(Continued from "Habakkuk")
This answer from God brings out Habakkuk's second complaint. He wants to know why God allows wicked people to swallow up the good people. Habakkuk knows that God will respond to his plea. Habakkuk declares, "I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint" (Hb. 2:1). God commands Habakkuk to write down the answer He is about to give to him, so that the people of Judah might be able to read it. God assures Habakkuk that "â€¦the righteous will live by (his) faith" (Hb. 2:4). Habakkuk asks God why, when His eyes can not tolerate wickedness, they do. "God cannot regard iniquity with complacency or toleration, let alone favor" (Wycliffe, 875). He also tells Habakkuk that the Babylonians will be judged, when the time is right, and their judgment will be even worse than Judah's. God confirms that His purpose is certain, and that faith will be rewarded to the believers. God also condemns idol worship in the last few verses of chapter 2, saying, "Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!' Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!' Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it" (Hb. 2:19). Calvin comprehends this passage in this way, "It is a wonder that ye are so willfully foolish; for were God to send to you no prophet, were there no one to instruct you, yet the wood and the stone would be sufficient teachers to youâ€¦" (Calvin, 123). In a way, Calvin argues that God is mocking the people of Judah.
The third chapter of Habakkuk is entirely a prayer of praise to God, thanking Him for His mercy and justice. Because the third chapter is a climax to the problems posed in the first two chapters, this book is a theodicy. A theodicy is an argument in defense of God's goodness. Bible.org organizes chapter 3 in this way: 3:1-3 is praise for God's person, 3:4-7 is praise for God's power, 3:8-16 is praise for God's purpose, and finally, 3:17-19 is praise for faith in God.
Habakkuk is beseeching God for his people; he is begging God for mercy. Matthew Henry says, "Mercy is what we must flee to for refuge, and rely upon as our only plea. We must not say, remember our merit, but, Lord, remember thy own mercy" (christnotes.org). Habakkuk tells God that he is placing all his confidence and trust in Him. The prayer is very much like a psalm. It is full of recollections of God's wondrous deeds. Habakkuk is also slightly afraid, he remarks, "Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy" (Hb. 3:2). He recognizes that God's power is unending and amazing. When God's people are in distress, they look back to remember how God has taken care of them before. For instance, the coming Babylonian invasion resembles the Egyptian domination many years before.
The final, most important, part of this book is 3:17-19, "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights." The mention of all of these agricultural items is symbolic because these are the primary products of that region. The reason these would be destroyed is presumably because of the Babylonians. The deer is a picture of something that is totally confident in the faith of its leader.
The prophet Habakkuk declares that his people would always be able to rejoice with God, because He is ever faithful. Even during famine and poverty, Habakkuk says, God's people can rejoice.
If people did this, if they really rejoiced in the midst of hardship, God's blessings would be bountiful. All we have to do is run to the Lord, and he will provide.
Bullock, C. Hassell. Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic Books. Chicago: Moody P, 1986.
Calvin, John. Calvin's Commentaries. Trans. Rev. John Owen. 22 vols. New York: Baker Books, 2005.
"Habakkuk - Facts, Answers, Factoids, Information." Fun Trivia Quizzes - World's Largest Trivia and Quiz Site! 29 Nov. 2009 <http://www.funtrivia.com/en/Religion/Habakkuk-16866.html"Habakkuk 1 - Matthew Henry's Commentary - Bible Commentary." Christ Notes: Bible Search & Bible Commentary. 28 Nov. 2009 <http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=35&c=1Habakkuk. The NIV Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985.
"Habakkuk 1 - Wesley's Explanatory Notes - Bible Commentary." Christ Notes: Bible Search & Bible Commentary. 28 Nov. 2009 <http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=wes&b=35&c=1>.
Pfeiffer, Charles F., and Everett F. Harrison, eds. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary. Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute, 1962.
"The Minor Prophets | Bible.org; NET Bible, Bible Study." Bible.org, Home of NET Bible on-line, Bible Study tools, Free Bible | Bible.org; NET Bible, Bible Study. 27 Nov. 2009 <http://bible.org/seriespage/minor-prophets>.