The Journal of a Praying Prophet! | Habbakuk

August 1, 2014

Topic: Encouragement

Book: Habakkuk

Scripture: habakkuk

For our meditation this morning, I would like to draw our attention to the book of Habakkuk. The name Habakkuk is derived from the Hebrew verb “embrace.” His name means, “He Who Embraces” or “He Who Clings.” It is an appropriate name for both the prophet and the book, because Habakkuk comes to a firm faith after grappling with tough questions!

It is hard to say with certainty when this book was written. Since Habakkuk speaks of God raising up the Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6), we can surmise that he wrote in the 25-year period between the time when Babylonians conquered Nineveh and overthrew the Assyrian Empire (612 B.C.) and the time when Babylon conquered Jerusalem (587 B.C.) – somewhere in this 25 year period this book was written.

Unlike many of the other prophetic books that are a message from God to the people, this book captures a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. It is almost like reading a journal of the prophet, Habakkuk. The people are never addressed in the book. Instead, Habakkuk writes his complaint and then he writes God’s answer, and this happens repeatedly in the book. The book starts with a sob and ends with a song!

The book begins with a dialogue between the prophet and God. Habakkuk is disturbed by the apostasy and spiritual declension in the nation of Judah. For a nation that had witnessed a mighty revival and radical reformation under a godly king Josiah, the spiritual decline is stark and of grave concern.

We see the prophet carrying a burden (Hebrew – Massa) for his nation. The burden (oracle NASB & RSV / prophecy NIV) which Habakkuk the prophet did see. Habakkuk 1:1 (KJV). It is this burden that prompted him to seek God in prayer. Habakkuk is more of a praying prophet than a preaching prophet. There is a depth to his prophetic utterance which is an extended conversation of speaking and listening to God. I have entitled this message as, “The Journal of a Praying Prophet!”

This morning, I would like to make three observations from this book and draw applications for us today.

The first observation that I would like to make


Habakkuk 1:2, 3 (NIV)

This book begins with a set of question. Listen to Habakkuk’s prayer:

How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Habakkuk 1:2, 3 (NIV)

Judah had turned its back on God – Many in the nation were living in wickedness! The prophet laments that in the nation of Judah – vs 4

  • The Law of God is being ignored
  • Justice is never Upheld
  • The Righteous are surrounded by the Wicked
  • When Justice finally does come…. it is Perverted

Two basic questions are raised by the prophet – (Please make note of the two pertinent questions)

  • How Long? 1 vs 2
  • Why? 1 vs 3

By the way, these are two questions that many of us have asked God at different occasions in our lives.

  • How long?
  • Why?

Do you know that when we ask these questions, God is not obligated to give us answers? As limited and finite human-beings, we don’t have the wherewithal to question an omniscient God. Trying to fathom all the ways of God is comparable to trying explain Facebook or Instagram to an ant. The fact is that our human minds cannot fully grasp God’s sovereign plans and eternal purposes. After describing the omniscience of God, the psalmist David pens these words in Psalms 139 vs 6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”

Does that mean we cannot ask God questions? I believe we can express our honest questions to God. There is a difference between trying to question God and ask God questions. When we ask God questions, we ask to understand His ways. But we must always remember that the sovereign Lord reserves the right to answer us on His terms!

As Habakkuk tries to understand the ways of God – God asks His prophet to look at the nations and watch…. (Habakkuk 1 vs 5-11)

  • Observe and be astonished
  • God tells Habakkuk that He is doing something new
  • You will not believe if I told you that I am raising up the Chaldeans
  • A sleeping giant was rising – the cruel Babylonians (referred to as the Chaldeans in this book).
  • The Chaldeans were people with an insensitive spirit – they were haughty and arrogant, and were known to literally butcher and rape their way through their enemies. They would stack skulls in a pyramid shape in the village square – one could know that the Chaldeans had gone through, by seeing a pyramid of skulls.
  • The prophet describes the Chaldeans as a ruthless and impetuous people, who march throughout the earth to seize the dwelling places, which belong to others. They are dreaded and feared because they are a law unto themselves. Look at the imagery…… Their horses are described as “swifter than leopards and fiercer than wolves”. Their cavalry come galloping “flying like an eagle swooping down to devour.” They mock kings and scoff at rulers and laugh at fortified cities. He ends the description by saying “their own strength is their god”.

Habakkuk is shocked…

  • He can’t believe that God is going to use the Chaldeans for His purposes
  • “You Lord have appointed them to execute judgement, you my Rock have ordained them to punish.” Vs 12
  • Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? (vs. 13)
  • We admit that we are wicked and that we have rebelled against you
  • The Chaldeans are way more wicked than we are….they are literally the epitome of evil
  • The prophet is perplexed and troubled by what he hears

Then Habakkuk makes the most significant decision of his life and ministry…..

That leads me to my second observation:


Let me draw our attention to Habakkuk 2:1-4 (NIV)

1I will stand at my watch, and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. 2Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3For 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. 4“See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.

According to me Habakkuk 2:1 – Pivot on which the book stands

  • Amidst the chaos and confusion around Habakkuk, he makes the crucial decision to wait in God’s presence.
  • Habakkuk declares, “I will wait on this tower for God to intervene and I will say nothing.”
  • He stations himself on the rampart and says, “I will stand on my watch and wait!”
  • I would like to remind those of us who have been given the solemn responsibility to speak as “messengers for God” or as 1 Peter 4:11, describes “to speak as the oracle of God”, – the importance of learning to wait and listen to God’s voice. Someone rightly said, “That a mist in the pulpit, would result in a fog in the pew!” It is pertinent that those of us who minister the Word, sense what God wants to say to His people.

