might recognise words that are part of a well-known hymn – ‘…the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’ And as good advice to the preacher who never knows when to stop: ‘the lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!’

I know many church members who use a booklet to work their way through the year by readings and prayers, but for many the Bible is still a mystery and they can’t find their way into it. But I believe there are riches in the Bible and reading some of it can be inspirational and, upon prayerful reflection, life changing. If you are one of those people who fear the Bible, believing to be a difficult book and unapproachable, you won’t find an easier way in than reading a book like Habakkuk. Why not give it a go? And if you do, why not write a short piece for the magazine about what you found there?