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Bible

Understanding

Made Easy

Habakkuk

Introduction

  • Habakkuk was a prophet to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. 

  • His prophecy is a collection of his own personal dialogue with God. 

  • It is sad, because he felt like his prayers were not being answered for God to stop the moral and spiritual decay of the Jews in his society (Habakkuk 1:1-2).

  • Many Christians who live in corrupt societies, as we do today, can relate to the frustration and sadness that Habakkuk must have felt as he observed the wicked ways of the world around him. 

  • All that one has to do today is to turn on the local and national television news programs and we will find many liars, thieves, murderers, adulterers, atheists, racists, child abusers, domestic violence committed against women, corrupt judges that take brides denying justice to the right person, fellow citizens’ hatred and disregard of the Word of God, and many, many other heinous crimes that one can imagine! 

  • Can we blame Habakkuk for his sadness and/or anger experienced during his lifetime? 

  • Not hardly, because honest Christians feel this way often in this world! 

  • Thus, if any one can sympathize with Habakkuk, it is the modern-day Christian.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

  • Listen to the heart wrenching words of Habakkuk, according to the New American Standard Version (1995), “2 How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, ``Violence!’’ Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. 4 Therefore, the law is ignored And justice is never, upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore, justice comes out perverted” (Habakkuk 1:2-4). 

  • Habakkuk complained of the “violence” in his society. 

  • Our every day English language does not do justice to this word from the Hebrew language perspective. 

  • The Hebrew word for “violence” is “chamas” (Strong’s number 2555) and it means the wickedness of mankind in or ruthlessness in general (Brown, Driver, & Briggs, 2001). 

  • Thus, Habakkuk is not just speaking of violence only as we define the word today, such as beating someone with one’s fist, but a total state of wrongdoing in all aspects of life, such as lying, cheating, stealing, robbing, swindling, lack of justice in the court system, and all manner of evil that one can think of. 

  • Habakkuk will soon find out that God was not ignoring his prayers of deliverance from these evils for the Jewish people. 

  • Instead, we learn from the later revelation of Scripture in 2 Peter 3 that actually, God delays judgment on mankind to give them an opportunity to repent and be saved from His coming judgment. 

  • Thus, God was doing the same thing in Habakkuk’s times, but Habakkuk did not know it.

God’s Response To Habakkuk’s Complaint

  • God responds to Habakkuk with an answer that he did not expect. 

  • God said that He was surely going to judge the Southern Kingdom of Judah at the hands of the Chaldeans, which is another name for the Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:5-11). 

  • The Chaldeans would conquer the Southern Kingdom of Judah and take them into captivity. 

  • Habakkuk did not understand why God would use the Chaldeans to judge Judah, because they were worse morally than the Jews of Judah according to Habakkuk’s opinion (Habakkuk 1:13).

The Fatal Flaw Of The Babylonians Is Arrogance

  • God exposes a flaw in the character of the Chaldeans as well, which includes that they will be an arrogant people that will give credit for their victories to their false god (Habakkuk 1:11). 

  • Habakkuk also exposes their arrogance, because they also give credit to their own military strength for their victories over other nations (Habakkuk 1:16).

Habakkuk Had The Wrong Concept Of Righteousness

  • Habakkuk actually had the wrong idea when it came to righteousness.

  • Sin is a separation from God no matter what group of people commits the sin(s) (Isaiah 59:2; 1 Peter 3:12). 

  • Some sinners are worse than others, which is true according to the Scriptures (Ezekiel 16:51-52), but only God can make that determination (Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown, 2004).

  • In the grand scheme of things, no relative righteousness will matter any way at the judgment.

  • If one studies Bible history, he/she will find out that the Southern Kingdom of Judah eventually was considered more unrighteous than the Northern Kingdom of Israel, but in the end, judgment came to both kingdoms.

  • God used the Assyrians to destroy the Northern Kingdom and the Babylonians to destroy the Southern Kingdom. 

  • We, as Christians, cannot compare our righteousness to the righteousness of others to self-justify ourselves. 

