SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Habakkuk 1:1 through 3:19
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.” (Habakkuk 3:17–18)
Habakkuk wrote during a turbulent period of Judah’s history, likely during the reign of Jehoiakim, and shortly before the Babylonians’ siege and capture of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Little is known of the personal details of Habakkuk’s life; we are merely told in Habakkuk 1:1 that he was recognized as a prophet. The probable time frame of his ministry would make him a contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and possibly Zephaniah and Obadiah.
Verse 1 of our text describes Habakkuk’s prophetic vision as a “burden,” indicating that it was a message of destruction. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was deep in sin, and the prophet was troubled about why evil seemed to go unpunished. His perplexity and distress intensified when God revealed that judgment would come to Judah at the hand of the wicked Chaldeans (Babylonians). Habakkuk complained that the Chaldeans were worse than the people of Judah, with a reputation of aggression, cruelty, and horrible atrocities. He struggled with why God would use such an evil nation as His tool of judgment.
In chapter 2, Habakkuk determined to watch and wait for God’s answer to his questions. God gave him a vision (a prophecy or revelation) of events that would come upon Judah. He then pronounced five “woes” of judgment upon the Chaldeans, assuring Habakkuk that justice against that nation would be accomplished in God’s time and according to His plan.
Habakkuk responded in chapter 3. In his prayer, written in the form of a psalm, he sought revival, recalled various historic deliverances of Israel, recognized God’s power over creation and the nations, and rehearsed how God had previously delivered Israel through anointed leaders. Although the stress of the current situation remained, Habakkuk concluded with a declaration of trust in God and a proclamation of God as his strength.
- Habakkuk began with the searching question, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” In the original Hebrew, the order and tense of his words reveal that the prophet’s question was an indictment of sorts. In essence, he was lamenting, “I have called and You have not listened!” In Habakkuk 1:3, what words describe the cause of the desperation felt by the prophet?
- God often works in ways beyond our comprehension. He responded to Habakkuk’s question by stating in verse 5 that He would do something to cause onlookers to “wonder marvellously” — they would be completely astounded. In Habakkuk 1:6, what did God say would happen to the land of Judah?
- The prophet questioned why a holy God would use an evil nation as an instrument of judgment on His own people. However, in Habakkuk 2:1, he determined to station himself like a watchman on the wall and wait to see how God would respond. What attitude do you think was indicated by Habakkuk’s portraying himself as a watchman?
- God’s response to Habakkuk’s questions is recorded in Habakkuk 2:2-3. In what form did the answer come, and what assurance did it offer the prophet?
- God reminded Habakkuk that “the just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). In the light of what was ahead for the people of Judah, why was this an important point for the prophet to remember?
- List the five “woes” detailed in chapter 2 — the essence of the “burden” written and delivered by the prophet — which indicated that God’s justice would be meted out to the Chaldeans also.
- In Habakkuk’s concluding prayer, recorded in chapter 3, the prophet entreated God for a revival of His work among the people of Judah. While his word pictures and historical allusions may not be entirely clear in our era, what clues can you find in this chapter concerning how to pray for revival in our day?
- Habakkuk ended his prophecy with a dynamically personal declaration. Summarize his conclusion, given in Habakkuk 3:17-18. What do his words in these verses teach us?
- In the final verse of the book of Habakkuk, the prophet declared, “The Lord God is my strength . . .” and then went on to allude to the agility and balance of a deer in treacherous high places. What point do you think he was making with this illustration?
While we cannot see all that God is doing or will do in the future, we can rest assured that He is God and He will do what is right.