I chose to do this book next because both lawngren and sjmom mentioned it last week. The commentary I use is from my ESV Gospel Transformation Bible. Part of the introduction to Habakkuk says the following:
Habakkuk is unusual as a prophetic book. It never addresses the people of Judah directly. Rather it is a dialogue between the prophet and God. The prophet Habakkuk was probably a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah. He probably prophesied no later than the end of Josiah’s reign(640–609 B.C.).
1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. 4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. 6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. 9 They all come for violence all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. 10 At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. 11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!”
Bible Commentary 1:2-11
The book begins with the prophet Habakkuk’s first of two complaints(1:2-4) and God’s unexpected response (1:5-11). As he sees the sins of immorality, lawlessness, and idolatry all around him, Habakkuk questions God and wonders, “Why do you idly look at wrong?” (v.3). Amid Israel’s internal spiritual corruption and external political pressure, the prophet begins to doubt whether there will be justice against evil and mercy for the faithful. Throughout the ages God’s children ,like Habakkuk, have often expressed this complaint. Job wondered why God seemed absent amid his difficult circumstances(Job 3), and Israel cried out during its wilderness wanderings, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
God’s response was not what the prophet ever imagined or desired : God is surely among his people, will help them, and will bring them justice. But he will do it through the violent and haughty nation of Babylon (‘the Chaldeans”; v. 6)
Through this perplexing response God challenges not only Habakkuk’s faith but ours as well. That God can bring about good from evil is a theme that echoes down through the whole Bible,such as in Joseph’s statement to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20). God’s response to Habakkuk also foreshadows the ultimate good–eternal salvation–that would come through the ultimate evil–execution of the sinless Son of God upon a cross.
Yet in the unfathomable wisdom of God, on that cross justice and mercy meet. Jesus receives the penalty that the justice of God requires for sin; and we receive, through faith, God’s mercy in forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life.
Rom. 3:21-26 – But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
This is why we can continue to have faith amid frustration: God’s providential use of people and events is both purposeful and personal.
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. 13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? 14 You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. 15 He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad. 16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and makes offerings to his dragnet; for by them he lives in luxury, and his food is rich. 17 Is he then to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever?
1 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
The Righteous Shall Live by His Faith
2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. 4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. 5 “Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.”
Woe to the Chaldeans
6 Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say,“Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—for how long?—and loads himself with pledges!” 7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them. 9 “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! 10 You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. 11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond. 12 “Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity! 13 Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire, and nations weary themselves for nothing? 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 15 “Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink— you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness! 16 You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision! The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory! 17 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. 18 “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! 19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. 20 But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”
These verses record Habakkuk’s second complaint (1:12-2:1) and God’s response (2:2-20). Having heard of God’s plan to use Babylon to bring justice, the prophet is even more perplexed: How can a good God use evil Babylon to punish his own people?
God reminds Habakkuk that evil will never ultimately prosper, because God is providentially orchestrating history for his own righteous purposes. Though the timing of God’s just purposes may seem slow, “it will surely come; it will not delay” (2:3;cf. 2 Pet. 3:8-9). The five woes pronounced upon Babylon (Hab. 2:6-20) reveal God’s judgement upon any human power that sets itself against his reign and rule. From the tower builders of Babel to the empire builders of Rome, every generation will see kingdoms that achieve a measure of temporal earthly success. God’s righteousness, however, will triumph in the end, and his glory will cover the earth (2:14)–a promise ultimately fulfilled in Christ, before whom every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10-11). It is in Christ’s sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection, and vindicating reign that God’s righteousness is finally revealed to all humanity over all the earth.
Therefore, God’s people are called to live by faith (2:4). This call to trusting faith is an important notice to all believers in all ages of the path by which we may know and embrace the grace of God that is ultimately revealed in Christ (cf. Rom. 1:7; Gal. 3:11; Eph. 2:8). This is not a path of blind faith but a deep-rooted trust in the eternal, providential, ever-present God who resides in the holy temple provided for his people’s atonement ( 2:20). He unfolds all things–even the difficult and inexplicable–according to his wise and compassionate purposes. Like the psalmist who struggled to reconcile the wicked’s unhindered prosperity and God’s apparent inactivity, we are assured of God’s providential rule over all things when we encounter God’s presence in his temple (cf. Ps. 73:17), especially as we look to the One it prefigured: Jesus, God’s ultimate temple. When Jesus stated, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), he was foreshadowing God’s provision through the cross and the empty tomb. Faith in the God who provided these is the foundation for living with confidence and hope in a fallen world filled with many trials and tears. As the hymn states so well, our faith is “built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”
This is why I love to read and re-read the OT. It gets me to check and re-check myself to see if I am behaving the same way as these people did. Habakkuk lacked patience with God. I think the complaints he had really showed a lack of trust in our Lord. (I double check myself on this all the time) God is always in control. When things happen and it seems like everything is spinning out of control, our Lord has a reason for that and in the end, it works out for the good. I know that if I am able to hang in there, my faith will become stronger and God will see in my heart the love I have for Him and that He can count on me to put my full trust in Him.
Please share what God has pointed out to you in these chapters and share any verses and daily devotionals and songs that lifted you up today.
I wish everyone a very blessed day.