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The Book of Habakkuk
Habakkuk 1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. (KJV)
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see . . . this prophecy is called a "burden" . . . a burden is something taken up and carried, and I feel sure the prophets did carry a heavy "burden" with the words that LORD gave them to bring to the people. The "burden" was the prophetic sentence of judgment from God. What follows is what the prophet received from the Lord, and then took what he "saw" to the Jews. It was a heavy burdensome prophecy to the prophet and to the people. Habakkuk would declare the calamities that would come upon them by the Chaldeans, who would invade their land, and carry them captive.
Habakkuk here calls himself a "prophet," and he was! It was what he had seen in a vision from the Lord, that will follow.
First Question Of The Prophet (Hab.1:2-4)
Why does God permit evil?
Habakkuk 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! (KJV)
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! . . . the prophet had long observed the sins and iniquities of the people where he lived. His mind and heart were greatly distressed because of them. He had often and persistently cried out to the Lord to put a stop to the continual abounding of them, crying out too, so the people might see the vileness of their sins, and repent and turn from them. But there was NO repentance, NO changing their ways . . . so Habakkuk thought that his prayers were not heard, and strives to reason with the Lord about the problem. Unto God alone the prophet makes his plea, trying to remedy all grievances. We do not know how long Habakkuk had cried out against all the wickedness going on, but when he cried out to God, it was with humility and submission, NOT murmuring, NOT impatience and NOT in any way distrusting or doubting the justice or mercy of God. He knew God was more displeased with the people's sin than he was. He just was crying out that the sin stop.
Even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! . . . even though he cried again and again to the Lord, to put and end to this non-stop evil, and deliver the oppressed out of the hands of their oppressors, it was not done. God did not save them, did not change the evil ones, or restrain them.
It is possible that Habakkuk lived at the time of the very evil King, Manasseh (2 Kings 21). If so, he lived among some horrific sins, for this king was capable of the worst!
For more on this wicked king, see:
Some people think that we should never question God. I do not agree. Habakkuk went to God with questions. Many who love and trust in God CAN and DO question Him. If you have any questions, take it to the Lord as Habakkuk did, in the same manner as he did. If you are sincere, you will get an answer from God (Jer.29:13). Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (KJV)
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? . . . Habakkuk wanted to know: "Why are You showing me all this wickedness? Why are you causing me to grieve on behalf of these people?" It seemed that no matter which way he looked, he saw the same thing . . . vile sin! Wicked men, by their greed and oppression did their evil openly and publicly, in the sight of all, with NO shame, NO fear. This sounds just like today's world!
For spoiling and violence are before me . . . the greed of evil people was everywhere. The disrespect, hardness, rudeness and stubbornness of this people was hard to believe.
And there are that raise up strife and contention . . . endless conflicts; strife and contention everywhere . . . in the kingdom, in cities, in families, and against one another.
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Therefore the law is slacked . . . the law was not carried out against offenders, the punishment they deserve is deferred. WOW! This is SO true in today's world, especially those billionaire CEO's and those in government who get away with things you and I would have to account for. The law is slack today too!
And judgment doth never go forth . . . certainly not in the right way to do things! Instead of justifying the righteous and acquitting the innocent, they justify the wicked, and acquit the guilty! Isaiah 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! (KJV) . . . Crooked judges, then and now, do NOT do right for the righteous; do NOT condemn the wicked, do NOT punish offenders as their crime deserves. It is never as it should be . . . it is either not done at all, or done badly and perversely.
For the wicked doth compass about the righteous . . . the wicked are the unjust and violent people. "Doth compass about" . . . means he overwhelms and surrounds the righteous with clever plans to oppress and ruin by false witness, greed and/or bribery. Sound familiar? History DOES repeat itself!
Therefore wrong judgment proceedeth . . . because wicked judges are bribed, sentence is pronounced against the good man, and a wicked man buys his way out of judgment that he should have received. Habakkuk saw all these grievous and horrible things, and complained to the Lord about them.
Government and rulers are supposed to restrain the unjust, and protect the innocent (Rom.13:3), but all was working backwards! See God's answer follows.
God's Answer (Hab.1:5-11)
God's vengeance will come through the hated Chaldeans
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously . . . the Lord now answers Habakkuk, and tells him what to say to the Jews, guilty of the vile crimes.
