Imagine walking along the shore whenblowSomething heavy hits your foot. A bottle. Not just any bottle, but a brown bottle with a cork. You bend down, pick up the bottle and open the cork. Inside is a rolled up piece of paper. A letter. handwritten. You carefully unroll the letter and start reading it. On first reading you will have no idea who wrote it, when it was written, or why it was written. Then you start examining the letter for clues. Although you cannot pinpoint the exact date it was written, if the letter mentioned the recent "war to end all wars," you would know that the letter was written after World War I and before World War II. If the writer of the letter wrote about the birth, you would know that the writer was female. Each clue gives you a clearer picture of the letter's message and meaning.
Bible scholars use a similar approach when searching for the date and background of the books of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament prophets.
Starting today, I will be sharing a five-part series through the Book of Habakkuk: How Perplexity Became Worship. Before we open the book itself and get to the heart of the perplexity and praise, author and Bible study leader CindyBarnes shares with us the results of her examination of the who, when, and where of the book of Habakkuk so that we can get an idea our thoughts on Habakkuk. who was he? When did he live? What was his world like? Understanding his context can help us understand both his perplexity and his praise.
As you read Cindy's insights, notice how similar Habakkuk's culture is to your own.There are a lot more similarities than you might think!
Do you feel like you live in a time surrounded by people who don't serve the Lord? You don't think that alone. As we begin a new study of one of the lesser prophets, it would be helpful to understand what life was like in the years 650 to 586 BC. This study will reveal the burden of Habakkuk.
All Scripture is given by inspiration from God and is useful for teaching, for correction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.
Even in this short book there is something for us to learn. Are you ready?
Come sit with me as we turn back the pages of time to discover the sights and sounds that surrounded Habakkuk. We'll have fun discovering what the Jews were experiencing at the time of Habakkuk's story. This will help us when we learn why Habakkuk was so heavily burdened.
We don't know much about Habakkuk other than what we learn from his book. However, we can piece together what happened at that time from other prophets, kings, and general history. By asking the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how, we will find out why Habakkuk was so burdened.
The kingdom is divided
Let's take a look at history.
Israel was a united kingdom under the rule of King David and King Solomon. However, at the end of King Solomon's reign, the kingdom was divided into the Northern Kingdom (Israel) and the Southern Kingdom (Judah). This happened in 931 BC. BC, meaning that the ancestors of Christ would now be from the line of Judah.
Judah continued to rule, even though many of the kings were ungodly and the others were not consistent in their faith. The prophet Isaiah worked hard to turn Judah back to God, but the influence of Syria, Egypt, and Babylon continued to threaten the Jewish kingdoms.
Nahum, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, and Daniel continued to warn the kings and people that their wrongdoing and unfaithfulness to God would be repaid with destruction. Some kings listened, some didn't.
After the division of the United Kingdom, Israel had 20 kings before finally becoming a king in 722 BC. fell to the Assyrians under the reign of King Hosea. Israel ceased to exist at that point. Judah is now all alone to face his enemies.
Based on the text of chapter 1, scholars assume that Habakkuk lived during the reign of the youngest king, Josiah, who came to power at the age of 8. He reigned in Jerusalem for 31 years (640-609 BC).
Here's what we know about him.
His father Amon was not a good man. Indeed he did evil in the sight of the Lord. Amon lived out the "like father, like son" cliché as he followed in his father's footsteps.
Manasseh (Amon's father) did evil in the sight of the Lord in his early years as king, but later he had a change of heart and began to follow the Lord. So what did Amon do? He was like his father's early years, not the later years.
But Josiah was not like his father Amon, as Scripture tells us he was a righteous king who 'walked in the ways of his father David', 2 Chronicles 34:2. This is how he will be remembered over time.
In fact, it is said that "before or after there was no king like him." What a testimony of righteousness!
King Josiah made a creed as a teenager when he began to seek "the God of his father David." He was 16 years old when he stood up for justice. Can you imagine how hard it would have been for Josiah to do that? Is it harder for teenagers today to stand up for what's right?
The beginning of revival
So what did Josiah do? He did the right thing in cleansing Judah and Jerusalem of the idols and places of worship of false gods. (2 Chronicles 34:1-7) This cleansing even spread to parts of Israel.
Let's read that in 2 Chronicles 34:9 when he invited Israel to join him in returning to the Lord and serving God.
The Book of the Law is found
Just two years later, when Josiah was 18, he began repairing the house of the Lord. He ordered the taxes to be used to rebuild the temple. While the clean-up crew were searching through the rubble, they came across the Book of the Law and brought it to Josiah, 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:15.
