Habakkuk Bible Walk
Theme: God will judge Judah and Babylon
- God will judge Judah and Babylon
- Habakkuk 1:6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs.
- Habakkuk 2:4, Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.
- Habakkuk 3:18, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
Author and Date of Writing
- 3.1. Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:1; 3:1). He identifies himself as a prophet. We know nothing else about him except that he lived after the Chaldeans became a power (Habakkuk 1:6) and just before Nebuchadnezzar defeated Judah.
- 3.2. Habakkuk likely wrote his prophecy after Josiah died in 609 BC and before Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem in 605 BC.
- Habakkuk served as God’s prophet during the last days of Judah, prior to when Babylon defeated and destroyed Judah. Nabopolassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar, was a Chaldean governor. Recall that Nebuchadnezzar was the king who defeated, destroyed, and exiled Judah between 605 and 586 BC. God revealed to Habakkuk that He would bring these Babylonians upon Judah as divine punishment for her idolatry, sin, and rebellion against Him. For the history of events around this time see the Jeremiah notes.
Key People and Places
- Habakkuk (Habakkuk 1:1; 3:1), God’s prophet and human author of this prophecy.
- Chaldeans (Habakkuk 1:6, 15; 83 times in the NASB) were one of the people who formed the Babylonian empire under Nabopolassar, a Chaldean governor and the father of Nebuchadnezzar. The Chaldean land was at the northwest end of the Persian Gulf. Over the years Chaldea became known as Babylonia, since some of her kings were Chaldean. Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans (Genesis 11:28).
Key Words and Phrases
- Righteous 6662 צַדִּיק tsaddiyq (Habakkuk 2:4), means righteous, just, upright, one living by the righteous standard. Here it speaks of experiential or daily life righteousness, one who follows God’s word. Note the contrast with the “proud one” whose “soul is not right within him.”
- Faith 530 אֱמוּנָה e’munah (Habakkuk 2:4) is in this prophecy the means by which a righteous person lives his life before God and people. In Habakkuk the reference is to daily living during life in time, not faith for eternal salvation. The OT righteous person lived righteously by faith in God and God’s revelation. This verse is referred to in Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38.
- Woe 1945 הֹוי hoy (Habakkuk 2:6, 9, 12, 15, 19), is an interjection that expresses pain, dissatisfaction, mourning, and warning.
- LORD 3068 יהוה, יְהוִה Yahweh or Jehovah. This is God’s personal name. In the English text it is written in all capital letters.
- Habakkuk asks two questions and God answers (Habakkuk 1-2).
- Habakkuk asks how long the LORD will allow Judah’s sin (Habakkuk 1.1-1.4).
- The LORD answers that He is raising the Chaldeans to judge Judah (Habakkuk 1:5-11).
- Habakkuk asks how the LORD use the more wicked Chaldeans to judge Judah (Habakkuk 1:12-2:1).
- The LORD answers with five woes against the Chaldeans (Habakkuk 2:2-20).
- Habakkuk praises God with a psalm (Habakkuk 3).
- Chapter 1, Habakkuk’s two questions and the LORD’S first answer.
- Chapter 2, The LORD’S second answer.
- Chapter 3, Habakkuk’s praise psalm.
Trace the Theme
- Habakkuk’s two questions and the LORD’S first answer. Habakkuk begins by asking the LORD how long he must cry out for justice in Judah. They are people characterized by violence iniquity, wickedness, destruction, strife, contention, and perversion of justice (Habakkuk 1:1-4). The LORD answered that he will bring the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to conquer and destroy Judah (Habakkuk 1:6). The Chaldeans are fierce, dreaded, violent, mockers of other kings and their defenses, obsessed with their own power, and they will sweep through Judah. But the LORD will hold the Chaldeans guilty (Habakkuk 1:7-11). Habakkuk then asks the LORD why he has appointed such wicked people, the sinful Chaldeans, to judge Judah who is more righteous than they. The Chaldeans will treat the Judeans like fish caught in a net (Habakkuk 1:12-17).
- The LORD’S second answer. After Habakkuk finished his condemnation of Babylon, he stationed himself and waited for the LORD’s answer (Habakkuk 2:1). When the answer came, Habakkuk was to record it so that people can read the message and obey it—escape the coming danger. The vision is true and will happen in God’s time (Habakkuk 2:2-3). The Babylonians are proud and controlled by sin, but the righteous Hebrew—he follows God’s word—is one who will live by faith in the LORD and be faithful to the LORD (Habakkuk 2:4). The word translated “faith,” the Hebrew word אֱמוּנָה e’munah (Habakkuk 2:4), is in this prophecy the means by which a righteous person lives his life before God and people. In Habakkuk the reference is to daily living during life in time, not faith for eternal salvation. The Old Testament righteous person lived righteously by faith in God and God’s revelation. This verse is referred to in Romans 1:17 where eternal salvation faith and Christian life faith are in view, in Galatians 3:11 where eternal salvation faith is in view, and in Hebrews 10:38 where Christian life faith is in view. In 2:5-19 the LORD gives 5 woes against the Chaldeans (Habakkuk 2:6, 9, 12, 15, and 19). Woe 1 (Habakkuk 2:5-8), they are proud people who charge unjust interest rates and the conquered peoples will taunt the Chaldeans and turn against them. Woe 2 (Habakkuk 2:6-8), their evil gains in order to maintain security will accuse them (Habakkuk 2:9-11). Woe 3 (Habakkuk 2:12-14), the Chaldeans who build cities and towns on bloodshed and violence are simply building for a fire to destroy what they do, and their work will come to nothing while the knowledge of the glory of the LORD will eventually spread worldwide and last forever (Habakkuk 2:12-14). Woe 4 (Habakkuk 2:15-17), the LORD will turn the disgrace, devastation, bloodshed, and violence done to others by the Chaldeans back upon themselves. Woe 5 (Habakkuk 2:18-19), their idols will not be able to help them. The Chaldean’s idols are man made; there is no life in idols. Idols are nothing—speechless, wood, mute stone, with gold and silver but still nothing. In contrast to the Chaldean idols the LORD lives in his holy temple—heaven. All the earth—the creation—should be silent in reverence before him because he is alive and he is the creator and only God.
