The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk from any other book in the Bible. Since he prophesied the coming Babylonian army and its destruction of Judah, he prophesied some time before that invasion. Many think that Habakkuk ministered sometime during the reign of King Johoiakim, perhaps around the year 607 b.c.
It’s hard to say with certainty when Habakkuk prophesied. Since he speaks of God raising up the Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6), we can guess that he wrote in the 25-year period between the time when Babylon conquered Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire (612 b.c.) and the time when Babylon conquered Jerusalem (587 b.c.).
We don’t know how old Habakkuk was when he gave this prophecy, but it is likely that he lived during the time of godly king Josiah (640 to 609 b.c.) and then gave this prophecy during the reign of one of Josiah’s successors. Habakkuk knew what it was like to live during a time of revival, and then to see God’s people and the nation slip into lethargy and sin. “Habakkuk had a problem. He had lived through a period of national revival followed by a period of spiritual decline.” (Boice)
Habakkuk loved his nation, and he knew it was moving ever closer to the precipice of destruction by continuing to break the laws of God. Therefore two anguished questions burst forth from his lips: How long? and Why?
–Robert W. De Haan
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
How often we feel like Habakkuk! “Lord, look at the mess my life/my church/my country/this world is in now! So much is wrong! What’s taking you so long? Why don’t you come and help?”
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.
God says, “Don’t worry. I know what I will do to bring judgment and punishment where it is needed. I will send the fierce and wicked Babylonians against Judah.”
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 Lord, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, you will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment;
you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea,
like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?
But Habakkuk is not happy with God’s plans. He is appalled that God would use an even more wicked nation, Babylon, against his own chosen people. He argues, “Yes, God, the problem is bad, but your solution seems worse!”
For Habakkuk and all of us who want to see God working NOW! — a faith building song, asking God to work now in us. John Waller and “Calling for a Flood.” Click HERE to hear it.
What a timely word for this season! The song is an excellent fit – and the cry of my heart!