Lessons from the Book of Habakkuk
The Book of Habakkuk was written about 607 BCE. Twice in the book Habakkuk called himself a prophet. Seeing that a prophet concluded the book by saying it was to be sung “with my stringed instruments,” some have concluded that Habakkuk was also a priest. But there is too little evidence to say this definitely. The message of the book is that the Babylonians are coming, and Habakkuk says this with great detail. Yet, the book is not one of just the distant past. There are many lessons we can learn from Habakkuk.
God is eternal.
“Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One?” (1:12). God is eternal. He does not grow old. He does not decay. Pagan gods crumble; the wood from which they are made decays. But Yahweh is not made from wood or stone. He created the universe. He is eternal.
God is holy.
“Thou who art of purer eyes than to behold evil and canst not look on wrong” (1:13). God is a holy God. Unlike pagan gods, he is not immoral or wicked. He does not devise ways to destroy men, but he is holy and upright. Like the psalmist said, “The LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him” (Ps 92:15).
Because God is holy, he cannot tolerate sin; he is “of purer eyes than to behold evil.” The sins of men cause God to turn his head. He has no tolerance for sin. Because he cannot tolerate sin, he executes wrath upon wrongdoers. The prophets show this. God is loving and merciful, but there comes a time when God will not tolerate any more sin, for he is holy.
The righteous live by faith.
“The righteous shall live by his faith” (2:4). The one who is righteous and pleases God trusts God to do what is right in his life. Even when times become difficult, righteous individuals lean upon God. They walk by faith. Solomon said, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight” (Prov 3:5). Man’s understanding is imperfect. People do not always know what is in their best interest, but God does. The righteous trust God to do what is right.
Yahweh is a living God.
“What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For the workman trusts in his own creation when he makes dumb idols! But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (2:18, 20). Those who trust in idols trust wood and stone. Idols are fashioned after people. An idol a man has made cannot protect man from evil. The idol cannot save.
But Yahweh can. Yahweh can protect. Yahweh can save from hell. Yahweh is a living God, not a dumb idol.
Yahweh is a God of salvation.
“Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, for the salvation of thy anointed. Thou didst crush the head of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck” (3:13). Here, Habakkuk seems to talk about how God protected Israel from other nations. Except to punish Israel, God did not allow foreign powers to overtake his people.
Yet, God can do more than merely save his people from foreign powers. He can save from hell. Habakkuk called Yahweh “the God of my salvation” (3:18). God sent Jesus so that man can come to him in faith and receive salvation. God wants people to be saved. As Peter said, the Lord is “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet 3:9). Yahweh is a God of salvation.
God will provide for his people.
“Though the fig tree do not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like hinds’ feet, he makes me tread upon my high places” (3:17-19). Habakkuk had just recounted God’s wrath. God’s wrath is terrible. But although God’s wrath is terrible, he provides for his people. Even though hunger loomed on the horizon, Habakkuk would trust in God.
Habakkuk realized that everything he had came from God. “GOD, the Lord is my strength.” It was God who sustained Habakkuk. God provides for his people.
The Book of Habakkuk is too often overlooked, but it provides rich and powerful lessons. The book tells us much about God and much about man.