Habakkuk Bible Study Commentary: The Book of Habakkuk - Then & Now
Habakkuk Chapter 1: God is moving and judgement is coming
by I Gordon
 ↩ The Bible Knowledge Commentary has a very good intro to this book which touches on these problems and questions nicely. And you will no doubt see the relevance of the prophets questions for today's world as well. It reads:
'Planet Earth may look marvellous from a satellite, but for those who live on the dusty globe things tend to look rather grim. Increased turmoil, rising terrorism, mounting tragedies, unprecedented trauma, increasing pollution, deepening trials, and unparalleled tensions cast dark shadows over earthlings. The world looks more and more like some ominous black sphere with a very short fuse, a time bomb sizzling to explode. It is little wonder thinking people begin to ask questions. Why is there so much oppression? Why all the injustice? Why do evil men prosper? Why do the righteous suffer? Why doesn't God do something? Why doesn't God clean up this mess? Why? Why? Why? These penetrating questions are hardly new. Centuries before Christ visited this planet, an ancient prophet looked around at the violence and wickedness of the world and cried out to God, 'Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrong?... Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?' (Hab 1:3, Hab 1:13) The prophet not only asked the mysterious whys that plague mankind; he also received answers to his questions. The answers given by the Creator of the universe are carefully recorded in the little book called Habakkuk.'
 ↩ Apart from Habakkuk, a quick survey reveals some well known characters with the same questions and cry such as:
King David: How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? ( Psalms 13:1-2 )
Job: Though I cry, 'I've been wronged!' I get no response; though I call for help, there is no justice. ( Job 19:7 )
Jeremiah: Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer. He has barred my way with blocks of stone; he has made my paths crooked. ( Lamentations 3:8-9 )
 ↩ It is a common question because God works to His own timetable. And He works to and for eternity. Always remember that. Thus things often seem to take a LOOOONG time yet His purposes are achieved. Suffering produces perseverance. Perseverance produces character. And character, hope. ( Romans 5:3-4 ) So you say you want to have a godly character? Good. Then you will have to learn perseverance for that is its source. And perseverance my friend, takes time and leads to questions like the one Habakkuk had!
 ↩ J. Vernon McGee writes concerning the time of Habakkuk saying: 'Habakkuk... probably wrote sometime after the time of King Josiah, the last good king of the southern kingdom of Judah. After Josiah there was Jehoahaz, a bad one who didn't last more than three months; then Jehoiakim came along and reigned eleven years, and he was a bad one. It was a time of disintegration, deterioration, and degradation in the kingdom. There was a breaking down of the Mosaic Law, and the people were turning away from God.
 ↩ The age old question from the Psalm 11:3 comes to mind: 'If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do?' - Which is a hard question to answer for the foundations of society are never destroyed overnight. They take decades to breakdown. But we do know from Habakkuk and Bible prophecy that in the end, God Himself will step in and judge just as He had to when the wickedness and departure from the truth got to such a terrible state during the days of Noah.
 ↩ The severity of the Babylonians is brought out in this note from the Bible Knowledge Commentary: ' I am raising up the Babylonians. Granted, sin had abounded all too long in Judah. But the sinners of Judah were but soiled saints next to the barbaric Babylonians. Babylon was a nation known for its violent impulses. Its people readily committed atrocities without forethought or remorse. The historical records present the Babylonians as a fierce and pitilessly cruel people. And God affirmed it to Habakkuk by calling them that ruthless (mar, 'bitter,' i.e., bitter in temper, or fierce) and impetuous (lit., 'swift') people. Ezekiel too called Babylon a ruthless nation (though he used the Heb. word ‛ārı̂ṣ , meaning 'terror-striking,' Eze_28:7; Eze_30:11; Eze_31:12; Eze_32:12). Furthermore, their conduct matched their character. They swept across the whole earth to plunder and possess. No doubt 'the whole earth' meant much of the then-known world, for Babylon did conquer many of the nations including Assyria, Judah, Egypt, and Edom. Judah was just a speck of loose dust before this gigantic vacuum cleaner.'
