Sermon Discussion Questions
1. What is Habakkuk’s complaint to God? Do you ever have similar complaints as you look at our society?
2. Why does Habakkuk address God with His covenant name LORD (vs. 2)? What is significant about the prophet’s use of this name for God?
3. Habakkuk needed to trust that God is the sovereign King at all times. How does trusting that God is king help you in your situation today?
Scripture: Habakkuk 1:1-4
I. Our problem is seeing the wickedness of God’s people.
A. The opening verse of Habakkuk says: “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.” An oracle is a message that a prophet speaks to God’s people. Oracle also means a burden. It is a heavy spiritual weight. In this case, Habakkuk the prophet had to tell God’s people Israel that God was about to judge them. In verse 2 Habakkuk speaks about the sin of violence he sees in the people of Israel. The people of Israel are God’s chosen people. They are supposed to represent the holy God before a watching world. But what is Israel doing to one another? Hurting each other.
B. There was also injustice in Israel (vs. 4). The innocent and the helpless in Israel were victims of injustice. The legal system worked in behalf of the wicked rather than the righteous. How does Habakkuk respond to what he sees in Israel? Habakkuk gets into the wrestling ring with God. And he wrestles with God by praying. Notice the name Habakkuk uses for God as he begins his prayer in verse 2: O LORD. This is God’s covenant name. It is his promise-making and promise-keeping name. Habakkuk would ask God to keep His promises toward Israel.
II. Our problem is seeing God’s rule of the world.
A. If God is Lord, then He is King of the whole world. But if God is king over everything, that leads us at times to ask certain questions in our prayers. The two questions Habakkuk asks are how long and why. In verse 2 he asks the how long question. Habakkuk is wrestling with God over His timeline for action. God had promised Israel that if they disobeyed God, God would curse them. Deuteronomy 28:29: “And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you.” How long would it be before God punished?
B. The second question Habakkuk asks God in prayer is why. We see that question in verse 3, “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?” Sin and its consequences were clearly visible to Habakkuk all throughout Israel. Why was the holy God tolerating evil in His people? If your question begins, “God, I trust you, I just don’t understand you,” you’re in a good place to wrestle with God. God will wrestle with those who trust Him. Habakkuk was wrestling with questions over God’s timeline and God’s tolerance for evil.
III. Our solution then is to pray and trust God’s sovereignty.
A. Habakkuk is wrestling with the truth of God’s sovereignty as he prays. He prays, “God, you say you are LORD over all things. And you say you are completely holy and good. So, then why don’t you do anything about your chosen people’s sin and wickedness and injustice?” Habakkuk’s main prayer request is found in one word at the end of verse 2: save. Habakkuk’s prayer for Israel was, “God, save this country. We’re in a mess.” Habakkuk wanted Israel saved now. But God waited. He waited until Israel realized how dark was its sin. God waited until Israel realized how desperately they need God’s grace and a Savior. And then about 600 years after Habakkuk prayed for God to save Israel, at just the right time, God sent Israel – and us – a Savior. And at that time God gave us the Gospel mentioned at the end of Habakkuk 2:4: “But the righteous shall live by his faith.”
God is on the throne. He will remember His own. His promise is true.
The prophecy of Habakkuk
Commentaries on Habakkuk by O. Palmer Robertson, Walter J. Chantry and Camden Bucey
Sermon by Alistair Begg