What Is the Book of Habakkuk About?

Time: 5 Minutes

Hey Friend!

Our editorial team wrote this book introduction for you. We hope it helps you find your bearings in the Bible story, and inspires you to open this book of the Bible!

Have you ever looked around and wondered, “What is God doing?”

Maybe you’ve looked at the world and said, “No way is there a loving God behind all of this.”

We frankly don’t want the circumstances that cause us to ask these questions. They remind us of our lack of control, our lack of information, and our lack of understanding. And each of us, at one point or another, buckle under the weight of our disorientation and confusion.

If you open the Bible, you’ll find that you’re not alone. The prophet Habakkuk expresses this same confusion. However, in his short book, Habakkuk models for us what we ought to do when we are perplexed: turn to God.

Habakkuk was an Old Testament prophet in the 7th century BC. Habakkuk struggled to see what God was accomplishing through all the international conflicts of his day. He asked God, “What are you doing?”

Assyria, a foreign superpower, was passing away into obscurity. His nation, Israel, remained unpunished for her sin. Another superpower, Babylon, was rising to national prominence. Habakkuk didn’t understand what was happening—all the while, God seemed to let all the evil of these various people groups go unpunished. Habakkuk asks, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you, ‘Violence!’ and you will not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).

Amazingly, God does answer Habakkuk. God says he will judge the Israelites for their sin—through Babylon.

But then Habakkuk asks God how can he, a Holy God, use a sinful and evil people to punish sin? That seems unjust.

God replies that the Babylonians, too, will be judged for their wickedness (Habakkuk 2:6-20). God will leave no sin unpunished. Even those he uses as punishment (Babylon) to punish the unjust (Israel) will suffer judgement. Eventually, the Persians would rise up and defeat the Babylonians, freeing the Israelites from their captivity.

A dizzying story—for us. But it’s not dizzying for the Author of the story. By giving us books like Habakkuk, the Author of history intends to teach us how to live within his own story.

Through Habakkuk, God teaches us that we must live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4). God calls those who know him to keep living with integrity amidst the complexities of a sinful world.

When we can’t fully see or understand God’s work in the world, we are to trust in the One who says, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if I told” (Habakkuk 1:5). Though we lack understanding, our God does not.

By example, the prophet Habakkuk moves us to rejoice in the Lord. He is our joy despite perplexing circumstances and dark times.

But Habakkuk doesn’t leave us to wallow in our finitude and lack of understanding. No, by example, the prophet Habakkuk moves us to rejoice in the Lord. He is our joy despite perplexing circumstances and dark times.

Habakkuk concludes his complaint with a beautiful declaration of trust. He says, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).

Habakkuk chose to trust in the God who stands over and above all foreign powers, moving them around like chess pieces on a board. He found joy and salvation in this One, one who he knew loved and cared for him enough to stoop down and answer his perplexed cries. This same God stands as King over your circumstances, offering you joy and a relationship with him. Will you, like Habakkuk, trust him?