Habakkuk is unique with regard to both the man and his message. Outside of this short book, nothing is known about Habakkuk, his family, or his background. He does not appear elsewhere in Scripture, and no personal information is given in the introduction to this book. Habakkuk’s message is unique in that, unlike the other prophets who relayed messages from God to the people, Habakkuk is actually a conversation between Habakkuk and God, only part of which did Habakkuk expect to be passed along, and that could possibly have been by someone other than Habakkuk himself. The main theme is trusting God when he acts contrary to our methods, preferences, and understanding. Each chapter has one key word that pushes the theme forward.
Chapter one reveals Habakkuk’s burden (or “oracle”). Israel was in blatant disobedience to God’s law, and he wanted to know from God why God did nothing about it (vs. 2-4). In verses 5-11, God responded that he was about to do something, but Habakkuk would not understand. Good would use the Babylonians to invade Israel, destroy and devour, taking Israel into captivity. This is certainly not what Habakkuk expected, as his response in verses 12-17 shows. Knowing God’s holiness, Habakkuk could not understand how he could use someone so wicked to punish his own people, no matter how much they had rebelled.
For some reason, when the chapter and verse divisions were introduced, Habakkuk’s response of faith was put into chapter two, verse one. However, it should be included in this chapter. Regardless of the fact that he could not understand God’s reason for using Babylon against Israel, Habakkuk chose to remain quiet and await God’s response. Unlike Job, Habakkuk would not have to repent for speaking out of turn (Job 42:1-6). Habakkuk knew that it is acceptable to question God without accusing him.