Habakkuk 1

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Ahabiblemoments begins this narrative commentary series on Habakkuk quite differently. You can click on the following and hear a three-minute overview of the Book of Habakkuk.


Has anyone ever asked of God WHY(?) this or that? Habakkuk did this 2700 years ago and he was a prophet of God. Some amazing understandings and clarity of our Christian issues today are revealed in the very first chapter Habakkuk. Answers to many of our common questions come to light.

One of the spiritual concerns of Habakkuk was that God seemingly would not answer his pleadings, petitions, prayers, and requests. He prophesied around 612 B.C. This is at the time of the fall of Nineveh and Assyria. Jonah wished the Assyrians (Nineveh) to be judged many years earlier but much to the chagrin of Jonah they repented. The Book of Micah exemplifies what Jonah had wished to be ill on the Assyrians. He also pointed the warning finger to both northern and southern kingdoms of Israelis. Nahum tells the Ninevites, you will have no more warnings. Here comes God’s judgement. Habakkuk sees God’s punishment happen (as also did Micah). But, he had difficulty understanding why God would replace the Assyrians with an even greater nation of evildoers.

Reminder of the sequence of prophetic events:

  • Amos: The book of Amos was to announce God’s holy judgment on the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern ten Tribes of Israel). This happened 120 years before Habakkuk prophesied in 712 B.C.
  • Obadiah: His prophetic mission as an Israeli was to the cousins of the Israelites; the Edomites or descendants of Jacob’s twin brother Esau.
  • Jonah: Like to Obadiah, Jonah took the same type of message to the Assyrians in their capital city of Nineveh.
  • Micah: As does Isaiah, the book of Amos announced God’s judgment on the Kingdom of Israel (the Northern ten Tribes of Israelis).
  • Nahum: Nahum 100 years earlier was essentially God’s follow up of the warnings to the Assyrians by Jonah. They repented then but fell back in their old ways within their next generations.
  • Habakkuk: He witnessed the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. (Assyrians) to an even more merciless people called the Chaldeans (Babylonians). He also saw the fall of the southern Kingdom of Judah to the same Chaldean-Babylonians.

Habakkuk 1:1,2 He begins his book by asking God a very blunt question. It almost reads like Habakkuk thinks God does not listen. “How long shall I cry; will you not listen; I cry out to you; will you not intervene” (paraphrase mine)? This is like Jeremiah 12:1. Jeremiah is asking the same thing of God. It is different circumstances but like Habakkuk questioning the ways of God.

Habakkuk 1:3 Christian believers who are some studied in the Word of God ask the same question today. Even do those who are believers ask…Where do we not see or hear of strife, contentions, iniquities, trouble around us, plundering and violence? It is everywhere and NOT just in the United States. We can add to this by reading the next verse in Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 1:4 “The law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.” Are we not seeing this all around us today? Habakkuk sees it daily. It is around 612 B.C. (BCE: Before Current Era).

Habakkuk 1:4 God responds to Habakkuk in a vision; “this is what Habakkuk saw” [verse 1]. There is ruthlessness all around and the just seem to be the minority. God does not deny this. Even the laws of the land do not stop the evil. At times there seems to be a two-tier justice system. One set of enforced laws for the commoner and another set of limited laws for the elite. Let’s make it a three-tier system. The third tier is those who follow not any law other than domination, strength, and force…my gun is bigger than your gun attitudes. The laws of nature. Woe to those then and now who didn’t have let’s say, a means to defend self and family. What is going on with Habakkuk if he doesn’t feel or think GOD is a defense against such woes?

Habakkuk 1:5 God tells Habakkuk to not be nearsighted but look to the nations in existence at that time. God is telling Habakkuk to be more observing. Recall what has happened and what will happen. One should underline the following. Habakkuk saw the fall of Assyria and the fall of the Kingdom of Judah. He saw some of Jeremiah’s prophecies fulfilled. Jeremiah, Zephaniah and Habakkuk were contemporaries. He knew of the fall of the northern Kingdom of Israel. More on this human attitude in Habakkuk 2:5

Importantly is what God tells Habakkuk in verse 1:5b. “I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.” It is amazing that Habakkuk, a prophet of God is told by God that he would not believe even if God told him? This in and of itself is astounding.

Habakkuk 1:6 is part of that unbelief God says Habakkuk will have…even though God is telling him. God says that he is raising up a counter-nation to Assyria, one that has an even worse attitude than did/do the Assyrians? How can this be? How can a God of creation do such a thing? Instead, how about a Red Sea event? Maybe another plague as in Egypt but now upon these bad Assyrian people? What about another Jericho Wall miracle? Perhaps a reuniting of all the Tribes of Israel, a strong leader, and a swift victory for their armed forces such as in the time of Jehoshaphat?

NOPE God says! I will use an even worse and evil nation to dissolve Assyria for the life of this planet earth.

Habakkuk 1:7-11 (NIV) God admits his solution is to use a more troubling nation than were the Assyrians. God even gave Habakkuk a long list of the reputation against humanity by those soon to invade Nineveh then Judah itself.

  1. They are terrible and dreadful
  2. Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves
  3. Their horses are as swift as leopards
  4. They are as dreaded as the evening wolf packs on the hunt
  5. They seem to not weary of their long travels
  6. They soar as eagles hunting for prey
  7. Their arrival or sight on the horizon means pending violence
  8. They gather captives as does the fierce easterly dust storms gathers sands
  9. They make mockery of other kings (and their gods)
  10. The Chaldeans are elated at their success just to transgress even more

One would think that Habakkuk’s complaint to God to this point in chapter 1 is personally dangerous waters. But he isn’t done trying to remind God who God is yet seems to violate HIS own standards.

Habakkuk 1:12  First Habakkuk recognizes and compliments God for who he is. Then…(v13b).Cntrl/Click on this link and read it for oneself. In verse 13a Habakkuk points out that God is pure, then he asks why he tolerates evil against mankind and God himself. Verse 13 also addresses a personal question some may hesitate to admit to wanting to ask but it is in one’s mind. Why does God allow the less righteous to dominate those who are trying to live a righteous life?

Habakkuk 1:14  Now Habakkuk, in a way, accuses God of not being a God of justice. Habakkuk says that God allows men to create a state of anarchy, by wrong going unpunished. It is as if there were no God of concern. He compares the world to the sea; men to fishes; Nebuchadnezzar to a fisherman (Jameison-Fausset-Brown).

Dr. David Guzik expresses this passage quite well in his commentary on Habakkuk:

It would be like crying out to God about the state of the church in America, and hearing God respond by saying, “I’ll fix the problem by [allowing] a Communist invasion of America.” We would say, “Wait a minute LORD – the problem is bad, but your cure is worse than the disease!”

We at ahabiblemoments see it similarly. It is like a former Christian nation like America crying out to God about the church being repressed and God says…”I will fix it by bringing socialists to power in your congress.”

Habakkuk 1:15They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.” They delight in giving misery to others. Recall Habakkuk is not talking about the brutal Assyrians but of a force God is going to bring to uproot the Assyrians. These same people will within a couple years do the same to the Kingdom of Judah.

The last two verses of Habakkuk chapter 1 are, in a sense, similar to Matthew 13:12-14. God already told Habakkuk earlier in this chapter that even if God attempted to explained it to him, he would not understand. This is NOT a viable excuse for a Christian to neglect studying the Words of God. One cannot hide behind the excuse of not understanding. First gain knowledge then seek understanding. Read how Habakkuk handles this in verse 1 of chapter 2.

Rev Dr Jstark

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