Don’t Name Your Child Habakkuk — It’s Weird

June 16, 2010

Umm, the Celtics lost by a very tiny, little margin last night… Do you guys think the NBA finals are rigged? Do they want the series to go to seven just so they can make more money? I wasn’t necessarily expecting the Celtics to win because it seemed improbable that the Lakers would lose three games in a row. But for the Celtics to lose by 20 points seemed a bit ridiculous. And why did they try to hurt my poor, little Rondo? He’s so darling.

So, today is the day I promised a post about something useful! Get excited, because this only happens about twice a year.

In case you hadn’t heard, I am on the path toward becoming fairly knowledgeable about the Old Testament because I am in grad school, working toward a degree in biblical studies. I am also on the path toward becoming a knowledgeable pauper. If you have any extra money you’d like to donate to the “Denise’s Non-Pauperness Fund,” please email me. It’ll be tax deductible.

The class I took last semester was about the kings and the prophets of the Old Testament. It was fascinating and I loved it with all my heart. Perhaps you think I am odd. Perhaps you are right. But, in all honesty, I think you would’ve liked it too.

Because of this class, one of my new favorite Old Testament books is Habakkuk. I know, right? Who likes Habakkuk? (Also, I had always pronounced Habakkuk with the emphasis on the first syllable. But my professor pronounced it with the emphasis on the second syllable. How do you pronounce it? I think you should figure out the correct pronunciation if you have plans to name your first child Habakkuk or something. You should also figure out how you’re planning to keep him from getting beat up every day because of his awful name.)

I found this on the Interwebs. Apparently this is supposed to be Habakkuk. Not sure why he is scary and bald.

Anyway. I have a newfound appreciation for Habakkuk after we went over it in class. It’s an interesting book and a fascinating look at how this prophet responded to really difficult news.

The book is only three chapters long. It starts out with Habakkuk asking, “How long O, Lord?” He’s upset because the nation of Judah is really corrupt. They are violent, and the wicked are prospering over the righteous. Justice is going out crookedly, and God just sits and watches. He hasn’t done anything to stop the perversion, and Habakkuk is wondering why.

So God answers Habakkuk. He says that He’s seen how awful Judah has gotten. He tells Habakkuk to stand back because he’s about to be blown away: God is raising up the Babylonians, that “ruthless and impetuous people” to come and judge Judah. Pretty soon the wicked in Judah will be no more.

This wasn’t quite the answer Habakkuk was looking for, for a couple of reasons. Number one, the Babylonians were horrible. They were cruel and fierce and would completely devastate Judah. Not only would the wicked among God’s people be destroyed, but many innocents as well. Secondly, the Babylonians were way worse than Judah. They were violent pagans—at least Judah still worshipped God somewhat. They weren’t as awful as the Babylonians. Habakkuk asks, “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” He doesn’t see how God can use an even more sinful nation to judge Judah.

But the point wasn’t that Babylon was more wicked than Judah. The point was that God had decided that Judah needed to be judged. (Which, honestly, could lead us into some very interesting discussion and contemplation about America and terrorist attacks, and things of that nature.)

God tells Habakkuk that, even so, Babylon will bring judgment to Judah. But no worries—Babylon will get what’s coming to them eventually. But through it all, God reminds, “the righteous will live by faith.” In the good times, and in the fiercest of judgment, the just will live lives that are faithful and honoring to God.

And then God quits talking. He pronounces what is going to happen and He commands that “all the earth be silent before him.” The conversation is over.

And then what I find so fascinating is Habakkuk’s response. He has just questioned God and asked for justice in Judah. He hears that there will be justice—a fierce, bloody justice in the form of the Babylonians. God has decided, and it will be so. This is terrifying to Habakkuk. His righteousness doesn’t mean that he’ll escape the sword of a Babylonian soldier. He knows that this judgment is coming soon.

So, in chapter three, Habakkuk prays. He begins it by saying, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.” Habakkuk is frightened and overwhelmed and undone. So he starts to list the things he knows about who God is, about His character. He recalls God’s ancient deeds and His miraculous power over nature. He recounts the mighty works of God and lists a history of His power and mercy. The way that Habakkuk will get through what’s coming in the future is to remember what God has done in the past.

And he ends the book by making a choice. Although God is going to allow something bad to happen, although Habakkuk may not be happy with it, he decides to rejoice in the Lord. The Sovereign Lord is his strength; He enables him to go on the heights.

This is why I love Habakkuk. He wonders at God’s justice. He questions how God could allow this type of judgment. But in the end, he decides to live by faith. He remembers the good character of his God, and he reminds himself that, because of the past, he has no reason not to trust God for the future.

The arm is still there. And, I swear, I can still see the fingers.

It’s a good book. You should read it.

Anyway, that’s about it. BTW—the pipe is still on the road, and when I drive by it, I still see an arm. Not kidding. It’s hazardous to my mental health.

Have a lovely day, friendsies. God has been (and still is) good. Bless His name.


11 Responses to “Don’t Name Your Child Habakkuk — It’s Weird”

  1. Jaci said

    What do you think Habakkuk’s friends called him? Haby? Haba? Kuk? It really is just a bad name all around.

  2. denisemorris said

    I think Habi is probably the nickname I’d go with. Before I beat him up.

  3. Ash said

    Would you threaten to kick young Habi in the face and then proceed in actually kicking him in the face? Hypothetically speaking, of course.

  4. denisemorris said

    Hypothetically speaking: yes.

  5. Rebecca said

    I LOVE Habakkuk. probably since before the last time I saw you, Denise. so for like 4 years lol. I’m so proud of you for admitting you like Habi… I’ve always kept it on the down low. cuz how do you answer, “why do you like Habakkuk?” um. i just do. it speaks to me about the world and how we should react to any adversity. ? it’s just not cool like liking Philippians. Or Corinthians. and i secretly thought about Habakkuk as a middle name. DON’T TELL ANYONE! 😀

  6. denisemorris said

    Rebecca: So good to know! I love it too, now that I actually know what it’s about. I’m all about making the Old Testament cooler so it can fit in with Philippians. 🙂

    Oh no. Glad you reconsidered the middle name. 🙂

  7. annaldavis said

    Hi Denise —
    Thank you for this great post about the book God has been bothering me about for months. Seriously I can’t seem to get away from it, and I really do love it I think. I’m glad to know I’m not alone. 🙂

  8. Ginna said

    Only you, my friend, could successfully sandwich a fascinating description of Habakkuk between delightful little Rondo and the pipe/arm. Loved it!

  9. denisemorris said

    Anna: Thanks so much for stopping by and reading. It is a great book, and I think shows us a godly, honest way to respond to fear and difficulty in life.

    Ginna: I’m easily distracted. Celtics–Bible–pipe/arm!

  10. […] to write a little devotional for Hebrew, and I wrote it based on a verse in the book of Habakkuk. I blogged about it before, but I was just reminded of how Habakkuk was frightened about the judgment that was coming to […]

  11. Habs said

    love it

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