Introduction to the Burden in the Book of Habakkuk

Do you feel like you are living in a time surrounded by people who aren’t serving the Lord? You are not alone thinking that. As we begin a new study on one of the minor prophets, it would be helpful to understand what life was like during the years 650 to 586 BC. This study will reveal the burden of Habakkuk.

This 5-part study series is a collaborative effort between Rachel Schmoyer of Read the Hard Parts and Go – Gather – Grow. We are excited about studying Habakkuk together and sharing with you the truths we are learning.

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Even in this short book, there is something in it for us to learn. Are you ready?

Come, sit with me as we turn back the pages of time to discover the sights and sounds that surrounded Habakkuk. We’ll have fun as we discover what the Jews were facing at the time of Habakkuk’s history. This will help us as we learn why Habakkuk was so heavily burdened. 


Introduction to the Book of Habakkuk | Burden of Habakkuk | Vision of Habakkuk | Habakkuk and God


We don’t know very much about Habakkuk other than what we learn in his book. We can, however, piece together from other prophets, kings and general history, what was happening in this era. By asking the questions who, what, where, when, why, and how, we will discover why Habakkuk was so burdened.

{Related Post: How to Study the Bible Inductively}


The Kingdom is Divided

Let’s peek at history.

Israel was a united kingdom under both King David and King Solomon’s reign. However, at the end of King Solomon’s reign, the kingdom was split as Northern Kingdom (Israel) and Southern Kingdom (Judah). This happened in 931 BC which means that now Christ’s ancestors would come from the line of Judah.

Judah continued to be in power, though many of the kings were ungodly and the others were not consistent in their faith. The prophet, Isaiah, worked hard to steer Judah back to God but the influence of Syria, Egypt and Babylon continued to threaten the Jewish kingdoms.

Nahum, Jeremiah, Zephaniah, Ezekiel, and Daniel continued to warn the kings and the people that their misconduct and disloyalty to God would be repaid with destruction. Some kings listened, others did not.

After the split of the united kingdom, Israel had 20 kings before it finally fell to the Assyrians in the year 722 BC, under King Hoshea’s reign. Israel ceased to exist at this point. Judah is now all alone to face her enemies.


Habakkuk’s King

Based on the wording of Chapter 1, scholars figure that Habakkuk lived during the reign of the youngest king, Josiah, who came to power at the age of 8. He reigned for 31 years (640-609 BC) in Jerusalem.

Here’s what we know about him.

His father, Amon, was not a good man. In fact, he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Amon lived out the cliche of “like father, like son” as he followed in his father’s footsteps.

Manasseh, (Amon’s father) in his early years as king, did evil in the sight of the LORD but later on, he had a change of heart and began to follow the LORD. So, what did Amon do? He was like his father’s early years, not the later years.

But Josiah was nothing like his father Amon, as Scripture tells us he was a righteous king who ‘walked in the ways of his father David,’ 2 Chronicles 34:2. That is how he is remembered throughout time.

In fact, it is said that there was “no king like him before or after.” What a testimony to righteousness!

King Josiah, as a teenager, made a declaration of faith as he began to seek the ‘God of his father David.’ He was 16 years old when he stood up for righteousness. Can you imagine how hard it would have been for Josiah to do that? Is it any harder for teens today to stand up for what is right?

The Beginning of Revival

So what did Josiah do? He did the right thing as he purged Judah and Jerusalem of the idolatrous images and places of worship to false gods. (2 Chronicles 34:1-7) This purging even filtered over to parts of Israel as well.


Burden of Habakkuk | Intro to Book of Habakkuk | Habakkuk's Burden | King Josiah brought Revival


Let’s read that in 2 Chronicles 34:9 when he extended an invitation to Israel to join him in returning to the LORD in serving God.


The Book of the Law is Found

Just two years later, when Josiah was 18, he began to repair the house of the LORD. He ordered the taxes to be used to rebuild the temple. It was while the cleanup crew was going through the rubble, that they came upon the Book of the Law and brought it to Josiah, 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:15.

It’s time to peek in on this scene.

Shaphan, the scribe, read the book to the King and upon hearing the words of the law, King Josiah repented and wept. He tore his clothes and grieved as he realized how disobedient the nation had been. Can you see how brokenhearted he was? How repentant he was? And he was only 18!