Do you know that in a time of crisis, if we are hasty to speak, we may have to eat humble pie and take back what we have said! Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar and Elihu learned this principle the hard way. After prematurely deciding what God was trying to accomplish in the life of Job, they had to return to Job, apologize and ask him to pray for them.

I remember during the pandemic and the lockdown that followed, there was a segment of the church and academia trying to theologically explain what was happening and trying to make a response. Here are some responses that I have come across:

  • God is judging the world – the iniquity of humankind has increased
  • Satan is wreaking havoc – because it is the end time and he knows that his time is limited.
  • Man-Made Disaster – this is a virus that is developed in a Wuhan laboratory / this is Biological Warfare / This is a conspiracy to implement 5G
  • Natural Disaster – Seafood market in Wuhan – Pangolins / Bats and then human

As I reflected on these responses, I realized that none of these positions were helpful to deal with the grief and suffering. There are moments in a believer’s life where it is most helpful to say, “I don’t understand everything happening around me, but I choose to trust God!”

I would like to draw our attention to God’s response to Habakkuk – God tells him that the vision or revelation is for an appointed time, though it tarries, wait for it, it will surely come to pass. A key part of God’s message is that the just shall live by their faithfulness! This verse has been repeated thrice in the New Testament – (Romans 1:17, Galatian 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). By the way this expression had great significance to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation.

What God was telling the prophet was that:

  1. Though justice and vindication seem slow in coming it will surely transpire.
  2. The time is appointed and it will occur according to plan.
  3. So, he is asked to wait. Not to wait passively, but to learn to live by faith!
  4. Campbell Morgan, the British Preacher and author once said, “Waiting for God is not laziness. Waiting for God is not going to sleep. Waiting for God is not the abandonment of effort. Waiting for God means, first, activity under command; second, readiness for any new command that may come; third, the ability to do nothing until the command is given.”

Some of us may be in that period of waiting. We may have waited for a long time and come to a point of frustration or desperation.

 Here are some lessons we can learn as we wait:

  1. Learn CourageWait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14 (NIV)
  2. Learn to HopeI wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope. Psalm 130:5 (NIV)
  3. Gain New Strength“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (KJV)
  4. Learn Patience But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:25 (NIV)

I came across a poem that beautifully captures the importance of waiting on God….. it is called, “Standing still at Sovereign Will!

In every life, there’s a pause that is better than onward rush,

Better than hewing or mightiest doing;

Tis the standing still at Sovereign will.

There’s a hush that is better than ardent speech,

Better than sighing or wilderness crying;

‘Tis the being still at Sovereign will.

The pause and the hush sing a double song.

In unison low and for all time long.

O human soul, God’s working plan goes on,

nor needs the aid of man!

Stand still, and see! Be still, and know!

As Habakkuk continues to wait in God’s presence, he realizes that after God disciplines Judah, He will judge the Chaldeans. Notice that it is discipline for Judah, but judgment for the Chaldeans. Then God reveals a list of woes and afflictions that would befall the evil ones. He goes on to reveal that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)
That is when the prophet declares, “The LORD is in his holy temple;
 let all the earth be silent before him!”

As he waits in God’s presence, Habakkuk catches a glimpse of the greatness and magnificence of God. He realizes that God is the everlasting One and the holy One, and He stands in awe of who God is!

That leads me to my third observation


I would like to draw our attention to Habakkuk 3:17-19 (KJV)

17Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

After the prophet struggled by Wrestling with Unanswered Questions

After he has spent time in Waiting in the Presence of God

After pouring out his heart in Prayer and Petition

The Prophet now breaks forth in Spontaneous Praise…..

In a time of crisis, there is a greater need to catch a glimpse of the glory of God. There are times, when we need to Praise God for Who He is, rather than focusing on circumstances that are constantly changing. Praising God is a powerful weapon in our spiritual armoury…. A book that blessed me greatly in the early part of my spiritual journey has been ‘Prison to Praise’ by Merlin Carothers. (May I encourage you to read it in case you haven’t).

David said, I will bless the Lord at all times….His praises shall continually be in my mouth! Psalms 34:1 (all times include times of sorrow and times of joy, times of sickness and times of health, times of want and times of abundance). Have you made the choice to Praise God at all times? Do you praise God for Who He IS!

  • Job 35:10 reminds us that “Our God gives us a song in the night watches”
  • For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. Psalms 30:5 (KJV)
  • Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalms 42:8 (KJV)
  • I am reminded of the song by Casting Crowns –

And I’ll praise you in this storm, And I will lift my hands,
That you are who you are, No matter where I am
And every tear I’ve cried, You hold in your hand
You never left my side, And though my heart is torn
I will praise you in this storm

The prophet then declares that the Lord God will make his feet like the hind’s feet. The hind or the mountain deer can scale the rocky patches on the mountain with dexterity. This is because it has the right feet to climb!

Do you know that as we praise God, God will make our feet like hind’s feet – means will equip us with what we need to bring us through the rough patches of life! Hallelujah!

Let us respond to God’s Word:

Maybe you have Unanswered Questions….

  • Things have been extremely difficult over the last few months
  • You are overwhelmed by what has happened and don’t know what to do

Would you make the choice to Wait upon the Lord?

  • As you wait upon the Lord you will renew your strength and “Mount up on wings as Eagles”
  • As you wait upon the Lord you will learn to “Be Still and Know that He is God”

Then once you catch a glimpse of the greatness of God….. you will be able to praise Him even in the midst of a storm….!

It is time to praise the Lord! I raise a Hallelujah!