Habakkuk: The Just Shall Live by His Faith



When Habakkuk was troubled he brought his concerns directly to God. After receiving God’s answers, he responded with a prayer of faith. Habakkuk’s example is one that should encourage us as we struggle to move from doubt to faith. We don’t have to be afraid to ask questions of God. The problem is not with God and his ways, but with our limited understanding of him.

The book of Habakkuk builds to a triumphant climax reached in the last three verses. The beginning of the book and the ending stand in stark contrast: a mystery to certainty, questioning to affirming, and complaint to confidence.

Writer of Habakkuk

The writer of the book of Habakkuk, traditionally identified as the Prophet Habakkuk, is a somewhat enigmatic figure due to the scant biographical details available within the text and historical records. Believed to have prophesied in the late 7th century BCE, during the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, Habakkuk is distinctive among the prophets for his dialogue format, directly questioning God about the presence of evil and injustice, and the seeming tolerance of wrongdoing. The book uniquely begins with a series of questions and complaints to God, rather than accusations against Israel or other nations. This approach reflects a deep engagement with themes of faith, justice, and divine sovereignty. The prophet’s name, Habakkuk, possibly meaning “embrace” or “wrestler,” aptly describes his wrestling with difficult theological questions and his ultimate act of embracing faith in God’s justice and sovereignty, despite not fully understanding His ways.

Date Written

Since the book speaks of the coming destruction of Judah, it had to be written sometime before Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 B. C. The most likely time for its composition is probably about 600 B. C.

Historical Setting of Habakkuk

The book of Habakkuk belongs to that turbulent era in ancient history when the balance of power was shifting from the Assyrians to the Babylonians. Assyria’s domination came to an end with the destruction of its capital city, Nineveh, by the invading Babylonians in 612 B. C. Less than 20 years after Habakkuk wrote his book, the Babylonians also destroyed Jerusalem and carried the leading citizens of Judah into captivity.

Theological Contribution of Habakkuk

The question-and-answer technique of the prophet Habakkuk teaches a valuable lesson about the nature of God. That God allows Himself to be questioned by one of His followers in an indication of His long suffering mercy and grace.

The theme of God’s judgment against unrighteousness also is woven throughout the book. God soon will punish His wayward people for their transgression, but He also will punish the pagan Babylonians because of their great sin. God’s acts of judgment are in accord with His holiness, righteousness, and mercy.

Special Consideration in Habakkuk

Paul’s famous declaration, “The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17), is a direct quotation from Habakkuk 2:4. In this brief prophetic book, we find the seeds of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular scriptures used in baptism ceremonies? The most popular scriptures for baptism ceremonies often reflect themes of renewal, faith, and commitment to a spiritual journey. Passages such as Matthew 28:19-20, where Jesus commissions His disciples to make disciples of all nations and baptize them, and Romans 6:3-4, which speaks about being baptized into Christ’s death and rising to walk in newness of life, are frequently chosen. Acts 2:38, emphasizing repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, is also commonly cited.

Can Old Testament scriptures be used for baptism services? Yes, Old Testament scriptures can be used for baptism services. While the New Testament directly addresses baptism and its significance in the Christian faith, the Old Testament is rich with symbolism and narratives that prefigure baptismal themes. For example, Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-9) as a symbol of salvation and cleansing, and the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14) as a type of baptism, symbolizing deliverance and liberation, are appropriate and meaningful for inclusion in baptism services.

Are there specific scriptures for infant baptism versus adult baptism? While the Bible does not explicitly differentiate scriptures for infant baptism versus adult baptism, passages chosen often reflect the context of the baptism. For infant baptism, scriptures that speak to God’s covenant with believers and their households (such as Acts 16:31-34 and 1 Corinthians 1:16) and Jesus’ welcoming of children (Mark 10:13-16) are often highlighted. For adult baptism, scriptures that focus on personal decision and confession of faith (like Acts 8:36-38 and Romans 10:9-10) are typically used to underscore the individual’s commitment.

How can I choose a personal scripture for my baptism? Choosing a personal scripture for your baptism involves reflection on your spiritual journey and the verses that have been significant to you. Consider scriptures that resonate with your experiences, speak to your heart, or articulate your hopes and commitments as a follower of Christ. Praying for guidance and discussing with your pastor or a trusted spiritual mentor can also provide clarity and inspiration. Your chosen verse might be one that has comforted you, challenged you, or captured the essence of your decision to follow Jesus.

Are there any modern translations that are best for reading baptism scriptures? The choice of Bible translation for reading baptism scriptures largely depends on personal preference and the audience’s understanding. Modern translations like the New International Version (NIV), English Standard Version (ESV), and New Living Translation (NLT) are popular for their balance between readability and faithful representation of the original texts. Consider using a translation that communicates clearly to you and your community, bearing in mind the importance of the occasion and the message you wish to convey through the scriptures.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

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