Summary: Though the prophet was asking questions as complaining man so often does, & maybe not even expecting an answer, God responds. The Lord is not indifferent or insensitive. He is concerned about the affairs of earth & especially the conduct of His people.
GOD’S PREPARED AN ANSWER
Though the prophet was asking questions as complaining man so often does, and maybe not even expecting an answer, God responds. The Lord is not indifferent or insensitive. He is concerned about the affairs of earth and especially the conduct of His people. The answer to Judah’s ungodliness though was not one that was expected and will give Habakkuk even greater problems.
The Lord had not been idle while all this violence was occurring among His people. He had been at work bringing about a specific discipline for corrupt Judah. Here God reveals those plans to His distressed prophet. These plans would utterly amaze the people for God was raising up the ruthless, proud Babylonians to judge the people for their lawlessness. God is the Lord over nations and history (CIT).
I. God’s Amazing Handiwork, 5.
II. God is Raising Up the Babylonians, 6.
III. The Babylonian’s Character, 7-10.
IV. The Babylonian’s Accountability, 11.
God is not indifferent or inactivity concerning what is going on. In verse 5 God tells Habakkuk that He is doing something, something unimaginable. Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days--You would not believe if you were told.
God addresses Habakkuk and the people of Judah, directing them to look out on the scene of world history among the nations. The Lord asks them to observe the events that are transpiring among the surrounding nations. Habakkuk had complained about being made to look at injustice and thought God was doing nothing. But the prophet and the people were suffering from myopia. They were too near sighted. God’s judgment for Israel’s injustice was not coming from within, but from without. God instructs them to get their eyes off the surrounding violence and look on the international horizons. They need to enlarge their world view and include the nations.
If they would look and observe what was occurring in the nations they would be utterly amazed. To be amazed is man’s response to an event that utterly confounds all previous expectations (Gen. 43:33; Ps. 48:5, Isa. 13:8; 29:9; Jer. 4:9). The political developments about to be revealed would stun them (the verb tâmah means to be astonished, bewildered or dumbfounded). The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by ruthless heathens were such stunning events which created both a national and theological crisis among God’s people.
God was going to do something in their days that they would not believe. To the people of Judah it would seem unbelievable that God would give them over to the godless, arrogant Babylonians. There are two lessons to be learned here. History (regardless to how it seems to us) is under God’s control. History too follows a divine time table. We may wonder when circumstances are confusing and contrary to God’s nature and think that He has forgotten us. But remember God has a plan and He will judge evildoers in His time and in His way. We must be willing to wait and look for God’s answers and His timing.
YAHWEH is the God of detailed circumstances. Nothing happens that does not flow in the channel God dug for it. No event has ever flamed up in spite of God or left Him astonished, bewildered, or confused. He is our God. The sin of man has reduced the world to an arena of passion and fury. Like wild beasts, men tear at each other’s throats. Yet in the midst of the history of which Jesus Christ is Lord, each individual who has believed in Him as the Savior and as the Lord of Life and knows the power of His resurrection will learn that events, however terrible, cannot separate us from the love of God.
This is the lesson that God taught Habakkuk: God is Lord of history, He controls history, and He accomplishes His purposes in history for those who are His own.
II. GOD IS RAISING UP THE BABYLONIANS, 6.
Beginning in verse 6 God tells Habakkuk what’s happening. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs.
God dropped a bombshell. I am raising up the Babylonians. The apostate nation of Judah is to be punished by a Babylonian invasion. Granted sin had abounded all too long in Judah. But the sinners of Judah were but soiled saints compared to the barbaric Chaldeans. Babylon was a nation known for its violent impulses. Its people readily committed atrocities without forethought or remorse. History presents the Babylonians as a fierce and pitilessly cruel people. God calls them ruthless (mar-bitter in temper or fierce) and impetuous (mabar- swift, hasty). Worse was that their conduct matched their character.
These words describe an army that would rapidly change the political structure of the earth. The phrase the whole earth suggests unrestricted scope for their behavior which indicates Judah also. Palestine was just a speck of loose dirt before this gigantic vacuum cleaner that conquered Assyria and Egypt. The verse concludes with seizing dwelling places not their own illustrating that their conduct and achievements had no moral basis. [The Chaldeans were raised up during the reign of Josiah or Jehoiakim. The Babylonians regained their independence form Assyria in 626 BC, destroying Assyria completely. They continued to flourish until 539.] Since God foretold in 1:5 that it was "in your days", or in the lifetime of the persons addressed, the date for Habakkuk is around 615-600 BC.