Summary: Habakkuk asks the main question, ’How Long, O LORD?’ through a very confusing time in Judah’s history. Deals with suffering, hope, and our LORD’s sovereignty

How Long, O LORD?

Written in 2007, Sterling C. Franklin

Feel free to use (and not take credit for) this message, but please do necessary preparation for your congregation’s sake! :)


Habakkuk 1:1-2:1 (ESV)

1:1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

2 O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?

3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.

4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

5 "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 told.

6 For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.

7 They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.

8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour.

9 They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand.

10 At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it.

11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!"

12 Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.

13 You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and are silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?

14 You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler.

15 He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad.

16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and makes offerings to his dragnet; for by them he lives in luxury, and his food is rich.

17 Is he then to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever?

2:1 I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.


- Acknowledge our limited view

- Peace & knowledge of Your Sovereignty

- Faithfulness and Obedience

INTRODUCTION (Background & 1:1)

Habakkuk was a prophet-musician in Temple service.

- We see that he is a prophet by the oracle which the LORD gives him

- We see that he is a musician by his song response in Chapter 3

o Use of Selah – Psalmic device for pause/consideration

o For the director of music – 3:19

o He could play a stringed instrument – 3:19

Habakkuk (qwqbh): “Embrace”

Written around 605-600 BC. During this time, the entire kingdom was split – the Northern portion was called Israel, and the Southern portion was called Judah. Habakkuk was a prophet of Judah. The people of the Northern Kingdom Israel had been taken into captivity in 722 BC by the Assyrian Empire as a result of their wickedness. The people of the Southern Kingdom Judah were still free, though they were about to be carried off into exile by the Babylonian Empire in 586 BC because of their wickedness.

Habakkuk did his ministry at around the same time as Jeremiah. The prophets dealt with a very stiffnecked people. They had just revived the Book of the Law under Josiah’s reign in 622 BC, and here about 20 years later, the people were still worshipping their idols (mostly Ba’al) in place of the LORD who delivered them from Egypt.

Throughout these years, the LORD constantly called His people as a husband to an unfaithful wife, crying out for their return and faithful devotion to Him and His covenant with them.

Illustration: Imagine having a beloved pet. You take care of it, and it depends on you. You love your pet dearly, and yet this pet keeps running away from you. If you were a harsh master, it would be understandable that your pet would want to stray. However, in this instance, the LORD is the loving caregiver, and the people of Judah kept fleeing from His presence. Wouldn’t you hate to see your beloved pet run away?

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