Peace & Blessings Beloved,
TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.
Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Habakkuk. But before we get to Habakkuk 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Habakkuk. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.
And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Habakkuk, as we prepare to behold and discern Habakkuk, beginning with Habakkuk 1 in our next installment of this series.
Book Type: The eighth book of the Minor Prophets; the thirty-fifth book of the Old Testament
Date of Writing: ~ Between 612 and 589 B.C.
Audience: The people of Judah
Setting: Babylon was becoming the dominant world power and Judah would soon feel the full impact of Babylon's destruction.
Original Language: Hebrew
Genre: Dialogue; Poetry; Prophecy
Struggle/Doubt- Habakkuk asked God why the wicked in Judah were not being punished for their sin. He couldn't understand why a just God would allow this type of evil to exist. The LORD promised to use the Babylonians to punish Judah. When Habakkuk cried out for answers in this time of struggle, God answered him with words of hope.
God wants us to come to Him with every one of our struggles and doubts. But we must understand and accept that His answers will not always be what we want or expect. God sustains us by revealing Himself to us. Trusting completely in Him leads us into hope and joy, not bitterness or anger.
God's sovereignty- Habakkuk asked God why He would use the wicked Babylonians to punish his people. God replied that He would also punish the Babylonians after they fulfilled His purpose.
The LORD is always in control of the entire world, even in spite of whatever power evil may appear to have. Our God is just, and does not overlook sin. He will ultimately rule the entire world with His perfect justice.
Hope- God is the creator; He is omnipotent. The LORD has a plan and will ultimately always carry out His plan. God will punish sin. The LORD is our strength and our safety. We ought to have confidence that He will love us and protect our relationship with Him for eternity.
In order to fully experience this hope we need to extend beyond any unpleasant experiences we may have to endure, and experience the joy of the LORD. We walk by faith, and not by sight. We trust wholly in Him, and not the fleeting nature of what the world calls happiness. Our hope needs to remain in God.
Blueprint: When Habakkuk was troubled he brought his concerns directly to God. After receiving God's answers, he responded with a prayer of faith. Habakkuk's example is one that should encourage us struggle in our personal struggle from doubt to faith. We don't have to be afraid to ask questions of God. The problem is not with God and His ways, but with our limited understanding of Him.
Background: Habakkuk was a man who desired answers. Troubled by what he observed, he asked difficult questions. These questions weren't merely philosophical waxing or personal gripes. Habakkuk witnessed a dying world, and his heart was broken. Why is there evil in the world? Why do the wicked seem to be winning? He boldly and confidently took his complaints directly to God. And the LORD answered.
The prophets questions and the LORD's answers are recorded in this book. Most of the first chapter is devoted to his questions. Chapter two marks his declaration to await God's answers. At this point God begins to speak to Habakkuk, telling him to write His answer plainly so all can bear witness and understand. Though it may seem that wickedness has triumphed, righteousness will prevail in the end.
Habakkuk ends the book with a triumphal prayer, underscored by his newfound understanding and all of his questions being answered. Habakkuk rejoices in the person of the LORD and all that He will accomplish.
Purpose of Writing: The prophet Habakkuk decries the sins of Judah but grapples with the fact that God’s chosen people will suffer at the hands of enemies even more wicked than they. God answers Habakkuk’s questions, resulting in continuing faith in God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and salvation.
The Book of Habakkuk begins with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why God’s chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity (Habakkuk 1:1-4). The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you” (Habakkuk 1: 5-11). Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening” (Habakkuk 1:17-2:1). God then answers him again and gives him more information, then tells the earth to be silent before Him (Habakkuk 2:2-20). Then Habakkuk writes a prayer expressing his strong faith in God, even through these trials (Habakkuk 3:1-19).
Habakkuk includes three chapters with two general themes. The first two chapters express Habakkuk's concerns along with responses from the Lord. His first words to the Lord ask why God was not answering his prayers for help (Habakkuk 1:2–4). God will answer that He is at work in a way Habakkuk would not expect (Habakkuk 1:5–11).
Habakkuk then offers his second complaint (Habakkuk 1:12—2:1): why would God use the wicked to punish God's people? His ways do not seem just from a human perspective. God answers that He has future plans for the righteous who live by faith (Habakkuk 2:2–20). God's enemies would not reign for long, but would receive their just punishment as well (Habakkuk 2:6–17). These opponents trusted in idols, which would not be able to save them in the end (Habakkuk 2:18-20).
Chapter 3 shifts from Habakkuk's dialogues with the Lord to his prayer before the Lord. He begins with a desire for God's mercy upon him and his people (Habakkuk 3:1–2). Habakkuk also praises God for His almighty strength, which far exceeds other nations or their gods (Habakkuk 3:3–16). Habakkuk ends by rejoicing that the Lord will be his salvation (Habakkuk 3:17–19). The final sentence, To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments, suggests this prayer was set to music and sung among the Jewish people.
The Apostle Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 on two different occasions (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11) to reiterate the doctrine of justification by faith. The faith that is the gift of God and available through Christ is at once a faith that saves (Ephesians 2:8-9) and a faith that sustains throughout life. We attain eternal life by faith and we live the Christian life by the same faith. We who are made righteous by faith in Christ are made completely righteous because He has exchanged His perfect righteousness for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and has enabled us to live by faith.
The application to the reader of Habakkuk is that it is permissible to question what God is doing, although with respect and reverence. 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 need to stay focused on this: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). Enabling us to go on the heights is taking us to the higher places with Him where we are set apart from the world. Sometimes the way we have to go to get us there is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him, we come out where He wants us.
Key Verses (ESV):
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.”
*Note: The book of Habakkuk offers us a picture of a prideful people being humbled, while the righteous live by faith in God (2:4). It reminds us that while God may seem silent and uninvolved in our world, He always has a plan to deal with evil and always works out justice ... eventually. The example of the prophet Habakkuk encourages believers to wait on the Lord, expecting that He will indeed work out all things for our good (Romans 8:28).
I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.
May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.
Love you much.
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!
P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.