Habakkuk - The Problem Prophet

  • Nothing is known about the author, Habakkuk. Someone has said, “Who he was, nobody knows; what he was, everybody knows."
  • The fact that the prophet is known to us only by name once again indicates the relative unimportance of the prophet and the major importance of the prophecy, and more importantly, the God who gave us the prophecy.
  • Some have inferred that Habakkuk was a Levite who assisted in the music of the temple. The concluding note in his book, “To the chief singer on my stringed instruments” (3:19), suggests that Habakkuk may have been a musician of the Levitical office.
  • The date of Habakkuk’s prophecy is difficult to ascertain, for he does not mention the king or kings during whose reigns he prophesied. Most commentators, however, date Habakkuk’s prophecy as being during the reign of King Jehoiakim, who was a godless king that led his nation down the path of destruction.
  • However, we do know that when Habakkuk prophesied, the southern kingdom was wallowing in its sin and tottering politically in view of the impending danger of Babylon, the current world power. Nebuchadnezzar had already carried Daniel and many of Jerusalem’s nobles into captivity (606 B.C.), and this second deportation was soon to follow (597 B.C.).
  • The prophecy of Habakkuk is unique among all of prophetical literature. The first two chapters constitute a dialogue between the prophet and Jehovah concerning the invasion of the Chaldeans (1:1-11) and the destruction of the Chaldeans (1:12-2:20). Chapter 3 contains instructions given to the musicians (3:1, 19). In the first two chapters the prophet contends with Jehovah, and in the third he submits to Jehovah.
  • Habakkuk is a unique book. Unlike other prophets who declared God’s message to people, this prophet dialogued with God about people.
  • Habakkuk wrote in a time of international crisis and national corruption. Babylonia had just emerged as a world power. A new empire was stretching across the world. Soon the Babylonians would overtake Judah and carry its inhabitants away into captivity. On the eve of impending destruction, a period of uncertainty and fear, Habakkuk wrote his message.

A suggested outline for the book is:

  1. Problems of Habakkuk: Warn of coming judgment (chapters 1-2).
  2. Praise of Habakkuk: Comfort amidst ultimate destruction (chapter 3).