Running and Reading One interpretation given to this text is that Habakkuk was to write God’s word in letters so large that they would be plain enough to read even while running. Anyone can appreciate that the jouncing which occurs during running makes it virtually impossible for the runner to hold a book steady enough to focus his eyes on the words. For words to be read while running, their letters would have to be very large, like those on a billboard. However, this would make the book too heavy and unwieldy to carry while running. Another interpretation conceives of the runner as a messenger who must hurry to inform others of important news. When a person acts upon a story, he is said to “run with it.” Yet, he can hardly be expected to “run with” what he does not understand.
Regardless of the interpretation, readers may come away from this text with the same four conclusions. First, that God’s word is written down in a book means that it is essentially changeless . God’s revelation does not rely solely for its perpetuation and distribution on oral transmission. This is significant. Since oral transmission depends on the memories and honesty of fallible speakers and listeners, its contents can change. The truthfulness and consistency of what is not recorded cannot be verified. Yet, once words are written down and published, so that people can consult them and become familiar with them, any effort to change them is exposed. People might disagree about what the Bible means, but not about what it says . If a thousand literate people read the same verse of the Bible out loud, they will all speak precisely the same words. What the Bible said 2,000 years ago is what it says now and it always will say.
Second, Habakkuk’s text suggests that God’s word is permanent ; it cannot be lost. When Peter said that “the word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:25), he was referring to the Bible. It is practically impossible to find and destroy all the copies of a book. This fact was amazingly illustrated by the discovery, beginning in the 1940’s, of the Dead Scrolls. Though they were 1,000 years older than the oldest existing Old Testament texts, they contained parts of every Old Testament book, except one. Third, this passage calls attention to the fact that God’s word is accessible . The sound and memory of spoken words quickly fade, but once spoken words have been recorded and published, they are available to anyone who can read, and, virtually anyone can learn to read. Fourth, this verse is indicative of the fact that God’s word is clear . Of course, it is only generally true that the Bible is simple and plain. Since the Bible challenges people on every intellectual level, from children to scholars, this means that everyone will find some parts of the Bible difficult, and some easy, to understand. The Bible acknowledges that it can be difficult to understand some parts of it. Peter said that Paul wrote what was “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). On the whole, however, the theme, contents, and storyline of the Bible are plain to the understanding of the average person. Even those who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible can understand what the Bible says. Therefore, when people do not obey what the Bible says, it is not because they cannot understand what it says; rather, it is because they do not really believe what it says. In His parable of the sower, Jesus said that those who are saved are those “who have heard the word in an honest and good heart” (Lk. 8:15). Thus, the first prerequisite for salvation is not a sharp wit, but an honest heart .
T h e n the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2 - NKJV).
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Running and Reading One interpretation given to this text is that Habakkuk was to write God’s word in letters so large that they would be plain enough to read even while running. Anyone can appreciate that the jouncing which occurs during running makes it virtually impossible for the runner to hold a book steady enough to focus his eyes on the words. For words to be read while running, their letters would have to be very large, like those on a billboard. However, this would make the book too heavy and unwieldy to carry while running. Another interpretation conceives of the runner as a messenger who must hurry to inform others of important news. When a person acts upon a story, he is said to “run with it.” Yet, he can hardly be expected to “run with” what he does not understand.
Regardless of the interpretation, readers may come away from this text with the same four conclusions. First, that God’s word is written down in a book means that it is essentially changeless . God’s revelation does not rely solely for its perpetuation and distribution on oral transmission. This is significant. Since oral transmission depends on the memories and honesty of fallible speakers and listeners, its contents can change. The truthfulness and consistency of what is not recorded cannot be verified. Yet, once words are written down and published, so that people can consult them and become familiar with them, any effort to change them is exposed. People might disagree about what the Bible means, but not about what it says . If a thousand literate people read the same verse of the Bible out loud, they will all speak precisely the same words. What the Bible said 2,000 years ago is what it says now and it always will say.
T h e n the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it” (Habakkuk 2:2 - NKJV).
Second, Habakkuk’s text suggests that God’s word is permanent ; it cannot be lost. When Peter said that “the word of the Lord abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:25), he was referring to the Bible. It is practically impossible to find and destroy all the copies of a book. This fact was amazingly illustrated by the discovery, beginning in the 1940’s, of the Dead Scrolls. Though they were 1,000 years older than the oldest existing Old Testament texts, they contained parts of every Old Testament book, except one. Third, this passage calls attention to the fact that God’s word is accessible . The sound and memory of spoken words quickly fade, but once spoken words have been recorded and published, they are available to anyone who can read, and, virtually anyone can learn to read. Fourth, this verse is indicative of the fact that God’s word is clear . Of course, it is only generally true that the Bible is simple and plain. Since the Bible challenges people on every intellectual level, from children to scholars, this means that everyone will find some parts of the Bible difficult, and some easy, to understand. The Bible acknowledges that it can be difficult to understand some parts of it. Peter said that Paul wrote what was “hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16). On the whole, however, the theme, contents, and storyline of the Bible are plain to the understanding of the average person. Even those who do not believe in the inspiration of the Bible can understand what the Bible says. Therefore, when people do not obey what the Bible says, it is not because they cannot understand what it says; rather, it is because they do not really believe what it says. In His parable of the sower, Jesus said that those who are saved are those “who have heard the word in an honest and good heart” (Lk. 8:15). Thus, the first prerequisite for salvation is not a sharp wit, but an honest heart .