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habakkuk

Author/Date

The book of Habakkuk was written by Habakkuk himself. Habakkuk was a Judean prophet related to the tribe of Levi and has a ministerial background. The whole book allegedly comes from Habakkuk, but scholars object to the third chapter being written by Habakkuk because it is a psalm, and not a prophecy, that acknowledges musical details which came later in Israel’s history. These debates are deceiving because levitical music continued long before Habakkuk’s time. It is only reasonable for someone within the Levitical tribe to be educated in this type of music. The book of Habakkuk addresses the infamy of the conquering Babylonians. His preaching shows up to be during Jehoiakim’s reign of Judah. The book of Habakkuk most likely was written just after the fall of Nineveh to the Babylonians in 612 B.C. or after the exploitation of the poor after Josiah’s death in 609 B.C..

Audience

Habakkuk directs his message of condemnation at the selfish patricians and the improper religious leaders who were afflicting the lower-class people of Judah.

Themes

The Mysteries of Providence. The main theme of Habakkuk is trying to grow from a faith of not understanding and having doubt to the peak of absolute trust in God. Habakkuk mentions his concerns over the fact that God would use the Babylonians empire to behead judgement on Judah for their sins. Habakkuk willingly questions the wisdom of God. In the beginning of the first chapter, Habakkuk sees the abuse of his people and asks God why He does not do anything about it. God then points out that He will send the Babylonians to discipline His people. In the end of the chapter, Habakkuk is confused at God’s choice of judgement. In the second chapter, Habakkuk anticipates God’s reply to His challenge. God clarifies that He will judge the Babylonians much worse. In the last chapter, Habakkuk shows his true faith in God, even when he still does not totally understand.

Notable Passages

2:4 - The Morning Star of the Reformation 2:14 - The Triumph of Missions

2:15 - The Woe to the Drunkard-maker 3:17 - 18 - All-conquering Faith

Outline

Summary

Habakkuk lived during the time of crime and idolatry which was in the final decades of Israel’s kingdom. Habakkuk does not blame Israel and does not even speak on God’s favor to the people. He only speaks to God and asks why. This book tells about Habakkuk’s struggles, trying to believe that God is really good when there is so much evil and wrecks in the world. Habakkuk’s arguments are actually poems of sorrow, much like the poems in Psalms. He starts to complain about the crime of the world asking God to do something about it. Chapter 1 and 2 go back and forth of the argument between Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk has two complaints to which God has two responses. The first complaint he has is about the souls in Israel and how they have become so horrible. The Torah had become decayed, violence and crime was growing, and it’s all because of Israel’s leaders. He waits for an answer from God, but nothing seems to change. God finally responds by telling Habakkuk that He is fully aware of all the crime in His own people and that He’s waiting for the city of Babylon to come and take down His justice upon Israel. He will use the Babylonian empire to destroy Israel because of their crime and evil. Habakkuk did not like God’s response and complains a second time. He says that Babylon is even worse than Israel. They are even more untrustworthy and violent. They treat humans like animals, destroying other nations to build their own empire. He asks how can such a loving and good God use the Babylonians as His instrument of justice. Habakkuk then makes himself the watchman of the city walls while waiting for God’s response. God finally tells Habakkuk to get some tablets and write down everything that he hears and sees in the vision. The events are about a time in the future that may seem like it’s coming slowly, but it will eventually come. God continues by saying that a righteous man will live by faith in this hope and vision. He says that that the violence and abuse in the nations will create a never ending revolution of revenge and that He will use the revolution to bring about the rise and fall of the nations.

God’s promises are clarified by a course of five “woes” that define the types of crime and abuse that are executed by the nations like Babylon. The first two “woes” point to unfair business methods such as how the wealthy people charge absurd amounts of interest just so that the poor people would always be in debt. The third “woe” is a judgment of slave labour, treating human beings like animals and threatening them if they did not produce . The fourth “woe” points to the abuse of alcohol. The people were giving wine till they were drunk and then taking advantage of the drunkenness. The last “woe” reveals the idolatry. God mocks their desire to seek guidance from wood/stone and directs the people back to the Temple.

The prayer of Habakkuk is him begging God to do something about the evil in the world like He did in the past. Habakkuk retells the stories of Israel’s past with God; mainly with Noah’s flood and the exodus from Egypt. He closes his song with acceptance ogf God’s judgement. Despite the coming calamity, he will still rejoice in the Lord. This hope is what brings Habakkuk to complete the book with a cheerful praise even when the world is falling apart around him. He chooses trust and joy from the promises that God gives.

Application

Habakkuk becomes a good example of how Christians should live by faith even when he recognizes how dark and crazy life can be. He gives an example of how to live by faith, trusting that God loves this world more than anybody, and He will do something about the evil someday.

Resources

habakkuk.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/30 21:39 by reneepatton