The words of the law, the blessings, and the curses, concerned him very much. Were he and his nation going to be judged because of their disobedience?

A Meeting with the Prophetess

To find that answer, he sent Shaphan’s son Ahikam who was an officer of the court to go see Huldah, the prophetess. If anyone would know, she would. She responded by emphasizing the importance of the book. She said the curses written in the book would come to pass because of the broken covenant.

As for Josiah, this is what was said “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and because you humbled yourself before Me, tore your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you, declares the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 34:14-28)

King Josiah and the nation of Judah made a covenant before God, to serve Him and Him only. (2 Chronicles 34:29-33). There was a revival in the land but will these reforms be enough to ward off disaster? Should Habakkuk still have a burden now that there was revival in the land?


King of Babylon

While King Josiah reigned in righteousness, King Nabopolassar (626-605) reigned in Babylon and was the opposite of Josiah.

Nabopolassar reigned for the last 19 years of Josiah’s reign. For sure, King Josiah knew of this Babylonian king as he would have heard of his exploits in the nation surrounding him and would soon face him in battle. Was this the burden of Habakkuk?

He was also father to Nebuchadnezzar, the crown prince, who succeeded him in 605 BC when it is thought that Nabopolassar died of natural causes at the age of 53.


Kings of Assyria

Continuing to lay the background scene, keep in mind that the nation of Israel had been captured by the Assyrians in 722 BC and lived under the rule of these kings.

While Nabopolassar ruled over Babylon, the following kings reigned over Assyria:

  • Ashurbanipal (669-633)
  • Ashuretililani (633-629)
  • Sinsharishkun (629-612)
  • Ashuruballit (612-609)

Do we care about these men? Only to show the lineage in the who’s who lineup.

Habakkuk's timeline | Introduction to the Book of Habakkuk | Habakkuk's Burden | Vision of Habakkuk
Dates referenced are for the time period of the reign of the kings and prophets.


In 612 BC, Nineveh (located in Assyria) was attacked by combined forces of the Babylonians and the Medes. It is thought that King Ashuruballit died in the fall of Nineveh.

King Nabopolassar and the Assyrian kings worshipped and served idols. They were surrounded everywhere by temples to false gods. These nations were heavy into the cults and encouraged everyone in their false worship. They influenced the nations surrounding them and definitely had an influence on Judah.

In 609 BC, the Egyptian Pharaoh, Necho II, helped the Assyrians fight against the Babylonians. When he attempted to enter the hill country from the Jezreel Valley, surprise! he came up against King Josiah and his Judean army as they had sided with the Babylonians.

A fierce battle was fought at Carchemish (Megiddo) and King Josiah was injured and died from his battle wounds at the hands of Pharaoh Necho. Can you almost picture that scene now? (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:20)

Pharaoh Necho installed puppet kings on Judah’s throne but neither Necho nor the Judean kings were any match for the Babylonians. Judah was now at the mercy of the Chaldeans and was carried away in captivity in 586 BC. Was this the burden of Habakkuk?


The Burden of Habakkuk

Are you still with me?

We have peeked in on the religious and political climate surrounding Habakkuk. We know that King Josiah was a righteous man who led his people in revival between them and God.


Introduction to the Book of Habakkuk | Burden of Habakkuk | Habakkuk's Vision


Now, what do we know about Habakkuk? While much of this information will be revealed in the next study, we do want to know about the burden he carried.

No one is certain but many scholars think that Habakkuk actually ministered as a prophet during the reign of King Jehoiakim, perhaps around the year 607 BC.

As you can see from this historical account, at the end of Josiah’s reign, the covenant between the people and the LORD has broken once again.

Habakkuk lived during a revival and now he is seeing chaos as the succeeding kings did not follow the ways of the LORD.

He had a burden for the people. The spiritual revival was over. Sin ran rampant. His burden? We’ll learn about it in the next study with Rachel Schmoyer.

It is presumed that he wrote his book during the 25 year period when Babylon conquered both Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire (612 BC) and the time of the fall of Judah when Babylon captured Jerusalem in 586 BC.


That’s a Wrap

Thanks for sitting with me on the couch to take a closer look at what caused the burden of  Habakkuk.

