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Habakkuk is an otherwise unknown prophet. The fact that God speaks
to him about the Babylonians coming, suggests he must have been
writing sometime before 605BC, the year when Nebuchadnezzar first
invaded Judah, probably in the latter years of Josiah's reign.
is troubled by the state of the nation (Ch.1) and asks the Lord
how He can put up with it. His answers shatters Habakkuk for He
says He is about to bring the Babylonians to discipline Israel.
Habakkuk struggles with how God can use the unrighteous. In chapter
2 the Lord simply shares that He is fully aware of the wrongs
of the unrighteous. Habakkuk comes to realise that whatever appears
to be going on, the Lord reigns [2.20]. In chapter 3, Habakkuk
prays and acknowledges the Lord's greatness and power and concludes
by declaring his trust in the Lord, come what may!]
Habakkuk 1: Questions and a Difficult Answer
Comments: This opening chapter has three simple divisions:
Habakkuk's questions, the Lord's answer, and then more questions
Habakkuk poses three questions to the Lord
prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
do you make me look at injustice? Why do you
tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before
me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem
in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
Habakkuk looks at the state of his nation and asks the
Lord how can He put up with it and do nothing about it.]
The Lord Answers – see what I'm doing
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 you were told.
am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole
earth to seize dwellings not their own.
are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert
wind and gather prisoners like sand.
mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
they sweep past like the wind and go on— guilty people, whose
own strength is their god.”
The Lord's answer is that He is about to do something
about it, He's going to bring the Babylonians to discipline Israel.]
The troubling thoughts Habakkuk has over this answer
are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never
die. You, LORD, have appointed them to execute judgment; you,
my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while
the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures
that have no ruler.
wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in
his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices
and is glad.
he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for
by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food.
he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?
That answer troubles Habakkuk because he is aware that
the Lord is a holy God but from what he knows of the Babylonians
they are more wicked than Israel, they are violent and plunder
other nations, and take people like fishermen take fish from the
sea, with little regard, and they seem to keep on doing it. How
can God put up with such a people, let alone use them?]
Comments: The prophet confronts a problem that troubles
many. How can God put up with evil and if He comes to deal with
it, how can He use other evil people to do it? But the fact is
that God does use evil people in the fallen world to achieve
His purposes – see Acts 2:23]
Habakkuk 2: The Lord is Aware, the Lord reigns
Comments: This chapter is simply the Lord basically
responding, yes, I know ALL about them and WILL deal with them
after I have used them.]
Habakkuk determines to wait on the Lord for an answer to this
will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will
look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give
to this complaint.
The Lord answers and tells him to write what he hears of the end
the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end
and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will
certainly come and will not delay.
An example to follow when confused: wait on the Lord
& listen. Speaking of ‘the end', in the light of what follows,
it may simply mean the end of all things, the end of Israel before
the Exile comes, or even the end of Babylon. The lack of clarity,
one might suggest, is purposeful. God's ultimate message coming
– wait and see, trust me!]
The Lord knows unrighteousness (in Babylon?) prevails
the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the
righteous person will live by his faithfulness —
wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he
is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he
gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
The enemy – presumably Babylon [but it can apply to
all God's enemies] – are known for their pride, greed and never
being satisfied with what they have. While these people always
exist on this fallen world, the righteous can live [survive and
continue] by their being full of faith, i.e. trusting in God.]
These people will be held to account and judged and mocked by
not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy
by extortion! How long must this go on?'
not your creditors suddenly arise? Will they not wake
up and make you tremble? Then you will become their prey.
you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will
plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed
lands and cities and everyone in them.
This surely applies to Babylon who God will hold to
account for their arrogance and violence and destruction. Various
follies of the wicked follow in the form of three ‘woes'.]
The first folly & judgment: building false security by unjust
to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting
his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin!
have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house
and forfeiting your life.
stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork
will echo it.
The first of these speak to unrighteous methods of obtaining
security in life, thus demeaning your reputation and bringing
The second is using violence to establish your own security
to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes
a town by injustice!
not the LORD Almighty determined that the people's labor is only
fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory
of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
The second, the attempt to establish yourself using
violent means is doomed to incur the Lord's wrath and judgment.]
The third is licentiousness and debauchery
to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it
from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on
their naked bodies!
will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn!
Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! The cup from the LORD's
right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your
violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your
destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed human
blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
The third, a depraved and decadent lifestyle, will be
overturned by the Lord's judgment coming on them]
In addition idolatry is condemned
what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that
teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone,
‘Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”
The folly of idolatry also existed in Babylon and came
under the Lord's scrutiny.]
Despite all this, the Lord reigns from His temple
LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before
This final statement is always the ultimate conclusion
in the face of the folly of the world.]
Comments: The chapter is the Lord's response to Habakkuk:
yes, I am aware of all of the wrongs of the Babylonians and even
though I am going to use them, I will hold them accountable and
deal with their godless unrighteousness. In the Old Testament
is the prophecy in Psa 110:1,2 that the Messiah will reign in
the midst of his enemies, while 1 Cor 15 reminds us that Jesus
IS still reigning [despite what the ‘world' is doing] and will
continue to do so until the end that God has decreed – see 1 Cor
15:24,25. For further reflections on this see the Appendix notes
on the book of Job.]
Habakkuk 3: A Prayer (psalm): Acceptance of the Lord's Power
Comments: This prayer reveals the understanding he has
of the Lord's history and thus now, the trust and confidence in
Him he may now have, WHATEVER is going on around him.]
Habakkuk prays for his people in the light of history with God
prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
[ possibly a musical instrument,
suggesting it was written to be sung]
I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD.
Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath
Habakkuk knows his history, knows of God and what He
has done with Israel in the past, and that has stirred a holy
fear in him as he requests that the Lord will intervene for them
in the present, in like manner.]
He recounts various events & aspect of the Lord's activity
on Israel's behalf
came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. [prior
to the attempt to enter the Promised Land] His
glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where
his power was hidden.
went before him; pestilence followed his steps.
stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed—
but he marches on forever.
saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in
you angry with the rivers, LORD? Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your
chariots to victory?
uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the
earth with rivers;
mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the
deep roared and lifted its waves on high.
and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying
arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear.
wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the
came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You
crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him
from head to foot.
his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out
to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched
who were in hiding.
trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters.
It is difficult to fit the various descriptions with
Israel's history. Perhaps it is best simply said, these are all
signs of the Lord's power and greatness that were manifest at
various times in Israel's history.]
Such things bring the fear of the Lord – but also total trust
heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay
crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently
for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though
there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet
of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
These characteristics and acts of the Lord leave Habakkuk
filled with holy awe, which means he will simply wait patiently
for the Lord to do what He will in respect of His people. But
at the same time Habakkuk recognises that these works of power
mean that whatever seems to be going on in life around him, he
will utterly trust in the Lord and praise Him and rejoice that
He does all things well [implied]. God will be everything he needs.]
Comments: This final chapter reveals how the prophet
has moved on from questions and doubts to a place of absolute
trust in the Sovereign Lord. As he has pondered on all he knows
of Israel's history and the workings of God in it, he realises
he has been treading on holy ground and bows his heart in submission
and total trust in the Lord. A remarkable ending.]