The Prophet  HABAKKUK      

A Bible Study

Introduction  
Habakkuk's Complaint 11-4
God's Unpleasant Answer   15-11
Habakkuk's Response 112 - 21
God Answers 2nd Question 22-20
Habakkuk Prays 31-19

 
Introduction Habakkuk       [Contents]

Habakkuk lived in Judah during the evil days of Jehoiakim, (609-597BC)
      shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC.
This short 3 chapter book reveals his honest, earnest questions;
      questions that men have always asked.
The Lord Almighty reveals his unchanging answers;
      because he wanted Habakkuk, and us, to know his amazing truth.

 
Habakkuk's Complaint       [Contents]

Habakkuk was a righteous man who was greatly grieved by rampant evil.
      He would have known and probably heard the preaching of Jeremiah.
      The revelation that God gave to each of them was a burden, (KJV 11)
            that was difficult to carry. Jeremiah understood the message,
            but no one took any notice of his preaching or of God, no one cared.
      Habakkuk prayed consistently and earnestly day after day, year after year.
            But nothing seemed to change.
            If anything the blasphemy, injustice and violence got worse!
            Like many others, before and since, he was baffled as to why.

King David envied the prosperity of the wicked - briefly.  Ps 733 3735,36
Jeremiah also asked, "Why do the wicked prosper?"  Jer 121
Today we question,
      "Why are we all so easily deceived by spin and lies?"
      "Why are such 'weasels' so popular?"
      "Why has this nation rejected God and his commandments?"
      "Why are people so uninterested, so deaf to the truth of God's Word?"
And especially:
      "Why, O God, do you appear to be deaf to our prayers?!"
      "Why don't you stop all the injustice, violence, disease and deceit?"
After all, you promised that the righteous would prosper.
      e.g. So if you faithfully obey the commandments ...
            I will send rain on your land in its season ...  Deut 1113-15
      And "Why are there so many Christian martyrs?"
      "Why does idol-worshipping Islam prosper?"
Habakkuk asked the same questions - why is there so much evil?
      But he knew the answer to this question - All men are by nature wicked!
      What really bothered him was that although righteous men prayed earnestly,
            it seemed that the Sovereign Lord refused to intervene.  13,4

Many ask, "If God is powerful and loving why does he allow so many tragedies?
      earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, drought, disease, volcanoes ...
      Many of these are enhanced by man's greed,
            but they largely remain what insurance companies call 'acts of God'.
Why did that tree fall on that fine Christian man?
Why did a young mother of three have to die of breast cancer?
Why did God allow that ghastly tsunami where 1/4 million died?
So much seemingly random heartache - why?
Today Intercessors for Britain (and others) have been praying earnestly
      for this country for more than 50 years and God remains silent!
      As a nation we continue to spiral downhill faster and faster.
      Churches seeking popularity always compromise God's truth.
            e.g. Archbishop Welby who strongly supports civil partnerships.
            Refuses to say homosexuality is sin; though God says it is an abomination.
      Some 'successful' (popular) churches omit God's judgement and our need for mercy.
            And thus also that the Cross alone can achieve propitiation - 1Jn 22 (KJV)
                  (the appeasement of God's just wrath for our sin.)
            They omit that the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin.   Jn 168  Act 237

2,500 years ago this honest prophet Habakkuk complained.
      For a long time God did not answer.
      But unlike many he did not give up his urgent persistent prayer.
Then one day God instructed him to record God's answers in this book.
      They were not what Habakkuk expected.
      And they may well surprise us too.

 
God's Unpleasant Answer       [Contents]

I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe ...  15
God is neither deaf, nor blind, nor disinterested, nor slow to act.
What does the Lord Almighty have in mind?
He is going to arrange that Babylon, the world's latest and greatest 'superpower',
      would sweep down and destroy Judah - and it will happen in your lifetime!

