"The Twelve"

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Habakkuk means "One who embraces," a fitting name for the prophet who markedly calls for trust in the Lord who is holy. This theme is the title given to the book: Trust in God who is Holy. Habakkuk is the theologian of faith among the Twelve who asks the hard questions and addresses the perplexing matters of life. The question that characterizes the book, "How long, O Lord, shall I cry for help?" Habakkuk looks around and sees violence and injustice on every side. It seems that Nahum anticipates what Habakkuk precipitates. And all this just before the invasion of Babylon.

As the majestic God whose qualities know no boundary, God’s being is infinitely above his creatures. Moreover, as distinct from creation, he does not depend on anyone or anything to bring him into existence or to sustain him in being. And, of course, there is only one being with such majesty and perfection. He is the unique God. –Feinberg

Among other important principles, Habakkuk teaches a foundational principle concerning how we ought to respond to various trials in life, especially when we cannot seem to understand why or see the glory of God in the matter.

The following sequence is demonstrated: (1) observe the situation, (2) look to God's word, (3) believe God's word (promises, principles, and prescriptions), (4) ask the hard questions (trusting God's word by faith; cf. #3), (5) trust what you know to be true, (6) rejoice in God's sovereign grace in your life, and (7) apply personal salvation to every situation.

The perplexing question that Habakkuk cries concerns the fact that the wicked prosper, the righteous suffer, and there is an apparent unconcern of God. God's reply is staggering, namely, the Chaldeans (a people more corrupt than Israel) will be used by God to judge Israel. Habakkuk openly expressed his doubt to God. He is not afraid to wrestle with issues that test faith. But in the end and on the basis of his faith, Habakkuk resolves to conclude his prophecy with rejoicing, even though his circumstances have not changed. He praises God's wisdom, even when he doesn't understand. The book is thereby divided into two sections: (1) The Problems of Habakkuk and (2) The Praises of Habakkuk.

God is the God of justice and grace, whose judgments are always righteous altogether. God is most glorified when we trust in Him without reservation, and the soul of the one who fears the Lord is most satisfied when it trusts in the Lord. The theme of faith is capitalized by the NT in three significant contexts (cf. Rom 1:16; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:28).

Date

ESV Habakkuk 1:6 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.

ESV Habakkuk 2:1 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.

ESV Habakkuk 3:16 I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.

During the reign of Manasseh, Babylon was under the thumb of Assyria. By the time of Habakkuk's writing, Babylon is a world power. Also, the moral and spiritual reforms led by Josiah (640-609 BC) are no longer. In light of Jehoiakim (609-597 BC; cf. 2 King 23:34-24:5; Jer 22:17), the records of Nabopolassar (626-605 BC) conquering Nineveh in 612 BC, and the fact that Nebuchadnezzar came to power in 605, a likely date for Habakkuk's prophecy is 607-605 BC (since it was before Nebuchadnezzar's first invasion of Jerusalem, which was in the first year of his reign).

Survey of the Book

Chapter 1

First dialogue:

Habakkuk says, "Why are you not doing something?"
God responds, "I am, I am sending Babylon."

Habakkuk says, "But you can't use them, they are even worse than us!"
God responds, "If you are really righteous, then you will trust me."

People are still confused concerning God's working in the world, and thus the message of Habakkuk remains profoundly relevant. "The circumstances of life sometimes appear to contradict God's revelation concerning His purposes." Habakkuk struggled when he saw people flagrantly violating God's law and distorting justice without fear of God. Why was God not intervening, why was He allowing iniquity to increase and remain largely unpunished?

Q: 1:1-4 - "How long?"

A: 1:5-11 - Babylon!

Second dialogue:

The answer he received from God was shocking: punishment is coming through Babylon.

Q: 1:12-2:20 - "even more wicked?" (1:12-2:1)

Will the God who is too holy, reward the wickedness of Babylon? This troubled him even more. Habakkuk responds with a strong appeal to the sovereign character of God.

ESV Habakkuk 1:12 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.

ESV Psalm 47:8 God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.

ESV Psalm 111:9 He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!

Neb. testimony that God lives forever (olama) - sovereign over all.

ESV Daniel 4:34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation;

Chapter 2

God shepherds Hab. → 2:2-20

God calls Hab. to trust Him even in the worst of circumstances because of His matchless wisdom, goodness, and power. This requires in the face of otherwise contradicting circumstances.

"In spite of appearances to the contrary, God is still on the throne as the Lord of history and the Ruler of the nations. Yahweh may be slow to wrath, but all iniquity will eventually be punished. He is the worthiest object of faith, and the righteous man will trust in Him at all times. . . . The beginning of the book and the ending stand in stark contrast: mystery to certainty, questioning to affirming, and complaint to confidence" (Wilkinson, 274).

A: God responds with five woes:

  1. Greed and aggression (2:5-8)
  2. Exploitation and extortion (2:9-11)
  3. Violence (2:12-14)
  4. Immorality (2:15-17)
  5. Idolatry (2:18-20)

The Lord is is well aware of Babylon's wickedness and in no uncertain terms He assures Habakkuk that the Babylonians will not escape His terrible judgment. He concludes His response with sovereign majesty and with the Creator's holiness that demands the creature's humility:

ESV Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him."

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 accentuates the glory of God in history (past and future). The future holds the promise of the coming of the Christ:

ESV Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

It is significant to take note that the Lord's difficult response ushers praise (cf. Ps 18; 68).

Psalm of Praise to God for His:

  • Person (3:1-3)
  • Power (3:4-12)
  • Plan (3:12-19)
  • A. Faith Surrenders (3: 1-2)

    1. Habakkuk's Response to Revelation (3:1-2a)
    2. Habakkuk's Request for Revival (3:2b)

    B. Faith Sees (3:3-15)

    1. The Lord's Presence (3:3-5)
      1. The Region (3:3)
      2. The Resplendence (3:4)
      3. The Result (3:5)
    2. The Lord's Power (3:6-9a)
      1. Rending the World (3:6-7)
      2. Riding the Waves (3:8)
      3. Remembering the Word (3:9a)
    3. The Lord's Progress (3:9b-15)
      1. Nature Trembled (3:9b-ll)
      2. Nations Trembled (3:12-15)

    C. Faith Soars (3:16-19)

    1. Trembling (3:16)
    2. Trusting (3:17-19)
      1. Irreversible Judgment (3:17)
      2. Irrepressible Joy (3:18-19)

    Habakkuk "sees" the wisdom and majesty of God and though it terrifies him, he will trust in the Lord. This is the crowning lesson of the book. God's creative and redemptive work in history past under-girds faith in His divine purpose for the future.

    ESV Habakkuk 3:18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. 19 GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.

    ESV Psalm 105:3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

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