God, in reply to the prophet's cries, speaks of the Jews as about to be punished. He is saying: "Learn from them what ye refused to learn from Me! You will not believe, even though I foretell it." He says, "Consider the judgments, and the punishments that have been executed upon the heathen, for the same sins that YOU commit."
"Regard" means to weigh it well and consider the consequence, for it is a warning to them, assuring them that judgment SHALL overtake them just as it did the nations (Gentiles, heathens). "Wonder marvellously" means they shall be astonished at the coming judgments, far too great to be put in words, and so strange that it will seem hard to believe.
For I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you . . . the great and glorious omnipotent God is the just and supreme Judge, and He will work a work . . . from start to finish work. It will be a work that God shall work, a work of both severity and justice (Eze.7:5). They will not believe; the wicked and violent oppressors will not believe . . . even though the Lord by His prophets did foretell it.
- The LORD shall scatter you among the nations (Deut.4:27).
- He shall punish them (Jer.9:25-26; 25:14-29).
- The wisdom of their wise shall perish, their prudent men hid (Isa.29:14).
- His work will be hard to believe (Lam.4:12).
- Nothing like this had ever been done upon Jerusalem (Dan.9:12).
- It was spoken of in the prophets (Acts 13:40),
- But hard to believe (Acts 13:41).
- The Lord shall, rise up in fiery wrath, that He may do His strange work (Isa.28:21-22).
- They would not believe it was the Lord (Jer.5:12-13).
- They refused to listen to the prophets (Jer.18:18).
- Every Word that the Lord speaks, shall come to pass, though they believe it not (Eze.12:22-28).
- God will consume all things off the land (Zep.1:2).
God challenges Habakkuk to just open his eyes and look around him, to SEE what He is doing.
One disaster after another has taken place. The great Assyrian Empire in the north has been conquered; Nineveh, its capital, has been utterly destroyed. On the Euphrates River, a kingdom arises which already has won a victory over Egypt at Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar has risen, bringing Babylon in as a world power.
God is telling Habakkuk, "Look at all the nations, do you think that I am not doing anything? I have been watching all the sin that goes on, and I am doing something!" God's eye watches what goes on: (Eze.5:11; 7:4,9; 8:18; 9:10). Do you think that God does not watch what goes on today? He IS watching and He is NOT pleased at what He sees!
Today people ask, "Why doesn't God do something about sin?" In Habakkuk's day God was moving. In spite of all the lawlessness, the war and the sin in all the nations, God WAS ruling and moving in judgment. God is still in complete control today! And one day, very soon I think, God is going to lower the boom on this country. He has been warning us, and the world, of their horrid sin, with many natural disasters. People refuse to believe it is God working. It's just "Mother Nature." How stupid can people be?
http://www.worldlychaos.org/w_c_earthquakes.1.htm . . . also see: . . .
Now God will be specific in what He was doing.
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans . . . these people were mean and low, famous for their soothsaying, divination and astrology; but now they had become a powerful and warlike people, rising to a universal power, and who would now add Judea to the rest of their 'possessions.' The prophet states very clearly what it is that the Lord will work. God would animate and strengthen the Chaldeans to accomplish His plan. They had already subdued other nations, and had ruined the Assyrian kingdom.
That bitter and hasty nation . . . they were a cruel and merciless people. They were "bitter" against the people of God and TRUE religion; and they caused calamities, chaos and distress, wherever they went. They were "hasty" in their decisions, swift in their actions; active and vigorous in the prosecution of their plans. Bitter; cruel,without mercy (Jer. 6:23; 21:7). Hasty, swiftly in executing their merciless purposes (Isa. 5:26-27).
Which shall march through the breadth of the land . . .they were attempting to go through the whole world; having subdued Syria, all Asia and a great part of Africa. They marched boldly, casting down all opposition that was in their path (Isa.8:7).
To possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs . . . the cities of Judea, and the palaces and dwellingplaces in Jerusalem, which they had no right to, but they took by the sword. What had been legal possessions and inheritances from father to son for ages, the Chaldeans not only would take from them, but spoil and plunder them.
- The LORD will raise a fierce nation against them (Deut.28:49-52).
- The Lord sent Chaldees, Syrians, Moabites and Ammonites against Judah (2 Ki.24:2).
