Many believers, from time to time, have felt the temptation to argue with God. Job did. He disputed the Lord’s wisdom in governing the world. Later, though, he learned how ignorant he really was, and he repented of his rash allegations.
Habakkuk too had a problem understanding what Jehovah was doing in the administration of human affairs. And so he questioned his Maker:
“O Jehovah, how long shall I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out unto you about violence, and you will not save” (Habakkuk 1:2).
What is the background of this complaint?
Habakkuk’s message had to do with an impending threat to the Jewish people from the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Verse 6 indicates that this pagan force was looming on Israel’s horizon.
The Neo-Babylonian empire had gained tremendous strength with the conquest of Nineveh in 612 B.C. In 605 B.C., the Babylonians had defeated the Egyptians at the battle of Carchemish in Syria. It was predictable that Nebuchadnezzar would have the Hebrew people (just to the south of Syria) on his “shopping list.”
Habakkuk wanted to know, therefore, why God was allowing this heathen power — which, in character, was much worse than sinful Judah — to assault the Jewish people. How does this square with the holy and just nature of the Lord?
That inquiry would be presently answered. Jehovah would use Babylon as an instrument of His wrath to punish His own rebellious people. After that, He would judge the wicked Babylonians as well. This prospect should afford comfort to the southern kingdom — offering hope of eventual release from the coming Babylonian captivity.
Beside Habakkuk 1:2 enter this note to focus upon the background and purpose of the book: Habakkuk’s bewilderment at the approaching Babylonian invasion.
We must continually remind ourselves that God’s providential activity among the nations is not finished!