Author and His Times
Habakkuk (unknown apart from this book) prophesies in Judah sometime after the fall of Nineveh (612 BC), probably before Babylon conquered Egypt (605 BC), and definitely before Babylon attacks Jerusalem 598 BC. Babylon and Egypt are butting heads for world dominance before Babylon seals their position in the battle of 605 BC. Habakkuk is the latter contemporary of Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah, living past the Josiah reform to see just how short lived and skin deep it truly was. Judah is just as insincere, irreverent, and unjust as they always were.
I. (1-2) Dialog between Habakkuk and YHWH about Just Punishment
II. (3) Prayers and Trust in YHWH regardless of Understanding
Rather than deliver YHWH’s word to Judah (as did all the other prophets), Habakkuk delivers Judah’s word to YHWH with several “Why?” questions. He asks why YHWH tolerates Judah’s sin, but then when hearing that YHWH will punish Judah via the less holy Babylon, he asks “why?” again with greater force.
How to Read It
Enjoy chapter 3 as a “second exodus” for Judah – not that Habakkuk probably intended this as a prayer/song for the righteous. Read II Kings 22-23 and II Chronicles 34-36.4 for the historical background of Habakkuk’s times. Use this book to ask God your “Why?” questions, yet note that proper “Why’s” first come from observing God’s character.