My Habakkuk 2:6-7 mistake (again)

Very recently, someone on the Internet wrote about Habakkuk 2 and what it says about debt, which seemed to me a good chance to print an explanation I feel compelled to do on occasion to make up for a mistake I made once.

Once I referred to Habakkuk 2 on the telecast with the implication that it was a prophecy about the United States and Britain. After all, look at our debt, etc. Senior ministers at headquarters caught my mistake and pointed it out to me: The prophecy in Habakkuk 2 is not directly about the United States. That is not how the Church interprets prophecy. We don’t look at the news and decide what in the Bible fits it. That’s backwards. (Let others do that and get it wrong!) Rather, we look at the physical people under discussion and identify them as the subject of the prophecy — not only truer to God’s Word, but the approach that has served the Church for decades and decades.

Consequently, while Habakkuk 2:6-7 may use a principle of debt and creditors arising suddenly as a word picture for what God is saying, it is not a prophecy about the United States or Great Britain. (Though many other passages do speak of our debt problem!) BUT, the principle used in making the statement should be heeded by any nation that heaps up debt on itself, as the U.S. has done to remarkable lengths. And we use the verse in that sense regularly in our writings, but, as the senior ministers helped me to see (and I felt dumb about it afterwards, as it was so obvious), we only refer to it for the principle, NOT because it is a prophecy about the U.S., as — considering how the Bible should be interpreted — it clearly is not.

As I have had church members ask me about my earlier mistake misidentifying Habakkuk 2 as being a prophecy about the U.S., I always feel compelled to do my part to make sure my mistake is undone and not perpetuated. 🙂 (I say this because the old video of that telecast is still played on occasion during sermonette times in some congregations so it comes up from time to time.) The principle used to prophecy to the ancient Babylonians about the consequences of their violent rapaciousness (and possibly to the future Beast power, as well) is absolutely not a prophecy made directly about the United States or modern Israel. But it should be heeded by any nation that pursues the same foolish path we have.

6 thoughts on “My Habakkuk 2:6-7 mistake (again)

  1. It is a good article. Or rather post. It is explained well and what makes it even better is the lesson. When we make and error we should correct that. You did and I for one thank you.

  2. Well, that’s a fair statement. Starting from near context and then making larger applications is a good way to avoid making that kind of error. At least you have been proactive in seeking to stop its spread.

  3. Christine Featherston

    Thank you for being an example of how things should be carried out in a Christ like manner. Though the content is important Mr. Smith, it’s also important that you have decided to show us all, true christian behavior, in the course of making a mistake and being confronted with it.

  4. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Dr. Edward Goodrick called this “submitting to the tyranny of the context”. 🙂 If one must make a mistake in interpretation by context, this is the lesser of two evils.

  5. Mr. Smith I am so proud to know you. Just the very fact that you are able to admit a mistake says so much about your charcter. I do love you and Mrs. Smith, so please Keep up the good work in God’s church.
    What great respect I have gained for you.

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