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Habakkuk

June 3, 2009

Background

I. A Conversation with God Habakkuk 1:-2:20

  1. God, Help! Hab. 1:1-4
  2. Habakkuk, Look! Hab. 1:5-11
  3. God, Why? Hab. 1:12-2:1
  4. Habakkuk, Remember I Am Sovereign Hab. 2:2-20

II. Lord, Hear My Prayer Habakkuk 3:1-19

  1. Lord, You are Great Hab. 3:1-9
  2. Lord, You are Our Savior Hab. 3:10-13
  3. Lord, You are My Strength Hab. 3:14-19

Background

All we know about Habakkuk is implied from his writing. It is believed he
prophesied prior to 612 BC and probably not after 598 BC. It is believed he
knew of the Babylonian rise to power based on Habakkuk 1:12-13 which began in
626BC and resulted in the defeat of Assyria and Egypt in 612-605 BC. His writing
is before 598 BC, the first invasion of Judah by Babylon because in Habakkuk
3:16 he commits to wait for the day of calamity. If so, Habakkuk was a contemporary
of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel. Depending on his age, perhaps he was taken
to Babylon with Daniel during the first exile in 598-597 BC.

Most prophets God chose were sought out and/or appointed by Him. Here we see
Habakkuk seeking answers from God. This book records Habakkuk’s conversation
with God and ends with a psalm [Hab. 3]. Habakkuk 1-2 was part of the Dead Sea
Scroll discovery. His public ministry, if there was any, took place through
his writing. Neither his validity as a prophet of God or the book’s canonicity
has ever come under question. Perhaps this is because of his bold statement
in Habakkuk 2:4 “the righteous will live by faith” and his testimony
of rejoicing in the Lord God His Savior in Habakkuk 3:18.

A Conversation with God Habakkuk 1:1-2:20

God, Help!                                                              Hab. 1:1-4

The introductory verse is short and to the point. Habakkuk asked the questions
but the answers came directly from God. Habakkuk is called a prophet. Perhaps
Habakkuk as God’s prophet did more forth-telling than foretelling. If his ministry
was that of encouraging people to act righteously, his question of God as to
why there is no justice makes very good sense.

Habakkuk has been asking for God’s help and reminding God of the violence
and injustice taking place. He has grown somewhat impatient with God wondering
if He has heard or even knows what is happening. There is a war going on between
the righteous and unrighteous and the unrighteous are winning. The unrighteous
are in power and have the upper hand. Habakkuk asks God to intervene on behalf
of the righteous so that those who are faithful may be saved from harm, injustice,
persecution, and even death. Habakkuk needs God’s help now and is even wondering
if God cares. Habakkuk is questioning whether God is credible, believable. God
says He hates sin and will not tolerate it but He seems to be tolerating it
now. Even Habakkuk’s credibility is at stake if God doesn’t act.

Habakkuk’s reaction and emotion is normal. We often are in similar situations.
God’s patience is far greater than ours. God’s love and compassion for sinners
is far greater than ours. We are to be ever faithful and trust God but sometimes
we find that difficult. Perhaps God uses these situations to stretch and strengthen
our faith. Persevere, God will.

Habakkuk, Look!                                                       Hab. 1:5-11

God does answer telling Habakkuk to look what is happening beyond the borders
of Judah instead of within the borders of Judah. God is in control over all
nations, not just Judah. God is orchestrating the unbelievable. The Babylonians,
who are ruthless and highly motivated, are coming into power and will conquer
peoples far beyond their borders. Their armies are large, quick, capable, violent,
and, therefore, feared. They are being sent to conquer all who rely on their
own strength and ability, Judah included.

God, Why?                                                            Hab. 1:12-2:1

God’s response brings forth Habakkuk’s second question “Why them”?
God is holy and the Babylonians are anything but holy. Even You, God, have admitted
that. How is it possible for You, God, to raise up the unrighteous to destroy
the unrighteous. In other words, why can’t You raise up the righteous within
Judah to take the power away from the unrighteous of Judah and get us back on
the right track?

Habakkuk is aware of the Babylonian rise to power and is disturbed by their
violent behavior and their worship of idols. They are a people without mercy.
What God has planned is far worse than Habakkuk anticipated or wanted.

After registering his complaint with God, Habakkuk doesn’t demand an immediate
answer. He asked God why He wasn’t acting to quell injustice and has received
His answer. He registers his concern, his lack of understanding, but accepts
God’s answer and commits to patiently watch and wait to see if what he has understood
is really true. He doesn’t comprehend God’s Will but he is willing to learn
God’s Will.

