Faith in God enables us to persevere in troubled times.
The book of Habakkuk is a specially noteworthy for the difficult questions the prophet posed to God. As a result, this lesson can be especially helpful to students facing difficult circumstances, dealing with the questions that often accompany such times. The lesson is set in the time approaching the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The prophet, informed by God of the coming disaster, questioned God about the justification for the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem. The lesson concludes with a powerful prayer in which Habakkuk acknowledges the majesty and power of God, and declares his resolve to trust in God whatever trouble may come.
Question: Do you ever have difficult questions about life and faith that you would like to ask of God? What are some of these questions?
Habakkuk prophesied to the people of Judah shortly before the kingdom of Judah fell before the Babylonians in 586 BC. During this extremely difficult time, Habakkuk directed deeply heartfelt questions to God about the disaster about to fall on Judah. Habakkuk’s questions, God’s answer to the prophet, and Habakkuk’s decision to keep his faith and trust in God, are the substance of Habakkuk’s book, and the core of this lesson.
…….May we always be resolved in knowing that all things “really do” work together for the good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
WILL GOD ANSWER INJUSTICE
A. Why Does God Not Act?
Hab 1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
Hab 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!
…….Have you ever felt this way, like there is so much going on in your life personally that you know at the speaking of a word, God could fix it? What about the world around us, while there is so much violence it it seems like the evil people continue to prosper? Our faith in God cannot be determined by questions that He does it does not answer. If you ever feel that there are questions that you are still waiting on answers to, know that He is still teaching you on the question. Even though there are still questions left unanswered in my life, I have confidence in His waiting. There are so many past questions He has answered that have changed my very being and thought process that I can testify to today. Sometimes there is nothing greater the the “oh yeah” experience. When we come to the knowing of an answer that we allowed God to take control of the wondering, and then suddenly He reveals it.
Hab 1:3 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.
Hab 1:4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
…….We ask to see with the eyes of the Lord and have his heart, but when we see things as He does it troubles us. When we are in His will, we will not only recognize more clearly the evil around us, but at times will be effected and even attacked by it. Jesus said they will hate you without a cause. But even in these times His Spirit will not leave us nor fail us!
God’s Answer Amazes
Hab 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.
…….Notice here that God did not rebuke Habakkuk for questioning God. Just like the relationship we have with our children, or we have had with our parents, it is natural for a child to ask why. So then God answers him and says, you won’t believe it even when I tell you.
Hab 1:6 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.
Hab 1:7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.
Hab 1:8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.
Hab 1:9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
Hab 1:10 And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it.
Hab 1:11 Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
…….Habakkuk knew that Judah was God’s chosen people. He could not imagine how the God-given destiny for Israel could be fulfilled, if the kingdom of Judah would be destroyed by the Babylonians. How could Hod allow a cruel, idolatrous, and arrogant nation to destroy Judah?
WILL GOD PUNISH THE WICKED?
A. God’s Character Addressed
Hab 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.
Hab 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?
…….Because Habakkuk knew that God is a righteous God, He wondered why would God use and even more wicked nation to punish the wickedness in His own.
Hab 1:14 And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
Hab 1:15 They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Hab 1:16 Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
Hab 1:17 Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?
Hab 2:1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
…….Even In Habakkuk’s re-questioning, he knew that the Lord would answer and even reprove him.
…….Let this example be a memory of how God allows an evil nation to punish those who are evil. When His people make a mockery of righteousness, He will not hold back the devourer. There has never been a Christian who accidentally made up his mind to sin. When a child of God makes this decision, he/she also makes the decision to walk out from under the sheltering protection of the Lord.
B. God Answers Habakkuk
Hab 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.
…….This is the purpose of the written prophecy, that others may read and be warned of the judgement of God. May we never think lightly of choosing sin over sanctification.
Hab 2:3 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.
Hab 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
…….This is one of the most quoted New Testament scriptures, “the just shall live by faith”. (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). In Habakkuk’s distress, he may have never thought his experience would be so referred to and impact so many Christians. Just a thought from me, what if when Christians use this scripture to refer to trouble in their personal lives, God simply pulls Habakkuk to the side and says, here’s your answer, this is why!
Hab 2:5 (5-9 refers to the Babylonian kingdom) Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
Hab 2:6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
Hab 2:7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
Hab 2:8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
Hab 2:9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
Hab 2:10 (9-19 refers to Judah) Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
Hab 2:11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
Hab 2:12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
Hab 2:13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
Hab 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
Hab 2:15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
Hab 2:16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
Hab 2:17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
Hab 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?
Hab 2:19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
Hab 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
…….The fact is through all of this scripture none who do evil and refuse to repent will escape the righteous judgment of God against them. While those who trust in the Lord will be vindicated, for ultimately all the earth will acknowledge God.
FIND STRENGTH IN GODS FAITHFULNESS
A. God Shows Himself Faithful
Hab 3:1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth.
Hab 3:2 O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.
…….No one knows the time frame from God’s answer to this prayer of Habakkuk, but the fact is, he resorted to prayer. When our questions are answered and even when they aren’t, our faith can be proven by our continued prayer toward God. Do you need God to settle your questions? Pray.
B. Rejoice in Every Circumstance
Hab 3:16 When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops.
Hab 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:
Hab 3:18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
Hab 3:19 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.
…….Although I take joy in nothing this sinful world has to offer, I can take pride in my relationship with Christ because I know He will not fail me! This is where my joy is birthed!
When we desire the closest walk with God, our heart will cry whatever it takes oh Lord! I desire the Lord to eliminate every obstacle in my way that blurs my vision of what His daily desire is for me!