3:4 And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.

 “his brightness was as the light”

 1 The figure of the sun is taken from Deut 33:2. See notes verse 3.

2 On the spiritual plain Jesus Christ is the “light of the world”, the “true light”, and the “light of life” (Jn 1:9; 8:12).

Without the revelation of God through him, we should still be in darkness and without hope. The reference here has application to the physical power he will wield at his return. In such a manifestation he is often likened to the sun (Rev 1:16; Ezek 1:27–28). Brightness is often associated with his presence (Ezek 43:2; Rev 18:1).

  “He had horns coming out of his hand”The Hebrew word for “horn” is “qeren” and is better rendered in this place “a ray of light” and hence, figuratively of “power”.

In conjunction with Christ will be the angels (2 Thess 1:7–8; Joel 3:11) and the saints (Psa 149:6–9; Rev 17:14; 19:6). When Israel is converted, she too will be used to subdue those nations which are not humbled at Armageddon (Jer 51:20; Zech 9:13, etc). In these “pencils” or “rays of light” the “Sun of righteousness” will invest his power. They shall emanate from him and execute his will.

“And there was the hiding of his power”—The saints will be removed, like Lot, from the destruction of the world. They will enter God’s chambers, shut the doors, and hide themselves for a little while, until the indignation be overpast, for Yahweh cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity (Isa 26:19–21). Yahweh too has long been hidden, but in that day He will openly reveal His power through His Son and the glorified saints (Isa 45:15,19). Although the power is revealed there will not be the full manifestation of the Glory of the Elohim of Israel until it enters the completed Temple by way of the East Gate.

3:5 Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet —RSV “And plague followed close behind”; Roth “Before him marcheth pestilence and fever goeth forth at his feet”; RV “Fiery bolts went forth at his feet”.

This verse is a dramatic description of the militant Christ destroying his foes. It is reminiscent of the “days of old” when Israel rebelled against Moses and were so afflicted (see Ezek 38:22).

  • Num 11:1 “the fire of Yah burnt among them”; Num 11:33 “Yah smote the people with a very great plague”
  • Num16:35 “And there came out a fire from Yahweh, and consumed…”
  • Num 16:46 “The plague is begun
  • Num 25:3,8,9 “And the anger of Yahweh was kindled… the plague was stayed… those that died… were twenty and four thousand

Consistent with this scripture is the description of the great day of God Almighty in Ezekiel 38:22 where we read that Yahweh “will plead against him (Gogue) with pestilence and with blood”. The feet of Christ and the saints are often set forth in symbol as the means of judgment (cp Mal 4:3; Mic 4:13; Ezek 1:7; Rev 2:18; Zech 14:4).

3:6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.

 “He stood and measured the earth”—In these phrases is depicted the multitudinous Christ-body standing back and surveying the enemy and planning their strategy. The idea of measuring is often used of affliction and judgment. God’s judgments are well measured and according to truth (cp Lam 2:8; 2Kgs 21:13; Amos 7:7–8; Isa 34:11; 28:17).

“He beheld, and drove asunder the nations”— RSV “He looked and shook the nations”.

1  Christ and the saints will wreak destruction by earthquake and mighty power on the nations (Joel 3:16; Zech 12,14; Ezek 38).

2  This verse interprets the symbolism of the following phrase.

The everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow”—Mountains and hills are frequently put for empires and kingdoms of men (Zech 4:7; 6:1; Isa 41:5,15; Jer 51:25; Rev 16:20).

In Revelation 16:20 this passage is cited in general terms to describe the events of the Seventh Vial—the consummation of the wrath of God on the nations. By referring back to the context in Habakkuk 3 we find more details of the Seventh Vial. Also the interpretation of this chapter (as one dealing with Divine intervention at the time of the end prior to the establishment of the Kingdom) is sealed.

“His ways are everlasting”—RSV “his ways were as of old”; RV “his goings were as of old”. That is, the open display of Divine power and might will be after the style used by God in past days, for example, as when Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown (Gen19) or when the Red Sea opened (Ex 14:21), and as when Joshua conquered Canaan (Josh 10:11–12), etc. In Ezekiel 38, where the same type of judgment is pronounced against Gogue, the forms of warfare mentioned have all been used by God in past times (cp v19–22). In Zechariah 14:3 the same event is described as follows: “Then shall Yahweh go forth and fight against those nations, AS WHEN HE FOUGHT IN THE DAY OF BATTLE”.

 3:7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction, and the curtains in the land of Midian did tremble —As a consequence of the emergence of Christ and the saints from Sinai, and their progress to Paran, Seir and Teman, the neighbouring nations (Bedouin Arabs) tremble and fear. They dwell to this day in “tents” which have “curtains” (cp Song 1:5 tents and curtains). These wandering peoples will be struck with awe as the glorified host of the redeemed emerge from the precincts of Sinai. There is no mention of the Arabs being converted here. The progress of the Christ-body is north to Jerusalem. “Midian” is in the region of Sinai. Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh to Sinai, and married Zipporah, the daughter of Jethro, “the priest of Midian” (Exod 2:15–16). The mention of Midian “trembling”, recalls Gideon’s notable victory over them by an elect band of Israelites. God governed the events and a great conquest was wrought. It is significant that Israel’s coming deliverance at Armageddon is often described in terms which recollect this battle of the past, when “every man’s sword was against his fellow” (Jud 7:22; Ezek 38:21; Hag 2:22; Zech 14:13). In Habakkuk 3:7 the aspect of mutual slaughter no doubt results from shock and confusion, and is listed as one of the ways in which destruction of Gogue is accomplished (cp also Isa 9:4; 10:26; Ps 83:9–11).

Cushan”—Three territories in Scripture bear this name:

1   Genesis 2:13 (margin) describes it as a region encompassed by the river Gihon. Hence it is near Eden, north of the Persian Gulf and often called the Fertile Crescent. A descendant of Cush—Nimrod, the builder of Babel—reigned in the Babylonian plain (Gen10:8–10). Hence it corresponds approximately to Elam and modern Iraq—and is not therefore the Cush indicated by the prophet (refer Westminster Bible Dictionary).

2   Ethiopia—the term generally applies in Scripture to Ethiopia, which is south of Egypt. Rotherham translates the word thus in Habakkuk 3. Ethiopia (Cush) is often set forth in Scripture to indicate a far away place (Ezek 29:10; Zeph 2:12; 3:10; Est 1:1;8:9) the furthermost border of the Persian Empire. It is notable that Ethiopia-Cush is specifically mentioned as comprising a part of the Gogian host (Ezek 38:5), while in Daniel 11:43, it is said to be at the “steps” of the King of the North. It is therefore not the area indicated by Habakkuk.

3   Cush near Midian—This would seem to be indicated by the parallelism in the verse and the fact that the Christ-body emerges from the vicinity of Sinai (v3 Roth margin). Also Zipporah, the wife of Moses, against whom Aaron and Miriam spoke, is described as a Cushite (Num 12:1 margin). She certainly was also a Midianite (Ex 2:15,16,21) and so it would seem that these names describe the same locality or nearby areas.