- King Nebuchadnezzar bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon (2 Chron.36:6).
- The Lord brought upon them the king of the Chaldees, who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion upon young man or maiden, old man, or him that stooped for age: he gave them all into his hand (2 Chron.36:17).
- The LORD will give them no rest (Isa.23:12-13).
- All shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD (Isa.39:6).
- Their sons shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon (Isa.39:7).
- The LORD will call every family and kingdom from the north, to set up their thrones at the entrance of Jerusalem's gates (Jer.1:15).
- The LORD will bring judgments against because of their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods (Jer.1:16).
- The LORD will bring evil from the north, and a great destruction (Jer.4:6).
- They will dress in sackcloth, and lament and howl because the fierce anger of the LORD is not turned back from them (Jer.4:8).
- The LORD will bring a mighty nation upon them from afar, whose language they do not know (Jer.5:15).
- The LORD shall raise a great nation from the north upon them (Jer.6:22).
- Cruel, merciless people to war against them (Jer.6:23).
- The LORD will turn back the weapons of war that are in their hands, when they fight against the king of Babylon (Jer.21:4).
- The LORD will send Nebuchadrezzar, His servant, against their land and the inhabitants.
- He will utterly destroy them (Jer.25:9).
The LORD certainly was busy!
Habakkuk 1:7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. (KJV)
They are terrible and dreadful . . . the fierceness of their appearance; the number and valor of their troops; the splendor of their armor; the victories they had obtained, and the devastating cruelty they exercised . . . their fame spread terror wherever they went. These Chaldeans would affect the disbelieving Jews with much greater fear, for they are of all nations the worst, in their fierceness and the cruelty with which they treat their captives. They simply do as they please. Their captives must submit unto them and not complain.
The Chaldeans, as a people, also their country (Jer. 50:10; 51:24, 35; Eze. 11:24; 16:29; 23:15); or the people together with their country (Gen.11:28, 31; 15:7; Neh. 9:7). The "land of the Chaldeans" (Jer.24:5; 25:12; 50:1,25,45; Eze.1:3; 12:13) is a phrase occurring often. The Chaldean country, lay in southern Babylonia, on the lower Euphrates and Tigris. But the name was extended by the Biblical writers to include all of Babylon, after the Chaldean Nebuchadnezzar had established the new Babylonian empire and brought his people to world-wide fame.
Their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves . . . the Chaldeans would not be directed or governed by any laws of God or man, but only their own, doing only according to their will and pleasure, and none will be able to resist them. Credit should be given them for their authority and superiority, but they were without respect to any law or rule, for they enslaved people with horrid barbarous, beast-like cruelty and unbounded pride! Their judgment: (Jer.39:5-9; 52:25-27; Deut.5:19,27).
"Their dignity shall proceed of themselves" . . . meaning they rely upon themselves. They have great self-confidence and are great boasters. These was quite evident in King Nebuchadnezzar, the founder of this great empire. Daniel 4:30-33 The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, saying, O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken; The kingdom is departed from thee. 32 And they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like eagles' feathers, and his nails like birds' claws. (KJV) . . . The LORD put upon Nebuchadnezzar a form of insanity, where he did not even know who he was, and went out and ate grass like an animal. The LORD IS MIGHTY! (Gen.1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29).
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Their horses also are swifter than the leopards . . . the Chaldeans will come upon quicker you than you think, and when once there, they will be so fast that you will not be able to flee from them (Isa.30:16; Lam.4:19). "Leopards" . . . are a fierce, ravenous creature, like lions, but much faster. They are a watchful, sly, speedy beast, from which it is very hard to get away from. Horses: (Deut.28:49; Isa.5:26-28). Persecutors: (Jer.4:13; Lam.4:19; Eze.17:3,12; Hos.8:1; Mat.24:28; Luke 17:37).
And are more fierce than the evening wolves . . . more fierce, more eager and more cruel on their prey, than the evening wolves; which had not eaten all day, then come out in the evening more fierce on every thing that may be a prey for them. Evening wolves: (Jer 5:6; Eze. 22:27; Zep. 3:3).
And their horsemen shall spread themselves . . . they were excellent riders, that could control the speed and fierceness of these horses. So many there shall they be, and so active, and all violently strong. Horsemen: (Ex.14:23,26-28; Nah.3:3).
