Morning Bible Study
We can only get a ballpark idea of when Habakkuk wrote.
The best guess is that he wrote during the early part of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, somewhere between 606 and 604
It was a time when Judah was not walking with the Lord.
It is at the early part of Jeremiah’s ministry.
It is also around the time of Nahum, when the Assyrians were about to be
defeated by the up and coming Babylonians.
Habakkuk the man
We don’t know much at all about the man Habakkuk
Various traditions popped up over time, but they don’t
seem to have any credibility. One of the
traditions is in the Apocrypha (Bel and the Dragon
33-39). In the story, Habakkuk is making
bread and a stew when an angel appears, grabs Habakkuk by the hair, and flies
him from Judea to Babylon where he delivers the food to Daniel while he’s in the lion’s den.
Then the angel flies Habakkuk back to Judea. I think the angel’s name was “Domino” and we
have the first recorded pizza delivery.
the angel of the Lord said to Habakkuk, “Take the food that
you have to Babylon, to Daniel, in the lions’ den.” Habakkuk said, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I know
nothing about the den.” Daniel said, “You have remembered me, O God, and have not
forsaken those who love you.” So
Some have suggested that because of the song that he writes at the end of
the book (ch. 3), that Habakkuk might have been not
only a prophet, but a priest familiar with Temple
Habakkuk the book
Habakkuk is different from most other prophecies in that it is not directed at a specific nation, but is more about
asking questions of God.
Instead of the prophet speaking to people for God, the prophet is speaking
to God for the people.
The key verse in the whole book is
(Habakkuk 2:4b NKJV) …But the just shall live by his faith.
Even though the book is a small one, and one that most of us hardly ever
read, this one verse will be quoted three times in the
New Testament – in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. This verse is a cornerstone of Christianity –
the importance of faith.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to
faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by
But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is
evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”
in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your
care for me has flourished again; though you surely
did care, but you lacked opportunity. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again
for my necessities.
1:1-4 Habakkuk’s question
:1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
:2 O Lord,
how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You,
“Violence!” And You will not save.
:2 how long shall I cry
When God is silent
Habakkuk is disturbed by the wickedness that he has
seen going on in his nation of Judah. He
has been asking God about this, but God hasn’t been
There are times in life when it seems like we pray, but God isn’t listening.
We ask questions, and God doesn’t
seem to be answering.
It’s kind of like when the kids
ask that particular question on a long car ride…
Video: Shrek - Are we there yet?
Some of the reasons God may be silent may include…
Sin in my life
66:18 NKJV) If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord
will not hear.
59:2 NKJV) But your
iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His
face from you,
So that He will not hear.
King Saul went through a time when he didn’t hear
anything from God.
Saul used to be able to ask God questions and get
ask a priest, or he’d get answers from a prophet.
Toward the end of his life, he had been living in such
rebellion against God that God simply didn’t answer.
Samuel 28:6 NKJV) And when Saul
inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, either by
dreams or by Urim or by the prophets.
Saul was praying, but God wasn’t
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.
We might not often to think about it, but we are surrounded
by a multitude of invisible beings called angels.
While we live in a world that’s visible to the
eye, they live in a world that is not necessarily observable by human beings.
The prophet Daniel had been fasting and praying over his people, the nation
of Israel, for three weeks. He wasn’t getting any answers from God. And then an angelic
being appeared before him.
10:12–14 NKJV) —12 Then he said to me, “Do not
fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and
to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come
because of your words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood
me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came
to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have
come to make you understand what will happen to your people in the latter days,
for the vision refers to many days yet to come.”
Sometimes the answers you seek involve a spiritual
battle. You need to keep doing your part
and praying. Keep at it.
Video: Nolan’s Nuts Squirrel
Don’t quit when the enemy attacks
and flattens you. Get back up, keep
praying, and keep going.
It’s just not time
For one reason or another, sometimes we just have to wait.
It’s not necessarily because we’ve sinned, we need
to wait for God’s time.
