This is part of an on-going series on the Minor Prophets; a bible study I wrote two years ago. For more information on this study, including permission to use it for your own group, please read the introduction.
Part two of the Habakkuk study starts with section 3 – Habakkuk 1:12-2:1
KEY VERSE: “you cannot tolerate wrong… why then do you tolerate the treacherous?” (verse 1:13)
Habakkuk’s first complaint was that Israel was going unpunished. Now he asks God a second curly question. If God is holy, how can he tolerate all the wicked nations, let alone use them to dispense judgment? Won’t this encourage their idol worship? Won’t it just increase, or at least do nothing to discourage, all their evil practices?
I love that Habakkuk questions God so directly. When God’s answer to his first question is confusing, he asks again. He challenges God. He brings his confusion to God and asks for clarity.
KEY VERSE: “I will stand at my watch… I will look to see what he will say to me” (verse 2:1)
Habakkuk ends his spiel by stopping himself, preparing to wait on God. He makes himself ready to listen. He believes God will provide an answer. I can imagine Habakkuk thinking “Okay, fine. I’ve said my piece. Now I’m ready to listen to what you have to say.” Maybe I hear it like that in my head because I’m like that. Sometimes I need to get stuff out before I can really listen.
When you are confused about what God’s doing/who he is, when you wonder WHY, how do you normally react?
- Ask someone more mature in faith for their ideas on the matter
- Look for Christian materials about the issue
- Discuss your question with friends/peers
- Try to ignore the “why”
- Ask God to explain it some way
- Believe God has a reason for it and choose not to think about it any more
- Other ________________________________________________________
- How do you personally receive understanding best? What helps you be open to receive answers?
- Do you find it hard to “watch” and wait for God to reveal something?
- How can you practise watching/waiting this week?
Section 4 – Habakkuk 2:2-20
KEY VERSE: “write down the revelation and make it plain” (verse 2)
When God responds to Habakkuk’s question, he commands him to write down the answer given. It is important to record the things we learn, so we can share them with others. Sharing lessons taught to us is one way we can build each other up in faith.
KEY VERSE: “the righteous will live by faith” (verse 4)
This little line is one of the most famous verses in Habakkuk. It is quoted several times in the New Testament. This idea is very important throughout Scripture, and Christian theology throughout the ages. While we aren’t going to spend much time on it here, you may want to compare this to some other passages: Romans 1:16-17, 3:19-4:25, 9:30-33; Galations 3:5-29; Philippians 3:8-9; Hebrews 10:36-11:13
KEY VERSE: “will not all of them taunt him, saying…” (verse 6)
God’s response is in the form of a “mashal” – a poetic form of the time, known as a “taunting proverb”. The taunting part is made clear in verses 5-6, where the mashal is introduced. Verse 6 says “they” will taunt “him”. “They” refers to the captives in verse 5; “him” is the arrogant, greedy captor described. Although he might have power and wealth now, the tables will be turned and the captives will taunt their captor.
This mashal consists of 5 groups of three verses each, known as the “five woes”. Each group exposes an area of evil God especially despises.
- Extortion (verses 6-8)
- Exploitation for financial gain (verses 9-11)
- Violence for personal gain (verses 12-14)
- Exploitation for personal pleasure (verses 15-17)
- Idol worship (verses 18-20)
Do you notice any connections between the five? 4 of the 5 describe abuses of power, and the first three all relate specifically to greed. God is sending a message to all who amass wealth and power at the expense of others. Arrogance and greed might seem to get you somewhere in this world, but God sees, and he cares.
God has a heart for the downtrodden, the enslaved, the exploited. God sees, knows, and loves those who have been used. He sees me and loves me when I am exploited. He also sees when I use others for my own gain.
There is SO much material here! I pray you are inspired to study this mashal in more depth later. (Don’t miss the beautiful insights into the nature of God in verses 14 and 20!)
- Describe a time you felt you were used, abused, powerless or exploited.
- How did this experience affect your perception/understanding of God, and how he sees you?
- How does seeing God’s heart displayed in this mashal affect your understanding of him?