Do Not Be Afraid
Jesus said, ‘You will hear about wars and stories about wars. Be sure that this does not frighten you.’ (Matthew 24:6)
An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (1200 word vocabulary) on the Book of Habakkuk.
Words that are in boxes are from the Bible.
Habakkuk lived about 600 years *BC (*BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’.) He lived in the country called Judah.
The country that ruled that part of the world until 612 *BC was Assyria. In 612 *BC a country called Babylon beat Assyria. Then the *Babylonians ruled that part of the world. Both the *Assyrians and the *Babylonians loved and obeyed false gods.
Habakkuk thought that the king and other leaders of the people of Judah did not rule well. Many leaders did bad things and nothing could stop them. These leaders did very cruel things to the people in Judah. We call this ‘oppression’.
These leaders did not obey the *covenant that they had with God. A *covenant is when two people or groups agree. Here the two are God and the people in Judah. God said that wanted to be kind to Judah’s people. They should love him and they should obey him. If they did that, he would be kind to them. But the leaders did not love and obey God. So, God said that he would *punish Judah’s people. *Punish means ‘hurt someone when they do something wrong’.
God chose the *Babylonians to *punish Judah. Since 625 *BC Babylon had become a powerful country. They destroyed many countries and, in 612 *BC, they destroyed Assyria. Then they destroyed Egypt in 605 *BC Later, in 586 *BC, they destroyed Judah also.
Habakkuk did not understand this. He knew that someone must *punish Judah. But he did not know why it should be the *Babylonians. The *Babylonians were very bad and cruel people. The *Babylonians loved and obeyed false gods.
In this translation, words in brackets … (…) … are not in the *Hebrew Bible. Habakkuk wrote his book in the *Hebrew language.
We know very little about Habakkuk. The name means ‘he who holds somebody close to him’. Bible students think that he lived about 600 *BC (*BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’.)
This was a very important time in the history (or story) of the *Jews. After Kings Saul, David, Solomon and Rehoboam, their country became two countries. The north part was called Israel. The south part was called Judah. About 720 *BC the *Assyrians destroyed the north part. This was because Israel’s people did not obey God’s rules. But the south part did not think that this would happen to them. They too did not obey God’s rules. But Habakkuk said that it would happen. He was right. In 586 *BC the *Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. They took the people away to Babylon. We call this ‘the *exile’.
Habakkuk had two problems:
1) In Judah, people did not obey God’s rules. Habakkuk did not understand why God did nothing to make them obey him (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
2) God told Habakkuk that he would do something. But Habakkuk did not understand how God could use *wicked people (like the *Babylonians) to *punish Judah’s people. Judah’s people were not as *wicked as the *Babylonians! (See Habakkuk 1:12-2:1.)
We still have these problems today. Many say that they are Christian. But they do not live like Christians. When we pray about this, nothing seems to happen.
So many people say that God is dead! But God is not dead! He is doing something. If we wait, we will see this. Sometimes he uses people that are not Christians. They can do his work for him. Or he brings good things from the bad things that people do. God still has authority! We must believe it. Even if it does not seem that he has. This is called ‘to live by *faith’. Habakkuk 2:4 says, ‘*righteous people will live by their *faith (in God)’.
This means two things:
· they will continue to believe all through their lives that God will give them help;
· after they die on this earth, they will live with God.
Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:37-38 tell us more about living by *faith.
At the end of his book, Habakkuk writes a psalm. A psalm is a song with music. In it, he *praises God. He also says that whatever happens, he will still *praise God. That is the message of Habakkuk to us: Whatever happens, *praise God!
Verses 2-4 The *prophet is writing about what happens in his own country. There is *violence. And the *law cannot do anything to stop it. More than this, ‘*justice becomes turned round’. This means that people can do wrong things. But they make it seem like they are doing good things.
Verse 5-11 The *LORD says that he will do something. He will *punish his people in Judah. But he will use the *Babylonians to do it! This will surprise people like Habakkuk. It will surprise them because the *Babylonians have false gods. They are *wicked people.
There is a lot of sand in the *desert. So verse 9 means that they will put a lot of people into prison.
Verse 12–2:1 Habakkuk shows his surprise. Surely God cannot use people like the *Babylonians! God is *holy and clean and *righteous! Surely he cannot even look at these *wicked people! The *prophet says that he will watch for the answer. He will stand on something high, like the walls of the city (of Jerusalem) or one of its *towers. A *tower is a high building.
Verses 2-20 The *LORD says that someone will destroy Babylon. In verse 5 we read, ‘*wine will destroy Babylon’. The Book of Daniel tells us that this really happened (Daniel chapter 5), about 70 years later! God may use *wicked people. But he makes sure that someone destroys their country later.
