Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Habakkuk|
Introduction to Habakkuk
Who is Habakkuk?
Habakkuk does not give us any clues about himself. Unlike some of the other minor prophets he doesn't tell us anything more than his name and that he is a prophet (1:1). He is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible and his name only occurs twice in this book (1:1, 3:1) where both times he designates himself a prophet.
When did he write?
Commentators usually place him 20 years either side of 600BC. He speaks a) about the poor state of the land, and b) of the Babylonians who are yet to come.
What is this book?
Most versions describe it (1:1) as an oracle or ‘burden'. An oracle is simply a word of revelation, a wise utterance. It essentially comprises two sets of questions and answers and a prayer as follows:
From a book that starts out with complaint, it is incredible in that it concludes with one of the greatest statements of trust found anywhere in the Bible.
The Core of the Book
The core or heart of this book really answers what is basically Habakkuk's heart cry: “God where are you?” He looked upon the state of the nation and his heart cried out, “Why doesn't the Lord do something about this?” In that respect, this book is an answer to the myriads of people down through the ages who have cried the same thing.
Being a fairly short and straight forward book we will simply work straight through it without any of the usual ‘Recaps'. In some cases we will take a wide sweep of verses and in others just one or two, simply to catch the overall sense while at the same time picking up the immense value of some of the things said in this amazing little book.
NOTE: In this set of studies we have included verse answers to make life easier for you, but we would still encourage you to read the whole chapter before you work through the study.
Chapter: Habakkuk 1
Passage: Habakkuk 1:1-4
A. Find Out:
1. What was Habakkuk's first question? v.2a
2. What was his second? v.2b
3. What was his third? v.3a
4. What was his fourth? v.3b
5. What did he say was common in society? v.3c,d
Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
6. With what result? v.4
1. What did Habakkuk see was the state of the land?
2. What do you think he expected God to do?
3. Why was he feeling disillusioned?
Habakkuk is a prophet, a man of God, a righteous man, a man who cares about right and wrong, and as he looks out on his world he sees so much that is wrong with it and grieves. More than this he wonders why the Lord tolerates it and why He's not doing something about it. Israel after all, are supposed to be the covenant people of God and to see his society pervaded by violence, injustice, strife and conflict, grieves his heart.
At this point many of us would keep quiet, grumble to ourselves or quietly blame God, but not Habakkuk. Habakkuk is a prophet and prophets are all about communication with God, and if God doesn't seem to be communicating with him, he needs to communicate with God. Chapter 3 may be designated ‘A Prayer' (3:1) but verses 2-4 are really just a prayer, Habakkuk crying out to the Lord.
There is an important lesson here. Many Christians hold onto feelings that they feel guilty about, questions they have, doubts that have arisen, and keep them to themselves, almost as if the Lord won't see them. He sees everything, so we really do need to be honest with Him and with ourselves, just like Habakkuk was. He's a good example!
Chapter: Habakkuk 1
Passage: Habakkuk 1:5-11
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Lord tell Habakkuk to do and why? v.5
2. Who is He going to bring? v.6a
3. What do they do? v.6c,8d, 11a
4. How are they viewed? v.7a
5. Who and what are not obstacles to them? v.10
1. What is God's answer to the violence in the land?
2. Why does He say it is difficult for Habakkuk to believe?
3. Why do you think He goes into all the descriptive detail?
Habakkuk has just cried out and asked why does the Lord tolerate the violence and injustice in the land, and so now the Lord gives His answer. Put in its simplest form it would be, “I'm going to remove it by the use of an alien army!” Now there are various things to be noted here.
First note that the Lord warns Habakkuk that he may have difficulty in believing what he's hearing. There are times when what the Lord says actually seems difficult. For instance if you thought you were hearing the Lord say He was going to reduce the size of your church you might think it was the enemy speaking. But if you saw that in the context of the Lord pruning His plant (Jn 15:2) you might understand. (It happened to the writer). Sometimes we have to hold on and ask the Lord for clarification. Here the Lord gives it.
The Lord is not content to make the bald statement of v.6a, He goes on to describe this people that will come as a devastating, unstoppable, cleansing force. Sometimes the Lord repeats the word, sometimes He expands the word, just so that we will have our attention caught and we'll take in what He is saying. This is an enormous thing that He is saying and so He doesn't want Habakkuk, or us, to treat it lightly and so He makes us read of the awfulness of this army that is coming so we fully appreciate the seriousness of what He is saying.
