Book of Habakkuk

If you could ask God a question, what would it be. As we get older and study we get a lot of our questions answered to a certain degree of satisfaction. But then there are those other questions.

Habakkuk has the opportunity to ask God one of the biggest questions in life. This is a question that the Pope has even admitted that he does not have the answer to. Habakkuk continues to quiz God – and God answers him!

Background

Little known and what we can surmise is sketchy at best

Name may mean embrace or similarly wrestler (with God); due to the conversation that he has with God

Identifies himself as a prophet (Habakkuk 1:1) may have been a Levite; only Habakkuk mentioned in Bible; less is known about him than any other author in the Bible

Judah is not mentioned by name in the book, though it is obvious by the timing, this would make it easier to apply it dually to not only their immediate future, but Israel’s as well

Israel and Judah will all be at the mercy of final revival of the Babylonian empire (Revelation 18). So this applies to our time too and the godlessness that abounds

Date

609-597

  • There are no “year of the king” references for dating this book
  • judgment on Judah appears to be futuristic
  • temple still standing (2:20)
  • type of sins in Judah (not in line with the more righteous reign of Josiah)
  • more appropriate to the reign of Jehoiakim (608-605) who led the people back into sin and carnality
  • the way that the Chaldeans are spoken of (Babylonian period after the Assyrians downfall 612bc), they already seem to be in power and their bellicose and heinous reputation is known (they were not able to stand against Chaldean forces). There is a sense of an intimate knowledge of the Babylonian brutality in 1:12–17.

He is a contemporary of Ezekiel, Jeremiah Nahum and Zephaniah (Habakkuk comes between these two books as well)

Here is what is happening in Judah at this time

2 Kings 23:29 In his days Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went to the aid of the king of Assyria, to the River Euphrates; and King Josiah went against him. And Pharaoh Necho killed him at Megiddo when he confronted him.
2 Kings 23:30 Then his servants moved his body in a chariot from Megiddo, brought him to Jerusalem, and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz the son of Josiah, anointed him, and made him king in his father’s place.
2 Kings 23:31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah.
2 Kings 23:32 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.
2 Kings 23:33 Now Pharaoh Necho put him in prison at Riblah in the land of Hamath, that he might not reign in Jerusalem; and he imposed on the land a tribute of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.
2 Kings 23:34 Then Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. And Pharaoh took Jehoahaz and went to Egypt, and he died there.
2 Kings 23:35 So Jehoiakim gave the silver and gold to Pharaoh; but he taxed the land to give money according to the command of Pharaoh; he exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land, from every one according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Necho.
2 Kings 23:36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zebudah the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah.
2 Kings 23:37 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

Jehoiakim died while the Babylonians were marching towards Jerusalem

2 Kings 24:8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
2 Kings 24:9 And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

Chapter 1

Habakkuk’s First Questions

Habakkuk 1:1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.

Saw… vision from God (Habakkuk 2:3 confirms this)

burden… We have seen this word used in the same way by the minor prophets: Nahum, Zechariah, and Malachi. Interesting that it is not used in this way by any of the other prophets. The burden… the heaviness of the responsibility and impactful nature of this prophecy which nonetheless has to be said in these relatively short books

Habakkuk 1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.

“Some people believe that human beings should never question the ways of God. They may even feel that it borders on sin to ask God, ‘Why?’ But the book of Habakkuk counters that idea.

Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Violence!… Look at what’s going on around me

Habakkuk 1:3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.

Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble?… Refers to the vision. He is saying why do you have to show me the future when all that I have to do is look around me.

In the study of Zephaniah, one of Habakkuk’s contemporaries, Judah was already going off the track.

Zephaniah 3:4 Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; Her priests have polluted the sanctuary, They have done violence [same word as :2-3] to the law.

Violated the law; broken; transgressed; Adding to and taking away from the law which God does not look kindly upon.

Society, here in Judah, is not following Your ways

Habakkuk 1:4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

Ecclesiastes 8:11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.

powerless… KJV: slacked; paralyzed; not enforced. It only works when it is kept. If it was being followed then many of the problems of their day would not exist. Yet Habakkuk is bemoaning the fact that there is: No truth. No justice. Even those that are good are unduly influenced by the evil that is in their midst.

Example: look at what is going on today in America politically speaking. Do you think that a truly religious man could get into office without being vilified. There are those that try somewhat to be religious and they are held to those standards and vilified by those that do not try or believe that they should be good and live by the same rules.

