Habakkuk can be seen as a conversation with God.
Habakkuk; Question: “How can God allow Judah to go unpunished (1:1-4)?”
Habakkuk 1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
A burden, meaning a heavy word or divine revelation that is shocking, staggering and hard to handle, which one must wrestle with to grasp and comprehend.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
Habakkuk waxed poetic like King David when venting his inquiry of protest, yet laments like Jeremiah Ha Navi (The Prophet) can be heard as well in this verse. He basically says, “Lord!? Can’t you see all the senseless violence going on in Judah? Can’t you hear the painful cries of the innocent? How can You not act upon these things!?”
3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
“Why do I have to witness such Torahlessness, such wickedness, such injustice on a daily basis!?”
4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
“You want to know why such wickedness increases? Because Torah isn’t upheld and the wicked just get more brazen, not believing they will be punished.”
The Full Life Study Bible says, “Habakkuk had been praying to God to stop the wrong he saw among the covenant people. Yet God seemed to be doing nothing but tolerating violence, injustice, and the destruction of the righteous. His question dealt with the age-old theme: “Why does God wait so long to punish evil?” And “Why are our prayers generally not answered quickly?” Note, however, that these complaints came out of a heart in a righteous God.”
GOD: Answer: “I will use Babylon to Punish Judah (1:5-11).”
5 Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelously: for I will work a work in your days which ye will not believe, though it be told you.
Consequently this verse was used by Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) when he spoke in the Antiochian synagogue.
Acts 13:40-41 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.
Rav Sha’ul was preaching about Messiah revealed in the Tanak and the Gentile converts desperately wanted to hear more the following Sabbath (v.42) So ultimately the subject was on Salvation, seems way out of context seeing as Habakkuk was speaking of Judgment upon Judah.
Well, in Jewish eyes Salvation and punishment are not head butting opposites. Punishment according to Deut. 27-28 are blessings in disguise and are designed to cause one to repent and turn back to, hence, Salvation. Just as we sometimes spank our children in hopes they will not tread on the wrong path again, so too God uses chastisement for the same reason.
Hebrews 12:5-11 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected [us], and we gave [them] reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live For they verily for a few days chastened [us] after their own pleasure; but he for [our] profit, that [we] might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
So Rav Sha’ul (Apostle Paul) was saying, “You won’t believe how Salvation has come to Israel, by the punishment of One Sinless Man!” God was saying to Habakkuk, “You won’t believe how I will save Judah, through wicked Babylon, yes I know it’s hard to believe!”
1 Cor. 1:27-29 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, [yea], and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
The Key Word Study Bible has this today about the verse, “This was a prophecy regarding Israel’s rejection of God as was seen in their idol worship. The “work” that God would perform among them as their captivity in Babylon. God placed them in exile to purify them from idolatry. Some say that the phrase “work a work in your days, which you will not believe,” refers to the ministry of Christ while He was on earth. He performed many signs and miracles. Among the Jews, but they refuse to accept Him as their Messiah. Paul may have applied these words to the miracles and signs of the Lord Jesus and His disciples, as well as to the works that were done in Antioch and the growth of the church that came about thereafter.”