Habakkuk 1-3

Thursday Evening Bible Study

June 8, 2006


What do you do when life takes a turn for the worse?

What do you do when it seems like God is silent?

What do you do when life doesn’t make sense?

Jesus gave us hints that there would be difficult times in our lives:

(Mat 7:24-27 NKJV)  "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: {25} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. {26} "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: {27} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

The storms are going to come for everyone.  Everyone will go through difficult times.  But will you survive them?
Jesus said if you based your life upon obeying God’s Word you would survive.

(Mat 13:5-6 NKJV)  "Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. {6} "But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.

(Mat 13:20-21 NKJV)  "But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; {21} "yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.

The seed sown on rocky soil didn’t survive because it didn’t have deep roots.
The hot sun would fall on all the soils, but only the plants with deep roots would survive.

What do you do to survive the tough times that are coming?

Habakkuk 1

:1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

HabakkukChabaqquwq – “embrace”

We believe the book was written somewhere before 607 BC.

It is a warning about the very soon coming Babylonian invasion of Judah.

Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah.

:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, "Violence!" And You will not save.


God is silent

There are times in life when it seems like we pray, but God isn’t listening.
Sometimes the reason is because of sin in our life:
David wrote,

(Psa 66:18 NKJV)  If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.

Saul went through a time when he didn’t hear anything from God.

Saul was used to being able to ask God questions and get answers.  He’d ask a priest, he’d get answers from a prophet.

(1 Sam 28:3-7 NKJV)  Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had lamented for him and buried him in Ramah, in his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the spiritists out of the land. {4} Then the Philistines gathered together, and came and encamped at Shunem. So Saul gathered all Israel together, and they encamped at Gilboa. {5} When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. {6} And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreams or by Urim or by the prophets. {7} Then Saul said to his servants, "Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her." And his servants said to him, "In fact, there is a woman who is a medium at En Dor."

Saul was praying, but God wasn’t answering.

Saul resorted to going to a witch to find answers.  This was one of the things that ended up costing him his life.

What was Saul’s problem?  He wasn’t right with God.

Sometimes God just waits before answering.
Jeremiah had just survived the Babylonian invasion.  Then there was an assassination of the governor put in place by the Babylonians.  The people weren’t sure what to do.  Should they run away?
(Jer 42:1-7 NKJV)  Now all the captains of the forces, Johanan the son of Kareah, Jezaniah the son of Hoshaiah, and all the people, from the least to the greatest, came near {2} and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Please, let our petition be acceptable to you, and pray for us to the LORD your God, for all this remnant (since we are left but a few of many, as you can see), {3} "that the LORD your God may show us the way in which we should walk and the thing we should do." {4} Then Jeremiah the prophet said to them, "I have heard. Indeed, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your words, and it shall be, that whatever the LORD answers you, I will declare it to you. I will keep nothing back from you." {5} So they said to Jeremiah, "Let the LORD be a true and faithful witness between us, if we do not do according to everything which the LORD your God sends us by you. {6} "Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God." {7} And it happened after ten days that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah.

God had an answer.  But it wouldn’t come for almost two weeks.

I’m sure this wasn’t a big problem in Jeremiah’s day – but for us, we can’t wait an extra minute for the microwave to finish cooking our meal.  We want answers immediately.

Sometimes you just have to learn to wait for the answer.

: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.

:4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

: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.


New things

There’s a similar prophecy in Isaiah:
(Isa 43:18-19 NKJV)  "Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. {19} Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.

Here God is speaking of doing a wonderful new work.  Would we even recognize it if we saw it.

This week at the Pastor’s Conference we experienced a fresh outpouring of God’s Spirit.  On Sunday night in our service I felt like God met us as we were waiting on Him, worshipping and praying.

Some of us too often refer to the “good old days” and the things that happened in the Jesus Movement.

Could it be that there might even better days ahead?  Would we even see it?

But Habakkuk isn’t talking about a good thing coming.
He’s talking about the coming Babylonian invasion.

