God is not a man that He should change His mind, but we’re not God. I’ve read through the Bible more than once, and each time I come around to a passage, I’ve grown as a person, I’ve learned new things, I’ve come to a different place that gives me a new perspective on it. If you’ve been reading the Bible for awhile, you’ve likely had the same experience. And sometimes God shows us we’ve been wrong about something. Our views change, we reject old opinions, and hopefully our new opinions jibe more consistently with the text and the universe as they are. Here on Chocolate Book, we approach the Bible heuristically.
Remember the Day of the Lord? Featured big in the book of Joel? Well, it’s back in Zephaniah. Prophecies about it are back, anyway.
I love almonds. Smokehouse, salt and vinegar, habanero barbecue, you name it. Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind eating almonds with my daily Bible readings, except the blog isn’t called “Almond Book.” I have made my bed, and now I must sleep in it.
Ezra is a book about getting back in touch with your roots. Its events take place around 460-450 BC, generations after Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed. King Cyrus of Persia sends a sizeable party of diaspora Jews to return to Jerusalem, reunite with the survivors, and build a new temple to their God in their holy city. And it would seem Ezra, who chronicled this expedition, took a few cues from the book of Chronicles, because when he uses the word “thanks,” he too pairs it with the word “praise.” In the scene from today’s passage, after the foundation for the temple is complete, the priests lead the Hebrew people in praise and thanks. All in all, it’s an extremely Hebrew scene, so let’s get Hebrew.
Habakkuk concludes his book with his own words. He identifies them as a “Shigionoth,” which my NASB’s margin notes tell me is a highly emotional poetic form, thereby saving me the trouble of googling “Shigionoth.” Habakkuk’s prayer here actually reminds me of the first chapter of Nahum, insofar as it displays God’s power and greatness through his actions. It would seem Habakkuk has received some form of satisfactory answer to his questions: if not the information that he asked for, then at least a response that addresses his concerns. Let’s take a closer look at the character of his final words and see what’s changed.
Habakkuk spoke his piece in the first chapter, and now he’s content to listen: the majority of chapter two is God talking. Does he adequately answer Habakkuk’s concerns? We won’t get to see Habakkuk’s response until chapter three, but in the meantime, we can see for ourselves and make our own assessments.
I didn’t expect Habakkuk to open as it did, especially just coming from Nahum. Nahum’s prophecy begins with forceful, evocative statements of God’s strength and righteous judgment. Habakkuk, however, begins with a question, and he follows it with further questions. Where Nahum confidently asserts God’s strength against his enemies, Habakkuk asks: don’t you hear me, God? Why won’t you save us? What are you doing?
As we progress through the Bible in our study of thankfulness whose stupid name is so stupid that I am not even going to mention it, we begin to see more instances of the word “thank,” especially in the two books of Chronicles. And the trend I observed in 1 Chronicles 16 continues throughout 1 and 2 Chronicles: wherever we see thankfulness, praise is not far behind. This may come as no surprise; after all, as Li’l Spicy said in his famous “Thanksgiving and Praise Are Like Our Right and Left Arms” speech, thanksgiving and praise are like our right and left arms. But why do they belong together so naturally? Let’s see if we can figure it out.
Well, that was a strange experience.
I’ve had something on my mind since we first cracked open the book of Nahum. While searching for resources on the chronology of Nahum relative to Jonah, I found a blog post accusing Nahum of vehement xenophobia. It asserted that Jonah, with its more sympathetic and merciful tone, was written as a response to Nahum. So, throughout the book, I found myself wondering: is Nahum a hate book?