Habakkuk: Troubling questions to Triumphant Praise
A troubling time.
A troubling time.
Judah just like Israel was under judgment from the Lord because of ungodly choices and living. They were looking like the world instead of being a light to the world.
This is a oracle addressed in similar fashion as:
Zephaniah and his prophesy to Judah (640-609 B.C.)
Nahum pronouncing the judgment on Nineveh (630-612 B.C.)
Now today we get to Habakkuk (612-606 B.C.)
(insert: A little background picture here)
Habakkuk was a man filled with questions, troubling questions and he was not shy about bringing them to God. This book is different than some of the others, this is Habakkuk taking his questions, his complaints to the Lord instead of the Lord to the people through the prophet. Hence why title troubling questions to triumphant praise.
Author: Habakkuk which means “embrace”
Luther speaking of Habakkuk stated “As one who took his nation to his heart, comforted it and held it up, as one embraces and presses to his bosom a poor weeping child, calming and consoling it with good hope.”
Date: Between 612-606 B.C.
Babylon was rising world power and was marching toward Jerusalem taking countries along the way in world domination. They had not yet reached Judah, but it was coming
With Habakkuk this is an easy division into three sections that coincide with the chapters.
A burden (Hab1:1-2:1)
A vision (Hab2:2-20)
A prayer/song of praise (Hab3:1-19)
A burden, in the New Testament you can find the equivalent called “take up your cross.” (Lk9:23). Habakkuk picked up his cross, his burden for his people.
A burden brings question (Hab1:1-4)
As mentioned a few minutes ago, Habakkuk is a little different then the other prophets. He brings a lament to God instead of bringing God’s word to the people. See our first part and see if you can see what the lament, complaint is about.
1 The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw. 2 How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.
3 Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted.
What is Habakkuk’s complaint, in your own words (vv.2-4)?
You do not hear
You do not save
You make me see iniquity, wickedness.
Justice is not upheld.
So the prophet is saying God how can you let this happen, how can You be indifferent to such things. Go ahead Lord justify yourself!
A burden brings God’s answer (Hab1:5-11)
I think as we look at this next section that you will see that God is not indifferent, he is doing something that Habakkuk could not understand, something hard to fathom.
5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days— You would not believe if you were told. 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.
7 “They are dreaded and feared; Their justice and authority originate with themselves. 8 “Their horses are swifter than leopards And keener than wolves in the evening. Their horsemen come galloping, Their horsemen come from afar; They fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.
9 “All of them come for violence. Their horde of faces moves forward. They collect captives like sand. 10 “They mock at kings And rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress And heap up rubble to capture it.
11 “Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.”
What did you see, notice, sticks out to you before we pull some info together?
What was God doing (v.6)?
Raising up the Chaldeans (which is the Babylonians)
Raising them up to seize the place (Jerusalem).
Scan the passage (vv.7-11) for some of the words used to describe them?
They are dreaded and feared (v.7)
Swift horses, they are keen
Horsemen fly like an eagle, swooping to devour (v.8)
Come in violence, collect captives (v.9)
Mock kings, laugh at rulers. (v.10)
Will sweep through the land swiftly (v.11)
God was raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) to be His tool for judgment on the rebellious, covenant breaking people. - - - - now they (the Chaldeans) think they are doing it on their own and do not understand they are God’s tool.
A burden brings more questions (Hab1:12-2:1)
12 Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct. 13 Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?
14 Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things without a ruler over them? 15 The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, Drag them away with their net, And gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
16 Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large, And their food is plentiful. 17 Will they therefore empty their net And continually slay nations without sparing?
1 I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.
Gleaning from the scripture:
What is the second question, in your own words (vv.12-13)?
Are you not God, the Holy One? How can you look on wickedness with favor? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up the more righteous than they? - - - -Hey God, what’s going on, you are using unrighteous people to bring judgment on Your people?
Look at the accusations from Habakkuk in (vv.15-17)?
The Chaldeans bring them up (meaning God’s people) (v.15)
They drag them away (take them into captivity) (v.15); they gather them and then they rejoice!
They think it is their net, but it is the God of Israel that is doing it through them.
They will continue with world domination without sparing anything, anyone. Or facing judgment on their own.
Look at what Habakkuk said even in the midst of all this (2:1)?
I will stand my guard post, my station, my watch!
(Transition) Habakkuk wants answers and was not shy in asking the troubling questions and now he is going wait, wait for an answer and that answer comes in the form of a vision
As you will see in this section. Regardless of the circumstances stay to your faith, walk in your faith, trust your faith.