After Jeremiah survived the Babylonian invasion, 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? They ask Jeremiah to ask God what they should
42:7 NKJV) And it
happened after ten days that the word of the Lord
came to Jeremiah.
The answer didn’t come
instantly. It came ten days later.
My wife and I are constantly amazed at how technology has
changed how we connect with people.
You can be sitting at home in Fullerton looking at Facebook
when you see Kim Beller posting pictures of their
kids in Hungary. Then you see pictures
that Laura Grant has posted of her babies in South Africa. On Easter Sunday I
had a text message early in the morning and spent a few minutes chatting with
Alexi in Russia.
We have a difficult time waiting five minutes. Jeremiah waited ten days.
: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.
Habakkuk had been praying about the sin of his own nation, Judah.
Habakkuk is troubled by the wickedness in Judah.
:4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice
never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore
perverse judgment proceeds.
:4 the law is powerless
The judges in the land were corrupt and not following the law.
Jeremiah recorded what was going on at that time.
22:13–17 NKJV) —13 “Woe to him who builds his
house by unrighteousness And his chambers by injustice, Who uses his neighbor’s service without wages And gives
him nothing for his work, 14 Who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, And cut
out windows for it, Paneling it with cedar And painting it with vermilion.’ 15
“Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not
your father eat and drink, And do justice and righteousness? Then it
was well with him. 16 He judged the cause of the poor and needy; Then it was
well. Was not this
knowing Me?” says the Lord. 17 “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your
covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence.”
:4 Therefore perverse judgment proceeds
When God doesn’t punish sin immediately, people
get the idea that they can get away with anything. It also works the same in the human justice
system – people think they can do anything when they aren’t
8:11 NKJV) Because the sentence against an
evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the
heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
These are the things that have been worrying Habakkuk.
1:5-11 God’s Response
: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.
: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.
:6 I am raising up the Chaldeans
“Chaldeans” is another name for the Babylonians.
Up to this point in history, the Assyrians were the empire that dominated
the world, but things are going to change.
In 624 BC, war had broken out between Babylon and Assyria.
In 612 BC, Babylon joined with the Medes, Persians, Cimmerians, and
Scythians to conquer Nineveh.
In 605 BC, Babylon would finally break the back of the Assyrians at the
battle of Carchemish
So‘And they shall take away some of
your sons who will descend from you, whom you will beget; and they shall be
eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.’ ”
:5 a work … Which you would not
Sometimes we put God in a box and think that He will only work in certain
For example, we have this notion that good guys win
and bad guys lose.
We think that good guys will always be rewarded and bad guys will always get
what’s coming to them.
That’s one of the reasons why we
wonder what we did wrong when something bad happens to us.
The “unbelievable” thing to Habakkuk was that God would use a wicked people
to bring judgment on His own people.
Of course the people of Judah had also become wicked, but
the Babylonians were off-the-charts wicked.
How could God use people more wicked
than Judah to punish them?
That doesn’t seem fair.
That would almost be like America experiencing defeat by a
nation more wicked than we are.
Jeremiah wondered the same thing as Habakkuk.
12:1 NKJV) Righteous are You, O Lord, when I plead with You; Yet let me talk with You about Your judgments. Why does
the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled;When
When Paul was preaching in the synagogue at Antioch in Psidia,
he ended his sermon by quoting Habakkuk 1:5
13:40–41 NKJV) —40 Beware therefore, lest what
has been spoken in the prophets come upon you: 41 ‘Behold, you despisers, Marvel and
perish! For I work
a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one
were to declare it to you.’ ”
Paul is warning those who would reject the gospel that
they would be facing God’s judgment, just as God judged Judah through the
Sometimes the thing that seems unbelievable is something too good to be
Isaiah wrote something similar,
43:18–19 NKJV) —18 “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
Who could imagine something so
cool as a river running through a desert?
March a cool event was captured on video. The river Zin is 75
miles long and runs through the Negev Desert in Israel into the Dead Sea. It’s usually just a
dry river bed, and has been dry for years.
On March 14, heavy rainfall on the mountains miles away caused water to
run down and fill the riverbed.