Habakkuk sees all the violence, oppression, injustice and wrong doing in Judah and wonders why God is hand’s off? This is one of first and biggest questions that believers and non-believers alike have?

Non-believers will say, IF there is a God why does He allow evil to reign – as if this is a proof that God does not exist. Believers look at their own lot in life and compare it with others and ask:

Why does God not take care of or punish the wicked but rather allows them to succeed and prosper?

Some look back through history and wonder if God is doing anything?

So apparently we do not have to always wait until the return of Christ, nor does it always have to be like we are looking through a tinted window into the mind of God.

God’s First Reply

Habakkuk 1:5 “Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.

Work… Bringing the Chaldeans against the Jews for a prescribed amount of time and then would punish the mighty Chaldeans

in your days… though it were told you….God speaking to the Jews of that time through Habakkuk.

Jeremiah 5:11 For the house of Israel and the house of Judah Have dealt very treacherously with Me,” says the LORD.
Jeremiah 5:12 They have lied about the LORD, And said, “It is not He. Neither will evil come upon us, Nor shall we see sword or famine.
Jeremiah 5:13 And the prophets become wind, For the word is not in them. Thus shall it be done to them.”

Why would they believe God now when they were actively disobeying. Perhaps they thought the Chaldeans were going to be friendly to them since Josiah, one of the few really good kings, had given his life in trying to help defend the Babylonians from the Egyptians and Assyrians?

To put it in modern terms we are saying nearly the exact same thing today. This has been the message of the church of God for the last 80+ years:

The final revival of the Babylonian system is coming in the form of the beast power and we as a society need to change our ways and begin following God like we are supposed to.

How do you think the world is receiving this message at the moment? No better than they did immediately after the death of Jesus

Acts 13:40 Beware therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets come upon you:
Acts 13:41 ‘BEHOLD, YOU DESPISERS, MARVEL AND PERISH! FOR I WORK A WORK IN YOUR DAYS, A WORK WHICH YOU WILL BY NO MEANS BELIEVE, THOUGH ONE WERE TO DECLARE IT TO YOU.’ “

And we could say the exact same thing now… and we are because of the duality of this prophecy.

Habakkuk 1:6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

raising up the Chaldeans… not necessarily the beginning of them coming to power, but motivating them according to His will. They were used to conquer the Assyrians and thus release the northern 10 tribes of Israel from captivity. Now God was going to use them to bring the Jews into a 70 year captivity as a punishment for their ways.

Chaldeans… we learn who God is going to use. The ruling party of the Babylonians. Neither of these terms is used again in this book.

A bitter and hasty nation… fierce, cruel and impetuous

So now God is answering the question that Habakkuk asked. I do not think this is the answer Habakkuk wanted and now may wish that he had not asked it…though God would have done it anyway. God is going to use the Chaldeans to subjugate the Jews for the “violence” Habakkuk was referring to in the beginning verses of this chapter.

This was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar while at the same time the ante-type of what is coming at the end of the age.

Habakkuk 1:7 They are terrible and dreadful; Their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.

They are terrible and dreadful… fearsome and frightening

Their judgment and their dignity… they are a law unto themselves, making up laws and rules and having their own sense of honor (perhaps what we would say today as honor among thieves)

They have a reputation: pride, drunkards, a barbarous people that committed atrocities against their enemies and now were coming for them.

Habakkuk 1:8 Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They fly as the eagle that hastens to eat.
Habakkuk 1:9 “They all come for violence; Their faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand.

They will be this overwhelming force that you will not be able to resist and they will defeat you and take you into captivity.

Habakkuk 1:10 They scoff at kings, And princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.

They scoff… They will not respect the powers that be; they will make fun of, ridicule and laugh at them; connotation of making sport of the people they attack.

2 Kings 24:12 Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner.

2 Kings 25:6 So they took the king and brought him up to the king of Babylon at Riblah, and they pronounced judgment on him.
2 Kings 25:7 Then they killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, put out the eyes of Zedekiah, bound him with bronze fetters, and took him to Babylon.

2 Kings 24-25 Jehoiakim; Jehoiachin Reigns in Judah; Jerusalem Captured, etc

heap up earthen mounds and seize it…. Jeremiah 32:24 ‘Look, the siege mounds! They have come to the city to take it; and the city has been given into the hand of the Chaldeans who fight against it, because of the sword and famine and pestilence. What You have spoken has happened; there You see it!