It's time to take a look at this scene.
Shaphan the scribe read the book to the king and when king Josiah heard the words of the law he repented and wept. He tore his clothes and mourned as he realized how disobedient the nation had been. Can you see how broken he was? How remorseful was he? And he was only 18!
The words of the law, the blessings and the curses, affected him greatly. Would he and his nation be judged for their disobedience?
A meeting with the prophetess
To find that answer, he sent Shaphan's son Ahikam, who was a court official, to Huldah the prophetess. If anyone knew, she would know. She responded by emphasizing the importance of the book. She said the curses written in the book would come about because of the broken covenant.
As for Josiah, the following was said: “Because your heart was soft and you humbled yourself before God, hearing his words about this place and its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before me, renting your clothes and before have wept for me, I have heard you, saith the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 34:14-28)
King Josiah and the nation of Judah made a covenant before God to serve Him and Him alone. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33). There has been a revival in the land, but will these reforms be enough to avert disaster? Was Habakkuk to bear any burden now that revival was in the land?
king of Babylon
While King Josiah reigned in righteousness, King Nabopolassar (626-605) reigned in Babylon and was the opposite of Josiah.
Nabopolassar ruled the last 19 years of Josiah's reign. Surely King Josiah knew this Babylonian king, having heard of his exploits in the nation around him and soon to face him in battle. Was this the burden of Habakkuk?
He was also the father of Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince who crowned him in 605 BC. followed when Nabopolassar was believed to have died of natural causes at the age of 53.
kings of Assyria
To continue the background scene, remember that the nation of Israel died in 722 B.C. was conquered by the Assyrians and lived under the rule of these kings.
While Nabopolassar ruled over Babylon, the following kings ruled over Assyria:
Do we care about these men? Just to show lineage in the who's who list.
The dates given refer to the period of the reigns of kings and prophets.
In the year 612 BC Nineveh (located in Assyria) was attacked by combined forces of the Babylonians and Medes. King Ashuruballit is believed to have died in the fall of Nineveh.
King Nabopolassar and the Assyrian kings worshiped and served idols. They were surrounded everywhere by temples to false gods. These nations were strong in the cults and encouraged all in their false worship. They influenced the nations around them and definitely had an impact on Judah.
609 BC the Egyptian pharaoh Necho II helped the Assyrians in the fight against the Babylonians. When he tried to enter the hill country from the Jezreel valley, surprise! He encountered King Josiah and his Judean army for siding with the Babylonians.
A fierce battle was fought at Carchemish (Megiddo), and King Josiah was injured and died of his battle wounds at the hands of Pharaoh Necho. Can you almost picture that scene now? (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20)
Pharaoh Necho placed puppet kings on Judah's throne, but neither Necho nor the Judean kings were a match for the Babylonians. Judah was now at the mercy of the Chaldeans and was destroyed in 586 BC. abducted in captivity. Was this the burden of Habakkuk?
We took a look at the religious and political climate surrounding Habakkuk. We know that King Josiah was a righteous man who led his people in revival between them and God.
So what do we know about Habakkuk? While much of this information will be revealed in the next study, we want to know about the burden he carried.
No one is sure, but many scholars believe that Habakkuk was killed during the reign of King Jehoiakim, perhaps around 607 B.C. B.C., actually served as a prophet.
As you can see from this historical account, the covenant between the people and the Lord was broken again at the end of Josiah's reign.
Habakkuk lived during a revival and now he sees chaos as the kings that followed did not follow the ways of the Lord.
He had a burden for the people. The spiritual awakening was over. Sin grew. his burden? We'll find out in the next study with Rachel Schmoyer.
It is believed that he wrote his book during the 25 years when Babylon conquered both Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire (612 BC) and at the time of the fall of Judah when Babylon fell in 586 BC. BC conquered Jerusalem.
This is a wrap
Thanks for sitting on the couch with me to take a closer look at what caused the Habakkuk strain.
The next study is Habakkuk Chapter 1 as Rachel Schmoyer of Read the Hard Parts takes us through the first conversation between Habakkuk and God.
I found that interesting. Are you a history buff? Did you enjoy the behind-the-scenes look to help you understand Habakkuk?
Tell me which part did you find the most interesting? Leave me a comment, Rachel and I would love to hear from you.
