Theme: The prophet Habakkuk had a problem. He was struggling with the issue of divine justice. He saw violence, law-breaking, injustice and a whole assortment of other sins going unpunished. He “could not understand why God” was not judging the nation of Judah (the Southern Kingdom – remember, the split, covered in the notes for I Kings) for her sin (1:1-4). To the prophet, God seemed detached and unconcerned. God answered the prophet by telling him that He was going to judge Judah and He would use Babylon to bring the judgment (1:5-11). Now, even though Habakkuk hears God’s explanation, it only troubled him more. So he raised the question of God’s justice again. Habakkuk’s concern now dealt with the greater problem of how could God use a sinful nation to punish his own people? Isn’t God too righteous to do this (1:12-2:1)? The Lord again graciously answers the prophet by telling him that after He has used Babylon, He will also bring Babylon into their own rightful time of judgment (2:2-20). The Lord assures Habakkuk that “at the end” (2:3), there will come a time when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord” (2:14). We see a gracious God reassuring Habakkuk by telling him that if he would only wait, it will all be clear. A satisfied prophet with renewed faith concludes that, given God’s holiness, his own questions were unjustified (2:20). In chapter 3, the prophet then concludes with a prayer psalm and ends with another strong statement of faith (3:18-19).
Date: As no reference is made to the northern kingdom or to the Assyrians, who carried the 10 tribes into captivity, and as the Babylonian threat is pictured as imminent, we conclude the time of writing was probably between 610-599 B.C.
Author: The prophet Habakkuk. Though his name means “embrace” (1:1), nothing is known of him or his life.
Recipients: This book is not addressed to any particular person or group. Undoubtly, originally presented to Judah, just before the Babylonian conquest, but also, somewhat like Jonah, relates a personal experience of the prophet.
Purpose: It seems that Habakkuk’s primary purpose is to encourage believers to wait on the Lord and trust fully in Him, regardless of outward circumstances. This book vividly shows the holiness and righteousness of God, which ought to prompt from His children, a response of absolute trust. No matter what is happening around us, when our focus is on God, we can rest in Jehovah. I trust you can recall many of the lessons we have learned concerning God’s rainbows in the midst of the rain!
Influence: For a book of such small size, it has wielded remarkable influence. The Habakkuk manuscript is the most well preserved of all those found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It reflects a type of Old Testament exegesis which helps us understand much of the New Testament use of the Old Testament. Specifically notice the influence of the theme verse (2:4). This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament. The verse concludes with the statement, “the just shall live by faith.” As it is used in Romans 1:17, the emphasis is on “the just.” As it is used in Galatians 3:11, the emphasis is on, “shall live.” As it is used in Hebrews 10:38, the emphasis is on, “by faith.” Habakkuk, a key book on the subject of faith in the Old Testament, forms the basis for the development of faith in each of these New Testament books. This is of profound importance. From a historical perspective, we also note that it was this verse (2:4), along with Romans 1:17 that totally re-oriented the thinking of Martin Luther and contributed to the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.
Key Verse: 2:4 -- “The just shall live by faith.”
Outline: An observation of this running dialogue gives us the following outline:
I. The Prophet’s Panic (ch. 1:1-4)
II. The Lord’s Reply (ch. 1:5-11)
III. The Prophet’s Pouting (ch. 1:12-2:1)
IV. The Lord’s Reply (ch. 2:2-20)
V. The Prophet’s Prayer of Praise (ch. 3:1-19)
Closing: We would remind or inform you that Pastor Rich preached expositionally through Habakkuk from Mar. 10 to May 5, 2013. You can find these messages on the website podcast, or by contacting Cindy in the office, who also can provide you with the notes. We would remind you of the ten lessons Pastor Rich shared while preaching through Habakkuk.
Lesson #1 - Don't Rule God out of any situation
Lesson #2 - Asking Questions is Different than Questioning God
Lesson #3 - Explanations don’t encourage our Faith - Promises do!
Lesson #4 - While we wonder and worry - Our God is always working !
Lesson #5 - God’s ways are ALWAYS consistent with God’s Character !
Lesson #6 - Don’t tune God out !
Lesson #7 - The vanity of this world versus The victory of God !
Lesson #8 - Reading with an obedient mind and praying with a faithful mind leads to a peaceful heart.
Lesson #9 - He hasn’t brought us this far to leave us! He didn’t lift us up to let us down! He hasn’t taken up residence within us to move away!
Lesson #10 - When all we have to stand on is The “Rock” - We’ll find that The Rock is all we need.