And it’s something that the people couldn’t even imagine happening.

They felt that they were a righteous people and the Babylonians were a wicked idolatrous people.

How could the righteous ever be defeated by a wicked people?

I wonder about our own nation and the things that might be ahead of us.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, we could not have even imagined a terrorist threat on our soil.

And I wonder if we haven’t grown a little more complacent.

What would you do if your world was shaken to the core?

:6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

Chaldeans – the Babylonians

:7 They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.

:8 Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.

evening wolves – extra hungry because they did not find anything to eat all day, now it is night and they attack.

:9 "They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

:10 They scoff at kings, And princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.

earthen mounds – building a siege mound to conquer a city, break through the walls.

:11 Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god."

The Babylonians thought they were strong because of their “gods”.

: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.

: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 A person more righteous than he?

If God is pure, how could He dare to look upon evil?

I’ve heard people use this idea to say that God can’t dwell where there is sin.

First – this is incorrect thinking.  God is gracious.  God lives in you and you still sin don’t you?
Second – this isn’t what the passage is saying.  The passage is asking the question.  And the answer that astounds Habakkuk is that God is going to use a wicked nation (Babylon) to judge a righteous nation (Judah).
You might say that the nation of Judah wasn’t that righteous, but as wicked as they were, they were WAY more righteous than Babylon.
Could God bring judgment on the United States through a wicked terrorist organization?  I’m afraid the answer is yes.

:14 Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?

: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.

A picture of the nation being caught in the net of Babylon.

:16 Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous And their food plentiful.

:17 Shall they therefore empty their net, And continue to slay nations without pity?

Habakkuk 2

:1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.



Habakkuk says he will wait for God’s answer.
We need to cultivate patience.

:2 Then the LORD answered me and said: "Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

These warnings about Babylon will be coming to pass.  It’s going to happen.

:4 "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

livechayah to live, have life, remain alive, sustain life, live prosperously, live for ever, be quickened, be alive, be restored to life or health

This is the key verse to the whole book.


Living by faith

This is an important verse in the Bible and is quoted several times in the New Testament.
There are two aspects of what it means to “live” by faith.
1.  Survival

This is the idea of “salvation”.  You don’t “die” when you have faith, you “live”.  You won’t be killed by the Babylonians, but you’ll “live” if you are a person of faith.

Paul uses this to stress that our eternal salvation is also through “faith” and not by “works”.

(Rom 1:16-17 NKJV)  For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. {17} For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

(Gal 3:11 NKJV)  But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."

2.  Continuing

The idea here is how you choose to “live” your life, how you continue to “live”.

The writer to the Hebrews uses the verse this way:

(Heb 10:35-39 NKJV)  Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. {36} For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: {37} "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. {38} Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." {39} But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

We don’t just receive salvation and live through faith.

We need to continue to live our lives by trusting God.


:5 "Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.

I believe that Habakkuk is going to start listing the various sins of the nation of Judah, the reasons for the coming judgment.

:6 "Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, 'Woe to him who increases What is not his; how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges'?

:7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.

:8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men's blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

:9 "Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

:10 You give shameful counsel to your house, Cutting off many peoples, And sin against your soul.

:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

:12 "Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!

:13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain?

God has a part in making life difficult for the person who is opposed to Him.

:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

This is a great prophecy of the Millennial Kingdom – when Jesus returns.  This specific prophecy is repeated in:

(Num 14:21 NKJV)  "but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD;

(Psa 72:19 NKJV)  And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.

(Isa 6:3 NKJV)  And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!"

(Isa 11:9 NKJV)  They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.

:15 "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!

:16 You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also; drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord's right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.

:17 For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, And the plunder of beasts which made them afraid, Because of men's blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

:18 "What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?

:19 Woe to him who says to wood, 'Awake!' To silent stone, 'Arise! It shall teach!' Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all.

:20 But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him."

If we would only realize how great and awesome our God is.

He is still on the throne.

Sometimes we should just shut up and be quiet.

