The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 33 – Habakkuk
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–Hab 2:4. Last Clause.
* KEY PHRASE–“THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Read this lesson and then book of Habakkuk as follows:
* Sunday–Why does sin go unpunished,–Hab 1:1-4.
* Monday–I will work a work,–Hab 1:5-11.
* Tuesday–Are they to continue as evil as ever,–Hab 1:12-17.
* Wednesday–God will humble the Chaldeans,–Hab 2:1-8.
* Thursday–4Woes to those who do iniquity,–Hab 2:9-20.
* Friday–A prayer of faith,–Hab 3:1-6.
* Saturday–Strong confidence in God,–Hab 3:16-19.
Writer–Habakkuk was probably a Levite and connected with the music. of the temple. He prophesied in Judah in the reign of Josiah about 608 B. C.
TIMES OF THE PROPHET–The world-empire of Assyria had fallen 607 B. C. as prophesied by Nahum. Egypt and Babylon then fought to see who should be the master of the earth. At the battle of Carchemish, 605 B. C., the Babylonians were conquerors, and under Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon and Chaldees became one kingdom, so that their names became synonymous, and either meant the same kingdom. Habakkuk realized that Judah must fall before the rising Chaldean power but that one evil nation should put down another troubled him. That looked like evil triumphing over evil and no advance in righteousness.
PURPOSE–To discuss the problem of why the wicked prospers, and to vindicate the righteousness of God.
Great Fact I. Problem of Why Is Evil Unchecked?
Earlier prophets had pointed to the crimes and idolatry of God’s people as the cause of their catastrophes, but Habakkuk was living after the great reformation days of the good king Josiah, who had destroyed the idols, restored the Passover, and brought Judah back into the covenant relationship with Jehovah. It was, therefore, a great mystery to the prophet as to why the chosen people of God, the only nation that did not worship carved images and vain gods, the heirs of divine promise that they among all the nations should be threatened by calamities. Habakkuk could understand why the Ten Tribes bad been carried off, for they had constantly violated God’s law, and given themselves over to Baal worship, but Judah had repented of her sins with fasting, weeping and vows of obedience. Yet, the Chaldeans, a wicked heathen nation, were preparing to swoop down upon them with the fierceness of a wild beast, and the prophet could see no prospect of deliverance.
LESSON–The prosperity of the wicked was a great problem to the Jews, who believed so strongly in temporal punishment and rewards. Job, David, Solomon and the prophets often wrestled with the problem. Spiritually-minded Christians realize quite often outward prosperity is not real prosperity. That there is a curse wrapped, up in the wicked man’s mercies, and a blessing concealed in the righteous man’s crosses.
It is true that the wicked attain their objects and seem to enjoy their prosperity, but the believer looks forward to the day when everything will be set right, and he never loses faith in the justice of God. We cannot judge a building while the scaffolding is up, neither can we fully measure God’s dealings in the days of our limited vision. An insect, slowing crawling up a column of the White House, could as well judge the perfection of its architecture as we the wisdom of God’s plan.
Men do not live great and good lives because of their much ease or many pleasures, but because they nobly work, and lift and fight and dare! The heroes, someone has declared, are those who can stand the world as it is! The best men of all times are those who have made the most, sacrifice!
Livingston, the great missionary who suffered such terrible hardships in darkest Africa, said: “I do not call my privations sacrifices,’ for I think the word ought never to be applied to anything we can do for Him who came down from Heaven and died for us.”
Great Fact II. Jehovah’s Answer
The prophet ascends his watchtower to listen to God’s answer to the problem. God points out that the Chaldeans are full of pride and that they are living by robbery and wrong. In their injustice lie the germs of their future destruction, although it may be long delayed. On the other hand for the righteous there is preservation from evil; and salvation provided they based their hopes upon faith.
LESSON–Habakkuk was a prophet of a tried but triumphant faith. He draws for us a contrast between the unjust and the just man. He pictures the unjust Chaldeans as puffed up with pride and full of drunkenness, boasting, ambition, and oppression, and rejected of God because not justified. As pride is the cause of much wickedness, so faith is the root of all moral and spiritual excellence in the soul of the just man. As pride leads to disobedience, as in the case of Eve, so faith leads to obedience, as in the case of Abraham.
We must live by faith and not by sight or by sense. These are like two buckets, the lower sense goes, the higher faith goes. Luther says: “If you would believe, You must crucify that question, why?” God would not have us so full of wherefores. If we would live by faith we must be willing to walk in the dark with God, rather than to walk alone in the light.
Great Fact III. Habakkuk’s Prayer
The prophet having heard the answer of Jehovah, and being still in fear, pours out his troubled soul in prayer, Hab 3:1-2. The prayer is scarcely uttered before the congregation’s hymn of praise rings out. It describes the glorious way in which He Put their various enemies aside, and how all nature bowed before His Majesty, Hab 3:3-15. The fact that the Chaldean is at hand still fills the prophet with trembling, yet he is blessed with the hope of salvation and rejoices in the Lord.
LESSON–The prophet’s prayer was a model one, for it recounted God’s goodness in the past, and sought blessings and mercies for the hour. It was full of adoration, petition, loving appreciation of God’s works and joyous trust. Webster regarded Hab 3:17-18; as one of the sublimest, passages of inspired literature.
The power of prayer may be increased in our lives if;
1. We ever remember the importance of it, in that God will be inquired of for the blessings He is willing to bestow. If we would receive, the condition is that we ASK. We should do this in secret, family and public prayer.
2. We must put away all doubts as to the reality of divine answers to prayers.
3. We must feel that we cannot get along without God, or we will not pray. Self-sufficiency is atheistic. All true prayer is the cry of conscious weakness, “Save, Lord, or I perish.”
4. Holiness is essential to a life of prayer, as is also love. Prayer is the measure of love. He who loves much will pray much. A beggar hates to bother your door often, but a son bounds in with confidence whenever in need. It is only when we forget that we are “sons of God and joint-heirs of Jesus Christ” that we knock feebly at mercy’s door!
Questions on the Lesson
1. Who was Habakkuk and when did he prophesy?
2. What was the result of the fall of Assyria?
3. What nation succeeded Assyria?
4. What the relation between Babylon and Chaldea?
5. Give the keyword and key verse.
6. What was the purpose of the book?
7. Name the great facts.
8. Have you read the book?
9. What was the mystery to the prophet?
10. What did the Jews strongly believe in?
11. What is often wrapped up in a wicked man’s mercies?
12. Can we measure fully God’s dealings now?
13. Why do men live great and, good lives?
14. What did Livingston say?
15. On what basis is there salvation and preservation for the righteous?
16. Contrast pride with faith.
17. Tell what Luther said.
18. Show that Habakkuk’s prayer was a model one.
19. Read Hab 3:17-18 and quote Webster.
20. How may the power of prayer be increased in our lives?
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. — 2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV