Our chronological study of the Scriptures brings us to the brief, prophetic book that chronicles the musings and prophecies of Habakkuk. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah, and his lamentations over Judah’s sins and understanding of the imminent threat of Nebuchadnezzar’s army moved the prophet to question the LORD. Only three chapters long, Habakkuk’s prophecies were an appeal to the LORD for Judah, and a longing that they would understand His ways.
Habakkuk 1 – Evil in the World
Habakkuk 1 recounts the sins of Judah (1:1-4), with the prophet pondering how long Judah would go unpunished (1:2). He grieved over the sins of the people, and wondered why God would tolerate them (1:3). There was strife and unrest in the nation. When men sought justice, they found none (1:3b, 4), for the wicked ruled the land, and the judgments of the courts were twisted and unjust (1:4).
God’s Answer to His Tolerance of the Nation’s Sins (1:5-11)
The LORD replied to Habakkuk’s questions, saying, “5Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously” (1:5a). In other words, “Habakkuk, look around, for I am about to bring a great judgment upon Judah.”
What judgment had the LORD planned for His people? He declared, “I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, Which shall march through the breadth of the land, To possess the dwelling places that are not theirs” (1:6). God had chosen Babylon to punish the nations for their wickedness, and Judah was among them. Nebuchadnezzar’s army was described as “terrible and dreadful” (1:7). The Chaldeans would come upon horses as swift and agile as leopards, and the men riding them as ferocious as wolves (1:8). Babylon would spread across the land like a violent horde, and gather up prisoners “as the sand” (1:9). Proud and arrogant; Babylon would lay siege to strongholds, and take them (1:10-11).
Why did God employ a heathen nation to punish His people? (1:12-17)
Habakkuk, endeavoring to make sense out of what made no sense, questioned the LORD: “Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; And, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction” (1:12). LORD, are you not the Eternal One? Are you not “LORD” [Yahweh, God’s covenant name with Israel]? You are “my God,” and the “Holy One” of heaven.
Habakkuk, understood God’s covenant with Israel, and had faith the nation would not altogether perish. He acknowledged the LORD had ordained Babylon to judge His people (1:12). Yet, knowing the LORD is “of purer eyes than to behold evil,” he questioned why He took a wicked nation to punish His people (1:13).
Habakkuk reasoned Judah was like nothing but “fishes of the sea” before Babylon (1:14). He continued the metaphor of the fish, and cried to the LORD knowing the mistreatments His people would suffer (1:15). He was anxious the heathen would rejoice in Judah’s sufferings, and offer the spoils of battle as sacrifices to their gods (1:16-17).
Habakkuk 2 – A Vision
Having questioned the ways of the LORD, the prophet waited for an answer (2:1). God responded, commanding Habakkuk to record a vision upon clay tablets, and preserve His answer for others (like ourselves) to ponder (2:2).
The immediate answer to the prophet’s questions may be summed up in one word: Wait (2:3). We read, “For the vision [of God’s judgment] is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: Though it [God’s judgment] tarry, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (2:3).
Proud Babylon Will Be Judged (2:4-19)
God knows the hearts of men, and the soul “lifted up [and] is not upright” is known to the LORD (2:4a). Yet, “the just [who obey and keep the Law and Commandments] shall live by his faith” (2:4b).
Closing thoughts – The Chaldeans were blind to their wickedness, but the LORD knew their sins. He denounced Babylon, and stated several grievances against that nation: drunkenness (2:5, 15-16), greed and covetousness (2:6-9), violence (2:10-14, 17-18), and idolatry (2:19). Habakkuk began with a cry of lamentation over the sins and sufferings of Judah (1:1-4), and chapter 2 ends with a reminder: God is Sovereign.
“The Lord is in his holy temple: Let all the earth keep silence before him” (2:20).
In a word: Wait! Wait on the LORD! (2:3)
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith
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