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Journey through Habakkuk

Questions and Answers (1:1-2:5) – Part 2

Note: We encourage you to click the link above and read the section in Habakkuk this post will discuss prior to reading the post.

Yesterday we looked at the questions Habakkuk asked God concerning the the violence and injustice that was occurring in Habakkuk’s day. Today we will find out God’s answer – an answer Habakkuk would not want to know.

God’s Answer (1:5-11)

While it may have seemed to Habakkuk that God was not paying any attention to what was going on in His created world, God’s answer proves otherwise – and it is an answer that Habakkuk did not want to hear.

God not only saw everything that was happening, but He is getting ready to step in and act in such a way that Habakkuk and the people of Judah will be shocked and stunned. God tells the prophet to look and pay attention. Violence and evil do not happen just in Judah. God gives Habakkuk a widened view and shows him the scene of another nation – Babylon, a ruthless and greedy nation, about to rise to power.

Babylon – A Nation Bent on World Conquest

Miller writes in the">Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, & Malachi: Holman Old Testament Commentary [HOTC]Holman Commentary that “Nabopolassar had defeated Nineveh in 612 B.C. and had quickly solidified his empire. The Babylonians were hungry for prey and would soon be at the gates of Jerusalem.”[1] In Handbook on the Prophets, Chisholm describes Babylon as a nation “bent on world conquest. They struck fear into the hearts of other nations, for they were subject to no law but their own. They moved swiftly and swept down on their victims like a vulture. Babylon scoffed at those who attempted to resist them.”[2] He further states that such a nation was an appropriate instrument of God’s divine judgment against Judah who was guilty of violently oppressing their own countrymen and ignored God’s law.[3]

Babylon – A Nation that is Ruthless and Greedy

In verses 6-11, God shows Habakkuk what this violent and preying nation was like. They are ruthless and greedy, seizing dwellings that do not belong to them. They are frightening and terrifying, deciding for themselves what is right. Their horses are faster than leopards and more alert than wolves. They intend to do violence, take prisoners, mock kings and laugh at rulers and fortified cities. In other words, this nation that God would use to punish Judah was more evil, more violent, than Judah was. Judah was guilty of the violence they committed against their own people and now it was time that they reaped what they had sown.">Habakkuk: Two Horizons Old Testament Commentary [THOTC]Thomas writes in his commentary:

Where Habakkuk complains that God has made him ‘look upon’ iniquity and calls upon God to ‘observe’ violence in v. 3, God responds by calling Habakkuk in v. 5 to ‘look and consider’ what he is doing. Habakkuk complains of a lack of ‘justice’ and the perpetuation of ‘violence’ in vv. 2-4, to which God responds by expounding upon his work of raising up the Babylonians, who nonetheless are bound by their own vision of ‘justice’ in v. 7 and who come forth set on ‘violence in v. 9.”[4]

God’s Was Done with Warning – Judgment Is Coming

In Deuteronomy 28:49, God warned His people that if they turned away from Him, He would send a nation to judge them. That time had come. It was imminent. God would no longer delay. His judgement would take place in Habakkuk’s lifetime, and they were coming with the intent to do violent acts of a bigger evil than was currently happening in Judah.

God Also Give Habakkuk Hope

However, God also has a word of hope for the prophet as He tells him that the one who considers himself a god will be held guilty. To the Babylonians, their power was their god and therefore, they were guilty of idolatry as well as the violence they heaped on other nations. The Babylonians may be God’s chosen instrument for the punishment He will bring to Judah, but the day will come when Babylon will also be found guilty, and they will face God’s judgement too. God tells Habakkuk that Babylon will sweep by like the wind and pass on. They will rule over Judah for a time, but their end will come because God will find them guilty of violence and idolatry. While their power is great, it will be fleeting.

[1] Miller, Holman Old Testament Commentary, 62.

[2] Chisholm, Handbook on the Prophets, 435

[3] Ibid., 435.

[4] Thomas, Habakkuk, 85.

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