Jeremiah had been prophesying this for some years.
But Habakkuk didn't like this idea.  Surely it couldn't be from God!
      God just doesn't destroy his chosen people and the city called by his name.
      Almighty God doesn't allow his own Temple to be destroyed;
            let alone specifically plan and order it's destruction.
      He thought, at least he hoped, the Lord Almighty would intervene;
            maybe he would send a revival like in the days of Josiah.
      A new, vigorous, and righteous king - surely that's what God will do!
            But no! for as he said elsewhere,   "My thoughts are not our thoughts,
            neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
 Is 558
      Even now, he tells the unbelieving prophet, I am raising up the Babylonians.
      My servant Nebuchadnezzar ...  Jer 259  276  4310
            Habakkuk knew David was God's servant, and Job, Moses, Isaiah, Jacob ...
            because scriptures clearly said so.  2Kg 206  Job 18  2Kg 218  Ezek 2825
            But he still had to learn that Nebuchadnezzar was also Godís servant.
      God continues, Nebuchadnezzar and his ruthless army are being prepared.
            Complete destruction of the city and Temple is what I have planned.
            Judah will go into exile as slaves.
            And furthermore this generation will be slaves for life and not return.
            It was like if God declared today, I'm going to raise up Islam to totally
            destroy the Western World with all our culture, traditions and law;
            together with St Pauls, Westminster Abbey and all the Churches.

Habakkuk was staggered by God's severity.
      Not a single gram of mercy.  Why?
      Because although the longing eyes of God searched throughout Jerusalem,
            he could not find even a micro-gram of repentance.
      God had promised Jeremiah :
            If you can find but one person who deals honestly and seeks the truth,
            I will forgive this city.
 Jer 51 c.f. Gen 1822-32
      If the Lord Almighty determines that the day of his just judgement has came,
            nothing can or will stop him fulfilling it.
            It did not stop him stretching out his hand upon Sodom or Jerusalem,
            or even the whole world at the end.
      Remember what God did in the days of Noah?
      Too often he is only seen as a benevolent old man who can safely be ignored!
            But God is always in his prime; he is just, as well as kind.
We would expect the careless and smug to be surprised.
      But the righteous Habakkuk was amazed too.
      So let us not stumble at God's timetable and action plan.
      We should ask -
            How does judgement fit in God's master-plan for his eternal kingdom?
      We should abandon presumption
            and learn to trust in the wisdom of the Sovereign Lord.

At the same time as Habakkuk and Jeremiah were preaching in Jerusalem,
      Daniel was interpreting Nebuchadnezzarís dreams about a massive statue.
            God revealed to him 4 great world empires that would all be destroyed,
                  and a little rock not hewn by human hand would build a great Mountain.
            Even Nebuchadnezzar had to learn Babylon would not last.
            Only the Kingdom of God is eternal and righteous, just and true.

A century ago the tiny island of Britain ruled half the world!
      Our Laws were based on God's Word and much of the population Christian.
What does God plan for this now God-defiant nation?
A nation that has chosen to murder over 20% of it's babies before they are born,
            chosen to encourage greed and to ignore the Sabbath,
            chosen to make divorce easy for those who marry,
            chosen to embrace 'foreign' religions,
            chosen to call evil good (e.g. homosexuality),
            chosen to deny creation by God and teach the evolution lie as the truth,
            chosen to forbid Christians to preach Christ in case it offends Muslims ...
      Will God do to us what he did to Judah?
            Or will he just ignore our rejection and rebellion?
      History would suggest that this is most unlikely!
      How can we dare to say that Judah deserved it, but we don't!
      Or will some defiantly think 'who is this God you talk about anyway?
            Does he even exist?'

 
Habakkuk's Response       [Contents]

The Lord knew the heart of his servant Habakkuk.
He knew he would not immediately believe what he told him.  And he didn't.
His reply to God's plan is the response of one amazed.

Habakkuk's problem was not so much whether Judah deserved punishment,
      but why didn't God stop Judah being so wicked.  113
Now he has another question: Why didn't God stop such a cruel ruler (Babylon)
      from destroying one nation after another?  117
      Especially as although Judah was bad, Babylon was worse!
This honest and wise prophet admits he doesn't understand.
      He says, I will look and see what he will say to me ...  21
      He knows that it is the Lord Almighty who orders the nations;
            so he will know God's answer by what God does!
      [I do not believe, as some have implied, that Habakkuk went up to
            his tower with any defiance - let's see who is right, God or me!]
In his tower, he looks earnestly and learns to wait with patience.

