These small group studies of Habakkuk contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Habakkuk 2 Inductive Bible Study – God Answers Habakkuk
I. Habakkuk waits for the Lord’s response (1)
II. God answers Habakkuk (2-20)
I. Habakkuk waits for the Lord’s response (1)
Do you remember what Habakkuk’s second question was in chapter 1?
What does he decide to do here in verse 1?
How would you describe his attitude?
Is it right for him to act like this or is he being pushy?
How did he expect that God would reply to him?
What lessons can we learn from Habakkuk here?
What should we do when we are confused or doubt?
What good character quality do you see in Habakkuk that you can emulate?
Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Isaiah 55:6 – Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near.
James 1:2-4 – Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Hebrews 4:14-16 – Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
1. Habakkuk resolves to wait for God’s answer – Habakkuk is disturbed and confused by what he is seeing. First he was disturbed that Israel was in such deep sin and that God seemed to be tolerating it. How could this fit with a God of justice? Then God answered that He would judge the Israelites by the hand of the Chaldeans. Habakkuk became even more confused. How could God use such a wicked people as His tool of judgement? How could God punish the Israelites by the hand of the Babylonians, who were more wicked than they?
Habakkuk knows God and His character. In times of confusion, he backed up from the problem and stated what he knew about God’s character (1:12-13). But he still desperately wants an answer. And here in verse 1 we see that he is resolved to wait as long as it takes until God explains Himself. On the surface this may seem pushy or aggressive. But we should remember that Habakkuk was not testing or challenging God. He was not hostile to God. He was not demanding a sign all the while disbelieving the previous signs shown like the Pharisees did of Jesus. Habakkuk’s question is genuine. He is sincere. His motivation is that he wants to learn about God’s character and he wants to understand God’s plan. And God will honor that.
Habakkuk is determined to find out the answer. Sometimes God seems to want His people to “wrestle” with him, much like Jacob did long before. There is something greatly beneficial about wrestling through a tough problem with God. One way to understand why God may view wrestling with Him positively is to consider the opposite. What is the opposite of wrestling with God? I would say that the opposite is laziness. A lazy person may have many questions about God or the Bible or life around him, but simply shrug them away because it is too time consuming to think about. The agnostic is a classic case of laziness winning out. An agnostic says that trying to understand or form an opinion about God is too time consuming, too challenging and not worthwhile to think about. So his answer to the biggest question of life is “I don’t care. I will just go on living my life how I want and ignore profound questions because it is easier not to think about.”
See Hebrews 5:11-14 – 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
These people are spiritually lazy. They have a hard time understanding spiritual concepts because they “no longer try to understand.” These are the types of people who become absent minded and distracted during a sermon. These are the types of people who prefer a ten minute illustration “sermon-bite” rather than an in depth exegesis of God’s Word. In the passage we can see that they would prefer to drink milk forever rather than move on to meat. Chewing is tiring.
Laziness is rampant in every form in our society today. Our society is one of instant gratification and short attention spans. With Google at our fingertips we want answers now. Studies have shown that web pages which take longer than two seconds to download turn away many visitors who don’t want to wait.
But Habakkuk was not like this. He says, “I will wait here as long as it takes to find the answer. I won’t give up until I get it.” This character quality is one which is to be admired. And it is one many of us would do well to learn from. In Genesis 32:25 Jacob said, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Based on a clear record in Scripture we can know that God would rather deal with diligent, sincere, seekers who want Him than people who are complacent.
Application: We should be diligent spiritually. This means when we come to problems or questions in Scripture which we don’t understand that we invest the time and study necessary to solve them. In prayer, when we do not receive a quick or expected answer we need to be persistent and not give up no matter how long it takes. In seeking to know God and His will let each of us say “ “I will station myself on the wall and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me.”
2. Habakkuk is expecting and willing to be reproved – Habakkuk basically says, “Here I am. I am not going away. Let me have it!” In this phrase we see the depth of his resolve. He expects that God will scold him and he also expects that he will not have a suitable reply to God. Do you see Habakkuk’s view of God? He believed that God would be vindicated. He believed that God’s explanation would be sufficient. He did not aggressively say, “There is no answer! I know that you are wrong and there is no answer which would be satisfactory.” This is the attitude that some people take against God. And that is pride, plain and simple.
Application: When we “wrestle with God” we should do so in humility. We should humbly seek for the answer rather than pridefully stating there isn’t one.
II. God answers Habakkuk (2-20)
What did God want Habakkuk to do with the answer he received?
What does it mean “that the one who reads it may run?”
What does it mean in verse 3 that “the vision will certainly come?”