And their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat . . . "come from far" . . . they will despise their customs, have no mercy on anyone, will not understand their language. "They shall fly as the eagle" . . . there shall be NO chance of escape. Their enemies shall be so swift, the Jews will think they flew in on wings of eagles. "That hasteth to eat" . . . hunger makes eagles fly quicker, and seize her prey more bold and daring (Job 9:26; Eze. 17:3). So shall their enemies be to them.
What a picture! The Chaldeans used their cavalry as probably no other nation. The Assyrians and Egyptians used chariots, but Babylon used the cavalry. The Babylon army would come like starving animals and ferocious birds and seize upon their prey. That was the story of the Chaldeans, the Babylonians.
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
They shall come all for violence . . . the Chaldeans, especially their fierce and fast horsemen, shall come for one purpose, one plan: to enrich themselves by preying them. They come simply for the sake of spoil and plunder.
Their faces shall sup up as the east wind . . . they come to do violence; their faces are set in determination. Their faces will be stern and fierce; their very looks will frighten, causing men to sink and die through terror; just as herbs and plants shrivel up and die, when blasted by a sharp east wind.
When the Chaldeans were on their march to Judea, their faces were headed to the west or south west; but when they had seized the spoil they came for, they carried it back to Babylon, which would then be east or north east of Judea, so their faces then would be toward the east.
And they shall gather the captivity as the sand . . . they shall gather prisoners (captives), so many, that they gather prisoners like sand.
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them . . . Nebuchadnezzar and his army would "scoff" . . . mock and ridicule the kings and their armies that should oppose them, as not being a match for them. Jehoiakim and Zedekiah, the kings of Judah, were carried away captive, and all others standing with them, in whom they trusted, or opposed the plans of the Chaldeans; as the kings of Egypt and Tyre. No power shall be able to stand before them. It will be as child play for the Chaldeans to take the strongest places. Scoff: (2 Ki.24:11-13; 25:5-7; 2 Chron.36:6-7,10).
They shall deride every strong hold . . . every strong hold in Jerusalem would fall, and in the whole land of Judea, and in every other country they invade. None would be able to stand against them. Deride, ridicule: (Isa.14:16; 32:24; 33:4; Jer.52:4-7).
They shall heap dust, and take it . . . by mighty mounts cast up, or by filling up the trenches about your cities and fortresses, shall master them. They would make ramps up to the top of the wall of a city, thus taking it. They laugh at every fortress and easily build siege ramps to capture it.
Habakkuk 1:11 Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god. (KJV)
Then shall his mind change . . . the mind of the king of Babylon . . . does not mean that he altered his plans, and forgot about attacking other nations, but instead the disposition of his mind changed for the worse, upon his success in subduing kings and princes, and their kingdoms; for although his mind was never good, but always proud, haughty, and ambitious, insolent, cruel, and tyrannical; yet, being flushed with his conquests, he grew more and more so.
And he shall pass over . . . break over the bounds of modest sentiments, of humanity and goodness, and exceed in his value of himself, and of his achievements, such as Sennacherib first did (2 Ki.18:13-16; 2 Chron. 32:17-19), and Nebuchadnezzar (Dan.4:29-30).
And offend . . . this pride was a great sin, and highly provoked God; for he thought he did not need God.
Imputing this his power unto his god . . . the strength by which he had done all his great exploits, the power to which he gave to himself, unto his god . . . this was a great offence . . . to ascribe his grandeur to a dumb idol, but it is worse to think his strength to be his god (Dan.4:29-30).
Second Question Of The Prophet (Hab.1:12-17)
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine holy One? . . . the LORD is the God who is NOT like the gods of the nations. He was God and was there before the mountains were brought forth by Him. He has permitted, restrained, overthrown and punished all proud, bloody, blaspheming unbelievers. Long before this proud Chaldean monarch was ever thought of, the LORD was! The God of old is, then and now, loving, merciful, wonderful, just and good, and His saints found support in calling on Him (Ps.74:12; 77:5; 143:5; Isa.45:21). The LORD God: (Deut.33:27; Ps.90:2; Psalm 93; Isa.40:28; 57:15; Lam.5:19; Mic.5:2; 1 Tim.1:17; 6:16; Heb.1:10-12; 13:8; Rev.1:8,11). He IS God, the Holy One: (Isa.43:15; 49:7; Acts 3:14).
