The name Habakkuk means “to embrace”.
In Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Jesus Christ is described as ruling on the earth when all people will share in the peace and abundant life His righteous reign will produce (Isaiah 11: 1-9). Habakkuk doesn’t mention Assyria, but he does refers to the increasing Chaldean (also known as Babylonians) power. So we can assume that he prophesied in Judah, possibly during Jehoiakim reign and shortly before the invasion by Nebuchadnezzar (Habakkuk 1:6).
Habakkuk was instructed to foretell the invasion and destruction of the land by the Chaldeans. The northern kingdom of Israel had already gone into captivity to Assyria, and God was going to punish the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians.
In chapters 1: 1-4 we find Habakkuk’s first question. Was God indifferent to Judah’s sin, which was horrifying and wide spread? The nation was guilty of:
Violence Habakkuk 1:2
Plundering and violence Habakkuk 1:3
Strife and contention Habakkuk 1:3
Disregarding and abusing the law Habakkuk 1:4
Exploiting the righteous Habakkuk 1:4
Corrupting and misusing judgment Habakkuk 1:4
Habakkuk had trouble understanding why it appeared God was unconcerned about Judah’s sin. Even though he understood that God was not detached from the peoples ungodliness, Habakkuk needed answers.
In chapter 1: 5-11 we have God’s answers. God’s answer is that He would not leave the people of Judah unpunished but would raise up the Chaldeans a rod of chastisement and correction. The Chaldeans were a merciless and terrible people, who would reach down and invade the land.
In chapter 1: 12- 2:1 we find Habakkuk’s second question. How could a holy and righteous God punish Judah by using an even more wicked and unrighteous nation? The conqueror was worse than those appointed to be chastised.
Then in chapter 2:2-20 God’s answer is that all will be faithfully judged with righteous judgment. In the final determination only those who trust in God will live. No one will escape the penalty of evil and wickedness. God will punish arrogance, pride and wrongdoing.
The just living by faith is one of the major themes in Habakkuk. The faith that we are to live by is not man’s faith, but the living faith that God gives to those who live in harmony with Him. Habakkuk was told to write down the visions and make it plain so a runner could read it (2:2). Habakkuk was told that the fulfillment was “for an appointed time” yet in the future (2:3). Equipped with God’s response and the certainty that wickedness will be punished, Habakkuk delivered a series of five woes against those who opposed God and His laws. It seems that these woes are directed at the Chaldeans. They cannot escape the law of sowing and reaping (Galatians 6:7). God’s law of retribution for those who in their minds consider themselves beyond reproach and punishment (Habakkuk 2:5). Habakkuk has recorded five types of wickedness found in the Chaldeans:
1. Aggression, pride, abuse of power and greed – 2:5-8
2. Covetousness – 2:9-11
3. Excessive violence – 2:12-13
4. Inhumanity and heartlessness – 2:15-17
5. Idolatry – 2:18-19
Habakkuk ends the book with a psalm of praise and prayer, chapter 3. When hearing God’s coming judgment, Habakkuk expresses his concern (verse 2), and showed his concern by asking God to exercise mercy when applying His judgment. He then proceeded to make a list of the extraordinary acts of God in the past history of His people.
1. God’s awesome presence at Mount Sinai and His power to intervene for His people – 3: 3-7
2. The division of the Rd Sea and later the Jordan River, enabling the Israelites to enter the Promise Land – 3: 8-10
3. God’s powerful intervention for the Israelites in battle – 3: 11-15.
Habakkuk trembles at the thought of what is yet to happen, but nothing that happens on the earth can remove God’s promises: “ yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.” – 3: 18-18
The book of Habakkuk is quoted several times in the New Testament. In Acts 13: 40-41 the apostle Paul quoted the warning in Habakkuk 1:5 and applied it to the people of Antioch. The warning that the prophet gave under inspiration can also be relevant for us today.
The lesson of Habakkuk is, Man shall live by faith. Faith in God no matter how dark the day is – have faith.
Short Outline of Habakkuk
A. The problem of the apparent triumph of sin – Chapter 1
1. Why does sin go unpunished? – 1-4
2. God says he has used the Chaldeans to punish sin – 5-11
3. Are they confined to evil forever – 12-17
B. The impending punishment of the Chaldeans – Chapter 2
1. Waiting for the vision – 1-3
2. Vision of the five destructive woes, – 4-20
C. An age of confidence in God – Chapter 3
1. Prayer of the disquieted prophet – 1-2
2. Past history has shown God will finally destroy Israel’s enemies – 3-15
3. The prophet must joyously trust God and wait when in perplexity – 16-19
May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You