Read this if…
- you have a hard time reading/understanding the minor prophets
- you need guidance on how to respond in difficult circumstances
- you wrestle with how God can allow bad things to happen
If God asked you to live faithfully in the midst of upheaval, even if the cost was high, how would you respond? What if he made extraordinary and difficult demands? The prophet Habakkuk struggled with these very questions as he tried to follow God step-by-step during a time of unrest.
“Living by faith” sounds great on the surface, but when we face hardship and opposition, it’s easy to seek security and stability instead of God’s will. In Faith Amid the Ruins, Heath Thomas walks us through the book of Habakkuk, revealing the heart of this story about living by faith in light of God’s own faithfulness toward us.
Review by @jvalenti
Few people point to the Minor Prophets as their favorite favorite potion of Scripture. The language of prophecy can be intimating itself. Add to that the incessant doom and gloom, and readers can easily be turned off by the little books that make up the latter part of the Old Testament. It is often much easier to simply turn to a gospel or a psalm. But the Minor Prophets are, as David says, “more desirable than gold, even much fine gold.” It is, however, necessary for readers to pick up some necessary tools for the mining project that can be prophetic literature.
Heath Thomas provides these tools. He has done an excellent job of equipping readers to dig into Habakkuk.
This little book has several strengths worth mentioning. First, while Thomas is clearly no slouch when it comes to the Old Testament, his work is accessible to readers of all ages and Christians of all levels. The accessibility of the work, however, does not detract from its scholarship. Neither is Thomas long-winded (a personal pet peeve of mine). This is a special combination – brief, scholarly, accessible – this is to be applauded.
If the reader so chooses, this book can be utilized as an overview resource of Habakkuk that one might finish in an hour or so. I, however, found it much more useful as a Bible study companion (I believe it is meant to be the latter). Thomas provides recommended reading and insightful study questions at the end of each short chapter. One of my personal favorite questions was this.
Reflect upon some pictures of God that captivate you. Are they true to the scriptural presentation of God?
Often books like this merely walk the reader through the book verse by verse – like a lay-level bible study or commentary. I appreciate that this was not Thomas’ approach. Instead, he has tackled some of the major themes in Habakkuk. He has also provided important tools for interpreting prophetic literature. Readers will not only learn much from Habakkuk, but will also gain skills necessary for interpreting other prophetic works. In my opinion, Thomas has taught the reader to “fish” for truth in the prophets instead of feeding them a quick meal of explanatory notes on Habakkuk.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book is chapter 8 – Habakkuk and Jesus. I once heard Trevin Wax comment on the necessity of getting to Jesus in our OT teaching. He notes that if we do not point to the Messiah from the Old Testament, are teachings are no different than those found in synagogues today. But getting to Jesus from Habakkuk? Is that possible? Thomas’ answer is an emphatic, YES!. He says, “Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Habakkuk’s longing for justice. Later he continues, “The book of Habakkuk reminds us that our hope is in the Father, the God who saves and delivers, but it is also in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who has come and is coming again, and in the holy Spirit, who binds us together in unity and mission, guiding us to truth and comforting us in our affliction.
“Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of Habakkuk’s longing for justice.
I continue to be very impressed with Lexham’s Transformative Word series of books. This text from Thomas is a welcomed addition to the series and I commend it highly to you as you begin (or continue) your journey into the Minor Prophets.