● Hebrew verb habaq, which means “to fold the hands or wrestle” or “to embrace.” In this case, it might mean “one who embraces” or “one who is embraced.” ● The content of the book, which includes wisdom literature and a psalm of praise, indicates that Habakkuk was a poet as well as a prophet. He is also the author of the book. ● His name has something to do with the message of the book.
Book of Habakkuk
– the 35th book in the Old Testament and the eighth book of the 12 minor prophets of the Hebrew Bible. – attributed to the prophet Habakkuk
– the prophecy dates from 605-597 B.C. or between the great Babylonian victory at Carchemish and Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of Judah which culminated in the capture of Jerusalem. – a copy of chapters 1 and 2 (of 3) is included in the Habakkuk Commentary, found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. – it only has 3 chapters.
Purpose of Writing:
Habakkuk was wondering why God was allowing His chosen people to go through the current suffering at the hands of their enemies. God answers and Habakkuk’s faith is restored.
• Chapter 1&2:
– The first two chapters consist of a dialogue between the prophet and the Lord. – First time in Israelite literature, a man(Habakkuk) questions the ways of God, as Habakkuk calls to Him to account for His government of the world.
Habakkuk’s question (1:2-4)
He is outraged at the violence and injustice in his society.
6 Problems: a.) sin b.) wickedness c.) destruction
d.) violence e.) no justice in the courts f.) wicked outnumbered the righteous
→In verse 4 he says, “the law is ignored.” God’s word was no longer the standard. → Habakkuk is preaching against it, but he is having little effect. Habakkuk raises a good question. Why does evil go unpunished? Why do the wicked prosper? Why doesn’t God do something? → He also thinks God is indifferent and inactive. “How long, O Lord, will I call for help but you do not listen!” (1:2)
God’s Answer (1:5-11)
God is doing something. He is raising up a foreign nation, the Babylonians, to come and destroy Judah. ● they are really wicked, bitter and unruly people.
(Verses 6-11 describe just how evil they are.) The reason for this description is to show that they are so powerful, no one can stop them. They will certainly destroy Judah.
Habakkuk’s Response (1:12-2:1)
He believes God and trusts God, but he still doesn’t fully understand the answer. – Habakkuk knows God hates evil and is amazed that God would use a nation even more wicked than Judah to punish Judah. – The fact that God does not change. This is important because it means God keeps His promises and He has made promises to Israel. He knows that God will not totally destroy Israel because of his covenantal promises. Habakkuk has received one answer, and he had more questions. 2:1 says he is going to expectantly wait for another answer from God. He is searching for understanding.
God’s Answer (2:2-20)
Basically God’s answer is this: Don’t worry about the Babylonians, they will get theirs too. ● He tells Habakkuk to write this down. What is about to happen is so certain and should go ahead and record it. ● Babylon is compared to a drunkard whose appetite for more wine is never satisfied. It was during one of their drinking parties that King Cyrus and the Persians were able to sneak into the city and defeat the Babylonians. ● The Babylonians were never contented with the size of their empire. They tried to conquer more and more. Only a relationship with God can satisfy.
● Chapter 3:
–In chapter one Habakkuk was low. He was despairing because of the evil around him. In chapter two he goes up to the watchtower to wait for the second answer. – In chapter three, we see him praising God and the last phrase of the book is “and makes me walk on my high places.” The book is Habakkuk’s steady progression upwards (spiritually) towards God.
Habakkuk’s prayer of praise (3:1-19)
Habakkuk now understands and offers a prayer of praise because God is in control. ● He pleads for mercy in the midst of the judgment (1-2). → He is afraid of what is coming. He knows it will be awful. Undoubtedly he will suffer too. Maybe personally, but at least through witnessing the death and destruction of those around him. ● He praises God’s majesty and power (3-15). ● He promised to wait on the Lord (16-19). → What is coming is frightening, but he commits himself to wait and trust in God.
Habakkuk 1:2 “How long, Oh Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save.” Habakkuk 1:5 “Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if I told you.” Habakkuk 1:12 “Oh, Lord are you not from everlasting? My God, My Holy One, we will not die.”
Habakkuk 2:2-4 “Then the Lord replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation waits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay. See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous will live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His Holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” Habakkuk 3:2 “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:19 “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”
Too often, people think that men of faith never question God. They just sit and wait faithfully and patiently. Although it’s right that there should be no querying, no questioning, no uncertainty about the goodness and the holiness and power of God, people have feelings and questions. One thing we can learn from Habakkuk is that those who trust in God can and do question God because it’s either you suppress them or express them. There is a balance between selfpity, hopeless resignation and staying mad at God, but the correct response should be to just TRUST God amidst all that doubts and questions.
PRINCIPLES: (wide context)
● God sometimes seems to be inactive, but He is involved. – showed that the Babylonians were under God’s control, and He was using them to achieve His purposes. ● God is holy. – Habakkuk said that God could not approve evil. This should be a sobering thought to us as we struggle with temptations, sins, bad habits (which is a euphemism for sins), etc. ● God hears and answers prayers.
PRINCIPLES: (wide context)
● God sometimes gives unexpected answers to our prayers. – When we pray, we usually have in our minds the way we want God to answer. When He answers differently, we think He hasn’t answered at all. ● God is Just and God is Good. – He will judge the wicked and he is concerned for the righteous.
● The righteous live by faith and faithfulness. – This means we really believe that God is Good and God is just, and we live accordingly.
RELEVANCE of the BOOK
Habakkuk’s name meant “embrace” or “wrestle.” We’ve learned how he wrestled against the tough questions he had, and is his final response was to embrace God and trust in Him. The message of Habakkuk is very comforting to us because we live in a wicked society. Sometimes it is not evident to us what is going on, especially if we are thrown into suffering for a period of time or if it seems our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by. The Book of Habakkuk affirms that God is a sovereign, omnipotent God who has all things under control. We just need to be still and know He is at work.
He is who He says He is and does keep His promises. He will punish the wicked. Even when we cannot see it, He is still on the throne of the universe. We can look back at what Habakkuk wrote and see that it all came true. God really is in control. God did protect the righteous even though they went to Babylon (eg. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego) and He eventually brought them back to the land. That is why my faith in God can be supported by the events that show God’s word is true. It is a good assurance because it helps me see that God is true to His words and God is going to preserve His people. Sometimes, the way we need to take to get us to where we are supposed to be is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him, we come out where He wants us. It brings comfort for now and hope for the future.