“Habakkuk was a prophet of the late seventh century B.C., contemporary to Jeremiah. One explanation has his name based on a root meaning “to embrace.” Habakkuk was concerned about divine justice but faced a dilemma. God was prepared to judge the violence in the southern kingdom of Judah through the Babylonians, but what about the Babylonians? Weren’t they even more violent and wicked than the Judeans? Habakkuk was not afraid to question the purposes of God and to “watch and see” how God would respond. Habakkuk’s book contains an oracle and a prayer. In the oracle Habakkuk pronounced judgment against both the wicked in Judah and the Babylonians. The prayer was meant for liturgical worship with instrumental music.

Habakkuk 2:4 summarize the prophet’s message from the Lord: “Look, his ego is inflated; he is without integrity. But the righteous one will live by his faith.” In other words, those who trust in themselves and have no concern for others will perish in divine judgment, but those who trust in the Lord and obey His laws will live. While this verse does not explicitly mention judgment, the rest of the chapter develops the consequences of the sin of pride. Also, the chapter lays out what it means to be righteous. The righteous person is not a drunkard, is not deeply in debt, is not given to violence, is not a robber, is not sexually immoral, and is not an idolater. Instead, the righteous person trusts completely in the Lord, pleading for mercy and waiting patiently for Him to bring about salvation in the Day of Judgment. The prayer of chapter 3 describes the awesome character of God as Judge in powerful and moving imagery. The closing lines where Habakkuk speaks of his resolve to wait patiently for the Lord despite all the signs of disaster around him are a classic expression of faith and are much quoted.” (HCSB)

In 1:2-4, Habakkuk prays to God a prayer that many, if not all of us can relate to: “How long, LORD, must I call for help and You do not listen, or cry out to You about violence and You do not save? Why do You force me to look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates. This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.” God replies in verse 5, “Look at the nations and observe—be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.” God is telling us to wait and see for He continually works behind the scenes and executes justice within His timing. Habakkuk provides an excellent example of faith in 2:1; “I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch and see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.” It is important for us to always be alert because God uses us in ways that we may not recognize.

“At the end of his book, Habakkuk reiterated his determination to continue to trust God even when conditions of physical survival would become almost insurmountable. Nothing would deter him from his first obligation as a worshiper of Yahweh, to “triumph” and “rejoice” in Him. The “salvation” Habakkuk mentioned, in other words, is not dependent on people or circumstances but on God, who supplies “strength.” That was Paul’s point: Salvation is through faith and therefore dependent on God alone, not on what people strive to do by their own means nor upon the outward circumstances of life. One can hear the echo of Habakkuk in Paul’s admonition, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Php 4:4).”

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