1. Learn to listen to the Lord.
2. Sometimes you will have to receive His word by faith alone.
Chapter: Habakkuk 1
Passage: Habakkuk 1:12-17
A. Find Out:
1. How is the Lord described & what does Habakkuk declare? v.12a,b
2. What does he acknowledge he's heard? v.12c,d
3. Yet what problem does he have? v.13
4. What are people like & what does the enemy do with them? v.14,15
5. How does the enemy view his success? v.16
6. So what question is Habakkuk left with? v.17
1. What point is Habakkuk making in verse 12?
2. What point is he making in verse 13?
3. What point is he making in the remainder of the verses?
In verse 12 Habakkuk affirms his trust in the Lord. He knows the Lord is his God who he has known about through the experiences of Israel with the Lord. He trusts that though the Lord says He will bring punishment, it will not be total destruction. Israel will continue to live. When we view the history of the exile, we know this was true.
But then he faces another problem. God is holy so how can he tolerate using a foreign people who are ungodly and unrighteous, who have no time for the Lord and just do whatever they want to do in a destructive manner. It's as if Habakkuk then goes on with the following meaning: “Lord, it's as if you've made people as helpless as fish in the sea and this invader comes along like a fisherman and catches them, either by hook and line or by nets. He just does this to his heart's content and then when he views himself successful, he simply worships the gods of fishing. How can you use someone like that?”
There is a big lesson coming up that Habakkuk is about to learn: the Lord can use whoever He pleases as He works out His plans and purposes, but that doesn't mean to say that He agrees with them, or approves them or, more importantly, will let His unrighteous instruments get away with their unrighteousness. Yes, Habakkuk aptly describes them, but that is not the end of the story!
1. Don't be surprised at who the Lord uses in His purposes.
2. Don't confuse usefulness with righteousness.
Chapter: Habakkuk 2
Passage: Habakkuk 2:1
A. Find Out:
1. What did Habakkuk say he would do? v.1a
2. Where did he say he would do it? v.1b
3. What was he looking for? v.1c
4. So he could do what? v.1d
1. What do you think ‘standing' speaks of?
2. What do you think ‘looking' speaks of?
3. What does all this say of Habakkuk's expectation?
The concept of a ‘watchman' is familiar in Scripture. He was a man with good eyesight who was put high up on the walls of the city to see into the distance who might be coming (e.g. 2 Sam 13:34, 18:24-27). Ezekiel was also called by God to be a watchman (Ezek 3:17, 33:7), the picture of one who would ‘watch' to see what God would say. We find a similar picture in Hosea 9:8.
Thus Habakkuk now says he will be a watchman. To stand means that he will remain there until his watch ends and the word comes. To station himself on the ramparts means he will go aside to a place where he can look and listen without interruption to wait for God's answer coming. When he says “I will look to see” he means I will focus on the Lord, I will give Him all my attention, so that my ears will be attentive to what He might say. The alternative end to this verse seems more likely (see note at bottom of your Bible page) meaning, ‘I will be ready to have a teachable heart when God brings His answer and corrects my faulty understanding of this situation.'
That is a good attitude that we find here in Habakkuk: a recognition that it's not God at fault – He's bound to have a right answer – it's my understanding that is inadequate and therefore I need straightening out. That's how Habakkuk concludes his questions, with a good attitude: looking, listening, humble and teachable. This is a good example for us to take note of when we have questions.
1. God will never be at fault. He is perfect in every way.
2. Having questions? An indication that your thinking needs changing.
Chapter: Habakkuk 2
Passage: Habakkuk 2:2,3
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Lord tell Habakkuk to do? v.2a
2. Why? v.2b
3. Of when does the revelation speak? v.3a
4. Of what does it speak? v.3b
5. Of what may Habakkuk be sure about it? v.3c
6. What may appear to be happening, but what is sure? v.3d
1. What is the point of Habakkuk writing down God's word?
2. What may Habakkuk be tempted to feel about the fulfilment?
3. So what is the Lord saying to him first?
Habakkuk had questions, and then he has waited, and now he is being rewarded with an answer. However, as so often with prophecy, there is a real danger that because it is not going to be instantly fulfilled, it might be forgotten. So, the Lord takes steps to prevent that happening.
First he tells Habakkuk to write down what He is going to say to him. The reason is not very clear in the text. Either so that it can be given to a messenger to ensure it is taken to the people, or so that people can see it and run and flee from the destruction, or run to go and put their lives right. Whichever it is, it might be summarised, write it down so that it can be preserved and action taken in response to it.
