About the book of Habakkuk

Habakkuk lived about 600 years BC. He lived in the country called Judah. Here is a list of the kings of Judah at that time:
640-639: Amon
639-609: Josiah
609: Jehoahaz
609-598: Jehoiakim
598: Jehoiachin
597-586: Zedekiah
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 worshipped false gods. Habakkuk thought that the king and other leaders of the people in 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. 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 he would be kind to the people in Judah. They promised to love God and to obey him. But the leaders did not love and obey God. So, God said that he would punish Judah's people.
God chose the Babylonians to punish the leaders of Judah. The trouble was that they punished the people in Judah with the leaders. Starting in about 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. Then, in 586 BC, they destroyed Judah too. There is more about Assyria in our commentary on Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah. That commentary is called ‘The Problem of Assyria’.
Habakkuk could not understand why God had chosen the Babylonians. 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 worshipped false gods. In his book, Habakkuk talks to God:
· In chapter 1, he asks God a question. Would God ever answer when Habakkuk prayed to him?
· In chapter 2, he waits for God's answer. God says that he will punish the Babylonians later. The whole world would see what God would do.
· In chapter 3, we read something else. Habakkuk believes that God will punish the Babylonians. And he believes that God will make Judah safe.
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.
This was a very important time for the Jews. After the kings called Saul, David and Solomon, 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. That 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. And Habakkuk said that it would happen to them. 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, many people did not obey God's rules. Habakkuk did not understand why God did not make them obey him (Habakkuk 1:2-4).
2. God told Habakkuk about something that he would do. But Habakkuk did not think that it was possible. He 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 1:12-17)
God still has authority today. It may not always seem to us that he has authority. But we must believe that he does have it. Then we say that we are living by faith in God. Habakkuk 2:4 says, ‘righteous people will live by their faith in God’.
That means two things:
· They will continue to believe that God will help them.
· After they die on this earth, they will live with God.
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 this: Whatever happens, he will still praise God. That is the message of Habakkuk: God knows what he is doing. But he does not always do what we might want him to do. But, whatever happens, praise God!