Whose soul is referred to in verse 4 (the Chaldean’s)?
What important biblical principle can you see in verse 4?
What other Bible passages refer to this same concept?
Who is being described in verses 6-20? The Babylonians? The Israelites? Us? Explain.
Habakkuk asked God why he would use the Chaldeans to punish people more righteous than they. Chapter 2 is God’s response. Summarize God’s answer in your own words.
What kind of people are described in verses 6-8 (greedy money lenders)?
What kind of people are described in verses 9-11 (people who gain unrighteously)?
What kind of people are described in verses 12-14 (people who violently build cities at other’s expense)?
What kind of people are described in verses 15-17 (immoral people who entice others to sin with alcahol)?
What kind of people are described in verses 18-20 (idolaters)?
What lessons can we learn about God in this chapter?
What do we learn about justice (remember verse 4)?
What applications can we make to our lives today?
Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38 – The righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4 is quoted three times in the New Testament.)
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness.
Ecclesiastes 8:6 – For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.
Isaiah 40:31 – But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Acts 1:7 – He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
Ecclesiastes 3:17 – I said to myself, “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed.”
Psalm 33:5 – He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.
Isaiah 61:8 – For I the Lord love justice; I hate robbery and wrong; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
1. Then the Lord answered – Here we learn an important principle about God. When we seek Him, He will be found. He wants to communicate with us.
2. He tells Habakkuk to record the vision for the benefit of others – God’s answer was not for Habakkuk alone, but for all people for all time. We are still benefiting from the stand that Habakkuk. These questions have been answered and the answers inscribed for all future generations.
Application: God wants us to pass on what we have learned to others. If you have studied a topic and gained some insights, pass them on. If you have struggled through some difficult experiences and in the process learned more about God’s character and how to have a close relationship with Him, pass it on. See 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. In this passage we are supposed to comfort others with the same comfort we have received from God. Since we are all part of the body of Christ we are meant to share each other’s burdens and also to rejoice with those who rejoice. Do not keep what you have learned to yourself. Spread the joy!
3. That the one who reads it may run – The original language is not 100% clear what this is referring to. It may mean that the reader should run to proclaim to others what he has read. It may alternatively mean that he should write it clearly so that the person who “runs his eye” over it will read it easily. Either way it is understood, the main point is that God’s answer was meant to public and read by all.
4. God has his own timing – In verse 3 we learn an important lesson about God that is often very applicable when we are struggling for an answer to a difficult situation. That is that He has His own timing. Notice that He says “it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.” Then He says, “though it tarries, wait for it, for it will certainly come, it will not delay.”
At first glance it seems that this may be contradictory. How can it both hasten and tarry at the same time?
However, it is merely a matter of perspective. God’s promises and plans will steadily proceed until they are fulfilled. According to His timing, they will not delay. He has an exact time and and exact plan. But from our perspective it may seem to be slow. It may seem to tarry as we wait and wait. Our feelings do not change the facts or the certainty of the inevitable result. We are creatures which exist within time, but God exists outside of time. Therefore our perspectives are completely different.
Time passing is relative even to us. A child waiting and counting the days until his birthday may feel that time is passing at a snail’s pace and that his birthday will never come. His parents who see the years rushing by and remember when this child was a newborn may view the passage of time differently.
A person who is in great pain feels that the time passes much slower than someone is watching a live sporting event.
The lesson for us is simple: God has his own timing. All of His plans will come to pass without fail. His time is the best time. We see injustice around us now. We see suffering and sin and disasters and diseases. One day God will deal with all of these things. Our job is to trust Him until then.
Acts 1:7 – He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.
God sets the proper time according to His own authority. He knows what is good and when it is good and He does it.
Illustration: Parents set their own kid’s bedtimes according to what is good for them and according to the parent’s authority (not the child’s idea.) If you have kids, you probably know that they will virtually never admit to being tired or sleepy. After all, little bears never get tired! They can be about to collapse with fatigue and still would prefer to keep playing. The child says, “I am not tired. I want to stay up!” The parent says, “You are tired. You need to follow your bed time. And it is good for you.”
Often we are like little kids. We don’t understand why God doesn’t follow our time. But like a wise parent, He knows what is truly best and when is truly the best time.
5. The righteous will live by faith – Here is a very famous verse that is quoted multiple times in the New Testament. It contains one of the most important principles in Scripture. Habakkuk is gently reminded that God wants His followers to place faith in Him. This is something which the “proud ones” (Babylonians) did not do. In the end, anyone who does not place their faith in God is therefore not righteous (Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness) and will not be delivered out of the judgment.
