The Truth is in Habaukkuk…

UPDATE: I’ve changed my mind! Over the last couple of weeks thinking about Habakkuk I’ve changed some of my ideas about what some bits of it mean. Therefore I don’t agree with some of the things in this post any more. At the end of the series I’ll try to write a summary which I actually do agree with.

In preparation for a short series on Habakkuk in my one-to-ones with our church student worker I’ve been challenged to work out the sections in the book and what they’re about. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

Complaint 1 – why don’t you deal with sin and violence? (1:1-12) Habakkuk asks how long until God will make things right (1:1-4). God replies by saying that he’s raising up the powerful Chaldeans to bring justice (1:5-11). Habakkuk seems to trust God’s plan (1:12).

Complaint 2 – the Chaldeans are worse! (1:13-2:20) Habakkuk doesn’t understand why God tolerates the Chaldeans despite their idolatry (1:13-16) so asks whether God will ever stop them and waits for an answer (1:1-2:1). God reassures Habakkuk that justice is surely coming (2:2-5), that what the Chaldeans have done wrong will be done back to them (2:6-17) and that their idols will do them no good against the LORD in his holy temple (2:18-20).

Habakkuk’s prayer – God is powerful, I’ll trust and be patient. (3:1-19) God, you have worked powerfully, do it again (3:2), a summary of the whole prayer. God has shown his awesome power before (3:3-15) and Habakkuk is confident he save Israel again, so will wait patiently for God (3:16-19).

I’m a bit worried about splitting up what Habakkuk’s saying in v12 and v13 into two different sections. He seems to change his attitude – trusting in v12 and questioning in v13 onwards – but maybe I’m missing something.

I was also a little worried that this outline was Jesus-less. While it’s wrong to jump straight to Jesus whatever the text says, we know that all the prophets have spoken about him (Acts 3:25, etc). Thinking about it, having one nation destroy another was never going to fulfill justice – whether the Chaldeans, Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks or Romans were in charge they were all as sinful and godless as each other. While God used them for his purposes (in this case to punish unjustice) this could never be the complete solution. The day that Habakkuk was patiently waiting for we are still patiently waiting for. One day, Jesus will return to judge and to bring justice – and until then things will never be fully right. Amen, come Lord Jesus!

That’s what I think Habakkuk’s about – I guess I’ll see on Friday just how heretical I’m being…

UPDATE: A helpful tool to work out the context of Habakkuk which I wouldn’t have found without help is knowing that the Chaldeans are also known as the Babylonians. This, then, puts the prophet shortly before the Babylonian conquest of Judah and hence after the two kingdoms (Israel and Judah) had split from each other.

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