HABAKKUK AND HIS BOOK
A knowledge of Hebrew can tell us that Habakkuk’s name means “embrace,” but about the life of the prophet we can learn almost nothing. From his book we can gather that he wrote to the people of Judah about the time that the Babylonians were beginning to be a threat to Judah (cf.1:6). This would mean that Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah. Perhaps he wrote about 610 B.C. during the reign of King Josiah of Judah. We might call Habakkuk, “the prophet who questions God.” In 1:2-4 Habakkuk questions how God can see the wickedness of Judah and seemingly not do anything about it. In 1:5-11 God answers Habakkuk that he is about to send the Babylonians to judge Judah. This answer brings a more troubling question to Habakkuk. How can a righteous God use very wicked people like the Babylonians to judge Judah (see 1:12-2:1 “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? “)? God’s answer this time is that the Babylonians themselves will eventually be punished (see 2:2-20). In this second answer of God to Habakkuk’s questioning comes a very important passage. In 2:4 God says: “The righteous will like by his faith.” Only those who rest the weight of their lives on God – on his salvation, on his power and wisdom – really have life. All those who are puffed up in their own pride and arrogance and are trusting in themselves will find destruction and eternal death. That is true for Babylonians and Jews. In the New Testament, Paul makes it clear that this is true also for all people of all time: “The righteous will live by his faith” (see Romans 1:16-17; Galatians 3:10-11; and Hebrews 10:35-38). Habakkuk’s third and last chapter is his prayer to God. He makes a beautiful confession of faith and says that no matter what happens – destruction of Jerusalem, captivity or whatever – he will trust in God. Read especially 3:16-19 to see Habakkuk’s prayerful confession of faith. The prophet lived by his faith in his Savior-God and was counted righteous. Likewise, we are counted righteous by faith in our Savior-God.
GENERAL OUTLINE FOR THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
- God Announces His Judgment of Judah Through the Babylonians (1)
- God Will Judge the Babylonians (2)
- Habakkuk’s Prayer and Confession of Faith (3)
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