|Minor Prophets: Major Messages
The following summary draws and expands on the outline given in the Summary Exposition of the Prophets and Psalms .
The Jewish Church was in serious spiritual trouble. Interest in the things of the Lord had been replaced by superficiality. The church had become sensual. The people were interested in their own comfort and security. Justice and truth perished. The Lord grieved over their choices. Instead of the church coming to its senses to see that their problems were of their own choosing, they turned to find “compelling” ways to blame the Lord.
While blaming the Lord for all misfortunes, the church continued to actively profane all the truths and goods of the Word. To illustrate the depth of Israel’s choices, “a bitter and hasty nation” of Chaldeans rose up against Israel. The Chaldeans came with horses swifter than leopards and more fierce than wolves. The Chaldeans’ pride caused them to scoff at kings. They took many captives. The attitude of the Chaldeans reflected that which resided in the hearts and minds of Israel.
Israel didn’t get the message. They failed to see the application of what they were doing to the spiritual things of the church. The Lord’s grief continued because their evil prevailed over the good, and they were destroying the last vestiges of good.
Israel’s disregard for spiritual things necessitated the Lord’s coming. The Lord spoke through Habakkuk to tell the Jewish Church what kind of battle would take place with His advent. The Lord spoke about spiritual issues from what other nations saw. In reality, the other nations represented how distanced the Jewish Church had become from Him. The love of self was growing. Alongside of this growth, the people of the church were growing vile. Other nations (the Lord) noted these changes, and it caused them to hold Israel in contempt. What did the other nations see? They saw Israel’s pride puffing up their own intelligence. The other nations saw that the church judged from externals alone. They noted that Israel was hatching doctrine out of falsities.
When the Lord comes, He tells the church that those who lead others astray will be made ashamed. The Lord tells them that the self-serving falsities will profit the evil nothing. What will last to eternity? The Divine Human.
Chapter Three continues with the prediction that the Lord will come into the world. When the Lord comes, He will bring with Him the things belonging to Divine truth and good. He will examine the church. In the light of His judgment, it will be shown that the Jewish Church was no longer a church because of its actions and choices.
The Lord’s presence will dissipate the dead church’s falsities of evil. Judgment will come upon those who hate and oppose Him. Those whose hearts are intent on self-love will suffer spiritual destruction, and they will cast themselves into hell.
Did the Lord enter into this combat with anger? He maintained His grief on account of their state. He grieved because there was no longer anything of the church left.
When evil is overcome, the Lord will rebuild His church. “Those who at heart acknowledge the Lord will be saved.” What church will come out of this combat and disorder? The New Church will rise up out of the ashes of falsity and evil. In the words of Habakkuk, that new church will sing: “rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”