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                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

               Habakkuk - From A Sob To A Song (1:1-3:19)

INTRODUCTION

1. We have seen that during the O.T. period known as "Judah Alone"...
   a. Zephaniah was prophesying to Judah
   b. Nahum was pronouncing God's judgment upon Nineveh

2. Then there was Habakkuk, a prophet filled with troubling questions
   a. Concerning his NAME
      1) It means "Embrace"
      2) "His name, as Luther well puts it, speaks as one who took his
         nation to his heart, comforted it and held it up, as one
         embraces and presses to his bosom a poor weeping child,
         calming and consoling it with good hope." (Geikie)
   b. Concerning the DATE
      1) Around 612-606 B.C.
      2) Just as Babylon was making her westward move toward world
         conquest
   c. Concerning his MESSAGE: the book easily falls into three sections
      1) A "burden" - Hab 1:1-2:1
      2) A "vision" - Hab 2:2-20
      3) A "prayer" - Hab 3:1-19

3. We note an immediate difference between Habakkuk and other 
   prophets...
   a. Instead of taking the Lord's message directly to the people (as 
      do most prophets)
   b. He takes the complaint of the people directly to the Lord, 
      representing them in the complaint
   -- As he does so, it has been said that Habakkuk goes "From A Sob To
      A Song"

[This process begins with a "burden" as found in the first section of
his message...]

I. HIS "BURDEN":  FAITH GRAPPLING WITH A PROBLEM

   A. THE PROPHET RAISES A QUESTION...
      1. He laments over apparent rule of wickedness and violence
      2. How can the Lord justify His apparent indifference to such 
         things? - Hab 1:1-4

   B. GOD'S ANSWER...
      1. He is not indifferent!
      2. He is doing something that will be hard to fathom - Hab 1:5-11
         a. Raising up the Chaldeans (Babylon) to execute His judgment
         b. Using a violent nation that arrogantly thinks it is serving
            its own god (and purpose)

   C. THE PROPHET'S SECOND QUESTION...
      1. How can a holy God employ such an impure and godless agent? 
         - Hab 1:12-17
      2. This is hard for Habakkuk to understand, but he will watch to
         see what the Lord will say to him - Hab 2:1

[Indeed, it is a heavy "burden" for Habakkuk. God has answered his
first question by saying He will use the Chaldeans to punish the
wickedness and violence in Judah.  But the Chaldeans are wicked also,
how can God use them?

Habakkuk receives his answer in the form of a "vision"...]

II. HIS "VISION":  FAITH GRASPING THE SOLUTION

   A. GOD'S ANSWER:  FIRST, THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY HIS FAITH...
      1. Habakkuk is to write what God reveals to him - Hab 2:2-3
      2. The proud is not upright; but the just shall live by his faith
         - Hab 2:4

   B. GOD'S ANSWER:  SECOND, GOD WILL JUDGE THE PROUD...
      1. Woe to the proud possessed with the lust of conquest and 
         plunder - Hab 2:5-8
      2. Woe to their efforts to build a permanent empire through 
         cruelty and godless gain - Hab 2:9-11
      3. Woe to those who build cities with bloodshed - Hab 2:12-14
      4. Woe to those with cruelty in their treatment of those they
         conquered - Hab 2:15-17
      5. Woe to those given over to idolatry - Hab 2:18-20
         a. Who worship that in which there is no breath at all
         b. While the Lord is in His holy temple, before whom the earth
            should keep silence

[The answer to Habakkuk's second question appears to be this:  While 
God may use a wicked nation like Babylon to punish the wickedness of 
Judah, He will not let Babylon's wickedness go unpunished either!  

In the meantime, the just (righteous) person will live by his faith in
God, which Habakkuk illustrates with his "prayer"...]

III. HIS "PRAYER":  FAITH GLORYING IN ASSURANCE

   A. PETITION FOR GOD'S ACTION AND MERCY...
      1. Written in the form of a psalm - Hab 3:1,19c
      2. Asking God to revive His works, and in His wrath remember 
         mercy - Hab 3:2

   B. PRAISE FOR GOD'S PAST DELIVERANCE...
      1. His mighty works in the past - Hab 3:3-7
      2. Bringing both judgment to the wicked and salvation to His 
         people - Hab 3:8-15

   C. PROFESSION OF FAITH...
      1. He trembled at what he has heard, that he will have rest in 
         the day of trouble - Hab 3:16
      2. But he expresses his faith, that while trouble may come he 
         will rejoice in the Lord who will be his strength - Hab 3:
         17-19
      -- Here we find one of the greatest expressions of faith found 
         anywhere!

CONCLUSION

1. What lessons can we glean from this short book? (as suggested by 
   Homer Hailey)
   a. The universal supremacy of God's judgment upon the wicked
      1) God would use Chaldea to punish wicked Judah
      2) Then Chaldea would be destroyed for its own wickedness
   b. Evil is self-destructive
      1) If the righteous can be patient, trusting in the Lord
      2) The tyranny and arrogance of the wicked will eventually fall
   c. The fact of divine discipline
      1) In Job it is shown in the suffering of the individual
      2) In Habakkuk it is shown in the suffering of the nation
      -- In both cases, suffering is disciplinary

2. Perhaps the most important lesson concerns the value of "faith"...
   a. By it the righteous in Habakkuk's day would live
   b. Even more so today!
      1) In receiving salvation - Ro 1:16-17
      2) In persevering - He 10:35-39
      -- Notice that both quote from Hab 2:4

But our faith must not be a shallow faith; it must be like that 
expressed by Habakkuk...

   "Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines;
   Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no
   food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there
   be no herd in the stalls;"

   "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my
   salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like
   deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills."
                     
                                   Habakkuk 3:17-19

Is this our kind of faith?
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