Second, the Lord reassures Habakkuk over the nature of it. There is a set time when it will be fulfilled - and that is not yet! You may end up wondering if you heard aright, but be assured you did, and it will definitely be fulfilled, it will definitely happen – eventually, at the right, appointed time.
Very often when personal prophecies in particular are given, people expect instant answers and when they don't get the answer straight away, they tend to forget the word that came. Don't do that. Write it down. Make note of it. Hold onto it. Consider what your part is to be in its fulfilment. It will come, but perhaps not when you expect!
1. When God speaks He will do what He says.
2. Learn to be patient and faithful while waiting for the Lord.
A. Find Out:
1. How does the Lord now describe someone? v.4a,b
2. What does wine do to him? v.5a
3. What is he like? v.5b
4. Why? What is he constantly doing? v.5c,d
5. Yet what will happen apparently? v.6a
6. Yet who will live? v.4c
1. Who do you think the Lord is speaking about in this passage?
2. What is He saying about him?
3. Why do you think He's saying this to Habakkuk?
In this passage we need to consider WHO the Lord is speaking about, WHAT He is saying about him, and WHY He is saying it.
First of all, note WHO the Lord is speaking about. He doesn't specifically say who it is but as, in His previous word to Habakkuk, He spoke about bringing Babylon and Habakkuk's complaint was about Babylon, we may safely assume this is either Babylon as a nation or the king of Babylon.
Second, WHAT He is saying about him? He says Babylon is proud, that he has wrong desires, and when he gets drunk his true nature is revealed, he is arrogant and he's constantly going to war to take captive more and more nations.
Third, WHY is the Lord saying this? Because He wants Habakkuk to know that He is perfectly aware of the sort of king He's dealing with – and He won't let him get away with it!
But there's something else to be noted – “the just will live by his faith”, one of the most quoted phrases from the Old Testament – see Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11, Heb 10:38. The implication is that the proud will be brought to judgement and will die, but the just or the righteous person who operates by faith, responding to God, this person will live. A key truth tucked away in the judgment on the pride of Babylon!
1. Beware pride, for it will receive the judgement of God.
2. We live by faith, by responding obediently to all the Lord says.
2. What has he done? v.6c
3. Who will rise up against him? v.7a
4. What will that make this person? v.7c
5. What had he done? v.8a,c,d
6. So what will happen to him? v.8b
1. What is the accusation made?
2. How would this have applied to Babylon?
3. What retribution will come?
The Lord speaks against Babylon, the one He is going to use to discipline Israel. He's quite aware of what Babylon is like and although He will use Babylon for His purposes, Babylon will feel the retribution of the Lord.
First comes the accusation against Babylon, the things that this king, this people, this nation have done wrong. It starts out sounding at a personal or individual level and then develops to a national level. This one has become rich and powerful by stealing from others, by extorting the wealth of others. They have plundered many other nations, they have shed blood in their conquests and entire lands have been ravaged by them. There is nothing romantic about one nation getting rich by another nation; it means loss of life.
Will this go on for ever (because the Babylonians think it will – implied)? No! There will come a time when those surrounding nations will rise up against them and they will become the victim, they will become the ones plundered. No, it won't be a case of simply running down as a nation; they will receive what they have given. This will be the specific judgement of God upon them. They will be attacked, looted, plundered. What they did to others will be done to them. The punishment will fit the crime! This is justice.
1. The Lord does hold the unrighteous accountable.
A. Find Out:
1. Who does the Lord now speak against? v.9a
2. What is that person seeking to do? v.9b,c
3. What had they done? v.10a
4. Yet what had this brought on himself? v.10b
5. What will cry this out? v.11
1. What had this person done?
2. Why had they done it?
3. Yet what was the result?
The second woe is really just another aspect of the first one, another aspect of Babylon's wrongs. In the first woe the Lord had identified their primary wrong as plundering other nations. In this one He deals with motivation and consequence.
First the motivation of Babylon. It must be true of any nation which plunders another without apparent cause, that the cause is in fact their own insecurity. A nation, or leader of a nation, who feels they have to build up their nation by taking from others, is not only unrighteous but they also feel weak, vulnerable and needing to be greater. The Lord pictures Babylon here as a predatory bird that seeks to set its nest higher than any other to avoid downfall. The thinking is that if I can make me bigger and stronger than any other, that will make me secure.
