Habakkuk speaks to one of the most fundamental questions of faith: How can God let suffering and evil continue so long?
Habakkuk’s First Complaint
The first 2 verses set the stage for the book. The prophet complains to God about the injustice and evil of Jehoiakim’s rule.
Under the last king Josiah the nation experienced something of “Reinassance” of sorts. Now Jehoakim is turning the nation back to chaos, corruption and idolatry. Habakkuk asks, why do you make me see this? Why are you putting us through this kind of iniquity and wickedness? How is this a good thing?
1:1The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw. 2How long, O LORD, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. 3Why do You make me see iniquity, And cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; Strife exists and contention arises. 4Therefore the law is ignored And justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted. – Habakkuk 1:1-4
The Lord’s Answer
The Lord’s answer contains good news and bad news. The good news is God assures Habakkuk that He is acting, in control and is about to do something in vs 5. Then in vs 6 he drops the bad news: The Chaldeans are coming to execute judgment against the evil king. Habakkuk is stunned. The cure seems worse than the disease!
1:5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days– You would not believe if you were told. 6″For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. 7They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. 8Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. 9They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. 10At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. 11Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!” – Habakkuk 1:5-11
Habakkuk Second Complaint
Habakkuk responds with questions that show his confusion. He doesn’t understand why God would use THESE people to bring judgment on HIS people. Essentially he’s asking: why let evil and tragedy overtake your people?
1:12Are you not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment, and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof. 13You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? 14You make mankind like the fish of the sea, like crawling things that have no ruler. 15He brings all of them up with a hook; he drags them out with his net; he gathers them in his dragnet; so he rejoices and is glad. 16Therefore he sacrifices to his net and makes offerings to his dragnet; for by them he lives in luxury, and his food is rich. 17Is he then to keep on emptying his net and mercilessly killing nations forever? – Habakkuk 1:12-17
In this face of what could only be a gut-wrenching answer, Habakkuk responds, I’ll stand on the rampart and watch and wait for you.
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. – Habakkuk 2:1
- How can a loving God let His people suffer? and
- Why should we keep believing him if we’re not saved from the tragedies of life?
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