There is no biographical information on the prophet Habakkuk; in fact less is known about him than any other writer of the Bible. His name comes either from the Hebrew word חבק(khavak) meaning "embrace" or else from an Akkadian word hambakuku for a kind of plant.
He is described as "the prophet," and it is possible, therefore, that he not only had the gift of prophecy but that he was one of a professional group of prophets.
Habakkuk 1:1 (NKJV) The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
The central message of Habakkuk's prophecy is that "the just shall live by his faith"
Habakkuk 2:4 (NKJV)4 "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
This is basis of Christianity’s belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and the beginning of the concept of the believer’s faith.
Hebrews 10:35-39 (NKJV)35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:37 "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
Romans 1:16-17 (NKJV)16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
Galatians 3:10-11 (NKJV)10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them."11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."
The structure of this prophecy is unique in the Old Testament, The first two chapters is a dialogue between Hanukkah and God, in which the prophet not only complains of evil, but even challenges Him as to how He, can tolerate such evil. He is surprised to learn that the Chaldeans are God's choice to punish Judah
Habakkuk’s prophecy starts with with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why His chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity.
Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NLT)2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.3 Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight.4 The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you”
Habakkuk 1:5-11 (NLT)5 The LORD replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.6 I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.7 They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like.8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.9 “On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.10 They scoff at kings and princes and scorn all their fortresses. They simply pile ramps of earth against their walls and capture them!11 They sweep past like the wind and are gone. But they are deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening”
Habakkuk 1:17-2:1 (NLT)17 Will you let them get away with this forever? Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests? 1 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint.
God answers him again with more information ending by belling the earth to be silent before Him.
Habakkuk 2:2, 20 (NLT)2 Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.20 But the LORD is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”
The prophecy ends with a prayer expressing Habakkuk’s strong faith in God even in the trials of the nation.
The application of Habakkuk’s prophecy to us today is that it’s okay to question what God is doing. It’s not always evident what’s going on especially when we have suffered for long periods of time, and those who show no love for God appear to prosper.
Habakkuk affirms that God is sovereign, omnipotent and in control. We need to stay focused on this:
Habakkuk 3:19 (NLT)19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.
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Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.