(Psa 33:8 NKJV)  Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.
(Mat 10:28 NKJV)  "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
(1 Pet 1:17 NKJV)  And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;

Habakkuk 3

:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

Shigionoth – we don’t know what this means.

:2 O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

I like that even in God’s wrath, Habakkuk is asking God to be merciful.

:3 God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.

These next couple of verses could simply be relating a vision of God’s coming, perhaps pictured in a storm.  Some of the language sounds like previous battles where God showed up.

But Teman and Paran could also be related to Edom, and reminds me of another passage:

 (Isa 63:1-4 NKJV)  Who is this who comes from Edom, With dyed garments from Bozrah, This One who is glorious in His apparel, Traveling in the greatness of His strength?; "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." {2} Why is Your apparel red, And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? {3} "I have trodden the winepress alone, And from the peoples no one was with Me. For I have trodden them in My anger, And trampled them in My fury; Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, And I have stained all My robes. {4} For the day of vengeance is in My heart, And the year of My redeemed has come.
This is when Jesus comes back.  He will come first to rescue the Jewish people who have fled to the wilderness at Petra and are about to be killed by the antichrist.  He will rescue them.

:4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.

:5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

:6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

:7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

:8 O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

:9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah You divided the earth with rivers.

:10 The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.

:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

:12 You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

:13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

:14 You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

:15 You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.

:16 When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.

Habakkuk has been reminded of the terrible coming Babylonian invasion.

But now He has this tremendous vision of God that makes him want to faint.

:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls;

One suggestion is that this might be referring to what would happen when the Babylonians came through the land and tore it apart.

For us, there are going to be times in life when we just don’t see any fruit.  There are going to be times when it seems that the enemy is stealing all our fruit.

For years at our old house we tried growing a grape vine.  I almost felt like it would be a sign of the health of our church.  I remember one year we actually had some good clusters going on the vine.  But one day I went out to check on the grapes and all that was left was empty stems – the birds got to them.

:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

:19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

deer’s feet – gazelle’s feet, sure-footed confidence.


Stability and joy come from trusting God, not circumstances.

Too often we get our joy from the “fruit”, from the things that look like good results.
So are we going to stop loving God when live gets uncomfortable?
We need to be sure that our stability isn’t based on circumstance, but on God and God alone.

On a balmy October afternoon in 1982, Badger Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin, was packed. More than 60,000 die-hard University of Wisconsin supporters were watching their football team take on the Michigan State Spartans. It soon became obvious that MSU had the better team.

What seemed odd, however, as the score became more lopsided, were the bursts of applause and shouts of joy from the Wisconsin fans. How could they cheer when their team was losing?  It turns out that seventy miles away the Milwaukee Brewers were beating the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the 1982 World Series.

Many of the fans in the stands were listening to portable radios--and responding to something other than their immediate circumstances.

-- Greg Asimakoupoulos


While on a short-term missions trip, Pastor Jack Hinton was leading worship at a leper colony on the island of Tobago. A woman who had been facing away from the pulpit turned around.

“It was the most hideous face I had ever seen,” Hinton said. “The woman’s nose and ears were entirely gone. She lifted a fingerless hand in the air and asked, ‘Can we sing Count Your Many Blessings?’ “

Overcome with emotion, Hinton left the service. He was followed by a team member who said, “I guess you’ll never be able to sing that song again.”

“Yes I will,” he replied, “but I’ll never sing it the same way.”

-- The Pastor's Update


As the farthest reach of our love for each other is loving our enemies, as the farthest reach of God's love for us is loving us at our most unlovable and unlovely, so the farthest reach of our love for God is loving him when in almost every way that matters we can neither see him nor hear him ... when the worst of the wilderness for us is the fear that he has forsaken us if indeed he exists at all.

-- Frederick Buechner

How do you survive when monstrous things happen?
We survive by trusting in God, despite our circumstances.

(2 Cor 4:16-18 NKJV)  Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. {17} For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, {18} while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The just shall live by his faith.