“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5, ESV).
Habakkuk prophesied in a time when things were going from bad to worse. The Assyrians, a cruel and ruthless empire, were on their way out and the Babylonians were on their way in. Habakkuk probably could not remember a moment in his life that was not filled with the suffering of God’s covenant people. Through his entire prophetic ministry, he never saw it come to an end.
If there was ever a time to read Habakkuk, it is now!
Here are the top 5 reasons why you should.
1. Habakkuk shows us how we can faithfully question God.
Faithfully what!? Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. From Abraham and Job to David and the prophets there are many examples in the Bible for questioning God. It is not a sin to bring our questions before God in prayer. We may not think it is right so we avoid this action. However, we can also proceed with this action in a manner that is sinful and irreverent.
In chapter one, Habakkuk questions the Lord (vv. 2-4, 12-17). He questions the Lord by recalling the nature and character of God revealed to Him in Scripture. The Lord’s justice, righteousness, truth, His everlasting nature, holiness, sovereignty, and purity are used to bring faithful questions before the Lord.
You, no doubt, have questions. Don’t go to google for an answer. Don’t wait for some politician to tell you what to do. Go to the Lord, the source of life, truth, wisdom, and goodness. The Lord wants to hear your questions in this difficult time of a global pandemic. Recall His nature, character, and works, and ask Him the questions that haunt your mind and heart.
2. Habakkuk shows us that waiting on the Lord is a biblical command.
Most of us busy ourselves with what we think God wants us to be doing. Habakkuk brings his questions before the Lord thinking that he will receive an answer concerning what he and the nation should do next. Then God answers Habakkuk’s questions. In chapter 2, God simply commands Habakkuk and the people to wait (2:3).
What if the command that the Lord is giving us the most in this season is the thing that we are doing the least? Waiting is not simply doing nothing. Waiting is doing something. It is waiting. It is a mental exercise rather than a physical one. Habakkuk shows us what faithful waiting looks like as he recalls the works of the Lord in 3:1-16. In his waiting, Habakkuk’s trust in the Lord and knowledge of the Lord deepens. This is an incredible fruit of waiting on the Lord.
3. Habakkuk shows us that we fail at waiting and trusting the Lord.
For many reasons, we are terrible at waiting. If our Amazon Prime package takes longer than two days to arrive, we are up in arms. Waiting on the Lord is no different. In fact, no one knows this better than God. In chapter 2, He states to “make it plain” (v. 2) so that we will get it.
Why is Habakkuk in the Bible? It could seem that this book is pretty niche. It is not there because we wait and trust the Lord begrudgingly. It is there because we don’t wait on the Lord. We don’t trust Him as we ought in these times. We need Habakkuk to remind us of our tendency to wander from the Lord. We need Habakkuk to remind us of our sin.
4. Habakkuk shows us the emptiness of idols.
In Habakkuk’s time, it was easier to go with the flow of the worship of gods in the empires around them than to worship the One True God. God’s people were neck-deep in the worship of other gods. Habakkuk 2:6-20 reminds the people that these idols days are numbered for destruction.
In our day, not only do we stink at waiting on the Lord, but we then run to lesser gods to fill the void. We run to these gods because they will never say “wait.” They deliver immediate gratification. Their end is destruction. We need to be reminded of these truths. Habakkuk provides us with those reminders.
5. Habakkuk shows us the beauty and goodness of the Lord in the gospel.
The gospel in Habakkuk? Yep! Habakkuk 3:13, 17-19, give us the gospel of God’s deliverance of His covenant people. Habakkuk reminds us that the more opportunities we get, the more we choose us and not God. Yet this does not stop God’s pursuit of His “anointed” (3:13). In the midst of judgment, destruction, war, defeat, and death, God reminds us of His redemptive plan. What made the nations of Judah worthy of rescue? Nothing. What distinguished them from the pagan nations around them? Nothing. Except for God’s gracious choice and His divine forbearance that He passed over these sins of the people and placed them on His Son (Romans 3:23-26).
Habakkuk is recalling God’s gracious covenant with himself at the end of the book. Habakkuk knows that without this covenant, this promise, he and the people are without hope. Nothing that he or the people can do could merit favor with the Holy One. Yet he knows and is known by Him. Habakkuk rejoices in song over the God of this glorious salvation (3:18).
So don’t wait to read Habakkuk.
Read, pray, question, recall, wait, trust, repent, rest, and rejoice in Habakkuk.
Ben Neiser is the Collegiate Network Coordinator for the Utah/Idaho Southern Baptist Convention. He has served in collegiate ministry for 11 years. Ben has a M.A. in Christian Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben and his wife, Lindsey, live in Provo, UT with their two daughters, Ella and Clara.