But then comes the consequence. In the first woe the Lord said the nations that had been plundered will come and plunder them. Now He speaks about them bringing shame on themselves. How is that? A nation that attacks another doesn't gain glory, only criticism! Indeed it will go further than bad feelings against them; it will eventually mean their downfall. The fact is that the splendour of Babylon 's construction is a testimony against it. The buildings have been built from the plunder from other nations. Their presence cries out as a testimony of their deeds. Glory? No! Instead shame and destruction. That is the reality!
1. Our deeds produce a response in others that reveal us as we are.
2. Wrong deeds always bring shame.
A. Find Out:
1. What twofold condemnation comes next? v.12
2. What has the Lord determined? v.13
3. Why? v.14
1. How does the focus of this woe differ from the 2nd one?
2. Yet what similarities are there?
3. Why is all that Babylon does a waste of time?
The first woe was a general condemnation about wrong doing, the second was about wrongly building a nation and the third is now about wrongly building a city. i.e. it is becoming more specific or more detailed as it goes along. The language suggests that if this was today, Babylon would appear before an international court because of their ‘stolen' goods (v.6), their ‘unjust' gain (v.9) and now their ‘crime' (v.12). These woes are clear condemnations of Babylon 's wrong doings. Oh yes Habakkuk, the Lord is quite aware of who He is using!
But, the Lord continues, you don't have to worry about all of their wrong activities, they are a complete waste of time, they will not last. The more they build, the more there is to fuel the fire! Nations that try to build themselves in this manner are simply exhausting themselves for nothing because, says the Lord, they are answerable to me and, even more, at the end of all things, it won ‘t be their glory that will be seen around the earth, it will be mine!
What is the lesson here that should be coming over to Habakkuk and to us? It doesn't matter how big and strong and powerful and bad nations may appear, they are all answerable to the Lord and will all receive His censure if they continue in unrighteousness. The Lord is working to a plan and that involves using such nations for discipline, and the end of that plan is His glory being revealed to all men. It will happen, the Scripture is in no doubt about that (Phil 2:9-11). Hold on to the big picture.
1. Don't be overawed by big nations. Be in awe of the Lord.
A. Find Out:
1. What accusation comes with the 4th woe? v.15
2. With what will they be filled? v.16a
3. From what are they going to drink, with what result? v.16b-d
4. What will they realise with what responses? v.17a,b
5. Why, for what were they being held to account? v.17c,d
1. What do you think the ‘drink' was they gave their neighbours?
2. What is going to be the ‘drink' that the Lord gives them?
Taking this woe at its face value we would have to say that the accusation is of getting neighbours drunk, but the flow into verse 17 suggests that this is prophetic language that means more than this. Elsewhere in Scripture ‘the cup' is shown to mean the judgement of God that comes violently (see Isa 51:17 onwards and Lam 4:21) and thus it may be more realistic to suggest that the drunkenness that Babylon has brought on her neighbours has been the ‘drunkenness' of fear. The effects of fear are similar to the effects of drunkenness. Thus Babylon is being judged for the violence and fear that they have brought to the surrounding nations. Soon it will be their turn. Whereas they stripped the surrounding lands and left the nations bare, the same thing will happen to them and they will be exposed and shown for what they are.
The meaning of verse 17 is open for consideration. It could mean that God will come with convicting power so that they will be faced with the awfulness of what they have done, bringing violence and destruction to other lands. Alternatively it could mean that the violence they have done will rebound on them causing them such affliction that their resources will be depleted in such a measure as to cause them extreme anxiety, the animals being their own cattle they have to destroy to provide food in the face of famine. Whatever the meaning, it is judgement on their violence that will, one way or another, come back on them with overwhelming fear.
1. The Lord's judgement may be delayed but it will come.
A. Find Out:
1. What now does the Lord deride and why? v.18a,c
2. Who does He then deride? v.19a,b
3. What does He imply it can't do? v.19c
4. Where is the Lord? v.20a
5. So what does He counsel? v.20b
1. What is the heart of the folly in verse 18?
2. What is the futility shown in verse 19?
3. What is the point of verse 20?
This is really the 5th woe although the woe itself isn't mentioned until half way through. The ‘strength' of many pagan nations came through their superstitious belief in ‘gods' or idols. This was as much true of Babylon as of any other pagan nation. This would also be well known and so the Lord addresses this before He finishes His answer to Habakkuk. Really what He is saying to Habakkuk is, don't be fearful and look at their false religions; see what it is based upon. Stop and think about it in basic simplicity. An idol is something made by the hands of a man. It is lifeless and cannot speak and doesn't have any special properties, so why should they trust in the things they have made? They may make them look good by covering the wood with silver or gold but does that bring it to life? Can that give them guidance? No! The whole idol worshipping thing is futile.
