The 'minor' prophet with the strange name, Habakkuk, is unique. Rather than speaking to the people on God's behalf as most prophets did, he spoke to God on behalf of the people. He cried out to God in a generation of flagrant injustice and wrong doing. He passionately asked God to bring His justice: to punish evil and restore righteousness in the nation. He found it very difficult to understand how God could tolerate the status quo in Judah (1:1-4). God's answer to his petition (1:5-11) was that He was sovereignly raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians) on the world scene. The prophet was shocked (1:12-17): the medicine was worse than the cure! Babylonians!! They were themselves a nation even more unjust and wicked than Judah. What solution would that be to the state of affairs! So Habakkuk decided to ask God for more explanation on this unthinkable answer (2:1). God's answer assured the prophet that He would eventually deal with the 'puffed up' nations and those who worship idols, and that God would ensure that 'the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord's glory as the waters cover the sea' (2:2-2:20). This response of God then resulted not in further questioning but in the prophet's prayerful worship (chapter 3). He there gives us a vision of Christ's great coming to this earth to fulfill all that the prophet so longed for and all this inspired book promised (3:3-15). Habakkuk closes with the final victorious statement of what 'living by faith' (2:4) would look like in the time prior to this great coming, when evil would still have free reign on earth (and in particular for Habakkuk, in the time when the Babylonians would destroy Jerusalem (3:16-19):
"I heard, and I trembled within; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness entered my bones; I trembled where I stood. [at the news of the Babylonian invasion of Habakkuk's country] Yet I will quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us [ for God's later judgment the invaders].
Though the fig tree does not bud and there be no fruit on the vines, Though the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, Though the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stall, [projected socio-economic disaster for little Judah with enemy invasion] Yet in the Lord I will rejoice, in the God of my salvation I will take joy.
God the Lord is my strength;
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He makes me tread on my high places"
This is how the prophet knew he could live by faith even when he knew worse times were ahead for him and his people. It is how you and I must also live in the present time, until the glorious coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He does in fact come, may He find us doing exactly this: waiting with joy!