Summary: The LORD gives us 'strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow'.
AN OVERVIEW OF THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK
Habakkuk 1 – THE BURDEN
Habakkuk 1:1. When Habakkuk speaks of his message as a burden, it is to convey something of its weightiness. No prophet should take God's words upon his lips lightly; but neither are those who are truly called to preach able to rest, unless they discharge their duty faithfully (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Habakkuk not only had the Word of God laid upon him, but he proclaimed what the prophet did see. It is as if he was enabled, like Micah, to see into God's mind. What Habakkuk visualised there, he translated into word pictures to convey God's message to man.
Habakkuk 1:2. The prophet was perplexed, as are we sometimes, at God's apparent silence in the face of the wickedness of mankind. Iniquity surrounded the prophet then, just as violence and vice surround us today. The prophet's cry is the cry of the righteous in every generation: “How long, Lord?”
I can remember the resonance of Martin Luther King's voice as he asked in one of his great speeches: “How long, Lord?” Another voice echoed: “How long, preacher, how long?” To which the great man replied, “Not long!”
Habakkuk 1:3. There is such a thing as a righteous anger at wickedness & violence. Habakkuk addressed his frustrations to God. This we are permitted to do, as long as we are reverent and not disrespectful. The second question is one common to humankind, “Why, Lord?”
Habakkuk 2 – THE VISION
Habakkuk 2:1. As part of the pictorial message which Habakkuk intended to convey, we see him next on his prayer tower, watching for God's words. Prayer is a two way transaction, and in addition to our praises and petitions, we need to learn to meditate on the things of God. This includes Bible reading, certainly; but also involves reflection upon the things which God is teaching us in His Word, and through the circumstances of our lives.
Habakkuk 3 – THE PRAYER
Habakkuk 3:1. The heading of Habakkuk's prayer is similar to the titles and notations within the book of Psalms, which gives rise to the possibility that the prophet was a priest or Levite, or some other Temple official. The Prayer ends with a dedication to the chief singer (Habakkuk 3:19).
Habakkuk 3:2. The prophet prayed for revival. We likewise long for better days for the Church, for God's people on earth – not for our own sakes, but for the honour of His name.
Habakkuk 3:16. Such prayer leads to personal transformation (Psalm 73:12-17). Unless we are willing to be changed ourselves, our many petitions carry no greater worth than the vain repetitions of false religions (Matthew 6:7).
Habakkuk 3:18. God's people are enabled to experience joy in the midst of adversity (Philippians 4:4). As we move on in the Christian life, and grow through our experiences of the Lord, the command to rejoice no longer perplexes us. Rejoice? It's what we do, regardless of circumstances (Acts 16:25 - and when we rejoice, things happen Acts 16:26).