Habakkuk 1

1The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. 2O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! 3Why 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. 4Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth. 5Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you. 6For, 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 their's.

Habakkuk then is a prophet who lived before the Babylonian captivity of Judah. His prophecy is to Judah concerning Judah. Because of Judah’s decline into sin at this time (after having faithful kings), Habakkuk receives a vision pronouncing the attack of the Babylonians (Chaldeans) against Judah.

It amazes me how many prophets God sent to Judah to warn them of the their sin, to turn away, and the consequences if they didn’t. Yet Judah still did not heed.

Given that he same symbols are used here as in the New Testament concerning the fall of Judaism and the Jews at the hands of Vespasian and Titus, I almost get the idea that God is in some way mocking the willful blindness of the Jews of the 1st century to the warnings of the past. In their arrogance they fail to read, understand, and react appropriately to the same symbols repeated in their day as were used in the OT. It is a testament at least to the abject stupidity of the Jewish leadership of that time.

7They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. 8Their 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.

The emblems of animals, especially here the eagle as a representative of speed are used to describe the Babylonian army.

9They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand. 10And 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. 11Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.

The Babylonian army will with ease take Judah and will turn her rulers into servants (see Daniel 1). Nebuchadnezzar will give the glory to himself and his own god. His mind changing might be a reference to the time Nebuchadnezzar spent acting like a beast because of this arrogance. (Daniel 4)

12Art 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. 13Thou 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? 14And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? 15They 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. 16Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous. 17Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?

Whereas Nebuchadnezzar will give glory to a false God, Habakkuk declares the power and majesty of the only true and living God, Jehovah, who Created all. He then compares men to fish and asks if God is then not righteous when He decides to bring down nations.

Habakkuk 2

1I 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.

Here again another prophet is set in the image of a watchman to give warning to the people.

2And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3For 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.

The Babylonian conquest of Judah is not immediate, but it will be soon.

4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

The self-righteous are evil, but those who are just (righteous) shall live by faith (rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

5Yea 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: 6Shall 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! 7Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them? 8Because 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. 9Woe 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! 10Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. 11For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. 12Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

Nebuchadnezzar would be like a drunken man who feels unconquerable. His drunkenness is on his power and wealth, however, and his desire is as wide and limitless as Sheol (translated in the KJV as “hell”). But all of this increase is through war, the treasures not his own, and it is all blood money. Habakkuk warns that this would all turn on Nebuchadnezzar and this is why I believe that the change in mind (not of mind) is the striking down of Nebuchadnezzar as found in Daniel 4.

13Behold, 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? 14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 15Woe 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! 16Thou 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.

Verse 15 is often taken completely out of context and then misquoted or misapplied. This section has nothing to do with literally drinking alcohol. Even if it did, the injunction here is against giving your neighbor drink to make him drunk so that you can look on his nakedness.

The essence of this passage is pride. It is emblematic of the type of nakedness Judah experienced being laid bare by her conquerors. Here the warning is given to Babylon not to be filled with pride at her achievements because it is ultimately God who controls all. When the time comes that Babylon glories in her triumphs (i.e. Daniel 6) she will be brought to shame, conquered by another nation even more powerful. The aftermath of a night of prolonged drunkenness is always ugly the morning after. Babylon’s fate for daring to attack the children of Jehovah will be just as ugly.

17For 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. 18What 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? 19Woe 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. 20But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Whatever the Babylonians thought concerning their own gods, their idols, to which they attributed their glory, wealth, and power, Jehovah would show that these were all false gods, stupid creations of men. Jehovah is the only living God, the only God capable of real action. He is in the Temple at Jerusalem (had not left it yet as we saw in Ezekeiel) and none are allowed to proclaim the majesty of idols in the face of this fact, especially not the Jews.

Habakkuk 3

1A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. 2O 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. 3God came from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran. Selah. His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. 4And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power.

Habakkuk here speaks of the power and majesty of Jehovah. He reiterates all that Jehovah had done for and to Judah through the years.

5Before him went the pestilence, and burning coals went forth at his feet.

The plagues and judgements that followed the Israelites through the wilderness.

6He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting.

The measuring of the land or the earth is the dividing up of the promised land for the twelve tribes. During this time Jehovah also drove out the wicked nations of the land of Canaan. Their domains (mountains) which they thought to be everlasting turned out to not be so everlasting in the face of Almighty Jehovah.

7I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 8Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation? 9Thy bow was made quite naked, according to the oaths of the tribes, even thy word. Selah. Thou didst cleave the earth with rivers. 10The mountains saw thee, and they trembled: the overflowing of the water passed by: the deep uttered his voice, and lifted up his hands on high. 11The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went, and at the shining of thy glittering spear. 12Thou didst march through the land in indignation, thou didst thresh the heathen in anger. 13Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed; thou woundedst the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck. Selah. 14Thou didst strike through with his staves the head of his villages: they came out as a whirlwind to scatter me: their rejoicing was as to devour the poor secretly. 15Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, through the heap of great waters. 16When 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.

The conquest of the land of Canaan including the time when the sun “stood still” at the request of Joshua. All these things Jehovah had done for the Israelites/Jews. But now they would be conquered by Babylon for turning from their Provider.

17Although 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: 18Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19The 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.

Habakkuk says that even knowing that Judah, here compared to a fig tree, a vine, an olive tree, a flock, and many other symbols we see in the NT, would be taken into captivity under Babylon, he will still rejoice because he, Habakkuk, knows and is faithful to Jehovah God.

In Truth and Love,