Unlike the other prophets who God gives a message to deliver to a people, Habakkuk’s book is about his own conversation with God during the time before Babylon comes to take them into exile.
I have to admit, his first concern with God is something that gets brought up to me about how could I believe in a God that’s good and here for the people He created:
2O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.
God’s answer isn’t exactly satisfactory, either. Basically, He answers that He’s going to punish these people who have gone astray with even worse people who practice even less justice. Understandably, Habakkuk is further confused and maybe a little upset too.
I love the first verse of this chapter because Habakkuk has finished the second complaint and decided that he is going to sit right here and wait for an answer.
1I will take my stand at my watchpost
and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me,
and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
God answers again and reminds Habakkuk to write it all down and not forget it because these events will transpire, but not right away. Then there are the “woe oracles” that the study section says is about the Babylonians but I think could just as easily be talking about Israel in some places. So God reiterates what He’s said before. Punishment is going to come from Babylon and they’re going to get it too, but after they serve My purposes.
It sounds a little backwards but remember that God is not just altering our perceptions or messing with free will here. He is trying to get the people to remember that their success depends on Him and their relationship with Him and not other countries. They had gone to Assyria for help before and now He’s going to let them bask in their bad decisions so they can learn where help actually comes from.
He’s tried to tell them directly and nothing seems to be working. Now He’s going to let them be scared and feel abandoned and remember what He’s done for them.
The final chapter is a prayer of Habakkuk’s that God created everything and can move and scatter whatever He wants. In the last part he reminds himself that to rejoice in God even when things are terrible. There’s a part of me that wants to think of that as crazy, but then I remember that no matter the bad things we’ve been through, I’m glad to have my husband by my side. I know that in this case it’s seen that God brought this on them and that it is very much portrayed that the people of Judah and Israel felt abandoned by God though they were faithful, but there are many prophets who attest to that the people were not faithful. God told them everything would be okay as long as they were in a good relationship with Him and each other. He gave them guidelines to live by in order to accomplish this goal and ways to come back together when they went against the guidelines and the people could not bring themselves to follow this. So He left them as a whole to their fate. But Habakkuk was glad that he still had God, even when he was among the people who were going to feel His absence.