|Minor Prophets: Major Messages
The Book of
1. A slow unhurried reading of Habakkuk is essential. Reading the chapter before looking at the notes, while working with the notes, and after finishing with the notes will give each researcher a powerful sense of the series of meanings within each chapter. It is important to be comfortable with all the names and places in the prophecy and to understand the announcements the prophet makes on behalf of the Lord. When possible, historical information will be included in the notes to increase reading comprehension and enhance application.
2. Our study of each chapter of Habakkuk will begin with quotes from a work of the Writings called Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms. This work includes a verse-by-verse overview of all three chapters of Habakkuk that provides general information about the internal sense. Our research will help move us from the generals to the particulars of the internal sense.
3. Another important reference tool is Searle’s General Index to Swedenborg’s Scripture Quotations. This reference is used to find passages in the Writings where a verse(s) from the Word is either explained specifically or used to illustrate a doctrinal point that we can use in our study. There is also another use of this work. As we study, each researcher will be led by the Lord’s Providence in myriad ways, according to specific needs or states. Knowing how to use this book will help each of us to explore relevant topics and look up related passages to increase our knowledge of the three-fold Word.
4. You will soon discover that not every verse, word, name, etc. is directly quoted in the Writings. But there are often other references to the same name, place, or thing in the explanation of a different verse of the Word. The hope is that reflection on these other doctrinal explanations will help us see possible applications to our study of Habakkuk. We will need to use “derived doctrine” often. Please don’t run away from this maligned term. If we use it properly and admit openly that it is derived doctrine, we bring no harm to the internal sense.
5. Keep some kind of notebook handy during your study times. Write out insights, questions, and any summaries you find helpful in organizing your thoughts about each chapter. The goal of this study guide is not to give a detailed summary of the internal sense but to start each researcher’s quest for deeper insight.
6. At the end of each chapter in the study guide, you will find a study review. The review includes a summary of each section to help you reinforce and build on your understanding of several of the key points.7. Begin each study unit with a devotional prayer asking the Lord to guide and direct your thoughts. Certainly beginning in this sphere has the power to inspire and open our minds with a higher spiritual priority that will keep us in the company of the Lord’s angels. As the Writings teach, we must seek to love truth for truth’s sake. Such an approach will free each reader from preconceived ideas that might limit his or her ability to “see” the intent and message of the Lord’s Word.
What the Lord said to the disciples was “said to all who are of the church, for the twelve disciples represented all such…” (Arcana Coelestia [AC] 3354) “‘The twelve disciples’ signify all who are of the church, and in an abstract sense all things of the church, which are truths from good.” (Apocalypse Explained [AE] 851)
With anguish Habakkuk cries out, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?” Habakkuk continues his list of woes:
The Lord responds to Habakkuk, “Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe though it were told you.” (Habakkuk 1:5, emphasis added)
So, like Job, Habakkuk complains, argues, challenges, and questions the Lord’s methods of bringing order to the church. But in the end, Habakkuk comes full circle, confidently praising the Lord’s providence and looking forward to the establishment of the New Church.
What do we know about Habakkuk?
We know almost nothing about Habakkuk’s life. He gives us no clue to his parentage. No home village is mentioned. Was he from the northern or southern kingdom? He gives us no clue about his work. We don’t know who was reigning over Israel during his lifetime. The only clue historians note is in Habakkuk 1:6, where the Lord says: “I am raising up the Chaldeans.” The Chaldeans are the Babylonians. On the basis of this reference, historians offer an approximate date of 620 B.C.