Habakkuk: Watching and Waiting on God by Patti Greene, 28 April 2019
As a new believer, one of the first Bible jokes I ever heard was about Habakkuk—a great prophet in the Old Testament.
Q: What Bible character stood on his watch?
A: Habakkuk, because he said, “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” (Habakkuk 2:1)
I’m not sure why I thought that joke was so funny, or whether I was thinking the ancient prophet really stood on a wristwatch. However, it caused me to read The Book of Habakkuk for the first time. And what I learned was a valuable lesson in how God works when we come to Him with heartful prayers during times of stress and anxiety.
The author of the book is the prophet Habakkuk. Written between 615-605 BC, we see the prophecies declared during this time come to fruition in the decade to follow.
In Books of the Bible: At a Glance, a short summary of the book’s three chapters states, “Habakkuk cried out to God during a very dark time in Israel. [He] likely prophesied in the first five years of King Jehoiakim’s reign…The Assyrians had control of the Northern Kingdom (Kingdom of Israel) after a brutal invasion more than 100 years earlier. Habakkuk preached from the Southern Kingdom (Kingdom of Judah), which was still intact but less than 50 years away from its own invasion by Babylon that destroyed the Temple.” ¹
In Chapter 1, Habakkuk questioned God when he saw injustice and violent behavior unpunished. Furthermore, he could not understand why evil Chaldeans were being used to punish Judah. His complaining to the Lord, and God’s reassurance to wait for an answer, led him into Chapter 2, where God is revealed as a righteous God with a purpose for doing what He was doing. In closing, the book’s final chapter consists of a faithful prayer by Habakkuk that contains a compelling argument that, with faith, God can work in any situation or circumstance.
Besides my personal favorite verse of Habakkuk 2:1 which is noted above, there are other vital and Spirit-led verses that walk us through the book of Habakkuk. Henceforth, the following verses should give you the gist of what transpired in the book.
Habakkuk and God’s Dialogue—Chapters 1 and 2
Habakkuk: How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. Why do You make me see iniquity, and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. (Habakkuk 1:2-3)
God: Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—You would not believe if you were told. (Habakkuk 1:5)
Habakkuk: Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You cannot look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they? (Habakkuk 1:13)
Habakkuk: I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (Habakkuk 2:1)
God: For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3)
God: [God continues with how the righteous will live by his faith. Furthermore, God communicates five “WOES” against evil people.] (Habakkuk 2:4-19)
Habakkuk: But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
Habakkuk’s Prayer—Chapter 3
Habakkuk: Lord, I have heard the report about You, and I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. (Habakkuk 3:1-2)
Habakkuk: Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:18)
Habakkuk: The GOD is my strength. And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet and makes me walk on my high places. (Habakkuk 3:19)
Habakkuk is like many of us. We ask, “How can a holy God stand by and watch evil continue?” God assures Habakkuk that He has everything under control and that He knows what He is doing. All the time while possessing a complaining spirit, Habakkuk continues to dialogue with His Lord God. As their communication continues, we eventually see that their discussion finally leads Habakkuk to a faith in God’s plan that, in His timing, God will deliver His people.
What Truths Can We Learn from Habakkuk?
- Communicating with God is beneficial.
- Realize God answers us when we pray within His will.
- Understand that you can talk to God about anything.
- Have faith while waiting on God.
- Accept that sin will be punished in God’s timing.
- Continue to rejoice during periods of hardship and suffering.
- Trust in God to protect us from calamity.
- Rest in the LORD while awaiting His answers.
- Turn to prayer and praise when frustrated.
- Know God is still working out all things for our good even when He is silent.
- Be strong when encountering hard circumstances.
- Recognize that God is working even when a situation seems dire.
While starting with “What Bible character stood on his watch?” I conclude with another Bible joke.
Q: What Bible character is a locksmith?
A: Zaccheus. (pronounced “za-KEY-us”)
Maybe we will study him next! We shall see.
But if any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)
Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isaiah 40:31)
But let all who take refuge in You be glad, let them ever sing for joy; And may You shelter them, that those who love Your name may exult in You. (Psalm 5:11)
Heavenly Father, I see so much sin and evil in this world. I wonder why You allow it to exist, and to continue indefinitely. Let me remember that You always know exactly what You are doing. Let me trust in You as I patiently wait on Your timetable. And, as I wait, let me rejoice, knowing that Your timing and Your ways of handling what we face in life is best.
¹ Books of the Bible: At a glance. Teach Sunday School. Accessed March 2019.
All verses are taken from The New American Standard Bible.
Edited by E. Johnson
Books by Patti Greene
Devotional Prayer Journals