Note for leaders: Please look into the questions in advance, there are some tough ones. You might want to choose the questions which you feel would most help your group to discuss, if you don't feel comfortable with any of the questions you can just skip them.
Habakkuk: Week 1 - Why won't God do something?
Sermon Date: July 2nd, 2017
Reading: Habakkuk 1:1-11
We are starting a three week journey into studying Habakkuk, one of the minor prophets of the Old Testament. It is a book that asks some difficult questions and should help us deepen our understanding of God and have a sincere relationship with him. It is good to look at the book as a whole, studying Habakkuk 1 only makes sense if we then look at Habakkuk 3.
In approximately 930 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel (after David and Solomon's reign) divided into two, Israel (the North) and Judah (the South). In 732 B.C. the Kingdom of Israel (North) was conquered and the people exiled to Assyria. After a few attacks, finally in 587 B.C. the city of Jerusalem fell in hands of the Babylonians, many fled to the neighbour countries and many were taken captive to Babylonia (Daniel 1:1-2). Habakkuk was from Jerusalem, the Kingdom of Judah, he wrote before these events about the defeat that they would have in the hands of the Babylonians. It was written most likely between 650 and 600 B.C. This was when the Babylonian empire was growing once again, as usual before being captive the King of Judah wasn't very good and there were many unfair things happening. 70 years after being exiled, they were allowed to go back to Jerusalem led by Ezra and rebuild the Temple.
Give everyone in your group 3 minutes to silently read the whole book of Habakkuk (don't worry it only has 3 chapters!)
What do you think is the main message of the book? What was God trying to tell his people?
(Hint: hard times are coming, so God wants them to know that He is in control. He will sustain those who trust in Him and will someday deliver them from the Babylonians)
What are the things that you feel are unjust in the world?
In what ways to you think God should intervene more?
Read Habakkuk 1:1
What do you think is meant by a prophecy that is received?
Read Habakkuk 1:2-4
Habakkuk has been praying to God about the injustices he sees in his land and is frustrated because God doesn't seem to be answering that prayer.
If you were a modern day Habakkuk, what would you be complaining to God about?
What do these verses say about how God is in Habakkuk's eyes?
(Hint: Just, in control, accessible, he can be sincere with God, God can intervene and he won't be rejected by God if he complains)
How do we react when we see injustice? What do we do?
Read Habakkuk 1:5-11
After v.5 "For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told". What did you expect God to answer? Did you expect something different to what we see in v. 6-11?
Why do you think God allowed armies to raise against His people?
(Hint: many times in exile God's people were able to rediscover their faith and identity, which they had lost in their own land)
Why do you think God allows bad and unjust things to happen in the world? How do you react when you see them?
How do you react when the person affected is someone close to you?
How do you react when it seems like if God isn't answering your prayers?
We can learn many things from this passage, firstly that we are allowed to ask God difficult questions. We are allowed to be sincere, angry and to complain. He won't reject us but lovingly accompany us in our troubles. Despite many bad things happening, God is still in control of the world's history and He has the final word.
Remember that Habakkuk is a book that we need to take as a whole, we have only seen the first 30 minutes of this movie, I can assure you that the end is great, so don't be discouraged! As Habakkuk, Job, the Psalmists and so many others, let's spend some time in prayer, asking God to respond to the injustices we see in our lives, community and world.
Nico Hilding-Ohlsson, 29/06/2017