Habakkuk lived in Judah just before its demise at the hands of the Babylonians. He was a philosopher- prophet who struggled with the great questions of life. But his struggle was not academic--he cared about his people. He wrestled with God in prayer. He first com- plained to God for allowing sin to go rampant and unchecked in Israel (Judah). God answered and told him the shocking news that God would use the ruth- less and evil Babylonians as his rod of punishment. This raised an even bigger question. As bad as Israel was, they were better than the Babylonians. How could God allow the evil Babylonians to conquer people more righteous than themselves? Through his struggle in prayer, he met God. He found God's answers and accepted God's sovereignty. He concludes his book with a confession of his faith in God.
He probably lived to see the beginning of the fulfillment of his prophecy, for the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem in 597 BC. In the time of great distress, he and his people needed to meet God afresh and confess their faith in him.
1:1-4--1st complaint 2:2-20-God's answer
1:5-11--God's answer 3:1-19--Habakkuk's
1:12-2:1--2nd complaint confession of faith
LORD, WHY ARE YOU SILENT?
Key Verse: 1:2
1. Why do you tolerate wrong? (1-4)
When Habakkuk saw the violence and injustice that was rampant in Judah, he cried out to God. It seemed that the law was paralyzed and justice never prevailed. How could a holy and righteous God tolerate such lawlessness and such perversion of justice?
2. God's answer (5-11)
God's answer is shocking. Indeed, he would not tolerate the violence and corruption that had engulfed Judah. He would punish his people so that they might repent and be saved. The shocking thing was that he would use as his instrument of judgment the Babylon- ians, a people far more evil than the Jews. They were ruthless and impetuous. They were feared and dreaded by all people. They were a law to themselves, and they promoted their own honor. They were guilty men whose own strength was their god. God was going to use these people to destroy Jerusalem.
Prayer: Lord, we also live in violent and corrupt times. Raise up godly men who care and who struggle with you. Turn our nation back to you.
One Word: God punishes in order to save
TOO PURE TO LOOK ON EVIL
Key Verse: 1:13a
1. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil (1:12-17)
Habakkuk complained to God once more. God's plan to punish his people wasn't fair. God's people were corrupt, but they were far better than the Babylonians! How could the Holy, Eternal God, the unchanging Rock, ordain such evil men to punish his people. How could God tolerate wrong?
2. Wicked fishermen (1:18-2:1)
The Babylonians were like wicked fishermen, and people were like fish in the sea with no ruler or shepherd. So the Babylonians caught nations and people in their nets like fish. They lived in luxury and worshiped their nets. Habakkuk cared about justice and righteousness; he also cared about his people. He knew that God cared about these things too, so he would stand watch and wait to see how God would answer his complaint.
Prayer: Lord, still we live in a world in which the wicked seem to triumph and evil men swallow up those more righteous than themselves. Lord, teach us to wait patiently on you.
One Word: Wait on God
THE RIGHTEOUS WILL LIVE BY FAITH
Key Verse: 2:4b
1. An urgent message (2-5)
The Lord's answer must be written down plainly, so that anyone who reads it may run to deliver it. His message is one of hope and salvation for God's people, and a message of judgment on any arrogant people whose desires are not upright. God's people must wait on God and live by faith, even though corruption and violence are rampant. One who lives by faith is counted as righteous (Ro 1:17).
2. Five woes from a Holy God (6-20)
The five woes point out the evils that the righteous God would not long tolerate in any nation. He will not tolerate empire builders who become wealthy by extortion and plunder (6), by ruining others (9-10), or by crime (11). Woe to those who corrupt conquered people with alcohol and pornography (15). Woe to idol worshipers (18-19). The Lord's triumph is sure. Verse 14 looks forward to the Messianic kingdom. Verses 19 and 20 contrast lifeless idols with the Lord who is in his holy temple, ruling the earth.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live by faith in the Holy God who rules all the earth.
One Word: Live by faith
Key Verse: 3:19
1. Do it again in our day, O Lord (1-16)
In the time of national calamity, the prophet re members the mighty deeds of the Lord, and prays that the Lord might do it again. He prays that God, in wrath, might remember mercy. The prophet has a vision of God coming in power and glory, like the rising sun. He shakes the earth and the mountains crumble. The nations tremble. Once he divided the sea and delivered his people whom he anointed to be a kingdom of priests. The prophet envisioned God coming in wrath. His heart pounded. Conviction came that the day of calamity for the invader was just a matter of time.
2. Like the feet of a deer (17-19)
Even though the olive crop fails and there are no sheep in the pen, we can rejoice in God our Savior. When God touches our lives, he coordinates our thoughts and feelings and actions like the front and hind feet of the deer. When we have singleness of mind and heart, we can walk with God on the heights and rejoice in him.
Prayer: Lord, teach me to rejoice in you and walk with you on the high places.