Habakkuk 1:11 Then his mind changes, and he transgresses; He commits offense, Ascribing this power to his god.”

mind… ruach: spirit; wind

Daniel 4:16 Let his heart be changed from that of a man, Let him be given the heart of a beast, And let seven times pass over him.

Daniel 4:30 The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
Daniel 4:31 While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you!
Daniel 4:32 And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.”
Daniel 4:33 That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.
Daniel 4:34 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding 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 is from generation to generation.

Daniel 5:1 Belshazzar the king made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand.
Daniel 5:2 While he tasted the wine, Belshazzar gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines might drink from them.
Daniel 5:3 Then they brought the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of the house of God which had been in Jerusalem; and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them.
Daniel 5:4 They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.

Daniel 5:30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.

The answer to the big question is that the sinner, evil wicked one will not win out in the long run – God will eventually chastise and correct EVERYONE in one way or another. No one will escape God.

Habakkuk’s Second Question

Habakkuk 1:12 Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.

This seems to be more rhetorical:

Are You not from everlasting… saying He is all powerful

We shall not die… do not let them kill us

Habakkuk 1:13 You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?

This is really the same question from a different perspective. First why do you let your people get away with “murder” … now he is asking why do you let an evil nation, that is not your people get away with even worse AND you “let them correct” us, your people? They are even greater sinners than we are!

Why do You look on those who deal treacherously… You are a holy God and they are an evil people – how can you even associate with them?

Habakkuk 1:14 Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?

Metaphors for captivity and how impotent the southern Kingdom of Judah will be against the onslaught of the Babylonians

Habakkuk 1:15 They take up all of them with a hook, They catch them in their net, And gather them in their dragnet. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.

The ignominy and humiliation of it all. It all seems very haphazard. The Babylonians are throwing their net everywhere and they are just pulling in the fish (Your people) indiscriminately.

Habakkuk 1:16 Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous And their food plentiful.

The Chaldeans will believe that it is by their gods that they will conquer the Jews. They will make sacrifices to their gods made of sticks and fibers. Why God, do you allow such an ungodly group of people to do this to us?

Habakkuk 1:17 Shall they therefore empty their net, And continue to slay nations without pity?

How can God use the vicious and idolatrous Babylonians (1.12-17) to judge his people?”

God is in control, no matter what we think and see. Over time and in ways that we do not understand. We see it as apathy and disinterest because of our ignorance and lowly state. We are a vapor and less than nothing.

Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
Isaiah 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
Isaiah 55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God told Habakkuk beforehand what was going to happen, yet the Babylonians thought they did it by their own might.

Even though they did not believe, at least His people were told and knew it afterwards and it changed them greatly because of it.

There is a plan being worked out here below. If you understood it, and we do to a large degree by comparison to the unbeliever, but only obscurely and a small measure as compared to God. What may seem like chaos to us is a plan that has been orchestrated and put in motion from before the world began. What now is going on is not happenstance, it is occurring at the time and in the way that God has ordained it.

2 Peter 3:2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
2 Peter 3:3 knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts,
2 Peter 3:4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,
2 Peter 3:6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
2 Peter 3:7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.
2 Peter 3:11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,
2 Peter 3:12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
2 Peter 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We are to stand and see the salvation of the Lord. This is what Moses said to the Israelites as they were hemmed in between mountain ranges and against the Red Sea; It is what Samuel told the Israelites when they forsook God for a human king; It is what King Jehoshaphat told the powerless people of Judah when the great multitudes were coming against them… and it is what Habakkuk opted to do:

Chapter 2

Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

Habakkuk then recommits himself to the responsibility God has given him to serve as a watchman and relate what he sees and hears to others. He is most interested to hear what God has to say in response to what he has just said (Habakkuk 2:1). Indeed, his wording almost makes it look like he is braced for impact—knowing that he has made some pretty bold statements. But he is in no way antagonistic toward God. In fact, he deeply wants God to set Him straight (same verse).

He has questions because he does not understand why God would allow someone “so much worse” than Judah to punish them. Nonetheless Habakkuk does not accuse God but asks for God to reveal His reasoning to him.

God’s Second Reply

*Something else to keep in mind is that though the pronouncements are primarily against Babylon at that time, they are for the future as well.

Going to try and stay away from the future fulfillments today [Identifying Babylon]

Also, these principles, though directed to the Chaldeans, can apply to the Jews as well if they have been guilty of the same thing as is the case with the entire word of God.

