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Habakkuk opens with a question, “O LORD, how long shall I cry out for help and you will not hear?” But I wonder if many people weren’t asking another question as we started our three part series in the book last Sunday, “Why Habakkuk?” Today many churches consider the Old Testament to be outdated, irrelevant, and too confusing to be of any real worth for living today and following after the Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately this attitude is out of whack with Christ himself, who said in Luke 24 that the law, prophets, and writings (the Old Testament) testify to him. Very briefly, by looking at two New Testament passages and making two linked points, I hope to convince you of the God-given value possessed by the Old Testament, especially the writing prophets.
1. They testify to Jesus Christ
The apostle Peter writes in his first epistle, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). Habakkuk, along with the other prophets major (Isaiah) and minor (Obadiah), speak of Christ, both in anticipation and even explaining his life, death, and resurrection. When we read the Old Testament one of the questions we should be asking is: ‘How is this fulfilled in Christ?’ or ‘How does this point to him?’ Peter goes on, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel” (1 Peter 1:12), which brings us to our second point.
2. They were written for Christians
Listen to 2 Peter 1:19, “We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” Don’t miss Peter calling the Old Testament prophetic message as something we should pay attention to. At best, most Christians view the prophets as merely reliable, because what they promised about the future has reached a partial culmination in Christ; we limit the prophets to foretelling Christ and therefore strip them of any importance today, for the believer. This is a huge mistake, tantamount to conflating Nahum (another prophet) with Nostradamus. We must not lose sight of the prophets as a light shining in the present to which we must look, which is how 2 Peter describes them. Therefore, pay attention to them, today.
In conclusion, Habakkuk, along with the Old Testament prophets, as well as the entire Old Testament, is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:20-21). That explains the anticipation and promise of Christ but also impresses on us that it is for God’s people today. Let’s read Habakkuk in order to have our faith in Christ enriched and learn how to live for Christ while we wait for his return.