“The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.” (Habakkuk 1:1)
“Habakkuk wrote in a time of international crisis and national corruption. Babylonia had just emerged as a world power. When the Babylonians rebelled against Assyria, Judah found a brief period of relief reflected in the reforms initiated by Josiah. The Assyrians were forced to devote their energies to stop the Babylonian rebellion. The Babylonians finally crushed the Assyrian empire and quickly proceeded to defeat the once-powerful Egyptians. A new world empire was stretching across the world. Soon the Babylonians would overtake Judah and carry its inhabitants away into captivity. On the eve of pending destruction, a period of uncertainty and fear, Habakkuk wrote his message.” Ron Blue
What exactly is a superscription? It may refer to an inscription on a surface or above something. Two biblical examples include the superscription which was placed above Christ while He was on the cross indicating His crime (Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38) and an inscription on coins (Matthew 22:15-22).
A superscription may also be an introductory statement or heading at the beginning of a psalm that identifies the writer, gives background information, provides musical instructions, or indicates the use or purpose of the psalm. See the superscriptions of Psalms 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 30, 38, 60, 92, 102.
The Book of Habakkuk begins with a superscription in 1:1. The verse identifies the writer and gives the reader some general background information as to the purpose of the book. “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.” (Habakkuk 1:1)
An oracle, from the Hebrew word Mas’sa was a pronouncement, an utterance or a prophetic announcement with the focus being on the content of the prophecy and not the persuasiveness of the prophet. Mas’sa may also mean a burden or load.
Oracles were divine announcements from the LORD. They could either be positive of negative. A positive oracle was prefaced by the word “blessed.” Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;” Jesus preached a series of positive oracle statements in His Sermon on the Mount each beginning with the word “blessed” (Matthew 5:1-12).
However, a negative oracle was prefaced by the word “woe.” It meant a painful lament. We see this pronouncement in Isaiah 6:5, Matthew 23:14-36 and Revelation 8:13. In Habakkuk 2.6-20, we will witness a series of five woes the prophet will announce upon the Babylonians.
The oracle to be announced would be one which the Prophet Habakkuk saw or received from God. It was the message sovereignly God gave him. It was a supernatural revelation from God alone.
The burden Habakkuk would bear would be God’s judgment upon the Jews. God would punish their sins by using the ungodly nation of Babylon to bring Judea into captivity. This would result in a crisis of faith for Habakkuk.
Have you ever had a crisis of faith in your own life? Take heed! The Book of Habakkuk has much to offer as to God’s sovereign purpose in our lives.
May God’s truth and grace reside here.
Soli deo Gloria!