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Habakkuk chapter 1




SCRIPTURE: Habakkuk 1
Author:  Jeremy Witt

Before I forget, small groups start back tonight.  If you are able, would love for you to join a group to dive together into becoming more like Jesus together. 

Just so that we have a timeline to get the whole perspective, let me point out some details.  Jeremiah is a contemporary and began his ministry in 627 BC.  Habakkuk starts around 612 BC.  Jerusalem will completely fall in 586 BC.  King Josiah (a good and faithful king) dies in 609 BC.  Daniel is taken into Babylonian captivity in 605 BC.  Ezekiel the prophet is a captive in Babylon in 597 BC.  Zedekiah is king in the same year.  Habakkuk’s ministry ended in 589 BC. 

In chapter one, Habakkuk calls out to God, “Why don’t you answer my prayers?  Violence is all over.  Don’t you see what is happening?”  (1:2-4)  God responds in verse 5-11 with that God will use Babylon to punish Judah for its unfaithfulness.  Paraphrased, God says, “I am going to use someone you wouldn’t believe even if I told you (which He was doing right then).  They love to take captives, they trust in their military strength, and they are proud of them.  They are evil, and I am going to use them to call you (Judah) back to me.” 

Have you ever felt like Habakkuk?  You have prayed.  You have tried to be faithful.  Yes, you have messed up and sinned, but you have tried.  You wanted to be faithful.  You are trying to seek God.  He seems distant and silent.  You are tired of seeing others hurt.  It is something we can relate to.  Our world is falling apart, especially in 2020.  We do not know who we can trust.  We do not know what is truth and what is covered up in politics and lies.  It is an election year, and this is just old already! 

When God responds, He takes Habakkuk to a place that Habakkuk never imagined.  He tells Habakkuk that He will use another country (Babylon) to bring discipline to the Jewish people.  He did this with Assyria on Israel who were taken into captivity.  Judah was more faithful than Israel (northern kingdom) and they knew it.  In fact, they thought that they wouldn’t be taken into captivity despite what the prophets had been saying.  They trusted in their goodness.  They trusted in the Temple rather than trusting in the One whom the Temple represented.  They trusted in the Law rather than the One who gave the Law.  We have to be careful not to trust in the things of God over God Himself.  We must be careful not to trust in the ministry of Jesus but to trust in Jesus Himself! 

In verses 12-2:1, Habakkuk cries out, (paraphrased) “Hold on!  Wait!  You can’t do that, because they are evil and You are holy!  How can you send more evil people against us?  They trust in their own power and don’t trust in You!  I am going to wait to hear Your response.  I am will wait and watch (watchtower – Jeremiah and Ezekiel used similar terminology)

The big takeaway from chapter one is that Habakkuk went to God with his questions/complaints/laments.  He didn’t just say them out loud and then move along and become bitter.  He sought God out.  Habakkuk didn’t just sit around and complain.  He did something.  He took it to the LORD God.  And he waited.  He watched for God to answer. 

In 2:1, Habakkuk used the term “watchman” or guard post.  These were those who were isolated from the rest but scanned the horizon for movement.  I connect it to deer hunting.  You sit and you look for movement.  You scan around looking for that buck or doe.  A watchman was looking for the enemy to protect the city or nation.  In this case, Habakkuk is watching and waiting on God to reply.  This is the big difference in what we do not do well.  Today, we want answers immediately.  We want to know the LORD’s will right now rather than trusting Him, waiting for His response and direction.  Habakkuk got answers, but he had to wait first.  Things were silent first.  He showed faithfulness first.  He showed obedience first.  He showed that he was willing to put in the time first. 

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Habakkuk overview




SCRIPTURE: Habakkuk overview
Author:  Jeremy Witt
Josh and I were just discussing what book to do next.  A while back, we got a new server, so it doesn’t have all the devotions that we did back in 2017 and 2018.  Remember those normal years?  Sorry I digress.  When I realized that we have not done one of my favorite minor prophets, I knew which one I wanted to do.  Not only is his name fun to say, but the content is rich and quite good.  The smaller books are called minor prophets based on size only, not content or importance.

Life is full of questions and some remain throughout and some questions change as we age.  Some questions are easily answered and some questions create more questions than answers.  Many questions remain unanswered and create uncertainty and doubt.  We struggle with how to move ahead or if we can move at all.  Some choose to live with their doubts, and some become skeptics, cynics, and hard-hearted when these questions remain unanswered. 

Habakkuk sought answers to questions and those questions were not easy ones.  They were quite difficult.  They were not mere intellectual, philosophical issues, or complaints.  He saw his country, saw the evil in the world, and it broke his heart.  Why is there evil in the world?  Why does evil seem to be blessed and winning?  He took these questions to God, and God responded to those questions in an overwhelming manner. 

Habakkuk asked questions like, “How long, O LORD, must I call for help?  But You do not listen.  Violence is everywhere, I cry, but You do not come to save?”  (1:2)  Talk about a difficult question!  Habakkuk doesn’t hold back from God nor should we, but we must go to the Father and wait for His response.  Habakkuk waited and heard from the LORD.  By the end of the book, Habakkuk concludes with a prayer of triumph because the LORD gave him a deeper understanding.  Habakkuk declares, “Yet will I rejoice in the LORD!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!  The Sovereign LORD is my strength!  He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”  (3:18-19)

Habakkuk lived in the southern kingdom of Judah.  He penned what the Spirit of the LORD gave him to write down sometime between 612 – 589 BC.  This time was full of idolatry in the last decades of Judah.  Babylon was becoming the dominant country in the world of that day.  Habakkuk writes down his laments or cries for answers.

Chapters 1 and 2 are back and forth between Habakkuk and God.  Habakkuk complains or laments twice in what is happening, and God responds twice.  We need to understand that God responds because Habakkuk was sincerely going to Him and not just complaining.  He waited on God’s reply.  He sought God.  He listened.  He spent time in silence waiting.  Do you see the difference in what Habakkuk did and what we today struggle to do? 

After his first lament and God answers, Habakkuk doesn’t understand or even like God's response.  That leads Habakkuk to lament or question God a second time (1:12-2:1).  Essentially he asks, “How can You, a holy God use such an evil people to bring discipline against Judah?” Ultimately, God's response is that He will use Babylon to discipline Judah and then punish Babylon in a matter of time.  God took Habakkuk to look at things from a long-term perspective rather than in the immediate.  Remember God is timeless, and His perspective is as well, which is completely foreign to us who live in the moment. 

God will use nations for His purpose as well as judge them in the course of time.  Chapter two has 5 woes that show how God will judge nations.  Chapter 3 is a prayer of Habakkuk to remember what He has done and to confront evil.  God shows up in an overwhelming way, and God’s confrontation of evil will protect the faithful in the midst of evil similar to the Jews in Egypt and Exodus that God will rescue the faithful.

This will be a deep and fun conversation as we dive into the richness of Habakkuk.

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