How often does it seem that God doesn’t care about what goes on in the world? Injustice seems to prevail, and laws are passed that limit our freedom. So much evil goes on yet nothing seems to happen about it. And then there is a global pandemic …
Habakkuk would have fit in with this generation – it would seem that he would fit in with almost any period of time. Listen to him as he began to talk to God about what was going on in his day.
“How long, Lord, must I cry for help? But you do not listen! I call out to you, ‘Violence!’ But you do not deliver! Why do you force me to witness injustice? Why do you put up with wrongdoing? Destruction and violence confront me; conflict is present and one must endure strife. For this reason the law lacks power, and justice is never carried out. Indeed, the wicked intimidate the innocent. For this reason justice is perverted.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4 NET)
Aren’t these themes we hear people saying today? Where is God? Why isn’t he listening to us? Why doesn’t God do something? Why does the law have no power? Why is justice never carried out? Modern themes found in an ancient writing about what was going on in Jerusalem as the city was about to be overthrown by the Babylonians.
Notice God’s answer (Habakkuk 1:5-11). Habakkuk needed to pay attention and just watch what God was going to do – “You will be shocked and amazed!” What was he going to do? He was going to empower the Babylonians, a ruthless and greedy nation, to come and deal with the problem of sin amongst not only Judah but “across the surface of the earth”.
God was going to act but Habakkuk still wasn’t happy about it (Habakkuk 1:12-2:1). ‘Hang on a second!’ he was, in essence, saying to God. Yes, Judah was bad and there was a lot of evil going on, but why use the Babylonians? They were more wicked than those in Judah. The wickedness of the Babylonians made God’s people look even more righteous! How could God do this?
God responded to Habakkuk’s complaint (Habakkuk 2:2-20). God would deal with the Babylonians, too. It might not seem he was doing anything but they needed to be patient – “Even if the message is not fulfilled right away, wait patiently; for it will certainly come to pass—it will not arrive late.” God always does what is needed at the right time. Babylon, too, would be defeated.
“Because you robbed many countries, all who are left among the nations will rob you … Because you destroyed many nations, you will self-destruct … Be sure of this! The Lord of Heaven’s Armies has decreed: The nations’ efforts will go up in smoke; their exhausting work will be for nothing … For you will pay in full for your violent acts against Lebanon; terrifying judgment will come upon you because of the way you destroyed the wild animals living there. You have shed human blood and committed violent acts against lands, cities, and those who live in them.”
God was still in control! “But the Lord is in his majestic palace. The whole earth is speechless in his presence!” (Habakkuk 2:20).
Yes, at times it seems that sin is winning, that evil is taking over. But God is aware of the injustice today the same as he was in the days of Habakkuk. God will right all wrongs. But it is not up to us to dictate God’s timetable. He will take care of sin at the right time. We can be confident in God.
Trust in God. Obey God. Tell others about him. Then we can say with Habakkuk: “I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me! The Sovereign Lord is my source of strength” (Habakkuk 3:18).
Model of Jerusalem under siege by Babylon. Photo taken in the Citadel, Jerusalem, by Jon Galloway.
Readings for next week: Zephaniah 2-3; Nahum 1-3; 2 Kings 24-25; Habakkuk 1-3; Jeremiah 1