How do we fare in this realm?
      Are we 'open hearted', detached from the common world view?
      Do we climb a watchman's tower endeavouring to receive God's view?
      Will we pray earnestly and then leave the problem with the Lord Almighty?
      God always keeps his promises; his word is totally reliable.

At the right moment the faithful Lord graciously speaks to him again.
      He tells him to write down what he says - God's revelation of truth -
            because Habakkuk was not the first to ask such questions,
            and neither will he be the last.
      God wants us all to know his answer.
            It is an answer that goes far beyond mere academic justice.
      As we shall see later, God reveals the truth
            about the extent of sin,
            its consequence,
            his rescue plan
            and for his end-time solution.

 
God Answers his 2nd Question       [Contents]

The revelation awaits an appointed time;
      it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
      Though it linger, wait for it.
 23
Throughout scripture, the truth that God reveals to his prophets
      is applicable to his own day,
      and very often also to the day of either Christ's 1st and / or 2nd Coming.

The righteous will live by faith (now and for ever).
In contrast, destructive Babylon and their king, will themselves be destroyed.
      The men of Babylon were arrogant, greedy and cruel,
            building their nation by enslaving others.
      And they made many lifeless idols of wood, and stone, silver and gold.
      Nations exhaust themselves for nothing.  213   One day they will lose it all.
Five times the Lord says woe to such a people.  Hab 26, 9, 12, 15, 19

Jesus would repeat this -
      What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Mk 836
Even a brief study of world history reveals that God's word is always accurate.
      In the end justice will be done; truth and righteousness will reign.
      God said the reign of Babylon, the cruel destroyer, would be brief. It was.
            This super-power lasted from 605 to 538 BC  Just 67 years.
      Proud Babylon was destroyed in a single night by the Medes and Persians,
            while the God-defying Belshazzar enjoyed a party with 1000 guests.
            At least he enjoyed it until the strange hand wrote upon the wall,
            and the great old prophet Daniel told him the meaning of it!
Though Babylon became a heap of sand in the desert
      'the spirit of Babylon' in men has never died.  It is greatly in evidence today.
As Peter prophesied, men now scoff at the word of the Lord.  2Pe 33-10
At the end, the rich rulers and merchants will wail at their sudden loss.  Rev 18
The Harlot who boasted her riches and endurance
      will be destroyed in a single hour!  Rev 1817

How foolish it is for men in each generation
      to ridicule God's clear and gracious warning.
How do men respond to biblical prophecy?
This was important in Habakkuk's day and it is even more vital today.
      Unbelievers scoff loudly.
      Much of the church is ignorant or distracted or deceived.
      But no one can be any excuse to be so -
            we've had the Bible in English for over 5 centuries.

Believers will live in the gracious revelation of God.
      His Spirit will reveal truth and assure them.
      They will know they are chosen and redeemed by Jesus Christ.
      They will know that along our journey there are many dangers and failures,
            there is also grace and forgiveness and the gift of God's righteousness.
The righteous in every generation will surely live by faith.

Then the Lord Almighty concludes his revelation to Habakkuk by saying,
      One day all the world will be silent before him.  220
What a day!
      This day will surely come; and I long for it with all my heart.
What I fear is what happens in the time immediately preceding that great day.
      - the destruction, persecution and tribulation
            during the brief reign of the totally satanic Beast described in Rev 13
      Christians will have to learn to endure.  Rev 1310
      We will need the reassurance of God in such days.
The Lord has specifically promised to pour out his spirit in such a day.  Joel 228
      Courage will overcome fear and the just shall live by faith.
            But it will not be easy.
Babylon, the destroyer, will be destroyed.
Babylon, in the hearts of men will be destroyed in a single hour.  Dan 5  Rev 18
The Kingdom of God will come and be established for ever.
God told Habakkuk that the vision may seem to be a long time coming,
      but it was sure and certain.
      The day will come when righteousness, truth and justice will prevail.
Currently men have, and will continue to make a terrible mess of God's world,
      but the Lord Almighty will never give up on his creation.
Be assured that until that glorious day, the just shall live by faith!

