The Global Message of Habakkuk: Trust the Lord, no matter what. That is Habakkuk’s message for God’s people around the world today. Believers can, and must, trust in God no matter how tumultuous outward circumstances may become… Will believers rely on God for all that they need to nourish and sustain them as they await their inheritance of the world itself (Matthew 25:34; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23)? -ESV Global Study Bible
Overview: Habakkuk is not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible except in the book of Habakkuk. His name is believed by some to be derived from the Hebrew word chabaq, meaning “to embrace.” It would be appropriate if that were so, given the unpleasant circumstances around him at the time and need to cling to his faith. However, it should be noted that it is also related to a word in the Semitic language Akkadian called habbaququ, referring to a species of garden plant or fruit tree.
Habakkuk knew that Judah was full of lawlessness and tyranny. He knew the righteous were oppressed (Habakkuk 1:4,13). He predicted the invasion of Judah by the Chaldeans (1:5-11). By the eighth century B.C., the Chaldeans had begun to rise in power in Babylon and by Habakkuk’s time had become synonymous with the term “Babylonian.” These events finally affected Judah. Pharaoh Neco killed the godly king Josiah in 609 B.C. and Judah fell into Egyptian hands for the next 4+ years. When Nebuchadnezzar II defeated Neco and drove him back to Egypt, Judah fell into Babylonian hands (604 B.C.). Through a series of events over the next several years (including attempted revolts), things became very bad for Judah. That included the destruction of the temple around 587 or 586 B.C. of course, as Habakkuk predicted in 2:6-20, Babylon had their day of reckoning when they were defeated around 539 B.C. by Cyrus of Persia. Because of all these historical events, we have a fairly accurate idea of the date to attach to this book.
So what is Habakkuk’s contribution to the Bible? It tackles an issue most of us have confronted: trying to discern God’s purposes in this crazy, mixed up world. We are reminded of the realization that God has His will for this world and the events He allows to happen. Habakkuk’s message that the righteous will live by faith paved the way for a greater understanding of that truth in the New Testament, which further defines that saving faith as found in Jesus Christ (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38,39).
An in-depth look at certain verses:
1:3. Why does the Lord show us such iniquity and injustice? So once we identify it, He can deliver us from it. If God has broken our heart, it is so He can replace it with a new one. If He kills us by the law, He makes us alive by the gospel -Spurgeon.
1:13. We are reminded that God’s eyes are too pure to approve of evil and tolerate wickedness. Habakkuk wondered why God’s holiness didn’t stop him from using the corrupt Babylonians to punish a less wicked nation such as Judah. What are your thoughts about that?
1:14. Habakkuk likens humankind to lower creatures with no rulers or judges and wonders how this wickedness can go unchecked. Was he excusing away their behavior as though it could not be helped before they had to be punished?
2:1. Habakkuk fully expected God to answer him so he waited in watchful expectation. Do you believe God will answer you? It has been suggested that we keep a journal of God’s responses to our prayers as a wonderful testimony to His faithfulness.
2:2-3. Once again, the Bible reminds us of a truth we must fully embrace to sustain our faith in times of trial: God’s timing is perfect. It is not in our time, but in His. It may seem that He is delaying –and we may feel compelled to “remind Him,” but that would be our mistake. He knows what is best and in accordance with His perfect will. There is a real peace and serenity when we come to terms with that truth. Here’s what Charles Spurgeon had to say on these two verses: In order to separate the precious from the vile, God used the winnowing fan of affliction so that the chaff might be blown away and the pure wheat remain.
2:3. A.J. Pollock says this verse refers to the hope of the Jew for Christ to come to Earth and subdue His enemies. When this verse is quoted in Hebrews 10:37, the “it” (the vision) becomes “He,” as in the Lord, who will surely come and will not tarry.
2:4. Charles Spurgeon: This is what living by faith meant — a faith that does without anything — a faith that can take nothing and be content with it because it finds everything in God — faith under the worst conceivable conditions. This is how the just are to live.
Charles Stanley: Why does God contrast pride with faith? Because pride stems from the belief that we know better than God, while faith understands we are completely dependent upon Him (Psalms 75:5-7; Hebrews 11:1,6).
The Babylonians ascribed their strength to their god, but would ultimately fail. All Judah needed to do was repent and seek God and they would survive. They persevered and the Lord even used Persia to bring them back into the Promised Land (2 Chronicles 36:22,23; Ezra 1:1-3).
3:2. God must act to judge sin. Even when He does, He is still willing and able to show mercy.
3:17-19. Here we find a key point to the book: Habakkuk saw that living for God did not automatically bring immediate prosperity by worldly standards and knew that a savage Babylonian army was about to plunder his homeland. He was certainly discouraged. Yet, despite the impending fate awaiting his nation, he knew who his God was and took joy from that. Habakkuk was fully aware of God’s unfailing faithfulness and performance in the past. All of the deliverances foreshadowed the ultimate deed of history: the coming of Christ “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4). The ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to His people is found in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Much like the author of Psalm 18, he knew the Lord to be his rock and a mighty fortress (Psalms 18:2,3).
One of the biggest lessons we should receive from this short book is that God delights in upholding the weary and reviving the faint-hearted (Isaiah 40:29-31).