God answers Habakkuk's first question (vv.2-4)
2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. 3 “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay.
4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.
Search this passage, find the answer (hint, check v.4).
The righteous will live by his faith
Back in (vv.2-3) God tells him to write down what He tells him.
The proud are not right with him, but he just shall live by faith (v.4).
God answers the second question (vv.5-20) with a series of woe’s
5 “Furthermore, wine betrays the haughty man, So that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, And he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations And collects to himself all peoples. 6 “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, Even mockery and insinuations against him And say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his— For how long— And makes himself rich with loans?’
7 “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, And those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them. 8 “Because you have looted many nations, All the remainder of the peoples will loot you— Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, To the town and all its inhabitants.
9 “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house To put his nest on high, To be delivered from the hand of calamity! 10 “You have devised a shameful thing for your house By cutting off many peoples; So you are sinning against yourself.
11 “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, And the rafter will answer it from the framework.
What is the woe found in (v.6)?
This is a woe about pride and lust. They desire, conquest and plunder to get more for themselves.
What is the next woe found in (v.9)?
Woe to the one who gets evil gain.
Is this not coveting?
12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed And founds a town with violence! 13 “Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts That peoples toil for fire, And nations grow weary for nothing?
14 “For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.
Can you see the Woe in (v.12)?
Woe to the one who builds city on bloodshed and violence
15 “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, Who mix in your venom even to make them drunk So as to look on their nakedness! 16 “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, And utter disgrace will come upon your glory.
17 “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, And the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them, Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, To the town and all its inhabitants.
We find our next woe in (v.15), what is it about?
Woe you took by violence and now you treat with cruelty. It will be to their disgrace, shame (nakedness)
18 “What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, Or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork When he fashions speechless idols. 19 “Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it.
20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.”
Our final woe in the vision is found in (v.19); can you see it, what is it about?
Woe to those who offer idol worship
(Transition) God is just, while yes God may use wicked people to bring judgment on Judah, they too will face the music for their own wickedness. So, in the mean time, until that happens, the just, the righteous will live by faith. This set’s us up for our last section.
The prayer/song of praise
The prayer/song of praise
Our last section goes from petition to profession and it is a great example for us when we go through hard, difficult, trying things.
A prayer, a psalm a praise, let’s look together
A petition for mercy (Hab3:1-3)
1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth. 2 Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.
Notice in wrath, remember mercy (v.2)
Praise Him for His past deliverance (Hab3:3-15)
3 God comes from Teman, And the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His splendor covers the heavens, And the earth is full of His praise.
God’s splendor and His praise cover the heavens and fill the earth.
4 His radiance is like the sunlight; He has rays flashing from His hand, And there is the hiding of His power. 5 Before Him goes pestilence, And plague comes after Him.
6 He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations. Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, The ancient hills collapsed. His ways are everlasting. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, The tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.
God’s way are everlasting (v.6)
8 Did the Lord rage against the rivers, Or was Your anger against the rivers, Or was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, On Your chariots of salvation? 9 Your bow was made bare, The rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah. You cleaved the earth with rivers.
10 The mountains saw You and quaked; The downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, It lifted high its hands. 11 Sun and moon stood in their places; They went away at the light of Your arrows, At the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
12 In indignation You marched through the earth; In anger You trampled the nations. 13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil To lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
14 You pierced with his own spears The head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; Their exultation was like those Who devour the oppressed in secret. 15 You trampled on the sea with Your horses, On the surge of many waters.
Wrath, trampling to the nations, salvation for God’s people. (v.13)
Now a profession of faith (Hab3:16-19)
16 I heard and my inward parts trembled, At the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, And in my place I tremble. Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, For the people to arise who will invade us. 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
From trembling and quivering (v.16)
To singing and rejoicing (vv.17-18)
To the proclamation of faith (v.19)
2-minute take aways from Habakkuk:
In the universal supremacy of God; judgment will be upon the wicked, his own people, and others nations who did wicked
Evil is self-destructive, be patient, trust in the Lord
There is divine chastening that happens.
Here in Habakkuk it was seen in the suffering of a nation
Back in Job it was in the suffering of a person
Final and major point - Faith!
The value of faith is out of this world to the Christian and faith was of value to Judah too.
So remember the righteous shall live by faith.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “But the righteous man shall live by faith.”
And may our faith persevere
35 Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.
37 For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay. 38 But My righteous one shall live by faith; And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.
Don’t shrink back, press on, persevere!