BOOK OF HABAKKUK

BOOK OF HABAKKUK

Author = BRAINS

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T R E A S U R E... S E E K E R S ... I N ... T H E ... O L D ... T E S T A M E N T - HABAKKUK

'Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path......Where your treasure is
there is your heart also'

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BIBLE STUDY ON THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
This study was originally to have included the book of Haggai too; however, in studying the books I have learned that Haggai fits better with the books of Zechariah and Malachi. I will therefore cover the book of Haggai during next week’s Treasure Seekers along with the other two books.

Tonight’s study will therefore be on the books of Habakkuk and Zephaniah:


HABAKKUK

Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah and Daniel.

He was a prophet, and also likely to have been a Levite who worked in the temple as a chorister or in the arranging of services.

His name means “someone who embraces” or “clinger”.

Habakkuk lived in Judah and prophesied just before the destruction by the Babylonians in 597 BC.

He prophesied 20 years after Zephaniah, and there had been no word from the Lord in the intervening time.

The nation had defied Zephaniah’s message, and had gone into decline. King Josiah had died prematurely, and Jehoiakim was now on the throne.

Jehoiakim was a selfish king, and bribery, corruption, lawlessness and oppression were rife in Jerusalem.

The book of Habakkuk is unique amongst the books of the prophets, in that it is not addressed to a specific nation. It consists of a dialogue between Habakkuk and God – interrogatory prayer, as opposed to intercessory prayer.


Outline:

Part 1: Introduction (1:1)
Part 2: Habakkuk’s First Complaint: Why does the evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:2-4)
Part 3: God’s Answer: The Babylonians will punish Judah (1:5-11)
Part 4: Habakkuk’s Second Complaint: How can a just God use a nation like Babylon to punish a people more righteous than themselves? (1:12-2:1)
Part 5: God’s Answer: Babylon will be punished, and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)
Part 6: Habakkuk’s Prayer (3)


Habakkuk asks God the very questions which are still asked daily today:

If God is good and all powerful, why does He let the innocent suffer and the guilty go free?

Why does He allow the wicked to prosper?


Habakkuk’s First Complaint:

2 “How long, O 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 wrong? 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.”


God’s Response:

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 dwelling places not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honour.”

Habakkuk has asked the question, and God has answered it! But not at all in the way that Habakkuk had expected Him to!! He is aghast that God would send a more evil people to punish His people.

This is a classic example of God working outside of our expectations! How often do we pray and expect a specific response, only for God to work in a way which confounds us?

In a way, we shouldn’t be at all surprised that God does not act as we expect Him to – after all, people rarely do and say what we expect them to, and we are human, so how much more out of our understanding must our Almighty God be???


Habakkuk’s Second Complaint:

Habakkuk also feels that God’s response is out of proportion, and he reminds God that there are righteous people in the city who would surely perish alongside the guilty ones if God carries out what He has promised.

He tells God: 12 O LORD, are You not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, You have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, You have ordained them to punish.3 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; You cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do You tolerate the treacherous? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”

Habakkuk is actually wrong in this response! Yes it is true that God is a holy God who hates sin, but to say that He is too pure to look on evil is to imply that God does not see the sin perpetrated in His world.

The opposite is true; God is omnipresent, and sees everything that is happening. He has seen every sin committed by every person. He is with you both when you are sinning, and when you are sinned against.


God’s Response:

After not getting the response he wanted, Habakkuk tells God he’s going to go and sit on the watchtower – basically he’s gone off to sulk!!! How often do we do this in our own walk with God? We do not get the result we want, so we go into a strop?

He tells God that he’s going to watch and see if He carries out what He has said; in essence he is daring God to do it! But God calls his bluff and tells him that he will have a long wait, and that he should write what God has told him on a wall so that the people can read it. He wanted Habakkuk to warn the people, not to sit and sulk and do nothing!!

2:2 Then the LORD replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith.”

What God is saying here is that He will protect the righteous, provided that they remain faithful to Him.

This verse is quoted three times in the New Testament.

In Romans 1:16-17, Paul writes: 16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

In Galatians 3, Paul writes again: 10All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." 11Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." 12The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them."

13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.”

And again in Hebrews 10: 35”So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. 36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

These Scriptures are clearly telling us that we need to continue to walk in faith in the Lord. True faith is not in a one-off commitment; it is continuing to believe and walk with Him, no matter what happens.


The remainder of Chapter 2 deals with God’s judgement of the Babylonians. Just because He uses them to punish others, does not mean that they, themselves will avoid punishment!!

Silenced by God, Habakkuk has time to ponder on what He has said. Chapter 3 is a song, set to music, in which he acknowledges the sovereignty and awesomeness of God.

Selected verses:

2 “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; in wrath remember mercy.”

6 “He stood, and shook the earth; He looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal.”

13 “You came out to deliver Your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. Selah.”

18” Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”

How much better occupied could we be in the praise of our God, than in moaning to Him??


So what can we learn from Habakkuk?

That it is ok to enquire of the Lord, and that we can expect Him to answer us – but not always in the way that we expected!!

That while it may appear that the wicked are prospering, they too will face their day of judgement.

That faith is not a one-off decision – we have to continue to walk in faith on a daily basis.