Habakkuk foresees the calamities coming upon his nation and people, but also sees some things for their comfort in this verse; and argues with God in verse 13, about His beneficial dealings, in order to obtain an answer from Him, which might remove the objections of his own mind and other good men. He stumbles at the thought that wicked men should succeed and prosper, and the righteous should be afflicted and distressed by them. The LORD is with thee: (Hab.3:2; Ps.118:17; Isa.27:6-9; Jer.4:27; 5:18; 30:11; 33:24-26; 46:28; Eze.37:11-14; Am.9:8-9)
We shall not die . . . not meaning a physical death, because all men die, good and bad; and the Jews did die, and no doubt good men among them too, at the siege and taking of Jerusalem by the Chaldean army, either by famine, or pestilence, or sword. Habakkuk means a spiritual death, which NONE that are quickened by the Spirit and grace of God ever die. Even though grace at times may be low, it is NEVER lost! Grace does need to be quickened afresh in us, but we are NOT without spiritual life (John 5:24). Grace in us is a well of living water, springing up to everlasting life (John 4:14). Eternal life can never fail us, since it is secured in Christ (John 3:15-18,36; 14:6; Acts 4:12). We are ordained to eternal life, so we shall NOT die the second, or eternal death (Rev.2:11; 20:6). Once saved, always saved!
O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment . . . the Chaldeans would be judged and punished for their sins, just as will ALL wicked Christ-less sinners. But here they have been foreordained to be the instruments of punishing the wicked among the Jews. It was for this purpose these people were ordained in the counsels of God, and raised up in His providence, and constituted a kingdom, and made a powerful nation. The LORD has ordained: (2 Ki.19:25; Ps.17:13; Isa.10:5-7; 37:26; Jer.25:9-14; Eze.30:25).
And, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction . . . O mighty God, the Rock and Refuge of His people. Thou hast established them for correction; that they might be a rod in the Hand of the Lord, not for destruction, but for correction and chastisement; and it might be also concluded that they should not die and utterly perish. Mighty God: (Deut.32:4,30-31; 1 Sam.2:2; Ps.18:1). All is established in God's mind: (Isa.27:9-10; Jer.30:10-11; 31:18-20; 46:28; Heb.12:5-6).
Habakkuk 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? (KJV)
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity . . . It is the Lord, who has raised and increased the Chaldean kingdom. The LORD CANNOT look on any evil! He CANNOT look on any iniquity. The Lord has omniscient eyes and He sees everything, everywhere! He sees ALL men, the good and the bad! He sees everything that they do and say! BUT . . . He does NOT look upon the sins of men with pleasure and approval, because they are contrary to His nature, repulsive and disgusting to His will, and because SIN breaches His righteous law. The LORD is of infinite purity and holiness. "Eyes" . . . is ascribed unto God to express His knowledge; His eyes run to and fro; His eye is upon the righteous. Eyes of the Lord: (2 Chron.14:2; 16:9; 21:6; 29:6; Ps.11:4-7; 34:15-16; Pro.5:21; 15:3; 22:12; Isa.3:8; 49:5; Jer.52:2; Am.9:8; Zec.4:10; 1 Pet.3:12).
All sin in general may be included here, but there seems to be a particular wrath to the "evil" or injury done by the Chaldeans to the Jews, in invading their land, spoiling their substance, and killing them; and to the "iniquity" by which may be meant the oppression and violence they exercised upon the inhabitants of Judea; which although was permitted by the Lord, was NOT pleasing in His sight. Psalms 5:4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. (KJV)
"Than to behold evil" . . . His omniscience sees all things, and so David expressed it, "Thou beholdest mischief and spite, to requite it" (Ps.10:14); but God does NOT, will NOT, CANNOT see any sin with delight or approval. Sin to the Lord is disobedience to Him, evil, violence and wickedness of any kind. God's ways and our ways are quite different: (Isa.55:8-9).
And canst not look on iniquity . . . this is repeated because of its importance. Habakkuk speaks truth, although he is baffled with the darkness of providences; but he will stifle his heartfelt murmurings, when he debates with God about His providences. The Lord is holy, just and pure; and deep within the prophet, he knew God's way was always right, as we should as well.
Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously . . . dealeth treacherously: (Isa.21:2; 33:1). God sees all the evil and violence that is done, and bears with them that do it. Habakkuk asks the Lord, "Why do You tolerate these treacherous ones?" Why? (Ps.10:1-2; 10:15; 73:3; Jer.12:1-2). God's Face Hidden because of sin: (Lev. 20:3,6; Ps.34:16; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 143:7; Pro.1:28; Isa.1:15; 8:17; 54:8; 57:17; 59:2; 64:7; Jer.11:14; 18:17; 21:10; 33:5; 44:11; Lam.3:44; Eze.7:22; 14:8; 39:23; Mic.. 3:4; 1 Pet.3:12).
And holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? . . . Habakkuk asks of God: "Why are You silent while one who is wicked swallows up one who is more righteous than himself?"
"Holdest thy tongue" . . . the prophet says that God seemed not to care to such a degree as to be silent and say nothing. "The wicked" . . . the Chaldeans were bloody and treacherous oppressors, and were idolaters against God. "Devoureth" . . . swallowed down whole (Num.16:30; Ps.124:3). "More righteous than he" . . . although the Jews were corrupt, when compared with the Chaldeans, they were the better ones, and the Jew was the less evil. Baffled Habakkuk asks: "Why is the better oppressed by the worst?" Why? (Ps.10:1-2; 10:15; 73:3; Jer.12:1-2). God, keeping quiet: Est.4:14; Ps.35:22; 50:3,21; 83:1; Pro.31:8-9; Isa.64:12). The wicked: (Hab.1:3-4; 2 Sam.4:11; 1 Ki.2:32; Ps.37:12-15,33; 56:1-2; Acts 2:23; 3:13-15).
Do NOT ever get the idea that God cannot or will not use a godless nation to chasten another nation. He has done so in the past, and He could do so again, at any time! He is still in charge of this Universe! Nothing is out of His control.
We now come to a very poetic, powerful and well-expressed sections in the Word of God.
Habakkuk 1:14 And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? (KJV)
And makest men as the fishes of the sea . . . the Jews will be as the fishes of the sea, that are easily caught in the net, and are common to everyone; that whosoever will, can take them, kill them, and use them for food. But among themselves, the smaller ones are eaten by the bigger ones. The prophet suggests, that the people of the Jews, who were made in the image of God (Gen.1:26-27), and were God's covenant people (Ex.19:5; 24:3,7; Deut.5:27; 29:12; 31:16); that it might have been expected, that a more special providence would have awarded them, more than other men, and especially more than what went to the fishes of the sea . . . yet it seems as if there were no more care taken of the Jews that the fish of the sea. God is NOT a respecter of persons. No respect of persons: (Deut.1:17; 16:19; 2 Chron.19:7; Pro.24:23; 28:21; Acts 10:34; Rom.2:11; Eph.6:9; Col.3:25; Jam.2:1,9; 1 Pet.1:17). God hates SIN, no matter who does it!
"Makest" . . . God did NOT fill them with cruel, ravenous and insatiable appetites, but permitted them to act according to such appetite which was already in them. In other words, God gives all people a free will. "Men" . . . should be decent and just to all, and wrong NO none. "As the fishes" . . . the big greedy ones eat the small ones.
As the creeping things, that have no ruler over them . . . not the creeping things of the Earth, but in the water; the lesser kind of fishes in the water; those that creep, like crabs, prawns and shrimps (Ps.104:25). These have none to protect and defend them, and restrain others from taking and hurting them (Pro.6:7). Habakkuk says this was the case of the Jews; they were exposed to the cruelty of their enemies, as if there were no God that governed the world, and no providence to direct and to keep good men from being hurt by evil men; or those that were weak and feeble from being oppressed by the powerful and mighty; this he speaks to the Lord about, and was very anxious to have an answer to it all.
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
They take up all of them with the angle . . . the prophet continues the image of fishing, stating different ways the fishermen take all they can with their angles (hooks, lines, nets). "With the angle" . . . may refer to the delight the oppressors took in the private way of destroying. "They" . . . is Nebuchadnezzar and his army, and they take up all out of the sea of the world. They are ambitiously determined to get all kingdoms and nations of the world under their power, especially Judea and all its inhabitants, for all were as fish which came to their net. They got people into their hands, made promises to them, then forced them to pay ridiculous taxes.
They catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag . . . with a hook, the fisherman catches fish one by one, but with the net, they catch large numbers; and what he misses by throwing the net, he gets by using the drag; all which were ways and methods used by the king of Babylon and his army, both in the times of Jeconiah, and of Zedekiah. Under Jeconiah, he used the net, and carried off large numbers, including the royal family and great substance, but he left many behind. Under Zedekiah, Nebuchadnezzar came and swept them all away, and stripped the land of all its riches and inhabitants. The angle and the net and the drag represent the armies and the weapons used by the Babylonians to carry on their military conquests. Fishing: (Jer.16:16; Eze.29:4-5; Am.4:2; Mat.17:27).
Therefore they rejoice and are glad . . . "they" are the Chaldeans. Just as fishermen rejoice and are glad when they have a good catch; so too, the Chaldeans greatly rejoiced in their success, and in the misfortunes of their neighbors. The Babylonians were pagans, and gave NO credit to the TRUE and living God for their successes.
God uses the catching of fish as a figure of speech, but God catches fish to save them, NOT to destroy them. Matthew 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (KJV) . . . They catch: (Ps.10:9; Luke 5:5-10; John 21:6-11).
Habakkuk 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. (KJV)
Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag . . . either to their idols, to fortune to the stars, as Aben Ezra; thinking they gave them success, and prospered them in the arts and methods they used: or to their arms. Some worship their swords or daggers instead of, or as gods. They literally sacrificed to their own valor and courage. "Therefore" . . . because they prosper and thrive, they sacrifice, idolize and pay honors, and give credit to stupid idols . . . giving praise of their victories and acquired glory, to their own plans, persistence and power, as if the fisherman should make his net his god, and offer sacrifice for a good catch of fish taken to the net that took them.
Because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous . . . meaning that by their angle, net and drag (methods they used to subdue nations, conquer kingdoms, and bring them into subjection to them); they enlarged their dominions, increased their riches and income, which meant plenty of everything that was desirable for food and raiment, for pleasure and profit. "Plenteous" . . . abundant, a sufficient provision, plus much to be laid up in store for themselves. They: (Hab.1:11; Deut.8:17; Isa.10:13-15; 37:24; Eze.29:3; Dan.4:30; 5:23).
Habakkuk 1:17 Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations? (KJV)
Shall they therefore empty their net . . . Habakkuk goes on: "Will You let Babylon keep fishing, and killing people as if they are nothing but fish? Will You let them go on and on, and get away with this forever? Will You let them succeed forever in their heartless conquests?"
Shall they . . . the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar and his armies.
And not spare continually to slay the nations . . . the inhabitants of the nations, one after another, and subdue them under them, and make themselves master of all their treasure, until they are arrived to universal monarchy by such cruel and unmerciful methods. "Shall he send his armies continually to consume nations, without mercy?''
And not spare continually . . . shall they endlessly kill with no mercy?
To slay . . . murderer, kill, the nations; not just one person at a time, but total peoples all at once. Habakkuk cries out to the Lord: "O most just and mighty God and Judge, will You continue to let this go on?" . . . The prophet by this question, seems to say to us that God most certainly will NOT allow it always. The Lord will in due time rise up and break the oppressors' arm, and save the oppressed people of God. God in control: (Hab.1:9-10; 2:5-8,17; Isa.14:16-17; Jer.25:9-26; 46:1; 52:1-34; Eze.25:1).
Does Habakkuk Speak To Us Today?
Habakkuk asks God, "Are You going to permit them to go on into the future, destroying people after people?" God's answer is, "No, but I am going to send Judah into captivity in Babylon as a chastisement, a judgment for her sins, and then I will judge Babylon." . . . That is exactly what happened! Today, Babylon lies under the dust and rubble of the ages. It is a silent but powerful testimony that God DOES judge evil.
Does Habakkuk have anything to say to us in these 'modern' times? Does the interrogation of Habakkuk fit into the times in which we live? Habakkuk's first question: "WHY does Almighty God permit evil since He hates it so?" He allows it because He is long-suffering and ever so patient with people of this world . . . BUT . . . He gives everyone a free will to either choose to live right and accept Christ OR choose to live in sin and reject Christ.
