Habakkuk was the eighth of the twelve minor prophets. A contemporary with Jeremiah and Zephaniah, he was probably a member of the Levitical choir.
As with most of the other minor prophets, little is known about Habakkuk. We do know that he prophesied between 612 B.C. and 606 B.C. because he spoke of the Babylonians being God’s instrument to punish his people. Babylon did not become a world power until she conquered Ninevah in 612 B.C. Babylon invaded Judah in 606 B.C. and took many of its citizens into captivity. This was the fulfillment of Habakkuk’s prophecy. Since Habakkuk predicted the Babylonian invasion of Judah, the book likely was written after 612 B.C. when Babylon became a world power. But it likely was written before 606 B.C. when the threat began to be carried out.
The prophet looked at the people of Judah. He saw how far astray from God they had gone. He did not understand why God did not punish His people for their sins. He questioned God. God replied that he was going to punish His people. They would be punished by the Chaldeans who would conquer them. Habakkuk was confused. The people of Judah were wicked. But they were not nearly as bad as the Chaldeans. How could God use a wicked nation to punish another nation which was not as wicked?
The message of Habakkuk is very simple. God is going to use Babylon to punish His people for their sins. Then He is going to use another nation to punish Babylon. Babylon was punished in 538 B.C. when it was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians.
Text partly sourced from Truth for the World Correspondence Studies. Joshua, Jeremiah, Jonah, Isaiah, Habakkuk (North Wall, right side of Moses) by John Singer Sargent -- American painter, image courtesy The Trustees of the Boston Public Library
. Image cropped. Habakkuk and the Angel, 1655, Terracotta, height 52 cm, Museo Sacro, Musei Vaticani, Vatican