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What's Habakkuk got to do with it?

If Habakkuk were in our world today, would his message to the Church not be identical? How does his book mirror our world today? What can we Christians learn from his message?

 

Habakkuk was a prophet during Israel’s dark period of the Divided Kingdom. He most likely wrote his book during the reign of Jehoiakim, while Judah was steeped in idolatry and wickedness.

In Chapter 1, Habakkuk is deeply distressed at Judah’s arrogant rebellion against God. He grieves over the fact that God’s chosen people have forsaken and ignored their commitment to follow Him and are reveling in open sinfulness and shameless idolatry. (Notice the issue wasn’t the sins of the ungodly, but the wickedness of God’s people.) He sees Judah indulging in violence and destruction, and He cries out to God in anger.

“How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is ignored, and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous, so that justice is perverted.” (Hab. 1:2-4) Sound familiar?

In essence, Habakkuk challenges God with “Why are you letting this evil go on? Why aren’t you doing something about it? Why do you sit on your hands while the righteous are being oppressed?

The Lord Answers Habakkuk, “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people…guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” (Hab. 1:5)

In essence, God was saying, “I am doing something about it, something so great that you wouldn’t believe it if I told you. I’m not sitting on my hands; I’m not passively apathetic to your plight. I am actively working to accomplish My will. Just because you don’t see what I’m doing doesn’t mean I’m asleep.”

God goes on to explain how He is raising up the ruthless Babylonians, and will use them to discipline the wicked Israelites. But the Babylonians are far more wicked than the Israelites, and the evil they will pour out will surely give the Israelites a terrible spanking.

So Habakkuk gets a little freaked out, and questions God’s methods: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his drag-net; and so he rejoices and is glad.” (Sound familiar? Could this be written today?) “Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his drag-net (his net is his god), for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food” (The wicked indulge in luxury at the expense of the powerless). “Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?”

(Hab. 1:13-17)

God continues to explain that His discipline is coming—“just wait for it” He says, “But the righteous will live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:3-4) The word faith in that verse actually means faithfulness. “The righteous will live by his faithfulness.”

Next, God pronounces woes upon the wicked. Chapter 2 of Habakkuk reads eerily similar to any accurate description of our world today, as more and more wickedness of those in power is exposed.

“Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’ (Hab. 2:6b) “Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. (Hab.2:9-10) For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.” (Hab.2:17b)The cup in the LORD’s right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will cover your glory.” (Hab.2:16b)

In reading Habakkuk’s story, we can take comfort in these things:

1. There is nothing new under the sun. What is happening in our world today was also happening thousands of years ago. God saw it then, and He sees it now. He dealt with it then, and He will deal with it now, in His time and His way.

2. We may have to watch our country get spanked pretty hard, but the wicked will be brought to justice; just wait for it.

3. Remember that “the wicked” in this context were God’s people. We must examine ourselves, repent, and get our hearts aligned to God’s will before it’s too late.  

4. The righteous will live “by his faithfulness”—according to his faithfulness. The more committed and surrendered we are to the Lord, the more He remains in control of our provision and protection.

In Chapter 3, after listening to God’s reply to his groanings, Habakkuk has this response: “Lord, I have heard the report about you, and I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.” (Hab. 3:2) This is similar to Job’s response after his dialogue with God: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth.” (Job 40:4) “Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.” (Job 42:3) My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

So often, when we focus our attention on the circumstances around us and the evil going on, our response is often anger and questioning of God’s ways…And isn’t that exactly what Satan is going for? When will we realize that the shifting of our gaze to our sinful world is the very distraction that Satan intends?

But so often when we ask God “why,” His answer is not “because,…” (He doesn’t owe us an explanation) but instead it is, “Look at Me. Focus on Me. Get your eyes off the world around you and fix them on Me. I am big enough to handle this, and I am at work. Trust Me.”

Conclusion: My Job? Focus on God. Seek His Word. Examine myself. Repent and align my will to His. Trust Him. God’s job? To bring about justice—to right all wrongs (God’s job, not mine). To be who He says He is and do what He says He will do. 


Lord, help us not confuse our role with yours.



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