Habakkuk 2:2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

the vision… confirms what Habakkuk “saw” in 1:1

That he may run who reads it…. The connotation of the word run is “to rush” so the implication is that Habakkuk needs to scribe in a manner that is very clear and can be read quickly.

Habakkuk 2:3 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.

for an appointed time… God is in control of the timing; it happens according to His will. In the bigger scope of things, other prophecies come into play here, making it clear that this can refer to all of Israel, especially, when combined with Habakkuk 2:14; 3:16

But at the end… dual prophecy; we know it happened shortly after it was revealed to Habakkuk and that it will happen again “at the end” as He says in this verse.

Though it tarries [though it may take a while], wait for it [be patient] Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. [it will happen]

Hebrews 10:37 “FOR YET A LITTLE WHILE, AND HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME AND WILL NOT TARRY.
Hebrews 10:38 NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; BUT IF ANYONE DRAWS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.”

Hebrew Interlinear

That yet vision for the appointed time and he shall puff to the end and not he is lying if he shall be dallying tarry you for him that to come he shall come not

Brenton Septuagint Translation

For the vision is yet for a time, and it shall shoot forth at the end, and not in vain: though he should tarry, wait for him; for he will surely come, and will not tarry.

Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

The theme that we talked about previously and the struggle that Habakkuk is having is the affliction of the godly and the prosperity of the ungodly. God begins to clarify that this will not always be the case!

Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him… God is making a comparison and contrast between the Chaldeans and Jews now. The Chaldeans are “the proud” as we will see in the next verse and they are not doing what is right as Habakkuk has already pointed out – they are much worse than the Kingdom of Judah.

But on the other hand, God is saying that if you are doing what’s right (just: tsaddiyq) you are living a certain way and if you act in accordance with this belief system you will continue to live, both now and forever.

If the Babylonians are acting the wrong way then they will be taken care, BUT that goes for you too! If you want to live then you need to be DOING what is right!

It reminds us of something similar He said to Cain.

Genesis 4:6 So the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? [Why are you upset with what’s going; kind of like Habakkuk is].
Genesis 4:7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?….

the just shall live by his faith… If you are going to live through these times in the right way then you have to have faith in what God says and what He is doing and His timing.

What we also have here is something that is considered to be a new teaching in the New Testament

Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”

…that was implemented after Jesus came and “did away with the law.” But this is not true, how could it be if Christ had not come yet and Paul is actually quoting the Old Testament here, he is quoting Habakkuk. God did not do away with the law AND still the just or righteous (those who must do what is right and live by faith [Psalms 119:172 …all Your commandments are righteousness. James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. James 2:17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.]

God’s answer is that He will judge the Babylonians too but that in the meantime His people are to live by faith in Him and leave the controlling of history to Him. We do not always know what is going on and how things are being worked out. In other words we are to live by faith.

Five Woes

2:5-20 The 5 woes on the Chaldeans

  • ill-gotten gains
  • lust and greed
  • oppression
  • shameful treatment
  • idolatry

Habakkuk 2:5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.

Indeed, because… Yes, moreover: “how much more” is the connotation with the comparison between the Jews and the Chaldeans. In effect this is what Habakkuk has been saying and God is now in effect saying the same.

he transgresses by wine… apparently this was one of the problems of the Babylonians as we noted last time in Daniel 5:1-2 the very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. The alcohol diminishes their self control and they are more likely to sin and commit the atrocities that they were infamous for.

He is a proud man… “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him” (previous verse). Once again we see the sin of pride coming to the fore.

And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied… The Chaldeans were not content with the land that they had.

Proverbs 27:20 Hell and Destruction are never full; So the eyes of man are never satisfied.

Can you imagine having everything you want, but still not having what you need. They were not fulfilled with what they had…

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:

because these things did not bring true happiness and contentment. Maybe it brought a bit of short term pleasure and the only way to get that feeling again was to go and conquer more. After that the temporary state of euphoria would come and go and the king and the Babylonians could never be truly satisfied by the fact that “he gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.” In other words he takes them captive as he would do to the Jews in short order.

1st Woe

Habakkuk 2:6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges‘?
Habakkuk 2:7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.
Habakkuk 2:8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

Will not all these [the oppressed] take up a proverb against him [Chaldean/Babylonians], … parable that will not be understood by the Babylonians. This will be a saying among the peoples that the Chaldeans will have harmed.

And a taunting riddle against him [Chaldean/Babylonians]… The explanations are riddles to their captors and in the Hebrew there is a sense they are being mocked by the people around them.

