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The book of Habakkuk is one of sixteen books by the writing prophets. As with all the writing prophets, the name of the prophet, in a way, guides in understanding their book. Habakkuk’s name basically means “to embrace, from “habaq.” However, the last syllable is repeated or reduplicated, as “habaq” + “aq.” This reduplication creates a new verb with a slightly different and intensified meaning. It goes beyond just embracing, so that his name may mean “to wrestle.” This is exactly what Habakkuk was doing in this book as he dialogued with God, wrestling and struggling in his mind about what was going on. The first thing he brought up was that despite all the prayer and crying out to the Lord about all the sin of His people that God showed Habakkuk, God does not seem to do anything about it, Habakkuk 1:2-4. God answered Habakkuk that He will do something remarkable that will astonish him. He will use the Chaldeans, that is, the Babylonians, to punish Judah, Habakkuk 1:5-11. This was not the answer Habakkuk expected and, in fact, it bothered him. If the unchangeable God keeps His promises to His people who are evil, it is unconceivable that would He use a nation more wicked than His people to punish them, Habakkuk 1:12-17. This time he goes up in the watchtower to watch and wait for an answer from God, Habakkuk 2:1. God assures Habakkuk that eventually the Babylonians will also be punished, 2:2-2:20. In fact, God recounts their sins: pride, Habakkuk 2:4-5 greed, Habakkuk 2:6-8 dishonesty, Habakkuk 2:9-11 violence, Habakkuk 2:12-14 immorality, Habakkuk 2:15-17 idolatry, Habakkuk 2:18-20 The chapter ends with a solemn note, Habakkuk 2:20, suggesting that the majestic and awesome Lord will righteously judge. In Habakkuk 2:4, God distinguishes between the proud and those who live by faith. The importance of the phrase “the just shall live by faith,” is seen how it is reiterated in the Bible. Someone pointed this out in this manner: Habakkuk 2:4 – personalization of faith, “his faith” Romans 1:7 – profession of faith, “the just” Galatians 3:11 – principle of faith, “shall live” Hebrews 10:38 – practice of faith, “by faith” Habakkuk then worships God by a song of prayer, likely for temple use, Habakkuk 3:1-19. Habakkuk prays for revival of God’s work, Habakkuk 3:2, praises God for His power and majesty, Habakkuk 3:3-15, and prophesies His salvation with His anointed, the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, Habakkuk 3:13. Habakkuk finally determines he will rejoice in the God of his salvation and the One who is his strength. He finally rests in faith. He is done wrestling with God, and now, in trusting in Him, he is free to live life with joy, Habakkuk 3:16-19. The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet pondering and protesting, but he ends by praising God. Habakkuk learned by faith to not hold on to his problems or wrestle with them, but to embrace God who knows all things, and being in control, preserves His people.
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