Now comes the punch line! The “I AM” is in the temple here in Jerusalem. The One who has revealed Himself as the One, True, Living God, the Almighty One, the Lord of all things, the Eternal One, this living God is here in the temple in Jerusalem. Don't worry about these Babylonians who are coming. Yes, I am going to use them and I am quite aware of what they are like, but remember that I am the “I AM” revealed to Moses and I don't change. I am still the Lord. Be at peace, I am still in the midst of all this!
1. Don't lose perspective. God is still the Lord of all things.
2. Don't focus on things. Focus on the Lord.
A. Find Out:
1. What are we now looking at? v.1
2. What does Habakkuk say he has heard? v.2a
3. What is his response to what he's heard? v.2b
4. What does he ask? v.2c
5. What further does he request? v.2d
1. Why is his response good to what he's heard?
2. Why is his request good?
There is a sense whereby this prayer (for that is what we are told it is) is detached from what has gone before, although it may be a follow-on. It makes no reference to what has gone before but is in fact a possibly free-standing declaration of faith.
He starts out, “I have heard”. Faith always starts out from what has been heard (Rom 10:17). From the moment God told Abraham to ensure all future males of his family be circumcised, relationship with the Lord relied upon it be conveyed from one generation to the next. The people of God were told to pass on what had happened (Ex 10:2, 13:8-10, Deut 6:20,21, Josh 4:21-23). Habakkuk knows what God has done.
But more than this Habakkuk responds well to what he has heard. He is in awe of the Lord. If we simply hear the Gospel and say, “Oh that's nice” we show that we have not really ‘heard' it, we have not taken in the truth. Habakkuk has done.
But Habakkuk's response goes further, as any real response will do! When he says, “Renew them in our day” he is saying, “Lord do these things I've heard of, NOW in our time. We so desperately need you to do these things NOW. That is the cry of a righteous, godly heart. Yet he tempers what he asks for, because he realises they deserve judgement. Lord, please have mercy in the midst of your judgement. He knows the Lord is a God of mercy (Ex 33:19). Mercy is dealing lightly with those in your power. If they are to survive at all, they need that, he knows.
1. How do I respond to what I hear from the Lord?
2. Is my cry for the Lord to come today?
A. Find Out:
1. Where had the Lord been seen? v.3a
2. What had been seen? v.3b,4a
3. What happened near Him? v.5
4. What happened to the earth? v.6,8-11
5. What result did it have? v.7
1. What was the purpose in God coming, seen here?
2. What effect did His presence have as He came on the earth?
3. What effect did it have on people?
Commentators vary on their interpretation of what, historically, this passage refers to. Some speak of God's presence at Sinai, some simply at His activity bringing Israel into the land. What do we actually see in this passage?
We see the prophet speaking of God coming from the south – v.3 (Paran was the desert area to the south of Israel). His glorious presence was seen – v.3,4. There were times when plague seemed to accompany Him – v.5 (judgement on peoples). Physically the earth was shaken by His presence (v.6) and the peoples of the south – v.7 – were fearful. Certainly these things do have their place in the history of the Lord's dealings with Israel. The Lord did bring His people up from the south, from Sinai. When He came down on Sinai the mountain trembled (Ex 19:18 ). As He led His people the word went out to the surrounding peoples that God was with His people (see Deut 2:25) and fear spread through them. Yes, He did use plague to bring judgement on His own rebellious people (e.g. Num 11:33), and indeed on marauding people (e.g. 1 Sam 5). Remember this is written as poetry or as a song and therefore Habakkuk is not seeking historical chronological order. He's simply picking out aspects of their history with the Lord. When he says, “I have heard of your fame”, he picks up on these elements of history that say, “This God is awesome. He is the Lord. Fear Him!”
