Question: "Book of Habakkuk"
Answer: Author: Habakkuk 1:1 identifies the Book of Habakkuk as an oracle from the prophet Habakkuk.
Date of Writing: The Book of Habakkuk was likely written between 610 and 605 BC.
Purpose of Writing: The prophet Habakkuk decries the sins of Judah but grapples with the fact that God’s chosen people will suffer at the hands of enemies even more wicked than they. God answers Habakkuk’s questions, resulting in continuing faith in God’s wisdom, sovereignty, and salvation.
Habakkuk 1:2, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save?”
Habakkuk 1:5, “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.”
Habakkuk 1:12, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die” (ESV).
Habakkuk 2:2–4, “Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith’” (NKJV).
Habakkuk 2:20, “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habakkuk 3:2, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.”
Habakkuk 3:19, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Brief Summary: The Book of Habakkuk begins with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why God’s chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity (Habakkuk 1:1–4). The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you” (Habakkuk 1:5–11). Habakkuk then follows up by saying, “OK, you are God, but, still, tell me more about why this is happening” (Habakkuk 1:17—2:1). God then answers him again and gives him more information, then tells the earth to be silent before Him (Habakkuk 2:2–20). Then Habakkuk writes a prayer expressing his strong faith in God even through these trials (Habakkuk 3:1–19).
Foreshadowings: The apostle Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 on two occasions (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11) to reiterate the doctrine of justification by faith. The faith that is the gift of God and available through Christ is at once a faith that saves (Ephesians 2:8–9) and a faith that sustains throughout life. We attain eternal life by faith, and we live the Christian life by the same faith. In contrast to the “proud,” whose soul is not right within him (Habakkuk 2:4, NASB) and whose desires are not upright (NIV), is the one made righteous by faith in Christ. That person’s sin was exchanged for Christ’s perfection (2 Corinthians 5:21). Now his soul is right within him, and his desires are upright, as Christ has enabled him to live by faith. The redeemed person is not proud but is humble (see Matthew 5:5). He follows the Lord Jesus, who is “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
Practical Application: The application to the reader of Habakkuk is that it is permissible to question what God is doing, although with respect and reverence. Sometimes it is not evident to us what is going on, especially if we are thrown into suffering for a time or if it seems our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by. The Book of Habakkuk affirms that God is sovereign and omnipotent, and He has all things under control. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is who He says He is and does keep His promises. He will punish the wicked. Even when we cannot see evidence of His dominion, God is still on the throne of the universe. We need to stay focused on this: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). To “tread on the heights” is a picture of our ability, in the power of God, to rise above the troubles and hindrances of this world and experience victory over our enemies. Sometimes the way before us is full of suffering and sorrow, but, if we trust the Lord, we will come safely to where He wants us to be.