Video: River Zin
God can do anything.
Isaiah also wrote,
64:4 NKJV) For since the beginning of the
world Men have not
heard nor perceived by the ear, Nor has the eye seen any God besides
You, Who acts
for the one who waits for Him.
In context, Isaiah is speaking prophetically about
Israel’s coming captivity. They might have been taken away for seventy years, but God had
good things planned for them.
Paul quoted Isaiah when he wrote to the Corinthians (1Cor.
2:9-10) to talk about the good things that God has for us, things that God has
planned from eternity past for our good.
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, have entered into the heart of manThe things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For
the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things
These “good things” include
The cross of Christ – where Jesus paid
for our sins.
The good things in life that God has
ahead for us.
8:32 NKJV) He who did not spare His own Son,
but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us
Ultimately it includes heaven. Unbelievable, right?
The challenge of Habakkuk is to believe, even the unbelievable.
Whether it’s a bad thing that’s beyond our
comprehension, such as God using a wicked people to punish His people, or
whether it’s a good thing that we can’t imagine that God has for us, the
challenge is for us to “believe” and not get caught in “unbelief”.
:5 you would not believe – ‘aman – (Hiphil) to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe
This is the root word for “faith” that is used in Hab. 2:4
2:4b NKJV) …But the just shall live by his
God is bigger than we are.
He’s wiser than we are. He knows what He’s
3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but
have everlasting life.
You can trust Him.
:7 They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment
and their dignity proceed from themselves.
Talking about the Babylonians…
: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.
:8 leopards … wolves … eagle
The Babylonians would invade quick like a leopard.
They would be scarier than wolves stalking their prey at night.
They would swoop down on their enemies like an eagle.
The Lord will
bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift
as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,
:9 “They all come for violence; Their faces are
set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.
:9 They all come for violence
One of the sins of Judah (the “good guys”) was also violence.
(Habakkuk 1:3 NKJV) 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.
They would be punished with violence.
:9 east wind … captives like sand
NLT) …Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of
them 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.
:10 they heap up earthen mounds
This is describing how they would lay siege to a city.
They would surround it and build up an earthen ramp to breech the city’s
:11 Then his mind changes, and he
transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god.”
:11 his mind changes…
The Hebrew is a bit difficult. A
NASB95) “Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they
will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.”
Even though the Babylonians will be used to bring
judgment on Judah, they too will be guilty of sin. Their sin will be in thinking they are
invincible, that their power is their “god”.
1:12-17 A bigger question
So God is going to judge the wicked in Judah, but
He’s going to do it with a people even more wicked, the Babylonians.
This doesn’t seem right to Habakkuk.
: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?
:13 You are of purer eyes than to
This verse has been misunderstood by some to say that because
God is good, that God can’t dwell where sin is present.
First, that is not true. After all,
God dwells with us.
God is indeed holy and good, but God is also gracious and compassionate.
When you opened your heart to Jesus, the Holy Spirit came to dwell inside
He doesn’t leave you each time
you do a bad thing. You don’t have to be saved all over again each time you sin.
Second, that’s not what Habakkuk is trying to say.
Habakkuk is struggling with the fact that God is going to
actually use godless, wicked Babylon to judge the nation of Judah.
Judah may have been bad, deserving of judgment, but Babylon was WAY worse than Judah.
Habakkuk now describes how the Babylonians treated people, like fish…
:14 Why do You make men like fish of the
sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?
God is treating men like they were fish in the
God is going to be sending fishermen (Babylonians)
to catch 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 fisherman is happy when he has a large catch.
The Babylonians were happy with each nation they conquered.
:16 Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And
burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous
And their food plentiful.
The Babylonians worshipped their own military abilities (their “net”).
:17 Shall they therefore empty their net, And
continue to slay nations without pity?
:2 O Lord,
God can handle you asking your questions.
He might not answer you right away.
Habakkuk didn’t hold back.
God told Jeremiah:
(Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I
will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’
Whatever your question is, friend you keep asking.
Perhaps today is the day to ask Jesus to forgive your sins and come into