Habakkuk

חבקוק

3 Chapters 56 verses, 1,476 words.


  

    


Author

    Littles is know about about Habakkuk except that he was a contemporary of Jeremiah and a man of vigorous faith rooted deeply in the religious traditions of Israel. The account of his ministering to the needs of Daniel in the lions' den in the Apocryphal book Bel and the Dragon is legendary rather than historical.  



Date

    The prediction of the coming Babylonian invasion (1:6) indicates that Habakkuk lived in Judah toward the end of Josiah's reign (640-6909 B.C.) or at the beginning of Jehoiakim's (609-598). The prophecy is generally dated a little before or after the battle of Carchemish (605), when Egyptian forces, which had earlier gone to the aid of the last Assyrian king, were routed by the Babylonians under Nabopolassar and Nebuchadnezzar and were pursued as far as the Egyptian border (Jer 46). Habakkuk, like Jeremiah, probably lived to see the initial fulfillment of his prophecy when Jerusalem was attacked by Babylonians in 597.    



Theological Message

    Among the prophetic writings, Habakkuk is somewhat unique in that it includes no oracle addressed to Israel. It contains, rather, a dialogue between the prophet and God.  In the first two chapters, Habakkuk argues with God over his ways that appear to him unfathomable, if not unjust. Having received replies, he responds with a beautiful confession of faith (ch. 3). 

    This account of wrestling with God is, however, not just a fragment from a private journal that has somehow entered the public domain. It was composed for Israel. No doubt it represented the voice of the godly in Judah, struggling to comprehend the ways of GOd. God's answer therefore spoke to all who shared Habakkuk's troubled doubts. And Habakkuk's confession became a public expression - as indicated by its liturgical notations (3:1). 

    Habakkuk was perplexed that wickedness, strife and oppression were rampant in Judah but God seemingly did nothing. When told that the Lord was preparing to do something about it though the "ruthless" Babylonians (1:6), his perplexity only intensified: How could God, who is "too pure to look on evil" (1:13), appoint such a nation "to execute judgment" (1:12) on a people "more righteous than themselves" (1:13)? 

    God makes it clear, however, that eventually the corrupt destroyer will itself be destroyed. In the end, Habakkuk learns to rest in God's sovereign appointments and await his working in a spirit of worship. He learns to wait patiently in faith (2:3-4) for God's kingdom to be expressed universally (2:14).



Literary Features

    The author wrote clearly and with great feeling, and he penned many memorable phrases (2:2,4,14,20; 3:2,17-19). The book was popular during the intertestamental period; a complete commentary on its first two chapters has been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  

  


Outline


 I.  Title (1:1)
 II.  Habakkuk's First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)
 III.  God's Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)
 IV.  Habakkuk's Second Complaint: How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12-2:1)
  V. God's Answer: Babylonia will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)
 VI.  Habakkuk's Prayer: After asking for manifestations of GOd's wrath and mercy (as he has seen in the past), he closes with a confession of trust and joy in God (ch.3)




The Rulers and Prophets of Habakkuk's Time 


720

710700690680670660650640630620610600590580570560

Kings of Assyria

  

Ashurbanipal

669                                        633

Sinsharishkun

629            612

Ashuruballit 612-609

  
    
       
      

 Ashuretililani 633-629

 Fall of Nineveh
                 

Kings of Babylon

      

Nabopolassar

626              605

Nebuchadnezzar

605                        562

      
      
                 

Kings of Judah

(Southern Kingdom)

           Jehoiachin 3 months
     

640         Josiah          609

Jehoiakim  609-597

Zedekiah  597-586

 
      
         Jehoahaz 3 months 
         Judah taken captive to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
         
                 

Habakkuk and His Contemporary Prophets

(Southern Kingdom)

    

650         Nahum         620

HABAKKUK621      609

    
     

593 Ezekiel 559

         

605            Daniel             536

      

627                   Jeremiah                   574

 
     

636 Zephaniah 623

      

720

710700690680670660650640630620610600590580570560



Notes