Habakkuk :: Catholic News Agency

Date Written: 612-597 BC
Author: Habakkuk


Habakkuk prophesied in Judah during the reign of Jehoiakim.  We know little about his life apart from his prophecy.  Yet he makes a cameo appearance in Daniel 14:33-39.

The book of Habakkuk is a short dialogue between the prophet and the Lord about the judgment of Judah.  First, Habakkuk questions why Judah's sins are going unpunished (1:2-4).  Then the Lord responds that the Babylonians will come to execute his judgment on Judah (1:5-11).  Surprised by the Lord's solution, Habakkuk objects to God using a nation even more wicked than Judah to bring his judgment (1:12-2:1).  The Lord replies that Babylon itself, after it has fulfilled its purpose, will fall and be mocked by the people it oppressed and "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord" (2:14).  The last chapter of Habakkuk is a psalm with musical indications.  The psalm celebrates some of the Lord's great actions in Israel's history and anticipates his judgment against Babylon (3:16).


The major tension in the book centers around the fulfillment of God's plan for his people and the execution of his judgment in the world.  Habakkuk's questioning comes from a standpoint of faith and trust, not from doubt.  The prophet believes in God's ultimate justice, so he can openly ask for vindication.  As the Lord and Habakkuk hammer out how justice will be accomplished, the prophet deals with the deep questions of suffering, sin and violence. 

Hab. 2:4 is very important in New Testament theology.  It is quoted in Rom 1:17, Gal 3:11 and Heb 10:37-38.  The best way to translate the verse is disputed.


Habakkuk gives us an opportunity to grapple with the unanswerable questions of life.  We too must seek to understand suffering and the seeming triumph of wickedness in the face of God's justice.  Yet with Habakkuk we can place our hope in God's promise and await an appointed time (cf. 2:3, 3:16) when the Lord will finally and fully establish his justice in our midst.  Until then, we can rejoice in the knowledge that God is our Savior (3:18).


By Mark Giszczak

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