Sometimes we see God use *wicked people. Then we must wait for someone to *punish them. It always happens because God has authority!
‘*Sheol and death never have enough’ in verse 5 means that people are always dying.
In this part of the book, we find 5 things that bad people (and bad countries) do:
· they rob other people, verse 6
· they are not honest, verse 9
· they kill people, verse 12
· many people become drunk, verse 15
· they have false gods, verse 18
People that do not obey God still do these things. So God will still *punish them. He may still use *wicked people to do it. But later, he will *punish those *wicked people. If we wait long enough, it will happen! We must be quiet until this happens. That is what verse 20 means.
The book ends with a psalm (a song with music)! Habakkuk may have worked with one of the music groups in the *temple in Jerusalem. He tells them what music to use, and what *musical instruments, (verses 1 and 19).
The psalm remembers what God did. He led his people out of Egypt. That was 800 years before Habakkuk. If God did great things then, he can do great things now! (That is still true for us.)
The *plagues and *pestilences in verse 5 are what happened to the *Egyptians. This was when they did not obey God.
The sea in verses 8 and 10 was the Red Sea. God led his people through it, and they did not even get their feet wet! Verses 6-12 describe a great storm.
The ‘leader of the *wicked country’ in verse 13 was Pharaoh, King of Egypt.
All this makes Habakkuk afraid, verse 16. But he says this: Whatever happens he will still *praise the *LORD (verse 17).
He knows that God is still in authority! That is why he can still *praise God. Even when times are bad, he will be like an animal. This animal can climb mountains with no difficulty! The animal is called the deer.
1. If you have a Bible, read Psalm 73. (It is the first Psalm in Book 3 of The Psalms.)
2. When there is war, pray to God about it. Tell him that you still have *faith in him. And look for what God is doing.
arrows ~ sharp sticks that people shoot with bows.
Assyrians ~ these people came from the country called Assyria.
BC ~ BC means ‘years Before Christ came to the earth’.
Babylonians ~ these people came from the country called Babylon.
chariot ~ soldiers rode in chariots when they went to war; horses pulled the chariots.
covenant ~ when two people or groups make promises to each other.
deer ~ an animal that looks like a small cow.
desert ~ land full of sand; it is so dry that not many plants grow there.
Egyptians ~ these people came from the country called Egypt.
exile ~ away from your own country.
faith in God ~ to believe that God will give you help and he will make you safe.
fig ~ a fruit.
glory ~ it shines very much and it makes you important.
Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.
holy ~ very, very good; only God is really holy.
Holy One ~ a name for God.
hook ~ bit of metal that someone bent, to catch fish.
idol ~ a false god.
incense ~ something that gives a sweet smell when it burns. The *Jews used it to show their love to God in the temple in Jerusalem.
Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
justice ~ when people do what is right.
law ~ the rules of a country or God’s rules for men and women.
leopard ~ a very big cat that can run very fast.
lifetime ~ as long as someone lives.
LORD ~ a special name for God that only his servants should use.
mercy ~ to be kind to people when you do not have to be kind.
messiah ~ in the *New Testament, Jesus; in the *Old Testament, the king. They caused someone to become king by putting oil on his head. The word messiah is *Hebrew for ‘oil put on’.
musical instrument ~ something that makes music; you may hit it; you may blow in it or touch it.
net ~ bag with which people catch fish.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after Christ’s birth.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before Christ’s birth.
pestilence ~ bad things that are happening (bad weather or when insects attack).
plague ~ when many people become ill.
praise ~ tell someone how great they are (or words that do it).
prophet ~ he or she says what God is saying; or he says what God will do.
proud ~ to think that you are important when perhaps you are not.
punish ~ hurt people because they have done bad things.
righteous ~ very, very good; only God is really righteous.
sacrifice ~ something that people burned for their gods; usually it was animals but sometimes it was food or people.
SELAH ~ a place to pray, or think; or a place to make music.
shake ~ move something fast from one side to another and back again many times.
Sheol ~ where *Old Testament people went when they died.
shook ~ past of *shake.
silver ~ a metal of great value, like gold.
spear ~ a long stick with a sharp end.
temple ~ God’s house in Jerusalem; or the house of any god.
tower ~ a tall building.
trust ~ believe that someone will be good to you; believe what someone says.
vine ~ a plant that grows a fruit called the grape.
violence ~ to be cruel and to hurt people a lot.
vulture ~ a big bird that eats dead animals.
wicked ~ very, very bad.
wine ~ a drink with alcohol in it; people make it from grapes (a fruit).
wolves (one is a wolf) ~ a wild animal that kills and eats other animals, including people.
© 2007-2020, MissionAssist
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words)
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