Bible Time Line, Rose Publishing
The New Bible Commentary Revised: Habakkuk, pp. 767-768
Nave’s Topical Bible: Four Thousand Questions and Answer on the Old and New Testament: Habakuk; Josia, König von Juda
From Adam to Jesus, from creation to crucifixion
What is the context of the book of Habakkuk? ›
It is unknown when Habakkuk lived and preached, but the reference to the rise and advance of the Chaldeans in 1:6–11 places him in the middle to last quarter of the 7th century BC. One possible period might be during the reign of Jehoiakim, from 609 to 598 BC.
Description. The ancient prophet Habakkuk asks four questions common to strugglers today: (1) God, where are you when I need you (1:1-11)? (2) Why do bad things happen to good people (1:12-2:4)? (3) Why do good things happen to bad people (2:4-20)? (4) Will I make it through this trial (3:1-19)?What is the full meaning of Habakkuk? ›
Definitions of Habakkuk. a Hebrew minor prophet. example of: prophet. someone who speaks by divine inspiration; someone who is an interpreter of the will of God.What was God's answer to Habakkuk? ›
The Lord replied that He intended to use the Chaldeans for His righteous purposes in such a way that it would be difficult for Habakkuk to believe it (see vv. 5–6). The Lord's response merely increased Habakkuk's confusion: how could God condone the cruelties of a nation more wicked than Judah?What can we learn from Habakkuk? ›
Habakkuk continued to call out to God for the rescue of his people, and leaders should maintain a constant posture of prayer for the people they lead, especially in hard times. Often God did the greatest miracles in times of trouble.What is the conclusion of Habakkuk? ›
Knowing God's strength Habakkuk comes to the conclusion that he can trust God even in a crisis. When I heard, my belly trembled: Habakkuk showed the proper response of man under the sovereign power of God. He recognized his own weakness and low standing before this God of all majesty and power.What makes Habakkuk different from all the other prophets? ›
Habakkuk is unusual among the prophets in that he openly questions the working of God. In the first part of the first chapter, the prophet sees the injustice among his people and asks why God does not take action: "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?What are two key themes that run throughout the book of Habakkuk? ›
Identify two key themes that run throughout the book of Habakkuk. - God is sovereign. - God is omnipotent.What is the main point in the book of Habakkuk? ›
Habakkuk offers hope by recognizing how dark and chaotic the world is and inviting us to trust that God will one day remove evil forever. Habakkuk offers hope by recognizing how dark and chaotic the world is and inviting us to trust that God will one day remove evil forever.How does Habakkuk point to Jesus? ›
It points to a life of triumph and praise, now and in the future. It points to Jesus. He gives us a peak…a glimpse into the future: Amid difficulties, wait patiently (Hab 3:16)
What split the earth in Habakkuk? ›
Selah You divided the earth with rivers. Habakkuk 3:9, NLT: You brandished your bow and your quiver of arrows. You split open the earth with flowing rivers. Habakkuk 3:9, CSB: You took the sheath from your bow; the arrows are ready to be used with an oath.What is the meaning of Habakkuk 2 14? ›
Habakkuk 2:14 Prays For Jesus' Name To Be Known By All
Indeed, Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will be praised as Lord and Savior and King by all nations, tribes, peoples, and languages. The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the Earth.
"O LORD, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O LORD, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy" (v. 2).What does Habakkuk 2 1 4 mean? ›
It means that we live by faith, we live by the faithfulness of God, we live by faith in the faithfulness of God. And God is faithful. He makes promises that he intends to keep, and he can only keep them by his power.What do we mean by walking humbly with our God? ›
Walking Humbly With God Means Letting Him Teach Us What Is Good. Jesus brought together loving God and loving neighbors in Matthew 22. He communicated his expectation and desire for us, his deeply loved children, to treat each other fairly and with kindness — with justice and mercy.What does they shall walk and not faint mean? ›
Isaiah 40:31 contains a great promise of strength for the weary: “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” This promises a supernaturally renewed strength—a strength that would compare to mounting ...What does the Bible mean when it says keep your heart with all diligence? ›
Proverbs 4:23 says we should guard our heart with all diligence because from out of it flows the issues of life. This scripture implies that whatever we allow to enter our hearts, if not examined and evaluated properly, will undoubtedly be expressed in our lives and our actions – in positive or negative ways.What is the meaning of Habakkuk 2 4? ›
Habakkuk 2:2–4 Reminds Us to Walk in Faith
God, help us not to trust in ourselves. Help us to trust in you. Help us to live by faith. I think about that verse in Galatians 2:20 that summarizes what it means to be a Christian.
That is, to live as one of God's righteous people means to live as those who have been promised a vision, but who have not yet received it. Do not give up. Keep faith. It may seem that the vision is slow to come, but the righteous (those who rely on God) trust that the vision will come.