Woe to him who increases What is not his—how long?… The way that this is marked in the NKJV it is being said by the oppressed, in this case here it would be the Jews. What is unclear is whether every woe that is pronounced should be the same type of refrain. It is not marked this way anywhere else with single quote marks, but to me it is reasonable to assume that the Jews who would read this would continue to verbalize all the subsequent “woes” in the same way.

The interesting thing to me is that they more than likely would have said/sung this in the ensuing 70 year captivity by the Babylonians and it indeed would have been a parable and a riddle that taunted them. This “woe” is definitely more riddle-like than the others. That being said, what is plain to the spirit-led mind is not always clear to the carnal one.

So they are saying here (Woe to him who increases What is not his – ). The meaning is that you have gotten wealthy by conquering other nations, how long will you do this?

And to him who loads himself with many pledges? Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty…. More than likely this is referring to all the ill-gotten goods that the Chaldeans confiscated during their conquests. It is unlikely that they would have taken loans from any one, so this could be a bit of the mocking.

The intimation here is that the tables will turn and the oppressed who you took from will come at you with a vengeance and take back what you took plus interest. Usury is what is suggested by the Hebrew word here. They will take from the Babylonians in much the same way that they took from everyone else.

As we were reading about last time, Darius the Mede took down Babylon. Then the Medes and the Persians exacted revenge on them according the prophecy and the will of God

Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you…. They will reap what they sow and there is a long list of people and nations that they have done wrong by

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

2nd Woe

Habakkuk 2:9Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!
Habakkuk 2:10 You give shameful counsel to your house, Cutting off many peoples, And sin against your soul.

Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house… your family has become rich at the expense of others

That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster…. you seek to save yourself from trouble.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

You give shameful counsel to your house… you bring shame on your house and family

Proverbs 15:27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, But he who hates bribes will live.

Cutting off many peoples, And sin against your soul…. In destroying the lives of others you have sinned and forfeited your own life

Proverbs 8:36 But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death.”

Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it…. “You give shameful counsel to your house” in :10 is figurative not the actual house in much the same way that you said these things to your house and it heard and it will testify or witness against it. The judgment of this wickedness will not be restrained even if inanimate objects have to speak

Luke 19:38 saying: ” ‘BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Luke 19:39 And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”
Luke 19:40 But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

This verse can be seen as a transitional scripture to next verse:

3rd Woe

Habakkuk 2:12Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!
Habakkuk 2:13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain?

By war and enslavement the Chaldeans grew their empire through pride and wickedness. And God will see to it that their labor is burnt up and comes to nothing and everything that they worked for was in vain – it will all be taken from them.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea.

This is a millennial reference

Hebrews 11:9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
Hebrews 11:10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

This is the clearest indication of all that this is a prophecy of the last days is the mention of Christ’s future reign over all nations. It is an assurance that not only would Babylon not last, but that Christ would return and set up His kingdom.

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD…

Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD As the waters cover the sea.

The world will be covered in RIGHTEOUSNESS

Slight difference “ filled With the knowledge of the glory of the LORD” and “As the waters cover the sea”

knowledge of the LORD would include knowledge of the glory of the LORD

glory…cover… we see these two words come up again in the next woe (:16 and :17). This could very well indicate that :14 has more to do with the next woe than the previous one. The creators of the numerical verse system may not have offset the three verse stanza correctly or it’s a great transition – applying to the previous woe as well as the next one. Of course the whole Bible is essentially like that – this continuous thread that is all woven together.

4th Woe

Habakkuk 2:15Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!
Habakkuk 2:16 You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also—drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.

Jeremiah 51:7 Babylon was a golden cup in the LORD’s hand, That made all the earth drunk. The nations drank her wine; Therefore the nations are deranged.

Revelation 17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,

A Harlot is a Spiritually Unclean and Defiled Church

Revelation 17:2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”
Revelation 17:3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness. And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
Revelation 17:4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations [all the trappings of true religion without the substance of it] and the filthiness of her fornication.
Revelation 17:5 And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

She makes them spiritually drunk by the wine of fornication which is her impure doctrine and practices. They are not covered by the knowledge of God or the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, but are lying naked and exposed by the leaders of Babylon.

This happened before and will happen again.

Again, reap what you sow. The abominable treatment of others will now come back on you.

Isaiah 47:1 “Come down and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon; Sit on the ground without a throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans! For you shall no more be called Tender and delicate.
Isaiah 47:2 Take the millstones and grind meal. Remove your veil, Take off the skirt, Uncover the thigh, Pass through the rivers.
Isaiah 47:3 Your nakedness shall be uncovered, Yes, your shame will be seen; I will take vengeance, And I will not arbitrate with a man.”

