SBS Sermon Notes

SBS     Sermon Notes     Note 02/07


Habakkuk was a prophet of Judah. His book is the 8th of the 'minor' prophets. The book is not dated, but was obviously written before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed at the time of the Babylonian captivity. We shall consider the book in three parts:

1. The First Complaint

Habakkuk 1:2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgement doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgement proceedeth.
In other words: Why aren't you doing something about my complaints, my many prayers about current injustices? If you are a God of justice, why aren't you noticing the evil that is gaining the ascendancy? Why aren't you talking action? How long must I cry for help and you do not answer?

That was how the prophet Habakkuk analysed the situation and prayed to the LORD. It was a prayer millions of people pray even today. Have you not even whispered it yourself? Where is God? What is He doing about the world's myriad problems? Evil, violence, greed and rape are getting the upper hand: but what is God doing about it? Where is He? Why is He so silent?

Yahweh Answers Habakkuk

Habakkuk 1:5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
6: For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs.
In other words: I am, in fact, already doing something about evil. I am rousing the Chaldeans to punish evil doers and you Habakkuk will be astonished when that work is finished.

Habakkuk Continues

Habakkuk 1:12 Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.
Habakkuk recognises Yahweh's involvement in the punishment of wrong-doers: and how that the Chaldeans are indeed ruthlessly punishing many nations in exactly the way that Yahweh had described: but still a moral problem remains which prompts the second complaint.

2. The Second Complaint

Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
In other words: You are a holy Person who cannot look upon evil and injustice without taking action. But why are you so silent when the wicked (Chaldeans) are punishing people far more righteous than themselves?

Habakkuk's reasoning continues: I realise that I have been rash to even reason like this, to talk out plainly in this way to God. But that's how it looks to me.

Yahweh's Answer

Habakkuk 2:2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
3: For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

v 4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
In other words: Record this vision concerning my plans. Record it plainly so that even people in a hurry may understand it. In the final analysis, on the Day of Judgement, the wicked (the one whose soul is not right with Yahweh) will be punished with death - eternal death! But the just, the righteous, those who do what I say is right, will live because of their faith! Wait for this final outcome. It may appear to be taking a long time: but it will most certainly take place. It will occur.

These facts about the final punishment of the wicked are taught throughout the Scriptures. See Psalm 37:1-11&25. The Psalms contain many passages which tell of how evil seems to be in power at the moment, that crime pays. But the fact is God is in charge and on the Day of Judgement every one will realise this.
Psalm 73:1-22 This passage confirms the above.
v 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
v 4-12 They, the wicked, appear to thrive and they have everything they want.
v 13-16 Whereas the righteous appear to be doing good all for nothing. This reasoning was more than I could fathom:
17: Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
18: Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
19: How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.

v 20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
21: Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins. 22: So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.

Yahweh's Methods

That is how Yahweh works. Remember these facts.

3. Habakkuk's Prayer / Testimony

Habakkuk 3:1-2 Yahweh I have heard your speech ... Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make yourself known. In wrath remember mercy.
v 3-7 The prophet sees Yahweh in vision.
v 9 Your bow was made quite bare; sworn to the tribes (of Israel) by your sure word were the rods of chastisement, scourges and calamities.
v 10 The rescue of Israel
v 11 The assistance given to Joshua (Joshua 10:12-13)
v 12 The final punishment of nations
v 13 You went forth and have come for the salvation of thy people; for the deliverance ... of your anointed ones.
v 16 I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress which is about to come to the people of Yahweh.
The prophet now has a much clearer understanding of the Almighty's methods and ends his book with this magnificent declaration of faith.
Habakkuk 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19: The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

4. Are You Discouraged?

So was Habakkuk; so was Moses; so was Elijah: "Let me die" said Elijah. So was Job. Oh what a staggering experience was his! So was Isaiah: "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." (Isaiah 6:5) So was David, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, JESUS and every Apostle in turn: loneliness, sorrow, poverty, hardship, misunderstanding, betrayal, slander, persecution and in many cases - even death!

These experiences, in varying degrees, are common to all believers. But in truth we are winning because Yahweh is with us. And though His methods seem strange and His silence extremely difficult to understand, in actual fact He is working His purposes out. And as a beautiful token of sure victory He gives all His sons and daughters inner peace and joy which only the true believer can understand. These spiritual possessions enable us to echo the words of Habakkuk the prophet.

Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

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Elder: David B Loughran
Stewarton Bible School, Stewarton, Scotland
Placed on Internet Dec.1995 ... Updated with KJV references July 1999