Next study is Habakkuk, Chapter 1 as Rachel Schmoyer of Read the Hard Parts takes us through the first conversation between Habakkuk and God.

I found this interesting. Are you a history buff? Did you enjoy the peek behind the scenes to help you understand Habakkuk?

Tell me, what part did you find the most interesting? Leave me a comment, Rachel and I would love to hear from you.









Related Posts:

How to Study the Bible Inductively


New 5-part study on Habakkuk: How Perplexity Turned to Praise. Come, sit with me as we go back in time to see the sights and sounds of Habakkuk's day. #Habakkuk #BibleStudy #biblestudies #womensbiblestudy

About Cindy

Lovin' the Word of God - reading it - studying it - sharing it - living it!

26 thoughts on “Introduction to the Burden in the Book of Habakkuk

  1. Wow! This is rich with history and background story, which is so critical when trying to fully understand the old testimony. I don’t always have time to do this research so I am glad you did! Thank you ?

    1. Hi, Crystal! Thanks for stopping by today. Yes, this research took many hours and I loved every minute of it! I’m glad it is helpful for you in understanding the sights and sounds of Habakkuk’s era.

    1. Hey, Hallie! Thanks for stopping by today. I’m glad you like this introduction piece. Stop by next week when Rachel takes us through Habakkuk’s burden. See you then!

    1. Hi, Kelly, thanks for checking out the background of Habakkuk’s day. Ya, Josiah was quite the king, too bad his sons didn’t follow in his footsteps!

  2. What a thorough review of history! Thank for setting the scene so well! I look forward to the rest of the study! I LOVE the Old Testament. I mean, I love the whole Bible, but the Old Testament just has such a special place in my heart! Really excited to read how you both unwrap this treasure for us!

    1. Thank you, Esther, for stopping by today! The more I read the Old Testament and piece together the historical background, the more interesting it all becomes.
      Rachel and I are excited at what God is giving us to share with our readers. Stay tuned!

  3. Okay, although I like history, I’m not good with numbers. I’m confused with the numbers on your graphic. What do the numbers mean? When their reigns/ministries began & ended? Or their lives? Because I don’t understand how Habbukuk can be a contemporary of Daniel & Ezekiel if his ministry ended before they came on the scene, unless these are just dates of their books? I’m just confused. 🙂

    1. Hi Lila, thanks for your question. Sorry for the confusion. I should have mentioned that in the legend. The numbers refer to the years of their reign (kings) or ministry (prophets). As Habakkuk is leaving the scene, a few years later, Daniel and Ezekiel are arriving in their respective years. As I researched this, there are different time periods by different scholars/sources and to be consistent, I kept with one timeline reference. In one source by Rose Publishing, they have Habakkuk circa 608-598 and Daniel circa 620-540 and Ezekiel circa 620-570. That puts Daniel and Ezekiel ahead of Habakkuk. I would say that it is hard to determine the exact dates??
      Not sure if I helped clear things up, and again, sorry for the confusion about the meaning of the dates.
      Blessings, Cindy

    1. Hi, Rebecca. Thank you. Glad you could sit on the virtual couch with us as we examine the era of days gone by. Stay tuned for next week when Rachel shares about Habakkuk’s burden.

  4. First time reading Habakkuk (Thanks Rachel for asking?) in the Bible. I so can relate to all his questions to God about the injustice and evil. And what a Comforting Reminder to me in the Lord’s Reply. Wow, lots of history… you visual put me back to that time! Amazing what Christ Followers endured then and what we all endure in these times and how Father knows and will never leave us, forsake us and gives us Hope! Thank You~ Lisa

    1. Hi Lisa! I’m so glad Rachel invited you here for our joint study series. I’m glad you enjoyed the travel as we turned the pages of history to see what life was like for Habakkuk. Come back next week when Rachel shares her study on Chapter 1!

    1. Thank you, Beth! I loved the research and yes, I hope it is a well-read study as well! Come back next week when Rachel shares about Habakkuk’s burden.

    1. Thank you Meghan! I appreciate your kind words! I loved researching this and writing it out for us as we sit on the couch to talk about it!

    1. Thank you, Michele. I designed that timeline myself. I need to take a closer look at Huldah and also King Josiah’s wife some time. Thanks for stopping by!

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