The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.– Habakkuk 1:1
It is not unusual to read about a “burden” carried by a prophet. Many of the messages preached by the prophets were declared as “burdens from the Lord.” The Hebrew word for “burden” signifies something that is carried, exalted, or raised high. The word isn’t always used for prophetic messages. It can refer to any kind of carried load. Whenever it refers to a prophetic a message, you can be sure the message was heavy for the prophet. Many times the burden involved prophesying against the prophet’s own people which not only brought sorrow upon himself but persecution as well. The burden was heavy, and the burden was constant. In this day of ease and convenience, it is hard for us to grasp what the prophets went through in carrying burdens.
The way this verse is worded is very unique. This burden wasn’t just carried, it was seen. There is only one other time the Bible uses this wording, and it is found in Isaiah 13:1 – “The burden of Babylon, which Isaiah the son of Amoz did see.” In Isaiah’s vision he sees the destruction of Babylon. Habakkuk’s burden is of a different kind. Though the destruction of Babylon is prophesied in the book, this burden isn’t the burden of Babylon. Judah is prophesied to be overthrown, but the prophecy isn’t exclusively the burden of Judah. This WHOLE book is a burden seen by Habakkuk. The book focuses on four burdens –
- The Sin of Judah
- The Destruction of Judah
- The Destruction of the Wicked
- The Faith of God’s People
The sin of Judah weighs heavily on Habakkuk. What adds to this burden is the apparent silence of God. When the destruction of Judah is revealed to Habakkuk, he is concerned for his people and questions God on why He would use a people even more wicked to overthrow Judah. The destruction of the wicked is then declared which Habakkuk then carries as a powerful message to us of God’s holiness and justice.
The final burden which I believe to be the main message to us is the message that the Just live by FAITH, not by sight. We must trust in the plan of God, live in it, and embrace it. Habakkuk’s spiritual eyes were opened. He not only carried these burdens, he saw them. He didn’t just preach these messages, he embraced them. He wanted the readers to embrace this truth as well!