Habakkuk 2:17 For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, And the plunder of beasts which made them afraid, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

will cover you… now you Babylon will be blanketed by the wrongs and UNRIGHTEOUSNESS that you perpetrated on others.

Revelation 16:19 Now the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. And great Babylon was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of His wrath.

Lebanon…

Context

Jeremiah 22:6 For thus says the LORD to the house of the king of Judah: “You are Gilead to Me, The head of Lebanon; Yet I surely will make you a wilderness, Cities which are not inhabited.
Jeremiah 22:7 I will prepare destroyers against you, Everyone with his weapons; They shall cut down your choice cedars And cast them into the fire.

Jeremiah 22:20 “Go up to Lebanon, and cry out, And lift up your voice in Bashan; Cry from Abarim, For all your lovers are destroyed.
Jeremiah 22:21 I spoke to you in your prosperity, But you said, ‘I will not hear.’ This has been your manner from your youth, That you did not obey My voice.
Jeremiah 22:22 The wind shall eat up all your rulers, And your lovers shall go into captivity; Surely then you will be ashamed and humiliated For all your wickedness.
Jeremiah 22:23 O inhabitant of Lebanon, Making your nest in the cedars, How gracious will you be when pangs come upon you, Like the pain of a woman in labor?
Jeremiah 22:24As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off;
Jeremiah 22:25 and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans.

Ezekiel 17:3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, Full of feathers of various colors, Came to Lebanon And took from the cedar the highest branch.

Ezekiel 17:12 “Say now to the rebellious house: ‘Do you not know what these things mean?‘ Tell them, ‘Indeed the king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and took its king and princes, and led them with him to Babylon.

5th Woe

We see here how once again a verse (see comments on :14) can precede the actual declaration of the woe and that it ties into previous woe as well

Habakkuk 2:18 “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?
Habakkuk 2:19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all.

Habakkuk 1:16 Therefore they sacrifice to their net, And burn incense to their dragnet; Because by them their share is sumptuous And their food plentiful.

Isaiah 42:17 They shall be turned back, They shall be greatly ashamed, Who trust in carved images, Who say to the molded images, ‘You are our gods.’

Isaiah 44:9 Those who make an image, all of them are useless, And their precious things shall not profit; They are their own witnesses; They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed.
Isaiah 44:10 Who would form a god or mold an image That profits him nothing?

The reality is that idolatry is simply putting anything before God and His word. Whatever Babylon is going to put forth that is not of God is wrong and will lead you astray and off the path of righteousness.

Habakkuk 2:20 “But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

the LORD is in His holy temple… He is not in wood or stone overlaid with some precious metal. The Chaldeans are looking in the wrong places for guidance.

Let all the earth keep silence before Him… it is interesting that the admonition to the world is the example that Habakkuk follows at the beginning. I will be quiet and see what God has to say.

Psalms 76:8 You caused judgment to be heard from heaven; The earth feared and was still,
Psalms 76:9 When God arose to judgment, To deliver all the oppressed of the earth. Selah

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

In all of this Habakkuk’s faith is strengthened when he sees that God does have a plan that will not allow evil to triumph. In reality God is very aware of what they are doing and He will always call them to account for their actions. We will then see in chapter 3 next time how Habakkuk “will answer”

Chapter 3

Habakkuk 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

Psalms 7:1 A Meditation Of David, Which He Sang to the LORD Concerning the Words of Cush, a Benjamite. O LORD my God, in You I put my trust; Save me from all those who persecute me; And deliver me,

KJV: Psalms 7:1  Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite. O LORD my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:

A prayer / poem to God in a specific style

He looks at the past, present and future.

He addresses the eventual salvation of Judah.

Three songs/psalms/prayers about the greatness of God (offset by the term “Selah”)

considered one of the most beautiful theophanies in the Bible

Habakkuk 3:2 O LORD, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.

I have heard Your speech… We see a transformation from the first chapter 1:2 where he is airing his complaints to Habakkuk remaining in the proper state of mind from the previous chapter 2:1

afraid… of the coming invasion??? Perhaps it was a concern for his people then and later and maybe even the Babylonians as well.

In the midst of the years…. asking God to do this sooner rather than later.

In wrath remember mercy…. In the necessary and impending captivity that he has now accepted, Habakkuk is asking for mercy and compassion.

