Fully Embracing Christ – 10 – Habakkuk I

THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Habakkuk 3:19

The Book of Habakkuk contains numerous illustrations of the three embraces of the Lord in the life and struggles of the prophet Habakkuk. In the following detailed look at Habakkuk’s life of adoration and surrender, the order of the three embraces will be altered: repentance, obedience, and finally adoration. This sequence seems to fit the flow and structure of the book. As noted earlier in a quote by Eugene Peterson, the order and proportion of these three embraces is not important, but rather that they are intertwined and evident in the life of the follower of Christ.

The name Habakkuk, according to Jack Hayford’s commentary in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, means “‘embrace,’ either signifying that he was ‘embraced by God’ and thus strengthened by him for his difficult task, or ‘embracing others’ and so encouraging them in their time of national crisis.”[1]

This twofold definition of “embrace” could be significant to World Vision staff. Staff not only need the ongoing “embrace of God” as they face each daily ministry challenge, but also need to “embrace others,” serving in Area Development Programs (ADPs) with genuine hope and courage. The Book of Habakkuk could find great application to World Vision staff that face ongoing discouragement in ADPs or relief settings among the dying and oppressed.

Habakkuk lived during one of the most stressful, disruptive and depressing periods in the life of Judah. Hayford writes, “His country had fallen from the heights of Josiah’s reforms to the depths of violent treatment of its citizens, oppressive measures against the poor, and collapse of the legal system”[2]

Further, this book contains the definitive passage of Scripture that summarizes the key characteristic of followers of the Lord: “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). This passage was foundational in explaining salvation by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:17, and also in the exhortation to persevere and not “shrink back” found in Hebrews 10:36-38. Both salvation faith and “everyday” persevering faith are critical aspects of mature, steadfast Christian spirituality—so important for World Vision staff seeking to bring hope among the poor. Such faith is especially crucial where temptations may be strong to “throw away your confidence” (Hebrews 10:35) and abandon one’s walk of trusting Christ in the midst of lingering trials.

 


[1] Jack W. Hayford, Spirit Filled Life Bible, New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers), 1338.

[2] Ibid.

 

 

Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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