Home > Bible Prophecy, Bible Study, Christian Authors, Genesis, Habakkuk, John Bunyan, Old Testament > Habakkuk, Genesis 3:8, and ‘A Day of the Lord’?

Habakkuk, Genesis 3:8, and ‘A Day of the Lord’?


A recent sermon series, “The Gospel According to Habakkuk,” has included a lot of good points on the law, gospel, trials and suffering, judgment, and more — all from the minor prophet Habakkuk.  Going through the first complaint-response and then Habakkuk’s second complaint, up to the beginning of chapter 2, includes many issues in Habakkuk’s struggle.  One’s basic orientation / disorientation, and reorientation toward life (after working through a very difficult time) is seen in Habakkuk’s experience, and often in the lament Psalms.

One of Habakkuk’s issues, of judgment, relates to understanding of the term apocalypse, which (as we know) means to uncover or reveal something.  Revelation is the actual English translation of the Greek term of apocalypse.  Here, though, one idea seems rather novel, something that I haven’t come across in the historic Reformed and Puritan commentaries:  the idea of many small ‘Day of the Lord’ judgment events — a wide definition that even includes Habakkuk’s experience.  In this sense, any event in one’s life that brings trials and difficulties, is a small ‘Day of the Lord’ event, one that helps each of us prepare for the coming final Day of the Lord.  The term ‘Day of the Lord’ thus refers to many different historic events, occurring throughout history and not limited to the future Second Coming.  Overall, yes, this makes sense, in that every difficulty presents itself as a growth opportunity, with a choice of faith or pride; we can humble ourselves, look to God in faith, and learn what God would have us learn (I especially think of Thomas Boston’s The Crook in the Lot), or answer with pride and self-righteous anger.  As pointed out in this series, the recent events (including the response to the covid-19 pandemic) have revealed a lot of shallow and superficial Christianity, a lot of self-righteous pride, rather than humbly considering what it is that God wants us to learn.

Then we come to Genesis 3:8, which describes Adam and Eve hiding from LORD God in the cool of the day.  The new idea mentioned here takes a different interpretation:  this was not a comment on the weather, but God coming in judgment to Adam and Eve; the term ‘cool,’ sometimes translated as wind, can also mean spirit, and so this verse is describing a terrifying judgment scene rather than a casual conversation with God.  The sense of Genesis 3:8 is quite different than what is found from reading Reformed and Puritan commentaries such as John Calvin, Matthew Henry, or John Bunyan’s (unfinished) commentary on Genesis 1-11.  The text here is compared to other Old Testament texts that describe the terrifying experience such as what Moses and the Israelites heard on Mt. Sinai, and references in the prophets — such as Jeremiah 46:10 (about Egypt), Ezekiel 30:2-4, Joel, and Zephaniah 1:14-16.  Joel 2 — again, according to this view — is fulfilled in Acts 2.  This view then makes an even greater leap, to state that all of the Old Testament ‘Day of the Lord’ prophecies were fulfilled at the Cross.  Only the New Testament passages about the future Day of the Lord are still considered relevant, referring to Christ’s Second Coming.  Further, Revelation 1:8, which describes John being in the spirit “on the Lord’s Day” is equated with the Day of the Lord.

From all of this, it seems to me that general application of scripture — about how we learn and grow from our trials, as events that reveal our hearts and provide opportunities to repent and grow in faith — has been mixed in with doctrinal teaching about the prophetic scriptures that address the Second Coming of our Lord.  Both ideas are important and should be taught, yet that does not require conflating the two ideas as done here.  I’m also reminded of other modern-day doctrinal innovations such as this previous post coming out of the ‘Redemptive-Historical’ school of thought.  Again, I don’t find such ideas in the Reformed and Puritan commentaries, and wonder why modern teachers seemingly have the desire to come up with new interpretations rather than standing by traditional, historic teaching.

In closing, I appreciate this commentary excerpt from John Bunyan on Genesis 3:8:

“And they heard the voice of the Lord God.” This voice was not to be understood according, as if it was the effect of a word; as when we speak, the sound remains with a noise for some time after; but by voice here, we are to understand the Lord Christ himself; wherefore this voice is said to walk, not to sound only: “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking.” This voice John calls the word, the word that was with the Father before he made the world, and that at this very time was heard to walk in the garden of Adam: Therefore John also saith, this voice was in the beginning; that is, in the garden with Adam, at the beginning of his conversion, as well as of the beginning of the world (John 1:1).
“And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” The gospel of it is, in the season of grace; for by the cool of the day, he here means, in the patience, gentleness, goodness and mercy of the gospel; and it is opposed to the heat, fire, and severity of the law.
  1. Gerry
    September 14, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Hi Lynda:

    Thanks for “deconflating” these two ideas, which are probably best left separate.

    As to why modern teachers seem prone to this tendency and cannot simply be content with “the old paths”, perhaps it is unmortified pride, manifest in a consuming need to find something prior teachers “missed”, and thus showing their greater prowess?

    NCT, “New Perspectives on Paul”, “Young, Restlessness and Reformed”, etc, all speak to me of lack of insight into their hearts among those that teach these things.

    I remember when I first received my 3 volume set of the Works of Bunyan by Banner of Truth several decades ago and thumbing through the index and Table of Contents and being amazed an humbled. As would read here and there and find great truths opened I thought to myself “I could study and meditate on these thoughts the rest of my life and only begin to attain a level of understanding which The Lord gave Bunyan”.

    I still feel that way, not only about Bunyan, but also a few others of the Reformers and Puritans and their successors.

    Thank you for bringing to light, once again, the difference.

    In Him
    Gerry

    • September 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Gerry. Yes, a good summary of several recent theological innovations, the ones that have received considerable attention. And as I continue to find, just from listening to current-day podcasts and sermons, even more new ideas are brought forth from these with some level of pride, who feel the urge to bring forth something new.

      Yes, the works of Bunyan, and other classic writers, are as timeless and valuable as ever. Just starting in J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Luke, the writing quality is so amazing and so refreshing to read.

      Lynda

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