Habakkuk: Introduction – Setting

The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.

Habakkuk 1:1

Habakkuk lived in times of uncertainty, political tension, and sin. Doesn’t that sound a lot like the day we’re living in? Let’s take a look at the setting of Habakkuk. The diagram below shows some of the relevant kings of the Southern Kingdom of Judah along with the length of their reign and whether they were declared a “good” or “bad” king. Take note of the important events happening during these times.

We do not know the exact date of the writing of Habakkuk, but we know a few things. One, we know that Habakkuk was living in a time period characterized by blatant sin (1:2-4). Two, the Lord reveals the coming destruction of the Babylonians. These two facts point to the period of Judah’s history during Jehoiachim’s reign and preceding Babylon’s victory over Egypt at Carchemish and subsequent dominance over Judah. So we estimate Habakkuk’s prophesy to be written between 609-605 BC.This would have taken place shortly after the time of spiritual revival and religious reform during the reign of Josiah.

Judah experienced 57 years of horrible wickedness during the reigns of Manasseh and Amon. Manasseh was possibly the most evil of all the kings of Judah. He caused Israel to sin by profaning the temple of the Lord, promoting idolatry throughout Judah, and instituting child sacrifice. Not only did Manasseh plunge Judah into a period of unimaginable sin, Manasseh caused Judah to “do worse than the heathen, whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel” (2 Chronicles 33:9). Though Manasseh repented, broke down the altars he had built, and threw the idols he made for Jerusalem out of the city, Judah remained in the sin it had learned to cherish (2 Chronicles 33:17). Manasseh’s son, Amon, did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord as well. Amon sacrificed to the idols his father had thrown out and refused to humble himself before the Lord (2 Kings 21:19-26).

Because of all this wickedness Judah had committed, the Lord pronounced judgment upon Judah. “12 Therefore thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle. 13 And I will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria, and the plummet of the house of Ahab: and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish, wiping it, and turning it upside down. 14 And I will forsake the remnant of mine inheritance, and deliver them into the hand of their enemies; and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies; 15 Because they have done that which was evil in my sight, and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came forth out of Egypt, even unto this day” (2 Kings 21:12-15).

However, the next king of Judah, Josiah, did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. Josiah was not brought up surrounded by solid, Scriptural teaching, but he loved the Lord. He did what he knew to be right. He commanded the temple to be cleaned and repaired. During this work, a copy of the Law of God was found. When the Scriptures were read to Josiah, he rent his clothes and inquired of the Lord concerning the words of the Law. Josiah tore down the idols and pagan altars throughout Judah. He broke down the houses of the homosexuals that were built beside the Lord’s temple and burned the pagan priests. After he removed the idolatry from Judah, Josiah commanded the passover to be kept. “Surely there was not holden such a passover from the days of the judges that judged Israel, nor in all the days of the kings of Israel, nor of the kings of Judah” (2 Kings 23:22). Not even in the days of King David was the passover kept like unto this passover! Josiah was quite the man of God! “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like unto him” (2 Kings 23:25).

The Lord had ordained judgment upon Judah because of Manasseh’s sin. The revival during Josiah’s reign was an act of grace. God was giving the inhabitants of Judah an opportunity to repent and call upon the name of the Lord. It was only four years after the death of Josiah when the Babylonians were sent to take over Judah. Many rejected the Lord gift of salvation during this time. When the Babylonians came to kill and destroy, hell gained many souls.

Sin Committed – Judgment Pronounced – Grace Offered – Punishment Executed

So what does all this mean?

Our country is facing a similar dilemma. Just as Manasseh instituted child sacrifice across Judah, America continues to perform over 600,000 abortions each year. Just as homosexuals built their houses purposefully around the temple of the Lord, churches are becoming more accepting of an act which the Bible clearly calls an abomination (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27). God is right now giving us grace. He’s withholding the judgment America so rightfully deserves in order to give America an opportunity to turn to the Lord before it’s too late.

In this book of Habakkuk, God is calling his people to put on a spiritual mindset in their outlook on the world. This world should not be our home. We should be longing after a better country!

If you are right now reading this without knowing the Lord as your personal Lord and Savior, you have an opportunity to repent and call upon the name of the Lord today!

“8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
– Romans 10:8-11

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