Dr. Jack Hyles
Habakkuk. Nothing is known about the prophet, his background, his heritage or his life.
THEME: "An Explanation that Judgment Is Coming Because of the Justice of God."
Habakkuk prophesied in the last years of the reign of King Josiah. The book was written just before the captivity. Israel was going to be destroyed. She was going into bondage. Nothing could be done. Habakkuk does not present Israel an opportunity of repentance or salvation from captivity; neither does he lament the fact that Israel is going into captivity, as does Jeremiah in Lamentations and as does Micah. Rather, he explains that he is pleased that the justice of God is going to be meted out and that the holiness of God should be vindicated.
I. JUDGMENT IS INEVITABLE.
See Habakkuk 1:5-11. Here Habakkuk reminds them that they are going to be destroyed, that there is no hope for escaping this destruction, and that the destruction will be complete and horrible. Some prophets, like Isaiah, pleaded with Israel that she might turn to God and be spared. Later, others, like Micah and Jeremiah, realizing that there was no hope for preventing the judgment of God and the captivity, wrote lamentations of heartbreak because of the inevitable destruction. However, Habakkuk is strong on the holiness, righteousness and justice of God. Since God has placed certain penalties on certain sins, Habakkuk reminds us that there is nothing one can do but expect God to exact the proper penalty for the sin committed.
II. GOD'S JUSTICE VINDICATED.
Notice Habakkuk 1:12-17. There is a widespread belief that the most important thing about God is His love, mercy, compassion etc. God's love is wonderful, and God is love, but the most important thing about God is His holiness and His justice. God will not do wrong! Years ago in the EDINBURGH REVIEW, a Scotland newspaper, the caption on the top of the page every day read, "The judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted." God cannot let sin go unpunished. God must be just and righteous. On the other hand, God is merciful and loving. God's justice says that sin must be paid for and God's mercy provided that payment for us in Jesus Christ. Someone who doe not owe the penalty for sin must pay the penalty. Jesus came, lived a perfect life, and did not sin; therefore, He did not owe the penalty. Hence, if He paid the price, He did not have to pay it for Himself and He could pay it for us. He became our substitute, and the righteousness of God was vindicated.
This is why God cannot forgive someone because he joins a church, gets baptized, takes communion, turns over a new leaf, lives a good life, loves his neighbor, takes the sacraments, observes holy days, etc. All of these things are the works of man and will not satisfy the holiness of God and His righteousness and justice. His justice says that sin must be paid for, and it can be paid for only by a sacrifice acceptable to God. The only sacrifice acceptable to God is that of Jesus Christ, His Son.
III. HABAKKUK TURNS TO THE INDIVIDUAL.
Habakkuk realizes that there is nothing he can do to prevent judgment. He also realizes that there is nothing the Israelites can do to prevent judgment. Realizing that the ship is sinking, he turns to the individual and prophesies to him that he individually can receive mercy from God in spite of the fact that the judgment of the nation is inevitable. He lists several woes on the people, reminding them of things they ought not do. Let us notice them.
1. The woe of dishonesty.
In Habakkuk 2:6b notice the words, "Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his!" (Teacher, discuss here the woe that is on such things as gambling, stealing, etc. This would include cheating on tests, being dishonest in games, playing bingo, etc. Think of other ways that your pupils could be dishonest, and warn them of it.)
2. The woe of selfishness.
Habakkuk 2:9, "Woe to him that coveteth. (Discuss with the pupils the different ways they can be selfish--wanting their own way, not sharing their toys, losing their temper, being jealous, envious, covetous, etc.)
3 The woe of violence and cruelty.
Read Habakkuk 2:12. (Discuss with the class the many ways that we are cruel to each other--fighting unnecessarily being vindictive, retaliating, etc.)
4. The woe of drinking and giving drink to others.
Read Habakkuk 2:15 (Discuss the sins involved in this verse--the sin of drinking, the sin of selling drink, the sin of giving another a drink, the sin of becoming drunken, the sin of being indecently clothed. All of these are listed in verse 15.)
5. The woe of laziness.
See Habakkuk 2:19. (Teach the pupils the importance of hard work, the sin of not working, the sin of not doing the job well, the sin of not doing our best, etc.) Here is another woe that was placed upon the people of God.
Since the ship was sinking, Habakkuk turned to individuals. Perhaps our civilization is sinking. Perhaps we cannot save America (if America is unsavable) we can at least try to save the individual.