The Book of Habakkuk, presented as a conversation between the prophet Habakkuk and God, was written for the benefit of the people of Judah. The leaders in Judah were oppressing the poor and Habakkuk questioned why God allowed the wicked to prosper. He wondered how long God would ignore the wickedness of those who had no regard for the law.
God responded by telling Habakkuk that the Babylonians would come to punish Judah. The Babylonians were ruthless, violent men whose own strength was their god (1:11).
Habakkuk did not understand how God could use the Babylonians, a more wicked nation than Judah, to bring judgment on His people. "Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (1:13).
The Lord responded, "'Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay'" (2:3). Then He told Habakkuk that "the righteous will live by his faith" (2:4).
God would, in His time, judge the Babylonians. "'Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them'" (2:8).
Five times God said, "'Woe to him . . .'" When God threatens a person or a nation, they had better watch out!
"'Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion!'" (2:6).
"'Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!'" (2:9).
"'Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!'" (2:12).
"'Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies'" (2:15).
"'Woe to him who says to wood, "Come to life!" Or to lifeless stone, "Wake up!" Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it'" (2:19).
Chapter 3 is Habakkuk's prayer of praise. Because of his encounter with God his outlook had been transformed. Note especially verses 17-19. Even though everything around him was negative, he decided to rejoice in the Lord. "I will be joyful in God my Savior" (3:18). He recognized that God was his strength.
Fill in the blanks on the worksheet and on the "Go to the Word" sheet, and may God bless you as you study His Word. NIV Archaeological Study Bible ( Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005), 1504.