Habakkuk

Habakkuk

חבקוק

Reading 0,08 - 3 Chapters - 56 verses - 1,476 words

Vital Statistics

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.

Habakkuk Interpretive Challenges

The queries of the prophet represent some of the most fundamental questions in all of life, with the answers providing crucial foundation stones on which to build a proper understanding of God’s character and His sovereign ways in history. The core of his message lies in the call to trust God (2:4), “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”

The NT references ascribe unusual importance theologically to Habakkuk. The writer of Hebrews quotes Hab 2:4 to amplify the believer’s need to remain strong and faithful in the midst of affliction and trials (Heb 10:38). The apostle Paul, on the other hand, employs the verse twice (Ro 1:17; Gal 3:11) to accentuate the doctrine of justification by faith. There need not be any interpretative conflict, however, for the emphasis in both Habakkuk and the NT references goes beyond the act of faith to include the continuity of faith. Faith is not a one time act, but a way of life. The true believer, declared righteous by God, will habitually persevere in faith throughout all his life (Col 1:22, 23; Heb 3:12-14). He will trust the sovereign God who only does what is right.

Outline

The Rulers and Prophets of Habakkuk's Time

Habakkuk Horizontal

God's character in Habakkuk

  1. God is glorious - 2:14

  2. God is wrathful - 3:2

Christ in Habakkuk

Although Habakkuk never mentions Christ's name, he rejoices in the saving ministry of Jesus as the "God of my salvation" (3:18). Habakkuk also foreshadows Christ's coming salvation: "You went forth for the salvation of Your people; For salvation with Your ANointed" (3:13). The Old and New Testament clearly point to Christ as the Anointed One (Ps 28:8; Dan 9:25, 26; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb 1:9).

Notes