Habakkuk, although a short book in length has a wonderful message. It starts with Habakkuk expressing his burden and ends with him singing a prayer of extreme passion for the recognition of who God is and the worship that He deserves. All of this occurring within a world that had gone completely awry.
“The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see. O Lord, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and Thou wilt not save!” Habakkuk 1:1-2
Habakkuk is burdened for all of the violence and wickedness that he sees in the land round about him; frustrated by those that seek to stir up strife and contention. He sees the wicked overtaking the righteous with no recompense for the evil that is done as a result of the slackness of the law. He cries out to God in his distress, his burden is heavy. Then there is the answer from God, “Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.” Habakkuk 1:5
What Habakkuk was experiencing can certainly be paralleled with what we are experiencing today. We can become frustrated, burdened down beneath the weight of all that we see taking place around us. Habakkuk was experiencing this and had cried out to God, asking Him to deal with the situation. Then God answers and reminds Habakkuk of what He as God will do. All through the Bible we see the mighty power of God revealed in ways no one could ever imagine. His works were and are above anything that can be comprehended by the human mind.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” Isaiah 55:8-9
Habakkuk recognizes the true power and holiness of God. “Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die, O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgement: and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction.” Habakkuk 1:12
Then God instructs him to write down what would be revealed to him, so that others might read and be warned of the judgement that would come. “And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie, though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:2-3
God’s judgement was coming and He wanted men to be warned of what was to come. It was not within man’s mind to determine when it might come, but to be confident in the fact that it would come just as God told Habakkuk it would. In faith we have the confidence that what God says He will do, He will do. With that realization we know that sin will be judged, the timing of that judgement is in God’s hands. Through the power of His workings, one day the whole earth will see Him for who He truly is, God of all creation. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2:14
As Habakkuk thought upon the true glory of our Lord, his burden was turned into a song of prayer. “A PRAYER of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make know; in wrath remember mercy.” Habakkuk 3:1
(Shigionth: a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion.)
Habakkuk experienced a revival within his heart and soul as he came to recognize the magnitude of God’s power, the righteousness of God that required payment for sin, and the destruction that could come as a result of the sin that was rampant in his land. He came to the place where his heart was broken for his people with the realization of what God’s judgement would really mean and the revealing of what was to come. In his prayer, he asked God to remember mercy. Even though he had cried out to God regarding the wickedness that had overtaken the land, the reality of the judgement to come left him fearful. As he contemplated the extent of God’s power, he asked for God to have mercy in the midst of His wrath.
From his burden he offered up a prayer before the Lord, recognizing what was to come. “When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled within myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when He cometh up unto the people, He will invade them with His troops.” Habakkuk 3:16
Habakkuk had come to the place where he understood the magnitude of the judgement that was to come and it stirred him from within. He no longer wished to see God’s judgement upon the land, though he knew that it must occur, his burden was turned into prayer. Instead of sitting around griping about the wickedness around him, he turned his burden into prayer.
Through the eyes of Habakkuk I see a violent and wicked world standing in the path of judgement. I see a world full of strife and contention. I see a world that is hurting . . . a world that is lost . . . a world in need of prayer; and so as I begin to see his burden my burden starts to grow and I start to pray. I pray for a heart of understanding, a heart of compassion, and a heart of sincere recognition of what the judgement of God really means. I pray that I might see as Habakkuk saw and that I might possess the burden that becomes a prayer ! I pray to see the holiness of God as I have never seen it before.
“And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.” Revelation 15:3-4