Application: When you don’t understand something about God’s plan, do you make a decision to have faith? Or do you despair and give up? We don’t know God’s timing. We can’t always understand His plans. But it is our choice to have faith in Him or not.
6. God pronounces His judgement on the wicked – Starting in verse four, we see God’s answer to Habakkuk. In short He says, “they too will be punished at the appointed time.” From verse four we see many references to people. Pronouns are used such as “you” and “he.” Descriptors are used such as “proud one.”
In a specific sense we can understand that God is telling Habakkuk that the Babylonians (who are wicked and prideful and so on) will be dealt with. That was the specific question Habakkuk was asking, “How can use the Babylonians?” And the answer is, “I will judge them too.”
But in a more general sense we can take God’s answer to mean that all of those who are wicked and prideful and greedy and idolatrous and violent will be punished. God is just. All of those who rebel against Him will be judged whether they are Babylonians, Israelite, Egyptian, American, Asian, or Kiwi.
Application: The wicked will not escape judgment. The only way out is salvation through faith in Jesus by grace. Have you placed your faith in Jesus? Are you actively confessing your sins?
7. The greedy will be judged (6-8) – Throughout the Bible we see that God is unhappy with those who greedily expand their own wealth by oppressing the poor. The Babylonians did this. The Israelites did this. And many people do this today. We should seek to use our wealth to bless others by generously sharing what we have in order to expand God’s kingdom.
8. Those who gain unjustly think they are secure, but will be judged – Many people put their trust in riches. They think that the wealth they have so carefully saved up will protect them in times of difficulty. Their attitude is vividly described in verse nine as people who “put [their] nest on high.” In order to keep their money out of reach and safe they put it up in a tree like a nest (figuratively speaking). While they are hopeful that their acts of self-preservation will offer them safety, God says “Woe to him.”
Application: Instead of hiding our riches and keeping them for ourselves, we should generously share with others what God has given to us.
9. Woe to the violent (12-14) – We are reminded of the principle in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain.”
God describes people who violently build a city through bloodshed. History certainly shows us there are many examples of cities and empires that were built on the backs of slaves and through cruel wars. God doesn’t forget. There is a right way and a wrong way to build a city. There is a right way and a wrong way to build a career, a home, a family. If a builder of a physical building takes a shortcut, the building will be in danger during storms or disasters. The same is true spiritually.
10. One day all people will have knowledge of God – Verse fourteen is a beautiful verse reminding us that God wins. It is appropriate that this verse appears right in the middle of descriptions of the evil that is so rampant in the world around us and the coming judgment. Sometimes when we look around and see all of the evil and injustice we are tempted to be discouraged. This verse is like a breathe of fresh air. God wins. His Kingdom will come. His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Although people act in ignorance toward God now, one day they will see and know the truth.
Habakkuk 2:14 is a key verse which shows us God’s vision. We see His heart of love for all of the nations. It is not a New Testament concept. The truth that God wants all people to know and come to Him is there throughout the Old Testament as well. God’s vision for the nations has not changed.
Application: We can part of this glorious process of taking the gospel to a dark world. There are still many parts of the world where the knowledge of God is not evident. Many people live as slaves of sin in darkness. Do you pray for them? Do you share with them? If you want to know more about these people that desperately need our prayer visit joshuaproject.net.
11. God pronounces judgment on the immoral who entice and seduce others (15-17) – Here is yet another “woe” pronounced, this time on those who get other people drunk for the purpose of taking advantage of them. This kind of behavior is still going on today over twenty-five hundred years later. Many a predatory man has gotten a woman drunk in order to sleep with her. Others have resorted to sneaking pills into their drinks for the same purpose. Despicable behavior like this may appear to go undiscovered here in this world. But one day everything will come to the light. God knows. God sees. God will not forget.
12. God pronounces judgment on idol worshipers – Idols are created by people. They are speechless. Unmoving, unresponsive, unseeing, they are powerless. It is likely this powerlessness which attracts many people to make and worship them. After all, sinners want to be free to continue in their own sin. An idol will certainly never hold them accountable or judge them. Therefore they can make the idol in their own image and assign whatever morals they want to it. In the end people do this often times because they don’t want to submit to an outside, holy authority.
Whenever a Christian tries to make God into something He is not, this too is like fashioning an idol. God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” God is who He is, not necessarily what we want Him to be. He is self-sufficient and self-existent. He has His own standards and He is not bound to ours. We must seek to conform ourselves into His image (as we were first created), rather than seeking to conform Him into our image.
E-Book: If this study is helpful for you, see our complete Study Habakkuk Bible study guide available for download.