The “Got Milk?” campaign ran from October 1993 until February of 2014. The campaign encouraged the consumption of cow’s milk. It was a great quick question to raise, to help people think about whether or not they were consuming milk. Today, we begin reading the book of Habakkuk. Read through the book in its entirety today, only 56 verses. Got questions about why God allows some of the things He allows? You are not alone. Habakkuk had questions for God and he asked them. Let’s read together to hear the questions and the answers in hopes that some of our questions can be answered. Here is background information about Habakkuk to help us get started.
Habakkuk is brief—only three chapters and 56 verses long. By Hebrew word count (671), it is the fourth-shortest book in the Old Testament. Only Obadiah, Nahum, and Haggai are shorter (Andersen and Forbes, The Vocabulary of the Old Testament, 23–27); Jonah has fewer verses than Habakkuk, but according to Andersen and Forbes, it has more words—688. Yet this prophecy has had a powerful impact on the history of Judaism and Christianity.
According to superscriptions of Hab 1:1 and 3:1, the book consists of an oracle (Hab 1:1–2:20) and a hymnic prayer (Hab 3:1–19). In Habakkuk 1:1–2:20, the prophet grapples with two mysteries:
- Why God allows evil to go unpunished in his homeland of Judah.
- How a righteous God could use Babylon—a wicked nation—to judge sin in Judah.
Habakkuk presents his questions to God, and God responds. In Habakkuk 3:1–19 the prophecy concludes with a hymn of praise to the sovereign God. In spite of the difficult days ahead, Habakkuk will continue to praise the Lord, confident that God is just and good. He “will live by his faith” (Hab 2:4). Habakkuk’s form, “a dialog with God and a concluding hymn,” is unique among the Old Testament prophetic books (Bailey, “Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,” 245).