- Habakkuk’s praise psalm. The judgment theme continues. In view of coming judgment Habakkuk penned a praise psalm that he meant the Hebrew people to sing as thankful praise to the LORD. The musical directions are given at the end of the psalm. He begins with biblical history in mind. He pleads that the LORD will 1. revive his work of old for Israel’s blessing, 2. make his work known to Israel, and 3. remember mercy even though he will judge (Habakkuk 3:2). Habakkuk first recalls God’s activity during the Exodus. Teman is south Edom. Mount Paran is in central Sinai. God guided and showed mercy to his people Israel (Habakkuk 3:3). Habakkuk continued to praise God’s glory and his works that were done during the Exodus. The LORD dominated all nations—in fact, he dominated the entire earth. Age and time did not matter to God (Habakkuk 3:4-7). The LORD was not angry at nature. Nature was a tool to show his power and glory (Habakkuk 3:8-12). What the LORD did in the Exodus he did for his people Israel (Habakkuk 3:13-15). Habakkuk continues his praise psalm as he thinks about the coming judgment brought about by Israel’s glorious and powerful and loyal God. He knows that he must wait for the judgment, but because of the history of God’s deliverances and God’s nature Habakkuk rests and waits upon the LORD to judge justly and righteously (Habakkuk 3:16). Habakkuk concludes on a very high and applicable note (Habakkuk 3:17-19). He says “though” (Habakkuk 3:17)…”yet” (Habakkuk 3:18). Though national failure which will include crop failure, livestock failure, and business failure (Habakkuk 3:17), yet he will exult and rejoice in the God of his salvation (Habakkuk 3:18). Habakkuk knows the Lord God is his strength and his stability (like hinds feet and high places). Habakkuk’s knowledge of biblical history and Israel’s God produces, in him, great faith in God and God’s plan no matter how bad the immediate future will be (Habakkuk 3:19).
Key Doctrinal Principles Illustrated
- Divine judgment of nations.
- Sin and evil
- God’s nature and attributes
- The prophet’s mission
- Living by faith
- The place of psalms in spiritual life
- Mental attitude in spite of suffering
- Spiritual dynamics in national failure
So what? Take Home Lessons for Us
- God’s timing. God does things according to his own timing. He chose the time and the way to judge Judah and Babylon (Habakkuk 1:5, 6, 12) and works in our lives according to his timing (Psalm 31:14-15).
- God judges sin. God will not allow national sin or personal sin to continue indefinitely. Though we may think sin wins, sin always loses. The morality of a nation does matter, especially a nation’s treatment of Israel. This was demonstrated many time—Cain, Noah’s day, Sodom and Gomorrah, Israel, Judah, Assyria, Babylon, and Syrians under Antiochus (Habakkuk 2:2-20; Genesis 12:1-3). In modern times God has judged the communist empire and Nazi Germany. The USA may be under God’s judgment now. God also judges believers (Acts 5:1-11; Hebrews 12:4-11).
- National sins. God judged Babylon for specific national sins. Among those sins are pride, insatiable aggression, taking slaves, unjust economic policies, the devaluing of human life, violence and bloodshed, looting other nations, immorality, disrespectful of others, and idolatry. We in the USA need to guard ourselves against these sins.
- Faithful living in crisis. What principle should God’s people live by during any historical crisis? We are to live by the principle of faith—faithfully adhering to God and God’s word (Habakkuk 2:4; see 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:8; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 10:38).
- Actions to take in national crisis. What specific actions should we take in a national crisis: 1. Recall God's revelation—Bible doctrine (Habakkuk 3:2). 2. Pray for God to revive his work (Habakkuk 3:2). 3. Pray for mercy in the midst of God's wrath (Habakkuk 3:2). 4. Recall God's work for us in history past (Habakkuk 3:3-16). 5. Wait in faith and faithfulness for God's deliverance (Habakkuk 3:16). 6. Rejoice in the Lord no matter how bad things are because he is our salvation and strength (Habakkuk 3:18-19; see Lamentations 3:19-26 and Hebrews 10:19-25).
- Spiritual joy. We will experience genuine spiritual and national rejoicing only in relationship and fellowship with the Lord God (Habakkuk 3:18-19; see Psalm 70; see Philippians 3:1 and 4:4).