Habakkuk has a problem
1 These are the important words that Habakkuk the prophet received (from God).
2 Lord, how long must I cry to you for help and you will not listen? How long must I shout aloud to you, ‘Violence!’ and you do not make us safe?
3 Why do you cause me to see things that are not right? Why do you let people do what is wrong? People destroy things and there is violence everywhere. People argue and fight a lot.
4 So the law can do nothing and justice never wins. There is a circle of very, very bad people round the righteous people and judges give the wrong answers.
1:4Verses 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 that, ‘judges give the wrong answers’. People do wrong things. But the judges say that they are doing good things.
The Lord answers
5 ‘Look at other countries and watch. You will become very, very surprised because of the things that I will do during your lifetime. And you will not believe it. You will not believe it even when I tell you about it!
6 I will make the Babylonians strong. They will be cruel and they will do things fast and without thought. They will go across the whole earth. And they will take homes that are not theirs.
7 People will be afraid of them. They will really frighten people. The Babylonians will make their own rules and they will write their own laws.
8 Their horses will run faster than leopards. And they will be more cruel than wolves in the night. Their men on horses will ride fast (and they will frighten people). The riders on horses will come from far away. They will fly as vultures that hurry to eat something.
9 They will all come for violence. Large crowds of them will come like a wind in the places where there is a lot of sand. They will put as many people into prisons as there are bits of sand in those places.
10 They will say things that are not kind about kings. And they will say that the leaders of the people are silly. They will know that city walls will not keep them out. They will build earth as high as the walls and they will get into each city.
11 Then they will rush past like the wind and they will go on to somewhere else. They will think that their own god has made them strong.’
1:11Verse 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 ‘as there are bits of sand’ in verse 9 means that there are a lot of them.
Habakkuk has another problem
12 Lord, you have always been alive. You are my very holy God, so we will not die. Lord, you have given a job to the Babylonians. It is to bring justice to us. You are like our rock, but you have sent them to punish us.
13 But your eyes are too holy to look at very bad men. You cannot look at anything that is wrong. So why do you let these bad men live? Why do you say nothing? These bad people are killing those who are better than them.
14 And you have made people like fish in the sea. You have made them like animals that move with no rulers.
15 The Babylonians will catch all of them, with the hooks that they use to fish with. They will catch them in their fishing nets and they will put them in their special holding nets. This makes the Babylonians very happy and it gives a lot of pleasure to them.
16 So they give sacrifices to their nets and they burn incense to their special holding nets. They do that because they catch a lot of fish in their nets. And so they have the best food.
17 So will they pour fish out of their net always? Will they destroy countries without mercy?
1:17Verse 12-17: Habakkuk shows his surprise. He cannot believe that God can use people like the Babylonians! God is holy and clean and very, very good! Habakkuk cannot believe that God can even look at these very bad 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.