God is "not willing that any should perish" (2 Pet.3:9), He really wants ALL to come to repentance, and He loves us SO much (John 3:16) that He made a Way possible for ALL of us to have eternal life when we leave this world. Almighty God has provided His Only Begotten Son as a Perfect Sacrifice for us, the Lamb of God (Jn.1:29,36; Rev.7:17; 14:10; 21:22-23; 22:1,3). Christ Jesus had NO sin: (Isa.53:9; Jn.7:18; 2 Cor.5:21; Heb.4:15; 7:26; 9:28; 1 Pet.1:19; 2:22; 1 Jn.3:3,5). He died on a cruel Roman cross . . . a crucified Saviour, for us . . . so that NO one ever needs to perish in the pits of Hell! This was accomplished at the First Coming of Christ.
Then comes Habakkuk's second question: "Why doesn't God judge the wicked?" My friend, He does! Just open the Bible and start reading. BUT . . . God will answer this question thoroughly at the Second Coming of Christ, because at that time He will judge sin. Christ came the first time as a humble Servant, to wear a crown of thorns and to die on that cross. BUT . . . the next time He comes, He will be KING and wear a crown of glory and will rule the entire Earth (Rev.19:16).
Eternal life: (Ps.61:7; 133:3; Dan.12:2; Mat.25:31-46; 12:25; John 3:15-18,36; 4:14; 5:24-25,29,39; 6:27,40,47,50-58; 6:68; 8:51; 10:10-11, 27-30; 12:25,50; 17:2-3; Rom.2:7; 5:21; 6:22; 2 Cor.5:4; 1 Tim.1:16; 4:8; 6:12,19; 2 Tim.1:10; Tit.1:2; 3:7; 1 Jn:1:2; 2:17,25; 3:15; 5:10-13,20; Jude 1:21; Acts 13:48; Rom.2:7-11; 5:21; 6:22-23; 1 Cor.15:53-54; 2 Cor.5:1-2; Gal.6:8; Eph.2:8-9; Rev.1:18). Of The Soul: (Ecc.12:7; Mat.10:28; Luke 12:20; Rev.20:4).
The Jews rejected Christ and eternal life only He can give: (Ps.118:22; Mat.11:23; 21:42; Mark 12; Luke 10:13-15; Jn.7:1-9,12-13,45-52; 10:22-42; 12:36-43; Acts 4:11; 13:46; 1 Pet.2:7-8). It seems that after the events in Matthew chapter 12, with the Jews stubborn determination against Him, Jesus then turned to the Gentiles. Matthew 13:1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. (KJV) . . . Why do I say this? Am I reading something here that is not here? This is just my humble opinion. "Jesus went out of the house" . . . the "house" I think is Israel (Eze.4:3; 12:6). And went and "sat by the sea side" . . . the sea and waters, is a symbol of Gentiles, people (Jer.47:2; Isa.17:12; Rev.13:1; 17:15).
Do we really have the right to question our Maker? Habakkuk did. And I think we can too . . . IF we go about it the way the prophet did, in humility and sincerity; NOT in arrogance and defiance, demanding answers from the Almighty Creator. God will turn His back on you if you do it that way. He will turn His Face away and NOT hear you. God's Hidden on account of sin: (Lev.20:3,6. Ps.34:16; 44:24; 69:17; 102:2; 143:7; Pro.1:28; Isa.1:15; 8:17; 54:8; 59:2; 64:7; Jer.11:14; 18:17; 21:10; 33:5; Lam.3:44; Eze.7:22; 14:8; 39:23; Mic.3:4; 1 Pet.3:12).
When Habakkuk cried out to God, it was with humility and submission, NOT murmuring, NOT impatience and NOT in any way distrusting the justice or mercy of God. He knew God was more displeased with the people's sin than he was. He just was crying out that the sin stop. When we question God, this is how we should go about it.
Some people think that we should never question God. I do not agree. Habakkuk went to God with questions. Many who trust in God can and do question God. If you have any questions, take it to the Lord as Habakkuk did, in the same manner that he did. If you are sincere, you will get an answer from God (Jer.29:13). Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (KJV)
We all have questions, and some of those questions will not be answered as we would like, but I do know that He has the answers. For now, let us simply trust Him.
Book of Habakkuk
Ch.1 . Ch.2 . Ch.3