Just a few years later God revealed this same truth to Daniel in Babylon.  Dan 924
      Your people and your holy city will see an end of sin,
      wickedness will be atoned,
      everlasting righteousness will be brought in,
      the prophetic vision is sealed - i.e. it is sure and certain and lasting,
      the most holy anointed King will come and rule his glorious creation.

During my generation Great Britain has rejected God, just as Judah did.
Will the European Union be the destroying 'Babylon' that we deserve?
      God has given us many warnings which we have ignored and ridiculed.
What is our reaction to being told that God will also destroy the EU?
Or maybe 'the destroyer' will be Islam.

How does the prophet in Judah react to God's revelation of long-term justice?
Does God's word to him that the righteous will live, seem but a foolish dream?
      Or does he rejoice in the assurance of the Sovereign Lord?
Will he stake all upon the bare word of God; like the men of faith in Heb 11?

 
Habakkuk Prays       [Contents]

Chapter 3 is a wonderful piece of Hebrew poetry.
      The prophet is convinced, his heart is filled with profound gratitude.

Lord I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day, in our time make them known;
 32
      His whole being longs for righteousness, truth and justice.
      He aches for the kingdom of God to come on earth.
      But then he also realises the cost - that there must be a just punishment!
            And so he pleads: In wrath remember mercy.  32b

When that day came 600 years later, the wrath of God and the full punishment
      for our sins was poured out upon the Son of God as he hung on the Cross.
And Habakkuk's prayer was answered; in his wrath God did remember mercy.
      Jesus endured it all so that God may extend his mercy upon us.
      Jesus paid the price in full. "A full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice".
It was the great day that God promised to Abel, Noah, Abraham, Moses ...
      To all who repent and believe, he gives faith - the assurance of his mercy,
            when we only deserve wrath.

Then it seems that God gives his praying prophet a vision of the end.
God came ... his glory filled the heavens and his praise filled the earth.
His splendour was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden ...
He stood and shook the earth; he looked and made the nations tremble ...
the sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows ...
      in wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations.
 33-12
He is suddenly shown the purpose of it all
      and the only way that the kingdom of God can come on earth.
You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one.
      You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness ...
 313
There is so clearly no way I can deliver myself - though many try, and fail.
Only God himself can save us.  How can I bear the just punishment and live?
Like Isaiah, Habakkuk sees the fulfilment of the 1st and 2nd Coming together.
      ... Anointed ... to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour
      and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn ...
 Is 611,2
Habakkuk sees Jesus, the Anointed One, condemned and raised from the dead.
Then he sees the satanic world ruler defeated - the Beast of Rev 13 who will attack Jerusalem at the end,
      and is defeated by the returned King of Kings.  Rev 1911-21

Habakkuk's prayer ends with his heart filled by God:
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound ...  316
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.
This reveals how much God had changed his heart - now he is content to wait.
      At the beginning, patience was not one of his obvious characteristics!
How could he wait for calamity with such calmness?
      He saw far beyond the disaster Babylon was about to inflict upon Jerusalem;
            his eyes were focused on God destroying Babylon!
            And not just Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon.
            He saw God putting an end to the whole raft of human wickedness
            that is called Babylon in Rev 18,19.
Habakkuk no longer pleads for God to spare Judah.
      He does not even question the justice of God using evil Babylon.
      His sole concern is for the coming Kingdom of God.
            "Thy Kingdom come!" is his cry
      The day when the sun and moon shall stand still in the heavens
            and God shall come to end all wickedness and deliver his people.  311-13

God assured him of the great day when he will shake the earth,
      A day when the nations and the mountains tremble before the Lord.
      A day when all the earth will be filled with the glory of God.  33b-6

And even if there does not seem to be a shred of evidence beyond God's Word.
He adds,
      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,
      yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour.
      The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
      he enables me to go on the heights.
 318,19

What sublime confidence.
No wonder God wanted Habakkuk to record the prophet's questions, his answers,
      and especially the enduring effect that this truth had upon the heart of a man.
Hearing and believing the Word of God transformed Habakkuk.
      And it can do the same to any earnest, honest, searching man.
      Such is the abounding grace, tenderness and kindness of our God and Saviour.

O God, come quickly!
      Yes, I am coming soon.  Rev 2220

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