Theophany “appearance of God”

God has appeared in the past to save them, thus will do so in the future as well.

Habakkuk then reviews some of God’s awesome works of the past: His appearance in great power and might; His judgments; saving His people and destroy the enemy

Habakkuk 3:3 God came from Teman, The Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, And the earth was full of His praise.

from Mount Paran… mountain ranges in the south of Israel where Mt Sinai is located

Deuteronomy 33:2 And he said: “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints [holy ones]; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.

His glory covered the heavens…

Exodus 24:10 and they saw the God of Israel. And there was under His feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone, and it was like the very heavens in its clarity.

Habakkuk 3:4 His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, And there His power was hidden.
Habakkuk 3:5 Before Him went pestilence, And fever followed at His feet.

More imagery from the Exodus and the saving power that He showed

Habakkuk 3:6 He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, The perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

measured… judged

mountains…hills… governments, peoples, nations

Habakkuk 3:7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; The curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

tents…curtains… temporary dwellings (as pictured by the feast of booths and the exodus)

Leviticus 23:41 You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Leviticus 23:42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths,
Leviticus 23:43 that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.’ “

temporary on the way to the permanent ~ all the dwellings on Earth are temporary but the kingdom of God [what the promised land symbolized], when it returns, will be everlasting.

Cush… Ethiopia, down the western edge of the Red sea

Midian…

1 Kings 11:17 that Hadad fled to go to Egypt, he and certain Edomites of his father’s servants with him. Hadad was still a little child.
1 Kings 11:18 Then they arose from Midian and came to Paran; and they took men with them from Paran and came to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave him a house, apportioned food for him, and gave him land.

These were the last people that were to be conquered or overcome before entering the promised land. They were to be avenged for leading the Israelites astray [this is similar to what is going to happen in the future; see second Exodus]

Habakkuk 3:8 O LORD, were You displeased with the rivers, Was Your anger against the rivers, Was Your wrath against the sea, That You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

Parting of the Jordan River and Red Sea

Habakkuk 3:9 Your bow was made quite ready; Oaths were sworn over Your arrows. Selah. You divided the earth with rivers.

This may symbolize the battles that the Israelites fought and won with God’s help along the way to the Promised Land.

Habakkuk 3:10 The mountains saw You and trembled; The overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, And lifted its hands on high.

overflowing of the water … This may describe the victory of Deborah and Barak over Sisera, when “ the heavens poured, The clouds also poured water; The mountains gushed before the LORD” to aid in the victory (Judges 5:4-5).

Habakkuk 3:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; At the light of Your arrows they went, At the shining of Your glittering spear.

The sun and moon stood still… This is in reference to when the Amorites were fleeing from the Israelites and Joshua prayed for the sun and moon to stand still so they could completely destroy the offending army (Joshua 10).

At the light of Your arrows… could be a reference then to the fact that the sun was still there and there was a reflection on the arrows and spears.

Habakkuk 3:12 You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

Indignation… a reference to the Day of the Lord

Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy.

God’s faithfulness

Habakkuk 3:13 You went forth for the salvation of Your people, For salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

God has done all of these things in order to save His people and fulfill prophecy.

anointed… should be a little “a” as most translations have it and thereby refer to physical leaders and not Jesus. It refers to types of Christ: Moses and Aaron (civil and religious roles as a whole symbolized Christ), as well as Joshua (basically the same name as Jesus) who led them into the Promised Land just as Christ will do [Second Exodus].

You struck the head from the house of the wicked… Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

In this verse we see a reference to two successive holy days and what they portend: the second exodus corresponds with the fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets and the subduing of Satan with the fulfilling of the Day of Atonement.

Habakkuk 3:14 You thrust through with his own arrows The head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; Their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

This possibly alludes to the historical fulfillment of the Persians conquering the Chaldeans but more appropriately for us today, a time in the near future:

Psalms 110:5 The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
Psalms 110:6 He shall judge among the nations, He shall fill the places with dead bodies, He shall execute the heads of many countries.

Revelation 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

Habakkuk 3:15 You walked through the sea with Your horses, Through the heap of great waters.

This is a remark as well as additional information about the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites when they came out of slavery in Egypt.

horses… Mentioned 10 times in Zechariah

Zechariah 1:8 I saw by night, and behold, a man [Pre-incarnate Christ] riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses: red, sorrel, and white.

He is riding the horse as well as sending them to do His bidding.