  • This is the problem that Jesus had in convincing many of the Jews of His day and their leaders that they needed a Savior. 

  • This is because they could not find anything wrong with themselves despite the fact that all mankind has sinned and need the mercy of God to make it to heaven (Romans 3:23; 6:23). 

  • This is why the Bible says that all Christians are saved by grace, which means the undeserved and/or unmerited favor of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

  • This is why Jesus told the Jews of His day the parable of the Pharisee and publican (i.e. tax collector) that went to the Temple to pray. 

  • The self-righteous Pharisee thought that he was more righteous than the publican, but in the end, the only one that God saw as righteous in His own eyes was the publican that admitted he was a sinner and needed the mercy of God (Luke 18:10-14). 

  • Even Christians need to keep this humble attitude about ourselves, because we still sin all the time and when we do not repent of our own sins, then we cannot expect to be saved (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:7-9).

  • Godly sorrow brings us to repentance, as Christians, when we do wrong. 

  • The problem is that if we deny that anything is wrong in our lives, then we are not moved to repent and jeopardize our opportunity to be saved in the end (Acts 8:22; 2 Corinthians 7:10).

The Punishment Through the Babylonians Would Come Within The Lifetimes Of Those Who Heard Habakkuk!

  • The sad part about Habakkuk is that God reveals to this great prophet that the Babylonians would be coming within the lifetimes of those that heard him deliver this message from God. 

  • This was a fast-approaching judgment indeed (Habakkuk 1:5)!

Habakkuk Is Determined To Know How God Could Uses An Unrighteous Nation To Punish The Jewish People?

  • Habakkuk is determined to get an answer to how God could use the unrighteous Babylonians to punish the more righteous Jews of Judah.

  • Remember, Habakkuk’s opinion was that the Jews were more righteous, but in God’s opinion, this is not always the case. 

  • Like a watchman, he says that he will tirelessly wait for an answer (Habakkuk 2:1).

Although God Will Use The Babylonians To Punish The Jewish People, He Will Also Punish The Babylonians For Their Sins

  • God answers Habakkuk and tells him that He will also punish the Babylonians for their own wickedness as well (Habakkuk 2:2-12). 

  • God punishing both the Jews and Babylonians again proves, just like the rest of the Bible, that all individuals will answer on the judgment day to God for their own deeds.

  • Similarly, people today will stand at the judgment seat of Jesus Christ to answer for the deeds done in their own bodies at the judgment day (Romans 14:10; Revelation 20:12-15).

How We Received The Bible

  • God tells Habakkuk to write down the vision that He was about to give him (Habakkuk 2:2). 

  • This is further confirmation of how we received our current Bible. 

  • God had the Old Testament prophets record what He said and it has been preserved to this very day by God.

Babylon Will Reap What It Sows!

  • The Babylonian’s wickedness included a lust for power over other nations, murder, looting, and conquest of other nations (Habakkuk 2:5, 8-10, 12). 

  • Babylon’s own enemies that they mistreated would rise up one day and destroy Babylon (Habakkuk 2:8).

Habakkuk Recalls All Of God’s Acts Of Deliverance For the Jewish People And Accepts God’s Punishment Of Them

  • Moving on and shortly closing out this study on this marvelous book, Habakkuk recalls God’s many acts of deliverance for the Jewish people in the past (Habakkuk 3:1-15). 

  • Habakkuk accepted God’s plans of both punishing the Jews of Judah and the Babylonians in Habakkuk 3. 

  • Habakkuk obviously found out that the righteous must live by “faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). 

  • That word “faith” is actually translated from the Hebrew word “emunah” (Strong’s number 530). 

  • It should be translated as “faithfulness” for a greater understanding nowadays, because it means to believe, trust, and obey God’s Word (Brown, Driver, & Briggs, 2004). 

  • Those who do not live by faith will suffer God’s wrath no matter who he is or what nation he comes from. 

  • This is the main point of the book of Habakkuk.

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