This study has two conclusions and can be formatted easily for a two week study with a different conclusion each time. Some of the outline and content ideas were from Hampton Keathley IV, Sam Middlebrook (The King Institute) and a reworking of Bob Deffinbaugh’s study for Conclusion 2. The facilitator likely should copy and paste into a Word document to leave more space after questions or for aesthetic reasons. Let me know if you like the study and how you used it. It is free to use, but I do like to get your thoughts and maybe send some credit my way.
Habakkuk – The Just Shall Live by Faith
A prophet named Habakkuk around the year 600 B.C. wrote this short book located within the Minor Prophets. His name means to “embrace”, as well as being embraced by God. As is usually the case in The Bible, the name has something to do with the message of a book or the person’s work or character. It was likely written during the reign of good king Josiah. Habakkuk probably grew up during the reign of King Josiah and witnessed many of his actions during his reign over Judah. Yet Josiah was the last righteous king to sit on the Judah’s throne. Those that followed him were all wicked. Even though Josiah was righteous, not everything was going well. The prophet is exhausted and overwhelmed by the violence and injustice surrounding him. This was a turbulent time as the balance of power was shifting from Assyria to the Babylonians/Chaldeans after the defeat of Nineveh and Egypt.
The book is presented first as a complaint by Habakkuk, then his question to God/God’s reply, his second question to God/second reply, and then finally a song of praise, hope and joy! God is not indifferent to our cries for help. It is all in His good time and for His glory.
A few major and overlapping themes of the book are:
◊ The spiritual journey of Habakkuk as he travels from severe doubts to overwhelming trust and faith
◊ Exploring of why does God allow evil to exist and does it go unpunished
Theodicy: Apologetical problem of rationalizing God’s goodness/justice in the face of outrageous evil by people, nature or nations
◊ Can a holy God use a wicked people as a tool
◊ The secret of survival when overwhelming national or personal troubles come
Habakkuk’s complaint against his people:
◊ Violence – Help! Where are you?
◊ Strife – Injustice!
He starts out sounding more like a lawyer than an O.T. prophet. Assumes that if Babylon prevails, then all Judah will be wiped out.
The Lord’s reply:
Hey, check out was it going on with those Babylonians . . . they are coming and they are:
Violent – Cruel – Conquering, yet they have a fatal flaw
Habakkuk complains against God’s plan:
◊ You are Holy so you will do what is right, right?
◊ They are more evil than us, how can you let them conquer and gloat?
Habakkuk goes back to his watchtower post and waits for God’s answer
God’s second answer or reply to Habakkuk
There is coming a future destruction of Babylon
Woe to the proud – They are full of arrogance and self-reliance
Woe to the greedy – The oppressed will rise up and attack
Woe to the dishonest and violent – Prideful kingdoms will fall because of their wickedness
Woe to the violent – God will have the last word and be praised
Woe to the lovers of pleasure – The cup of drunkenness you have forced on others will be forced on you
Woe to the idolater – Your fake god cannot save you
Chapter 3 Habakkuk’s prayer, praise and new perspective
The armies of Babylon’s terror have been replaced by God’s proceeding glory, power and judgment. Babylon looked all-powerful, but God is the ultimate conqueror and will crush all others and finally, save His people. He will make our feet steadfast.
3,4 Like Isaiah 6; God’s glory fills the temple
3-7 God is spoken of in the third person
8-15 God is spoken of in the second person
9-13 Habakkuk praises God’s majesty and power
16-19 He promises to wait on the Lord
What is coming is frightening, but his trust is in God.
No matter how terrible the circumstances, people or your life may be, God will guard your footsteps and yes, you will ultimately live in Him and rest.
Hebrews 11:13-16 These all [Old Testament men and women of faith] died in faith without receiving the things promised, but they saw them in the distance and welcomed them and acknowledged that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth. 14 For those who speak in such a way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 In fact, if they had been thinking of the land that they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they aspire to a better land, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets. 33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, administered justice, gained what was promised, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength in weakness, became mighty in battle, put foreign armies to flight, 35 and women received back their dead raised to life. But others were tortured, not accepting release, to obtain resurrection to a better life. 36 And others experienced mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, sawed apart, murdered with the sword; they went about in sheepskins and goatskins; they were destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (the world was not worthy of them); they wandered in deserts and mountains and caves and openings in the earth. 39 And these all were commended for their faith, yet they did not receive what was promised. 40 For God had provided something better for us, so that they would be made perfect together with us.
