Habakkuk 3:5 MEANING

Habakkuk 3:5
(5) Before him went the pestilence. . . .--Better, Before Him shall go the plague, and burning pestilence shall go forth where He sets His feet. Kleinert remarks that it was with these angels of death that Jehovah revealed Himself in the south, and destroyed the armies of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:35).

Verse 5. - After describing the splendour of the theophany, the prophet now turns to the purpose and effects of God's appearing. He comes to avenge and judge, therefore before him went the pestilence. Before him stalks plague, to punish his enemies and the disobedient, as in Egypt, in Canaan (Exodus 23:27; 1 Samuel 5:9, 11); and among his own people (Numbers 11:33; Numbers 14:37, etc.; Leviticus 26:25). For "pestilence" the LXX. reads "word." Burning coals went forth at his feet. "Fiery belts" followed his advance, "hailstones and coals of fire" (Psalm 18:12, 13); as in Psalm 97:8, "A fire goeth before him, and burneth up his enemies on every side." But, regarding the parallelisms of the hemistiches, it is better to take resheph in the sense of "fever heat," as in Deuteronomy 32:24; scorching fever follows in his train. Jerome translates the word, diabolus, looking on the evil spirit as the agent of the Divine vengeance. The Jews, he says, had a tradition that Satan was called Reseph, from the speed of his movements. The LXX. has, "It (the word) shall go forth into the plains," which Jerome interprets, "shall make the crooked straight and the rough ways smooth."

3:3-15 God's people, when in distress, and ready to despair, seek help by considering the days of old, and the years of ancient times, and by pleading them with God in prayer. The resemblance between the Babylonish and Egyptian captivities, naturally presents itself to the mind, as well as the possibility of a like deliverance through the power of Jehovah. God appeared in his glory. All the powers of nature are shaken, and the course of nature changed, but all is for the salvation of God's own people. Even what seems least likely, shall be made to work for their salvation. Hereby is given a type and figure of the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ. It is for salvation with thine anointed. Joshua who led the armies of Israel, was a figure of Him whose name he bare, even Jesus, our Joshua. In all the salvations wrought for them, God looked upon Christ the Anointed, and brought deliverances to pass by him. All the wonders done for Israel of old, were nothing to that which was done when the Son of God suffered on the cross for the sins of his people. How glorious his resurrection and ascension! And how much more glorious will be his second coming, to put an end to all that opposes him, and all that causes suffering to his people!Before him went the pestilence,.... Either in the land of Egypt, when he marched through that, and slew all their firstborn, Psalm 78:50 or rather which he sent before him, and Israel his people among the nations of the land of Canaan, with other diseases and judgments, and destroyed them to make way for his people, which may be here alluded to, Exodus 23:27 and may point at the judgments of God, and those pestilential diseases which seized upon the persecutors of the Christians, both among the Jews, as Herod, Acts 12:23 and among the Gentiles, as many of the Roman emperors, who died violent and grievous deaths; and particularly it may regard the pestilence, famine, and other sore judgments preceding the destruction of Jerusalem, and the inhabitants of it, for their rejection and crucifixion of the Messiah:

and burning coals went forth at his feet; which some understand of hailstones mingled with fire, to which the allusion may be, being one of the plagues of Egypt, Exodus 9:23. Some interpret it of hot diseases, burning fevers, so Kimchi; which are at the command of God, and sent forth by him when he pleases, to do his will. The ancient fathers expound all this of the destruction of death, and the devil, and his principalities, by Christ upon the cross; and the Targum is,

"from before him was sent forth the angel of death, and his word went forth in a flame of fire;''

but this seems to have respect to the burning of the city and temple of Jerusalem, which was done by the Romans as instruments, but according to the direction, order, and will of Christ, Matthew 22:7 see Psalm 18:12.

Courtesy of Open Bible