The same holds true for us. Even having God’s Word in our lap and in our heart
doesn’t always provide acceptable answers. We believe we know and understand
God’s Will and then find ourselves questioning the very path God is taking.
Those are the times we need to have the same attitude Habakkuk expressed. We
need to patiently watch and wait, trust in God, and seek to understand God’s
perfect Will. After all, God is sovereign.

Habakkuk, Remember I Am Sovereign                                         Hab. 2:2-20

God requests Habakkuk to record the revelation He is giving him so that all
may hear what He is saying. This revelation awaits its’ appointed time for it
is to happen near the end of time. It is certain but we will have to wait for
it.

God is speaking about a proud nation who acts in an unrighteous manner. They
are contrasted with the righteous who live by faith. This nation loves wine,
is arrogant, never rests, is greedy, and is never satisfied. This nation is
not loved or respected and is subject to political ridicule. Their wealth was
gained by extortion instead of hard work. They are warned that the great number
of exiles in their midst might organize a takeover against their captors. This
is a nation who has prospered at the expense of others, by ruining and plundering
other nations. Their capital has been built on bloodshed and crime. In the end,
God’s glory will shine in place of this nations’ glory. They will be drunk with
wine and feeling secure but God’s cup of wrath is on its’ way. They have caused
great destruction of the land, animals, man, and cities. Man is to be a steward
of the earth and all creation, not a destroyer of it [see Gen. 1:28-31]. Idol
worship will be their downfall. Meanwhile the Lord is in His holy temple.

This prophecy is an accurate description of Babylon and the destruction of
them by the Medes and Persians in 539 BC. It also represents the destruction
of “Babylon” in Revelation 17-18. What happened to Babylon in 539
BC will happen to the future Babylon of Revelation 17-18. Note the similarities
of character or lack thereof in theses two Babylon’s. In the meantime we wait
for the sovereign Lord to act and we, who are righteous, live by faith in Him.
What the Lord promises will happen. The Lord is in His holy temple and we bow
in humble silence and adoration before His throne for He is sovereign over all
His creation and over all the nations.

Lord, Hear My Prayer                                                     Habakkuk 3:1-19

Lord, You are Great                                               Hab. 3:1-9

Habakkuk begins his prayer correctly with adoration and praise to God for
all God has done and requests God to continue in goodness and mercy. Habakkuk
acknowledges God’s sovereignty, power, and majesty in verses 3-9. God has complete
dominion over plagues, over the earth, over the nations, over the mountains,
over the rivers, over the sea, and over who are the recipients of His wrath.
God is, indeed, sovereign; great in power and might. God is eternal.

Lord, You are Our Savior                                   Hab. 3:10-13

Habakkuk’s prayer transitions from acknowledging God’s power to acknowledging
God’s wrath in verses 10-12. Verse 11 seems to be a direct reference to Joshua
10:13, a sign of the Lord’s involvement in Joshua’s victory over the Amorites.
Habakkuk acknowledges that God’s wrath is real and it serves His divine purpose,
to save His people and to make way for God’s Anointed One, Jesus Christ. So
now we understand God is sovereign over His creation and He is sovereign over
both the unrighteous and the righteous. And God is sovereign over His divine
plan of salvation. He alone is able to save His people, those who acknowledge
Him as God and place their trust in Him.

Lord, You are My Strength                                   Hab. 3:14-19

God punishes the wicked for their sin and for their persecution of His people.
His wrath will cause all people to tremble and fear. But Habakkuk expresses
his calm and patience awaiting God’s judgment against Babylon. Even though Israel/Judah
has been/will be destroyed, Habakkuk rejoices because God is in control. Habakkuk
has complete faith and confidence in God’s sovereignty and plan of redemption
for His people. Habakkuk has faith in God. Habakkuk has hope because God is
his strength.

The question is “How do we react in troubled times?” Do we listen
for God’s answer when we cry out for His help or are our ears only listening
for what we want to hear? Habakkuk finally received and accepted God’s revelation
that He is sovereign over all things. When he realized God was in control, Habakkuk
expressed His faith in God through prayer. The next time we find ourselves crying
out to God for help, let us remember Habakkuk’s experience. Let us too acknowledge
God’s power, majesty, and sovereignty. Let us acknowledge our faith in God,
in His Divine Plan, in His strength, and in His purpose to save His righteous
people from the unrighteous. Let us not fear but place our trust in Him and
rejoice because He is the victor. God’s sovereignty gives us reason to place
our faith and hope in Him. Trust God because He is Wisdom.

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