(1) God may seem to be inactive, but yes, He is involved 1:12
(2) God is holy 1:13
(3) God hears and answers prayers
(4) God sometimes gives unexpected answers to our prayers
(5) God is Just and God is good
(6) The righteous live by faith and faithfulness This means we really believe that God is Good and God is just. And we live accordingly.
(7) The righteous live by faith and God’s faithfulness
What are some situations where you might need to live by faith?
Why do the wicked have it so good?
Do they have it so good?
Why or why not?
When you pray, do you have in your mind the way you want God to answer?
When He answers differently, do you ever think He hasn’t answered at all?
As we now look back on the Book of Habakkuk, how do we explain the prophet’s change of heart?
What happened to Habakkuk between chapter 1 and chapter 3?
All history is under God’s control. God being sovereign, is in ultimate control of all things. Nothing happens that catches our God by surprise. Nothing happens that is outside His control. After 9/11 many believers said, “God allowed this to happen, and He is able to use it for good.” I do not pretend to know why tragedy has come upon our nation, nor do I know how God will use it. I do know this with great certainty:
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).
History follows a divine plan. Yes, history is God’s plan, worked out. History has a specific goal. God’s plan will not be thwarted or altered. God’s plan is a giant gumbo, mixed with calamity, blessing, prosperity and pain. God has chosen to include the evil and hateful acts of men into His eternal plan and it will all finally bring Him glory.
God’s divine plan is often hidden, possibly because we are unable and sometimes unwilling to comprehend it. It is important to note, that the Lord’s plan of salvation through a Messiah was not even clear to the prophets who wrote of His coming (1 Peter 1:10-12). Who would ever have fully understood that God would save sinners by sending His Son, to be rejected by all and crucified as a common criminal Golgotha outside Jerusalem?
God does use the acts of wicked people to complete His will. While God does not approve sin—He will punish all wickedness in the end—His plans cannot be thwarted. He is not limited by only the righteousness of His saints.
History follows “His” timetable. God is not late, even if we often feel that the wait is getting very old and tedious. His delays are a sign of his mercy and patience for all to repent.
II Peter 3:3-4First off, you need to know that in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, “So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.”
5-7They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God’s word. Then God’s word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics.
8-9Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.
10But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a huge conflagration, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
God’s ways are not our ways. Abraham was told he was to father a great nation, but he then had to wait for 25 years. He would possess the Land of Canaan, but from the Canaanite he would first buy a burial place. Are any of us smart or spiritual enough to fully anticipate how God will accomplish His purposes?
The righteous must live by faith. (Taken in part from: The Just Shall Live by Faith/ A Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh) Since we cannot anticipate how God will accomplish His purposes and promises, and since we most often cannot understand what He is doing, we are obligated to live by faith, if we trust Him for salvation. The Book of Habakkuk had a profound impact on Martin Luther. As a monk, Luther had become deeply aware of his sin and knew that he fell short of the standards set by God’s law. The words of Habakkuk 2:4 struck the reformer Martin Luther as the key to his problem, but it was some time before he grasped that his sins were forgiven by faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, apart from any works of his own.
Luther’s son wrote:
“As he repeated his prayers on the Lateran staircase, the words of the prophet Habakkuk came suddenly to his mind: ‘The just shall live by faith.’ Thereupon he ceased his prayers, returned to Wittenberg, and took this as the chief foundation of all his doctrine…. Luther himself said of this text, ‘Before those words broke upon my mind I hated God and was angry with him because not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life, he still further increased our torture by the gospel. But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words–“The just shall live by faith!” “The just shall live by faith!”–then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God.”
Having come to faith in Jesus Christ by faith, apart from human works, Luther not only grasped the glorious truth of Habakkuk 2:4, but he rejoiced in the greatness of the God in whom he came to trust. He was then delivered from his fear of divine judgment and able to pen the words of this great hymn:
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;