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Lesson 87: HABAKKUK A Holy God Chastising His Children

Updated: May 28, 2021

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Background Information

I. Habakkuk’s name means “Embrace.”

II. This book was written between the death of good King Josiah (609 B.C.) and the beginning of Babylonian captivity (605 B.C.). The miserable condition of the people (1:2 4) implies a date after the death of Josiah at the Battle of Megiddo and early in the wicked reign of Johoiakim (609–597 B.C.). Habakkuk would have been a contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah.

III. “The Chaldeans are a tribe of Semites from Southern Babylonia who freed themselves from Assyrian over lordship in 625 B.C. and who under the leadership of Nabopolassar became rulers of the Neo-Babylonian empire. Joining with the Medes and Scythians, they destroyed Nineveh in 612 B.C. Josiah in 609

B .C. had lost his life at Megiddo vainly attempting to block Necho’s advance to aid the dying Assyrian empire (2 Kings 23:29,30). At Carchemish in 606 B.C. (cf. Jer. 46:2) the remnant of Assyria and Pharaoh Necho was defeated by Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon’s domination over Judah was assured. The new Babylonian Chronicle makes it likely that Nebuchadnezzar returned to Syria following his coronation and took tribute. These events furnish the background of Habakkuk’s expectation from the Chaldeans. The Neo-Babylonian empire with Nebuchadnezzar at its head dismembered Judah. In 597 B.C. Jehoiachin and a number of artisans were exiled. In 586 B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed. The time span of the empire is actually coextensive with the exile. By 539 B.C. Cyrus had

conquered Babylon and the Persian period of Biblical history sets in.” (Jack Lewis, pg. 49).

IV. This book was written while the nation of Judah was committing spiritual suicide. Although Habakkuk repeatedly calls for repentance, the nation refuses. Habakkuk is informed by God that the Babylonians would be His chastening rod on the nation. Though perplexed, Habakkuk realizes that the just shall live by faith (2:4) and like Job, he praises God’s wisdom even though he does not fully understand His ways.

V. What can we learn from the book of Habakkuk?

A. The fact of Divine discipline. “The constant riddle of the Old Testament is ‘not the survival of the fittest but the suffering of the best.’ In Job it was the suffering of an individual; in Habakkuk, that of a nation.” (Robinson)

B. The fact that sin is self-destructive.

C. Faith is a condition of life (2:4).

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