Book Background: Habakkuk

Written by Heather Zempel | August 29, 2010 | Habakkuk 1 - 3

The book of Habakkuk is a fascinating book of Scripture because it openly questions the wisdom and actions of God. When the prophet finds himself in the midst of circumstances that don’t make sense, he doesn’t hesitate to throw some questions up in God’s face. He is not afraid to shoot back with raw, unfiltered emotion.

Habakkuk was most likely a Temple priest, and his name means “to embrace” or “to wrestle.” What a fascinating combination of ideas. To embrace God means to wrestle with him, and to wrestle with God means to embrace him. Now, let me give you a little background because understanding the context will help you to appreciate the story more. To put him into context in Biblical history, he was a contemporary of the prophets Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah which means he lived during the reigns of Josiah (640-609 BC) and Jekoiakim (609-598 BC).  King Josiah brought revival to the nation. But when King Jehoiakim rose to the throne, he neglected the godly reforms made by King Josiah and led the nation to political and spiritual ruin.  And if you are interested in what God thought of King Jehoiakim and how nasty he was, you can read about that in Jeremiah 22:13-19.  Habakkuk is desperately concerned about the state of his nation. He is living in the midst of a spiritual sewer and he is concerned about the lack of holiness, the spiritual complacency, and he cries out to God on behalf of his people that God would intervene in this situation and bring revival.

Here are some application points—some things we can do when we don’t perceive God’s actions to match his character and promises as characterized in Scripture.

Prayer — bring questions and confusion to God; put ourselves in a position where we can best hear God and wait for God to speak.
Vision — look for visions not of what God will do, but of who God is. Although our circumstances may not change, God can use them to bring us to a complete view of who He is.
Praise — offer thanks to God for what He has done and who He is (see Hab. 3:2).
Faith — root ourselves in faith in God; “the just shall live by faith” (Hab. 3:11; see also Heb. 10:38, Rom. 1:17, and Gal. 3:11).