O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
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.
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.
They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.
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.
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.
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.
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
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.
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?
And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
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.
Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous.
Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations?
 

Introduction to Habakkuk

The book of Habakkuk indicates an author of deep spirituality and great concern for the holiness of God. In his third chapter, an eloquent poetic prayer expressing great faith in the ultimate vindication of God’s righteousness, he calls himself “Habakkuk the prophet,” and this is one of only two cases (Haggai 1:1) where one of the canonical prophets so identifies himself.

Otherwise, little is known about Habakkuk personally. He was evidently a contemporary of Jeremiah, in the closing years of Judah’s partial independence before the Babylonian exile. He clearly predicted the imminent Babylonian invasion and captivity (Habakkuk 1:5-11). His ministry was probably in the turbulent years just following good king Josiah’s death.

It is in Habakkuk that the famous assurance that “the just shall live by his faith” first appears (Habakkuk 2:4). This verse was quoted three times in the New Testament and eventually became the watchword of the Protestant Reformation under Martin Luther.

1:1 Habakkuk. “Habakkuk” (meaning “embracer”) prophesied in Judah shortly before the Babylonian invasion, and probably soon after the death of good king Josiah. He both warns of the coming Babylonian subjugation of Judah because of her quick descent back into apostasy and wickedness after the revival under Josiah, and also prophesies the ultimate judgment on Babylon.

1:5 ye will not believe. Compare this verse to Isaiah 53:1, which similarly marvels at the inexcusable unbelief of the children of Israel at the great work of God. This unbelief will be especially manifest when they are dispersed “among the heathen.” The work of God which they reject is nothing less than the sending of His own Son to die for their sins, then rise again. See Acts 13:41.

1:6 Chaldeans. The “Chaldeans” are the Babylonians. Originally the Chaldeans proper occupied only southern Babylonian, where Abraham’s initial home had been (“Ur of the Chaldees”), but they soon came to dominate the whole region once controlled by Assyria. Under Nebuchadnezzar (605–562 B.C.), they developed the world’s greatest empire at that time.

1:6 breadth of the land. After conquering Assyria, the Babylonians, in the process of extending their empire into Egypt, also marched through the land of Israel, eventually besieging and sacking Jerusalem, carrying its leaders into Babylonian exile.

1:9 sup up. That is, “have supper.”

1:10 heap dust. “Heap dust” refers to the strategy of building a long ramp up to a city’s wall, enabling them to scale the wall and capture the city.

1:11 his god. The chief “god” of Babylon was Marduk (or “Merodach”), a name probably evolving through the centuries from Nimrod, Babylon’s great founder, who had been essentially deified by his descendants.

1:12 from everlasting. The God of Israel is the one eternal God, the Creator, in contrast to the “god” of Babylon and all other mere deified men, or angels, or personified forces of nature.

1:12 judgment. Even though the Chaldeans were a powerful nation, they lasted only for a time. God would eventually judge them for their wickedness.

1:13 look on iniquity. Note Matthew 27:45-46. God had to veil the earth in darkness when His Son was “made sin” on the cross for us. But it was a problem for Habakkuk, as for many since, that God would punish sin in His own people by means of those even more sinful.


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