Red Sea reference:

Psalms 77:13 Your way, O God, is in the sanctuary; Who is so great a God as our God?
Psalms 77:14 You are the God who does wonders; You have declared Your strength among the peoples.
Psalms 77:15 You have with Your arm redeemed Your people, The sons of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
Psalms 77:16 The waters saw You, O God; The waters saw You, they were afraid; The depths also trembled.
Psalms 77:17 The clouds poured out water; The skies sent out a sound; Your arrows [:11] also flashed [3:4] about.
Psalms 77:18 The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; The lightnings lit up [3:4] the world; The earth trembled and shook.
Psalms 77:19 Your way was in the sea [3:15], Your path in the great waters, And Your footsteps were not known. [3:15] Psalms 77:20 You led Your people like a flock By the hand of Moses and Aaron. [3:13]

Effect of the theophany:

Habakkuk 3:16 When I heard, my body trembled; My lips quivered at the voice; Rottenness entered my bones; And I trembled in myself, That I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops.

day of trouble… This is true historically, but more importantly it is another comment on the Day of the Lord which will also accomplish the final fall of Babylon at the return of Christ when He comes in power and authority.

Zechariah 14:3 Then the LORD will go forth And fight against those nations, As He fights in the day of battle.

Habakkuk 3:17 Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls—

Though the outlook is dire and dim:

Habakkuk 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Perspective brings this, no matter what is going on around us. Habakkuk has turned around from his initial attitude.

Habakkuk 1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.
Habakkuk 1:3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.

He now has complete faith and trust in God no matter what.

Habakkuk 3:19 The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments.

God will help us stand and be sure-footed in times of trouble. Habakkuk’s interactions with God produced faithfulness! He looked to God for answers to the deep and meaningful questions that he had and did not come up empty-handed. In like manner we need to continue and move forward in faith.

Lessons

We are at this same time in history that Habakkuk was: the impending captivity and destruction of nations and tribes of Israel and Judah by the Babylonian system and in our case the final one.

What are the lessons that we are going to take from this book to aid and guide in the tumultuous times that will soon be upon us?

We have a God that we can Talk to and get Answers

Side bar: just do it in the right way!

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

You can talk to God openly and boldly, but not in wrong way – making accusations or complaining

God has a Plan

Four lessons emerge in the opening exchange between God and His questioning prophet Habakkuk in the first chapter. First, history, regardless of how it seems to us, is under God’s control. We see this in God’s reply to Habakkuk in verses 5 and 6; God tells him:

Every nation on earth is under the hand of God, therefore there is no power in this world that is not ultimately controlled by Him. Things are not what they appear to be. It seemed to be the astute military prowess of the Chaldeans that achieved their ascendancy to power. But it was not that at all, because it was God who raised them up. God is the Lord of history.

Habakkuk 2:3 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.

The revelation God gave was for and about a future time – both then and now.

God is in Control

God is in charge of the future as He has been of the past.

Many believe that God is not taking an active part in our lives, much less the world as a whole. The reality is that the more you understand and know what the Bible has to say, the more you will see God’s hand at work. He working in the lives of Christians very intimately and personally and the world as a whole orchestrating prophecy and all that portends for the future. What is going on now is not time and chance – He is hand’s on. Also God is on a schedule

Habakkuk 1:5-6 “Look among the nations and watch—be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

Answers to the Deeper Questions are Relative to the Plan of God

Why does a good God allow bad things to happen?

What God is doing with Judah; Chaldeans; the punishments for each are different as He has different purposes at different times. There is an integral difference in the trials for Christians vs trials for the rest of the world.

There are other issues like: the world news has to be interpreted in light of prophecy and we answer the questions based on what God said He would do.

God can use Anyone to Fulfill His Purposes

The image in Daniel told of the World ruling empires ahead of time. He brought them about and set them up. If He can use Balaam’s donkey, He can do this and more.

So yes He was able to use the Chaldeans even though they were “worse” than the people of Judah.

There will be a Day of Reckoning

If we live in an evil manner, your day of reckoning will come (reap what you sow)

Numbers 32:23 But if you do not do so, then take note, you have sinned against the LORD; and be sure your sin will find you out.

We have comfort in knowing that if we repent, we can be forgiven when we repent genuinely, then if we continue to obey Him we can avoid certain corrections in the future.

God is Awesome – He is to be Revered

In all of this we see the greatness of God and how much His ways are above ours. So though we might not understand everything He is doing we can and should live by faith in Him.