The Book Of Habakkuk Is Perfect For Today’s World

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

How can an Old Testament Book like the Book of Habakkuk still be completely relevant to the times we live in today? Find out why the Book of Habakkuk is a book for today.

Habakkuk the Prophet

There is little known about Habakkuk the Prophet except he came from Judah. His name means “to embrace” or “wrestles with,” and the name is very appropriate because Habakkuk struggles with God as much as Jacob did, but he struggled about God’s use of evil; or by using pagan nations to punish His own people. Habakkuk is a contemporary of Jeremiah and writes this book around 610 BC or just after the Northern Kingdom (Israel) had been taken captive by Assyria. All that were left were the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites, or Judah (the Southern Kingdom). There were a few of some of the other tribes that remained in Judah, but not many. This is where the name “Jew” is derived. It’s from Judah which was the remnant that was left of Israel after the other ten tribes had been taken into captivity. Only Judah remained, and thus today, they are known as the Jews.

Trouble Brewing

It wasn’t long after Assyria swept away the Northern Kingdom (ten of the tribes of Israel) that there were already prophecies about the coming Babylonian invasion (1:6), coming to Judah. This indicates that Habakkuk must have lived in Judah and likely toward the end of Josiah’s reign (640-609 BC) or at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s (609-598). In the first two chapters, Habakkuk argues with God over His ways, and like Habakkuk, God’s ways sometimes seem unfathomable to us, if not unjust, so much of the first two chapters of Habakkuk are a dialogue between an unhappy prophet and the Lord God. Habakkuk was perplexed and disturbed that evil, strife and oppression were rampant in Judah, and God was seemingly doing nothing about it. He comes close to being angry at God, but God will make sense of things in time (in chapter three). The reason he may have been so upset was because there were very few godly men living in Judah. He was asking the same questions we might ask today: “Why God?” Habakkuk had a good or righteous indignation against evil, but he just didn’t understand why God didn’t immediately punish evil. Habakkuk had already witnessed the majority of Judah’s leaders fall into idolatry, so the coming captivity was largely their fault. Sadly, this meant that the godly would be taken away with the evil. He couldn’t understand that…and we may not either at times, but in time, God will answer Habakkuk, and He will answer us…and it will be from His Word.

Growing Evil

Habakkuk starts (chapter one) out pleading with God, asking, “how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save” (1:2). Have you ever asked God that question? Just as it was in Habakkuk’s day, we see that “the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted” (1:4). In other words, the evil surround or outnumber the good, and so evil will rule the day, because they are in the majority. That’s the way it is today. God will answer Habakkuk’s questions, but in His own time. For now, Habakkuk should just trust God with this.

Coming Judgment

Solomon wrote, “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil” (Eccl 8:11), and that’s even more true today. Someone who’s on Death Row that’s been convicted for crimes that are so heinous as to be beyond description, make appeal after appeal, and many are never executed as the courts have ordered. Habakkuk saw the same thing in Judah. Evil was going unpunished; judgment was being perverted because of bribery, and the rich were taking advantage of the poor, but God was clear that the Chaldeans or Babylonians would pay for their coming brutality…and pay greatly. The lesson is, there is hope because God’s judgment is surely coming. It may not be immediate, but it will come. God tells Habakkuk, “The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them” (2:17).

Contentment

Why God Created Us

By the time we get to chapter three, Habakkuk gets it. And he is utterly humbled and content with everything now. In fact, he writes a beautiful confession of faith in this last chapter, and heaps praises upon the God Who is worthy of such praise. Habakkuk writes, “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” (3:17), meaning even if the coming invasion strips the nation of all its sustenance and everything they (and he) have, Habakkuk “will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (3:18). Why does Habakkuk have such devotion toward God? It’s because “the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (3:19), meaning you can have solid footing when you stand upon the Rock and that Rock is Christ (1 Cor 10:4).

Conclusion

There are strong similarities between the days of Noah and our day today, where “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen 6:5). Doesn’t it seem like the evil outnumber the good today? Isn’t evil overcoming what little there is left of good? Doesn’t it seem like the days just before the flood of God’s judgment swept them all away (Gen 6)? For example, what used to be called good is now called evil, and what used to be called evil, is now called good, but a “woe” or judgment is coming upon all who believe that way. Isaiah the Prophet wrote, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” (Isaiah 5:20). Isn’t our world like that today?! That’s the way it was then, in Habakkuk’s day, and my friend, that’s the way it is today. That’s why the Book of Habakkuk could have written today. In fact, Habakkuk could have written this book after watching the evening news, one time.

Here is some related reading for you: 7 More Prophets in the Bible

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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