This book of prophecy was written as a psalm. It begins with Habakkuk questioning God about why He was letting His people suffer so much at the hands of the evil Chaldeans. Have you questioned God? Why is He letting terrorists kill innocent children? Why is He letting brave troops be killed, maimed, and destroyed in war after war? Why are people hungry, homeless, and hopeless? Why are you suffering so much? Why is God letting people hurt you? Maybe you haven’t questioned God, but Habakkuk did. And he didn’t hold back.
Verses 1-4 lists Habakkuk's complaints to God.
“The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.”
Habakkuk was not happy with the state of things. He yelled at God, “Where are you? Look at us down here! Things are not good. It’s all falling apart!” Have you left us? Are you up there playing cards while we suffer down here? But he also let God answer and he listened to God’s answers.
Verses 5-11 is The Lord’s answer.
“Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are dreaded and fearsome;
their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
9 They all come for violence,
all their faces forward.
They gather captives like sand.
10 At kings they scoff,
and at rulers they laugh.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they pile up earth and take it.
11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
God said, “You are going to be amazed at the great work I’m doing for you. I’m raising up the evil and violent Chaldeans. I’m letting their sin, their pride, violence idolatry, and conceit look like it’s helping them but it’s gonna hang them.”
Habakkuk realized then that God has a plan but he still didn’t appreciate the way things were. Verse 12-13 of chapter 1 read,
“Are you not from everlasting,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
and cannot look at wrong,
why do you idly look at traitors
and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
the man more righteous than he?”
He said, Okay, Lord, you’re using them as discipline for us. But they are way worse than we are! They sinning day and night and their sins are really bad! They’re killing us! They’re getting rich and God, you’re letting them! (verses 14-17). Even though Habakkuk was questioning God, he was willing to listen to the answer. Chapter 2 verse 1 says,
“I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”
God can handle our questions and even our anger. But if we question Him, we need to listen to the answer or else we’re not questioning, we’re whining and complaining. Verses 2-5 begin God’s answer to the prophet.
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him,
but the righteous shall live by his faith.
5 “Moreover, wine is a traitor,
an arrogant man who is never at rest.
His greed is as wide as Sheol;
like death he has never enough.
He gathers for himself all nations
and collects as his own all peoples.”
God said, Things are going to play out the way I say. Don’t look at how sin appears to be prospering them and give in to sin yourself. Stay following me. Let the wicked do what they do and you’ll see that my righteousness will save you. In verses 6-20 God tells Habakkuk what will happen to the Chaldeans. In verses 13-14 God says, “I still care about you. I haven’t forgotten you. The verses read,
“Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts
that peoples labor merely for fire,
and nations weary themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.”
God has his reasons even when we can’t see them, even when they seem horrible and unfair. He has His purposes. He wants the world to know Him. He also told Habakkuk things are bad and they are gonna get worse. I want you to really know me. I want my people to leave all those idols and follow me.
When you are going through the worst circumstances, look around and ask if there are lessons you can learn? Each trial we face gives us a choice to turn to The Lord, to our idols like money, or the biggest idol of all, ourselves. Verses 19-20 put it this way.
“Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake;
to a silent stone, Arise!
Can this teach?
Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver,
and there is no breath at all in it.
20 But the Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth keep silence before him.”
Habakkuk had questioned God, but he also listened to His answer. He kept in mind all God had done in the past and knew that The Lord wanted good things for His people. Chapter 3 verses 1-16 List some of the great works God has done. Verse 13 tells us God’s ultimate purpose in all things.
“You went out for the salvation of your people,
for the salvation of your anointed.
You crushed the head of the house of the wicked,
laying him bare from thigh to neck. Selah”
Habakkuk knew that salvation of the people and conquering Satan was God’s purpose. So he accepted that for the time circumstances would be bad, but God had not forsaken His people. This is true, all the time. You don’t have to worry or concern yourself with why good things happen to people that hurt you. You don’t have to worry about the bad times that you go through. God has got it all in His hands. He has you. Things can get really awful sometimes. You may feel like you can’t even survive the pain. But you have God. Jesus is in you and you are being transformed to His image. God will take care of the people that hurt you, and in doing so He might bring them to Him. God will take care of you and carry you through everything. And in the end, if you call Jesus Lord, then you will enjoy an eternity of Heaven with Him. You can always carry that hope through anything. But He is here with you now and He is carrying out a great plan.
Verse 16-19 reads,
“I hear, and my body trembles;
my lips quiver at the sound;
rottenness enters into my bones;
my legs tremble beneath me.
Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble
to come upon people who invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
19 God, the Lord, is my strength;
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.
To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”
Habakkuk’s circumstances were not good. They had not changed from the time He had questioned God. But his attitude had changed when God revealed His steadfast love to the doubting prophet. His attitude changed so much that Habakkuk wrote a song to praise God for exactly the same thing he had grumbled about previously.
So if you are angry with God. If you can’t understand why you are suffering. Go ahead and talk to Him, go ahead and cry out to Him. And remember, His love is never ending, never failing, and always works for the best for you, Believer.