Despite Habakkuk’s strange name, there is a lot we can learn from him. Habakkuk was a prophet called to preach a message of repentance to the people of Judah. He found himself ministering among stubborn, rebellious people that had hardened their hearts toward God. He sees violence, strife and contention everywhere and his heart aches because he doesn’t see an end to the rebellion of his people. He finds himself getting frustrated with the fact God is allowing the wickedness to continue! (Ever feel that way when you see the atrocities taking place today?) The book of Habakkuk contains the conversation between Habakkuk and God.
Habakkuk 1 NIV
1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
Habakkuk complains to God about the people…
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
God answers Habakkuk…
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk cries out to God again….
12 Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?
God tells Habakkuk that He will use the Babylonians to chasten the people. They will find themselves ruled by a “terrible and dreadful” people. Though Habakkuk wants his people to repent, he is afraid when He hears whom the Lord will use to chasten the people. Much like ourselves, Habakkuk wants to see the people repent and turn back towards God but his initial response to God’s answer of how He will bring it about is great fear! He knows it will be a painful, harsh time for the people.
I can’t help but feel for Habakkuk. I know when I pray for the nations, friends or family that are lost and in rebellion I want to see them turn to the Lord without having to endure great trials or painful circumstances but I also know that often it is in those great trials and circumstances that God is able to get their attention! Times of comfort and ease seldom cause one to cry out to God!
Habakkuk 2 NIV
2 I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
God answer’s Habakkuk…
2 Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
4 “See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
5 indeed, wine betrays him;
he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples.
6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
How long must this go on?’
7 Will not your creditors suddenly arise?
Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their prey.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed human blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
9 “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
setting his nest on high
to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
and establishes a town by injustice!
13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined
that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed!
The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you,
and disgrace will cover your glory.
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
and your destruction of animals will terrify you.
For you have shed human blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”
20 The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.
God shows Habakkuk the heart and sins of the people. The pride, the violence towards one another, the bloodshed, the wickedness towards their neighbors and the idolatry cannot go on without judgment! He will do what He deems necessary to get their attention and cause them to repent!
In the third and final chapter we hear Habakkuk respond.
Habakkuk 3 NIV
3 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
2 Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.
4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from His hand,
where His power was hidden.
5 Plague went before Him;
pestilence followed His steps.
6 He stood, and shook the earth;
He looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed
but He marches on forever.
7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.
8 Were you angry with the rivers, Lord?
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode your horses
and your chariots to victory?
9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
You split the earth with rivers;
10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.
11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.
12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.
13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.
16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.
17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.
Habakkuk makes it clear that he does not completely understand God’s choice in how He will deal with the rebellion of His people. Despite this, he acknowledges that the just shall live by faith and not by what they understand! He acknowledges that God’s wisdom is beyond His and yields to His wisdom, despite not understanding it! What a word for us today! We are living in days of great rebellion towards God, when right is deemed wrong and wrong is deemed right by the world. It would seem that evil prevails and that many have no time for God or salvation in His Son. When we turn on the news we see so many atrocities going on throughout the world that it is hard to even take in! We too get frustrated at times like Habakkuk did and wonder why God is allowing it all to continue!
Just as God did not let the rebellion go on unchecked in the days of Habakkuk, God has ways beyond our ways of getting people’s attention! It may come in a form that we don’t like! Our nations may undergo some dark days ahead. God’s loving heart is always to draw people to Himself. He demonstrated this beautifully by sending His precious Son to die on the cross for every one of us! To be the ultimate blood sacrifice to cover our sins! As we journey through the coming days, whatever they may bring, let us keep our heart tender before God. Let us trust in His wisdom. Let us say like Habakkuk said, “THOUGH THE FIG TREE DOES NOT BUD AND THERE ARE NO GRAPES ON THE VINES, THOUGH THE OLIVE CROP FAILS AND THE FIELDS PRODUCE NO FOOD, THOUGH THERE ARE NO SHEEP IN THE PEN AND NO CATTLE IN THE STALLS YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD, I WILL BE JOYFUL IN GOD MY SAVIOR. THE SOVEREIGN LORD IS MY STRENGTH: HE MAKES MY FEET LIKE THE FEET OF A DEER, HE ENABLES ME TO TREAD ON THE HEIGHTS!
Lord Jesus as we wait on Your return keep our hearts tender and soft before You. Let us not get hardened by the wickedness around us. Help us guard our hearts from becoming angry and frustrated with the things we see. Give us a love for others that will surpass our pride, fear and arrogance so that we may openly share the gospel with those who need to hear of You and what You have done for them!
Thank you Lord!