Sunday School Bible Survey:      HABAKKUK

Theme: Why would God use a wicked nation to punish His chosen people?

Key verse: "But the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4b).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
It seems most probable that Habakkuk prophesied in the latter years of Josiah. Of the prophet himself nothing is known. To him the character of Jehovah was revealed in terms of the highest spirituality. He alone of the prophets was more concerned that the holiness of Jehovah should be vindicated than that Israel should escape chastisement. Written just upon the eve of the captivity, Habakkuk was God's testimony to Himself as against both idolatry and pantheism.

The book is in five parts:

  1. Habakkuk's perplexity in view of the sins of Israel and the silence of God (1:1-4). Historically this was the time of Jehovah's forbearance because of Josiah's repentance (II Kings 22:18-20).
  2. The answer of Jehovah to the prophet's perplexity (1:5-11).
  3. The prophet, thus answered, utters the testimony to Jehovah (1:12-17); but he will watch for further answers (2:1).
  4. To the watching prophet comes the response of the "vision" (2:20).
  5. All ends in Habakkuk's sublime Psalm of the Kingdom.

As a whole the Book of Habakkuk raises and answers the question of God's consistency with Himself in view of permitted evil. The prophet thought that the holiness of God forbade him to go on with evil Israel. The answer of Jehovah announces a Chaldean invasion (1:6), and a world-wide dispersion (1:5). But Jehovah is not mere wrath; "He delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18), and introduces into His answers to the perplexed prophet the great promises, 1:5; 2:3, 4, 14, 20.


  1. Nothing is known of Habakkuk outside of the book which bears his name (cf. Scofield's introduction).
  2. The date of the book is uncertain (Scofield Bible says 626 BC). Habakkuk was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. The book of Habakkuk was probably written during the time of King Josiah and his son and successor Jehoiakim.
  3. The northern kingdom had already gone into captivity, and the southern kingdom was on the brink of falling.
  4. King Josiah was a good king, but after him all of the kings of Judah were wicked.
  5. It was a violent era. Nineveh had fallen in 612 BC under the attack of the Babylonians led by Nabopolossar, in alliance with the Medes and the Scythians.
  6. Nebuchadnezzar defeated Pharaoh Necho of Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish in 605 BC. King Josiah died in this famous battle. Many scholars place the writing of Habakkuk after this event.
  7. Habakkuk writes in the form of a dialogue. There are three chapters, and the opening two chapters contain a dialogue between the LORD and Habakkuk.
  8. Habakkuk raises some perplexing questions, and the LORD, recognizing the prophet's sincerity, answers them.
  9. Habakkuk wanted to know why God permits evil, and why God would use the Babylonians, an idolatrous heathen nation, and far more wicked than Judah, to punish them.
  10. God's answer to Habakkuk was that He was not through with Babylon — God would surely judge Babylon too.


Another outline::

  2. HABAKKUK IS WAITING (Chapter 2).


  1. Habakkuk had a "burden" (1:1) — "a heavy, weighty thing" (Scofield Bible, p. 724).
  2. Habakkuk felt that God was not responding to his prayers (1:2). Throughout history God's people have often felt this way.
  3. In Psalm 73:3, the Psalmist wrote, "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked."
  4. In Revelation 6:10, the martyrs cry "with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
  5. Whenever we feel discouraged, or that God is not responding to our prayers, we need to go to the Word of God. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). The Word of God strengthens our faith.
  6. Habakkuk wanted to know why God permitted evil to exist. Why didn't God move in judgment? God appeared to be silent and indifferent (1:2-4).
  7. The apostle Paul quoted Habakkuk 1:5 in Acts 13:41, when he was preaching to the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch in Pisidia.
  8. God wanted Habakkuk to know that rather than being indifferent or insensitive to sin, God was raising up the Chaldeans as His instrument to chasten backslidden Judah (1:5, 6).


  1. The prophet Habakkuk went to his watchtower to wait for God (2:1). This was probably a place he went to pray.
  2. Habakkuk said he would "watch to see" what God would say to him (2:1). We can expect to hear from God as we read the Bible.
  3. Sometimes God impresses something upon our hearts in an unmistakable manner.
  4. Sometimes God answers our prayers by providentially ordering our circumstances. "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way" (Ps. 37:23).
  5. Habakkuk expected God to answer him, and God did answer him (2:2).
  6. Habakkuk was instructed to "write the vision" (i.e., God's answer) plainly "upon tables (tablets)" (2:2). This was a common method of communication in Bible times.
  7. This vision was of such importance that it was to be committed to writing. It was meant for us too.
  8. It was to be made so legible - with large letters - "that he may run that readeth it" (2:2).
  9. The message was good news - God was going to deliver Judah from the Chaldeans.
  10. "Appointed time" (2:3) indicates that although the prophecy will not have an immediate fulfillment, it will have a certain one.
  11. God has an "appointed time" for the accomplishment of His purpose. The fulfillment of His prophecies, promises, and visions will surely come to pass according to His perfect schedule.
  12. Regarding the "appointed time" (2:3), Charles Feinberg wrote, "Delay is only in the heart of man; God is working the details according to His own plan. Patience was needed. The purpose of God cannot be hastened nor can it be delayed. It comes to fulfillment at the appointed time."
  13. The "end" (2:3) spoken of here is the realization of the prophecy in history. The immediate application relates to God's judgment on the Chaldeans, but it has a wider application - the second coming of Christ.
  14. In Habakkuk's day, Babylon would be destroyed, but like all OT prophets, Habakkuk looked beyond his day to the second coming of Christ.
  15. When Christ returns, "MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT" (Rev. 17:5) will be destroyed. Babylon was an existing manifestation of the satanic world system.
  16. In Hebrews 10:37, the Holy Spirit applies this prophecy to the second coming of Christ. "For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry."


  1. The third chapter of Habakkuk is a poem, apparently a hymn, an anthem of praise (cf. 3:19).
  2. It includes praise, thanksgiving, adoration, and most importantly - a plea for revival (3:2). Our church needs revival. Our nation needs revival.
  3. Notice what Habakkuk says. "O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid (3:2). Today there is no fear of God because people are not hearing from God. Habakkuk heard from God. He said: "I have heard thy speech, and was afraid."
  4. Habakkuk heard from heaven. He saw "the Holy One" (3:3). Now he was no longer thinking about how bad the Babylonians were. Now he was no longer thinking about how good the Israelites were. Now he was thinking about how holy God was!
  5. There is a direct connection between God's holiness and man's sinfulness. The more we comprehend God's holiness the more we abhor our own sinfulness.
  6. Habakkuk began to realize that the distinction between the Babylonians and the Israelites was relatively unimportant in the light of God's holiness, in the light of God's majesty, and in the light of God's glory.
  7. Now Habakkuk saw it - the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man.


Habakkuk 2:4 is one of the most important Scriptures in the Bible - "but the just shall live by his faith." It is quoted three times in the New Testament - (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —