The Book of Habakkuk

The Bible has a very little information about the prophet Habakkuk. Nothing was mentioned about his place of origin nor the time he wrote the book bearing his name. He is mentioned only twice in the Bible and only in his book, Hab 1:1 and Hab 3:1. His prophecy is also very short, in the form of his prayer of complaints to God and God replying to him in prophecies about the Babylonians.

Others say that since his prophecy is all about the rise and fall of Babylon, then he might have lived close to the fall of the House of Judah under the hands of king Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BC. During those times, Judah was in severe spiritual decay. After the death of righteous King Josiah, his son Jehoahaz, only twenty three years old succeeded him as king. Unlike his father, he did evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 23:31-32). His reign was short, only three months as Pharaoh Neco of Egypt deposed him and put his brother, Eliakim as king (2 Kings 23:33-37). He was 25 years old when he became king and like his brother, he also did evil in the sight of God. He reigned eleven years before Judah fell at the hands of the Babylonians. God punished Judah because of their spiritual corruption all the way from the king to the common people. Everybody forgot to obey God. Obviously, long before the fall, Habakkuk have been aware of the eminent fall of Jerusalem under the Babylonian's unrelenting siege. Habakkuk's first complaint of God abandoning them is evident in his opening verses.

Hab 1:2-4
2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

God's answer was direct. God said He was raising up the Babylonians to power to sweep through the whole land as a punishment against His own people. Their power will be awesome that Judah will be unable to defend themselves. Gone are the days that Israel can win any wars even with a little power.

Hab 1:5-11
5 "Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; 9 they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god."

Habakkuk's second complaint and God's revelation about the last days

Habakkuk prayed his second complaint asking why is He tolerating the treacherous and why is He silent while the wicked men swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Hab 1:13
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

Habakkuk was describing the Jews as more righteous than the Babylonians probably because they believe in the true God. But this reasoning does not sound right with God. Those who know the truth and yet do not believe are actually worse than the pagans.

This time, God's answer is a long one. He is not only giving this answer to Habakkuk but also to all the people of all generations, even to the last days (Hab 2:3). God was telling Habakkuk that His vengeance shall come against the invaders. God was actually giving prophecies about His Second Coming when people's labour will be only be fuel for the fire (Hab 3:13, also Jer 51:58) and about the Millennium, when earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab 2:14, also Isa 11:9). What God is actually saying is there will be a time when God shall punish the nations who dealt tragedies to His own people. God is also saying that His revelation are sure to happen, that Babylon shall rise again doing the same thing at the close of time. By then she will meet her end.

Hab 2:2-3
"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.

Among the prophecies is the rise of the Antichrist.

The future Babylonian king will actually be the coming Antichrist who will rule the world.

Hab 2:4-5
4 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous will live by his faith—5 indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.

The five woes against the Antichrist and the evil people of the last days

1. Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion

God was telling Habakkuk that those who sins and captured nations to become wealthy shall also be plundered.

Hab 2:6-8
6 "Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, "'Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?' 7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

2. Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain

Here the future ruler will gain power by ruining many peoples' lives. Read also Isa 10:13-14.

Hab 2:9-11
9 "Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! 10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. 11 The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.

3. Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed

Many people say the Antichrist will rule like a sheep to many to win support. However, that is partly true. He will not hesitate to adopt a iron hand policy in order to unite the world. The Antichrist will rule with violence along with his ten governors but the Lord's power will consume all their gain. Read Who Are the Ten Horns of the Beast? - Part 1 and Part 2 for the coming world government.

Hab 2:12-13
12 "Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! 13 Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?

4. Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbours

This is not about wine. It is about being intoxicated by false beliefs. This is Antichrist and the false prophets indoctrinating people away from the Truth. The Bible calls this as spiritual drunkenness (Isa 28:7; 29:9).

Hab 2:15-16
15 "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. 16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD's right hand is coming around to you.

5. Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!'

This is idolatry at its worst in the last days, our time. This all about the people worshipping idols not only common in the ancient but also in the last days. Due to increase of materialism, technological advances combined with decreasing knowledge of God, more idols these days have appeared more than before. Read Modern Idolatry to learn more.

Hab 2:19
19 Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.

God also revealed that there will be increase in corruption (Hab 2:6) and widespread destruction of cities and extinction of animals (Hab 2:8, 17).

Habakkuk's praise and prayer

In the third chapter, Habakkuk expressed his satisfaction over God's answers to his complaints in a song of praise and prayer. While expressing his praise, he prophesied about the Second Coming of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Hab 3:3-6
His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. 4 His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. 5 Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. 6 He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed. His ways are eternal.

Plagues and pestilence are also mentioned many times in the Book of Revelation. These also happened to Egypt as Moses pleaded to Pharaoh to release the Israelites. Read also The Last Days Exodus to learn more. This confirms the covenant as prophesied in Daniel 9:27 that history will repeat itself. The rest of his prayer described the Lord's Second Coming to be very terrible that mountains crumble and hills collapse (Hab 3:6). The earth is also split to create rivers to flood the plains along with tidal waves or tsunamis for the coastlands (Hab 3:9-10, 15).

Habakkuk humbled himself before God
As his final words, Habakkuk accepted his nation's destiny as God had planned for them. He surrendered in humility realizing that God and His people will triumph in the end. But that victory shall be a long time in coming and he has to wait. In fact, he did not see it happened. Evil may triumph at first but God provides strength to endure the coming tribulations. His justice will prevail in the end bringing Israel and those who believe in Him into eternal life and glory.

Hab 3:16-19
16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.

Let us be like Habakkuk who found answers to his complaints and humbly accepted God's answer. We may not know all what God has prepared for us. But knowing that our wisdom is limited, let us just accept that sometimes we are not immune to misery. Have faith that God's love and strength are always available if we are humble enough to seek Him. But first we must be a believer in Christ Jesus.

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