 ↩ God would use the ungodly Babylonians as He had other wicked nations to accomplish His purpose but that wouldn't mean that the Babylonians wouldn't reap what they have sown as well. They were still responsible for their actions! This is stated in the text we are looking at which ends in verse 11 saying concerning Babylon that 'they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their God' . Also in Jeremiah 25 the Lord says ' 'I will send to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, My servant, and will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will utterly destroy them... 'Then it will be when seventy years are completed I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation,' declares the LORD, 'for their iniquity, and the land of the Chaldeans; and I will make it an everlasting desolation.' ( Jeremiah 25:9-12 ) We know from the book of Daniel that king Nebuchadnezzar was specifically judged severely. Yet afterwards he too through that difficulty learned to trust and praise the God of Heaven. Awesome. May that be the result amongst the nations that He judges in the last days.
 ↩ I write this on January 1st, 2012. It is fair to say that 2011 was one to remember! Even the newspapers are writing of the turmoil that occurred across the globe in 2011. We've moved from banks and financial institutions going bankrupt in 2008 to entire nations (especially in Europe) requiring 'ball-outs' to avoid bankruptcy. We've had the 'Arab spring' leading to dictators like Gaddafi in Libya and Mubarak in Egypt, who have ruled for decades, being killed or overthrown. And while the news makes that sound great for 'democracy', in reality the people aren't seeing freedom or democracy and it is only a win for Islam and possibly Sharia law. We had the 'Occupy' movement go global as people protest against financial inequality, inflation and joblessness. The youth unemployment rate neared 50% in Spain and Greece at the end of the year. We've had riots in Britain with youth ruling the streets, looting and setting fire to shops and houses. And let's not forget the devastation from earthquakes... tsunamis... tornados... flooding. Examiner.com led its review of 2011 by saying 'To say 2011 was a bit tumultuous would be like saying the surface of the sun is a bit warm to the touch.' Time magazine made 'The protester' its person of the year due to protests EVERYWHERE from the Middle East, to Europe, to the USA and Russia.
Yep... There is turmoil amongst the nations. ' Look at the nations and watch - and be utterly amazed' God told Habakkuk. Well, keep watching for as we approach the last days and the return of Jesus Christ even greater 'shakings' and 'upheavals' amongst the nations will occur.
 ↩ J Vernon McGee gets to the heart of Habakkuk's problem when he writes the following... And note - this was written 30 years ago (1981). It is fair to say that we often look back on those days as 'the good ol'days'. The 30 years since haven't been kind ones to the place of Christianity within western society.
'This may be a new thought for you. You probably have heard it said - even from some pulpits - that God would never let Russia overcome the United States because we are the fair-haired boys, the good guys, the fine people. We are the ones who send missionaries to godless nations. God would never use Russia to chastise us. My friend, if you believe the Bible, you will see that God's method is to use a sinful nation to judge a people who are less sinful. If we could see what God is doing today behind the scenes, I am sure it would terrify us. I believe He is actually moving against our nation. Why? Because at one time our nation had a knowledge of God, superficial though it may have been. The Bible was once held in reverence. Very few people knew much about it, but it was respected. In our day the Bible is ignored and absolutely rejected by the nation. They may take an oath by placing their hand upon it, but they neither know nor care to know what is between its covers. Will God allow our nation to continue in its godlessness and in its flagrant sins? I don't think so. Will God use a godless nation to chastise us? Well, that was Habakkuk's question. Why would God, who is a holy God, use a pagan, heathen people to chastise His people?'
 ↩ And when you look at how God has allowed the Arab nations to have the majority of the oil in the world, it is obvious that He wants to keep them in a position of power in the last days. And He will use them for His purposes of judging, humbling and eventual drawing of Israel leading up to the return of the Messiah. This was God's way right throughout Biblical history as recorded in the book of Judges, Kings and Chronicles. And we know from prophecies such as Ezekiel 38 that nations such as Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya and Sudan will be used to come against Israel in the last days. It is fair to say that what unites these countries is Islam with its inbuilt hatred of Israel. So God raises up nations and gives them positions of power, even though they are ungodly, for His purposes to be accomplished. In the case of the Gog/Magog battle in Ezekiel 38 it is God who 'puts hooks into their jaws' to bring them against Israel. But they are not innocent in the matter either and will be judged by God. Yet God has a purpose for those nations as well and we should expect many to come to the Lord amongst the nations judged. It is the message of Habakkuk replaying itself once again.