1. Do we understand the history of God with His people? Read!
A. Find Out:
1. What does Habakkuk portray the Lord as doing? v.12
2. With what purpose? v.13a,b
3. What did the Lord do to whom? v.13c,d
4. How did the Lord bring this one down? v.14a
5. What effect did this all have on Habakkuk? v.16a-c
6. Yet what was he going to do? v.16d
1. Summarise the picture Habakkuk portrays of the Lord here?
2. How does this put the enemy invader in perspective?
3. How does it leave Habakkuk?
Scripture is frustrating sometimes. It leaves you asking questions. Habakkuk, is this the vision you've seen when you were asking the Lord questions about the coming invader? Is it what happened when the Lord delivered Israel from Egypt ? Is this something you've seen in your spirit but which is yet to come? We're left sometimes with simply gleaning an overall sense. That will do!
The picture in verse 12 is of the Lord striding through the world, to come to the rescue of His people. He comes to deliver His chosen people, the people who will bring forth the anointed one. He deals with the leader of a land described as wicked. Both Egypt before the Exodus and Babylon before the Exile could fit that description. The leader of this land is brought down by the Lord who turned his ‘weapon' (spear) upon him. Was this a reference to Pharaoh's downfall as his last charge against Israel brings his drowning, or does it refer to a palace coup against a Babylonian leader? Whatever it is, Habakkuk has this real sense of the Lord coming to bring judgement on a wicked land and a wicked leader who had been against Israel . He catches the awfulness of what happened (or will happen) and trembles. He knows the Lord will guard Israel so he will wait patiently for the invader to be dealt with! This is the place of rest that he has come to.
1. Understand God's greatness and His power to deal with the enemy.
A. Find Out:
1. What 6 things that could be absent does Habakkuk mention? v.17
2. Even if they are what will he do? v.18
3. How does he view the Lord? v.19a
4. What does the Lord enable him to do? v.19b
1. How would you put verse 17 in your own words?
2. What is Habakkuk saying in all this?
3. What does this tell us about him in the light of the whole book?
To get the full import of what must be some of the most amazing words of trust in the Bible, we have to remember where Habakkuk has come from. His starting point was complaint about the awful state of the nation and why God wasn't doing anything. When the Lord told him that He was bringing an invader from Babylon to purge the land, Habakkuk's astonishment was over how a holy God could use an unholy and godless people to do this to His people.
Habakkuk has now come to an amazing place where he can say, I don't care how bad things look, I'll still trust in God. OK, he says, God may bring judgement on the land by removing fruitfulness so that we have no food, but nevertheless I will accept God's will, I will accept God's judgement on the land and I will praise and worship Him for who He is and what He does. He is the Lord. He is just, He is perfect. He never makes mistakes, He never acts unfairly. This is my God and I can rejoice in the wonder of who He is and what He does. I may feel naturally weak in the face of the awful things coming upon my people, but I will get my strength from my God. More than that, it's like He makes me have the capability of ascending the heights, to the places of encounter with God, to the places of clear vision and understanding. My God will not leave me in the dark. I know this because as I've call on Him and waited on Him, so He has spoken and so He has shown me the things on His heart, and I am satisfied. He is the Lord!
1. Can I trust God despite the circumstances?
2. Can I say these things that Habakkuk was implying?
SUMMARY - CONCLUSIONS
That summary says it all. It explains:
God's Way of Judgement
It tells us that God sometimes uses people to discipline people – sinful people to discipline sinful people! Without doubt the Lord stirs up, or allows Satan to stir up, unrighteous people to bring about His will. (see Job 1:9-15, Acts 2:23, 4:27,28). His will in this case is to chastise, correct and judge in order to bring about a state of change from sin, wickedness, godlessness and unrighteousness to godliness, holiness and righteousness. The Lord knows that the former group of things only bring harm and hurt to people and, because He is love (1 Jn 4:8) He has to act to bring the change. Because of Sin, it is only what we may view as harsh measures that can bring a halt and transformation. God's judgement is always to bring a halt to sin and usher in goodness. Because of the sinfulness of mankind, it is easy for the Lord to use the sinful tendencies of rulers and nations to come down upon others. But, when it is the Lord, it is always just and it is always for a good outcome.
How we can come to a place of trust.
Living in this fallen world, when we are sensitive to good and evil, we will wonder sometimes, just like Habakkuk, why the Lord allows it. Especially we may look at the low state of the church sometimes and wonder why the Lord doesn't come and change it for better. At the end of it all we must come to that place of trust that perhaps can only come when we follow Habakkuk's example: we cry out to the Lord, we wait upon Him, and we hear for ourselves what He has to say. At the end of the process we will be changed. It may happen quickly or it may happen over a long period, but at the end we need to be able to come into the same place of trust and say the same as Habakkuk in 3:17,19. May it be so to His glory!