Habakkuk ministers during the death of Judah. The nation had stubbornly refused to repent and change their sinful ways. Habakkuk was a prophet and may have been a priest connected with the temple worship in Jerusalem.
Habakkuk struggles in his faith when he sees men flagrantly violate God’s law and distort justice on every level, without any fear of God’s retribution. He wants to know why God allows the iniquity to go unpunished for so long. When God revels His intention to use the Babylonians as His rod of judgment, Habakkuk becomes even more troubled, because that nation is even more wicked than Judah.
In spite of appearances to the contrary, God is still on the throne as the Lord of history and the Ruler of all nations. God may be slow to wrath, but all iniquity will be punished eventually and in His timing. The righteous will trust in Him at all times. No matter what God brings to pass, “The just shall live by faith” (2:4).
The Book of Habakkuk is an amazing book and deals with understanding God’s ways.
Verse 1 – The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
Habakkuk lived in Judah during the time of Jehoiakim. He prophesied between the fall of Nineveh in 612 B.C. and the Babylonian invasion of Judah 588 B.C. While the other prophet’s books brought God’s message to the people, this one brings the people’s questions to God.
Verse 2 – O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” and You will not save.
Do we not ask God the same thing? “How long, Lord, will You let the injustices go on?”
Verse 3 – Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises.
Verse 4 – Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds.
These verses kind of remind me of our leaders who lie, are deceitful, steal, commit treason against our country, make laws that they themselves don’t follow, and nobody ever goes to jail for the crimes they have committed.
God’s First Reply
Verse 5 – “Look among the nations and watch – be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.
Verse 6 – For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breath of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
The Babylonians made a rapid rise to power around 630 B.C. They began to assert themselves against the Assyrian empire in 605 B.C.
Verse 7 – They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.
Verse 8 – Their horses also are swifter than leopards, and more fierce than evening wolves. Their charges charge ahead; their cavalry comes form afar; they fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.
This comparison with animals, illustrate the speed, brutality, and efficiency of the Babylonian military machine.
Verse 9 – “They all come for violence; their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.
Verse 10 – They scoff at kings, and princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, for they heap up mounds of earth and seize it.
Verse 11 – Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; he commits offense, imputing the power to his good.”
Did you catch that? The goal of idolatry is self-glory. You make yourself the god. The aim of Christianity is God’s glory. All the credit and honor belong to Him.
Verse 12 – Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One. We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.
Habakkuk recognizes that God is everlasting, unlike the Chaldeans god. He also knew the Chaldeans would not totally destroy them. Marking the Chaldean’s for correction – judgment.
Verse 13 – You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours one more righteous than he?
Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God would use the Babylonians to punish Judah, because they were more wicked than Judah. The Babylonians didn’t know they were being used and the punishment of Judah was supposed to turn God’s people towards Him.
Verse 14 – Why do You make men like the fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them?
Verse 15 – They 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.
Habakkuk compared Nebuchadnezzar as the fisherman, that would hook the people at will and destroy them. Habakkuk wondered why God was going to allow that from such an evil king.
Verse 16 – Therefore they sacrifice to their net, and burn incense to their dragnet; because by them their share is sumptuous and their food plenteous.
Verse 17 – Shall they therefore empty their net and continue to slay nations without pity?
Don’t we all hate to see the wicked succeed? We hate to see evil people win. This same thing bothered Habakkuk, so he asked God why. We all come to understand God a little more through each trial and test, but we all have questions of why did God allow it in the first place. Just always keep this in mind: God has a purpose of something much greater than we can see. That is why we trust His wisdom, not ours.