Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Testament survey (35): Habakkuk

“It is permissible to question what God is doing, although with respect and reverence. Sometimes it is not evident to us what is going on, especially if we are thrown into suffering for a period of time or if it seems our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by. The Book of Habakkuk, however, affirms that God is a sovereign, omnipotent God who has all things under control.” (Book of Habakkuk, from

O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! (Habakkuk 1:2)

Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. (Habakkuk 1:5)

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. (Habakkuk 1:12)

And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:2)

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. (Habakkuk 3:19)


[1] Habakkuk, from Thru The Bible Radio with Dr. J. Vernon McGee ©, with free downloads Notes & Outlines (PDF), Complete 5-Year Study (MP3)

Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah have a great deal in common. Each one gives a different facet of the dealings of God with mankind. They show how the government of God is integrated into the government of men. They also show God’s dealings with the individual.

Another similarity is the fact that they come from approximately the same time period. In fact, they all could have been contemporaries, and the possibility is that they were. (It is difficult to nail down the specific dates of the prophets—and of many of the other Old Testament books. The reason, of course, is that the exact dates are not important.) At least we know that all three prophets fit into the period between the reigns of kings Josiah and Jehoiakim, which would also be the time of the prophet Jeremiah. The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity, and the southern kingdom was right on the verge of captivity. After Josiah, every king in the southern kingdom was a bad king. Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah all fit into that period of decline.

Although there are similarities, these books also differ from each other. Nahum dealt only with Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Nahum showed that God is just, righteous, and a God of love; yet He was absolutely right in judging that city.

Habakkuk approaches the problem from a little different viewpoint. He is a man with questions. He is disturbed about God’s seeming indifference to the inquity of His own people. Habakkuk asks God, “Why don’t You do something?” In our day a great many folk feel as Habakkuk did. They are asking, “Why doesn’t God do something? Why doesn’t He move into the affairs of men and stop the violence and injustice and suffering?”

God answered the question for Habakkuk by informing him that He was preparing a nation, Babylon, to punish Judah and to take her into captivity—unless she changed her ways. Well, if you think Habakkuk had a problem before, you can see that he really had a problem then! Habakkuk asked, “Why will You use Babylon—a nation that is definitely more wicked, more pagan, and more given over to idolatry than Your own people—to punish Judah?” God reveals to Habakkuk that He was not through with Babylon but would judge her also. This is God’s method.

This book is very important in its relationship to the New Testament. It is generally conceded that the three great doctrinal books of the New Testament are Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews, all of which quote from Habakkuk. In fact, Habakkuk 2:4 is the background of their message: “The just shall live by his faith.” So this little book looms upon the horizon of Scripture as being important. Don’t let the brevity of it deceive you. Importance is not determined by how much you say but by what you say. (Read the complete article)
[2] Book of Habakkuk, from (this website is also available in Afrikaans, Arabic, Bengali, Burmese-Myanmar, Cebuano, Chinese - Simplified, Chinese – Traditional, Hausa, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Malaysian, Persian-Farsi, Portuguese, Quechua, Sesotho, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese, Zulu, and 70 other languages)
The application to the reader of Habakkuk is that it is permissible to question what God is doing, although with respect and reverence. Sometimes it is not evident to us what is going on, especially if we are thrown into suffering for a period of time or if it seems our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by. The Book of Habakkuk, however, affirms that God is a sovereign, omnipotent God who has all things under control. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is who He says He is and does keep His promises. He will punish the wicked. Even when we cannot see it, He is still on the throne of the universe. We need to stay focused on this: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). Enabling us to go on the heights is taking us to the higher places with Him where we are set apart from the world. Sometimes the way we have to go to get us there is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him, we come out where He wants us.
(Read the complete article)
[3] Habakkuk, from Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)
It seems most probable that Habakkuk prophesied in the latter years of Josiah. Of the prophet himself nothing is known. To him the character of Jehovah was revealed in terms of the highest spirituality. He alone of the prophets was more concerned that the holiness of Jehovah should be vindicated than that Israel should escape chastisement. Written just upon the eve of the captivity, Habakkuk was God's testimony to Himself as against both idolatry and pantheism.

The book is in five parts:

1. Habakkuk’s perplexity in view of the sins of Israel and the silence of God, 1:1-4. Historically this was the time of Jehovah's forbearance because of Josiah’s repentance (2 Ki 22:18-20).
2. The answer of Jehovah to the prophet’s perplexity1:5-11.
3. The prophet, thus answered, utters the testimony to Jehovah, 1:12-17; but he will watch for further answers, 2:1.
4. To the watching prophet comes the response of the “vision,” 2:20.
5. All ends in Habakkuk’s sublime Psalm of the Kingdom.

As a whole the Book of Habakkuk raise and answers the question of God’s consistency with Himself in view of permitted evil. The prophet thought that the holiness of God forbade him to go on with evil Israel. The answer of Jehovah announces a Chaldean invasion (Habakkuk 1:6), and a world- wide dispersion (Habakkuk 1:5). But Jehovah is not mere wrath; “He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18), and introduces into His answers to the perplexed prophet the great promises, ; Micah 1:5; 2:3,4,14,20.
Further study (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] In Wrath Remember Mercy . . . The Just Shall Live By Faith -- Commentary On The Book Of Habakkuk, by Paul G. Apple

[2] An Argument of the Book of Habakkuk, by David Malick (download Word doc)

[3] Habakkuk, by Richard D. Patterson

[4] The Just Shall Live By Faith: The Message of the Book of Habakkuk, by Bob Deffinbaugh

[5] Habakkuk, by Hampton Keathley IV

[6] When God Alone Is Sufficient (Habakkuk 3:16-19), by Jeff Miller (listen to audio; download audio and PowerPoint)

[7] Anchored during Times of Question (Lesson 5), by Kay Daigle

Sermons from Habakkuk (Be like the Bereans! Acts 17:11)

[1] How to Endure Racism, by James E Johnson

[2] Ripped from the Headlines, by Kevin Siscoe

[3] Be Faithful, by Donald A. Cosby

[4] Biblical Faith Struggles, by Toby L. Soechting

[5] Habakkuk 1:12-2:3, Making sense, by Michael Urciuoli

[6] God’s Question and Answers Session: Part 2, by Nathan Kuperus

[7] Sermons by Paul Hawkins
[8] Give Guidance in Finding God’s Will, Habakkuk 2:4, by Jacob

[9] The Answer, Habakkuk 2:1–5, by David Madden

For other available sermons, please surf to Sermon / Preaching resources. Sermons are also available from South McGehee Baptist Church, McGehee, Arizona; Central Baptist Church, Lowesville; First Baptist Church, Mountain View, Missouri; Swift Creek Baptist Church; Word of Life Baptist Church, Pottsville, Philadelphia; Palm Springs Baptist Church, California; South Woods Baptist Church; Grove Baptist Church, Ulster; Dudley Baptist Church, United Kingdom; Independent Fundamental Baptist Sermons, Fundamental Christian Radio Broadcasts, Off-Site Audio Page and The Christian Radio Tuner

Notes: (1) This ministry does not necessarily endorse or share all the views and opinions expressed in the materials, resources or links mentioned in these posts. Please always refer to the Articles of Faith and Biblical distinctives of Baptists when you study these materials. (2) This lesson is part of the projected 300 plus lessons. From time to time, the lessons will be updated, revised, combined, formatted, and edited to comply with the VOA Simplified English word list. Later on, these lessons will be categorized, numbered sequentially, and made available as PDF downloads.

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