Here is how you can understand Habakkuk better.
You might not be familiar with Habakkuk. He most likely lived during the time of Jeremiah when the wicked Babylonians invaded Judah. It’s an interesting book because it’s a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. He’s got a beef with the Lord that he needs settled. By the end of the book Habakkuk gets it.
So what is Habakkuk’s beef?
Let me contemporize it. And as I do feel free to start writing your hate letters to me. And when you start penning them—full of fire, and pain, and emotion—you’ll have come to understand Habakkuk.
What if I told you God is using ISIS as an instrument of judgment against the wickedness and apostasy of the Western world?
You’d probably respond by saying that God could never do such a thing because he is “of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong”. You’d begin to question his goodness and wonder, “why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”
ISIS is the enemy. They are wicked and terrible people. You’ve seen the pictures of them lining up bodies and “mercilessly killing nations”. As their destruction grows and terror strikes in more and more places you find yourself questioning God’s goodness.
“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” –Habakkuk 1:2-4
Now I’m not even certain we’ve got the theological chutzpah these days to ask questions like Habakkuk did. We’ve already dismissed this thought and put ISIS and ourselves into neat little categories. But even so we continue to wonder where God is when ISIS strikes terror in the hearts of men. How can a sovereign and good God allow such a thing to happen.
And it is in this question that we might finally come to feel and understand the strength of Habakkuk’s complaint before the Lord. How can a good God use wicked people as his instrument to bring righteousness?
By the way, Habakkuk never gets a neat and tidy answer to his question. All he really tells Habakkuk is that the Babylonians will get theirs. There is not one sin that they commit in doing violence to Judah that will go unpunished. “Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them”.
God also tells Habakkuk to trust Him. “The soul who is puffed up” is going to get his comeuppance, “but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This is a trusting in God and in His goodness even when darkness is all around us. It is modeled for us in the closing words of Habakkuk:
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
You want to really feel that? Try this:
Though our borders are not secure, nor our schools safe, and though our economy collapses and our people go hungry, and though our brothers and sisters are dying by the sword, and terror spreads throughout our land, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength; he gives me sure footed confidence and even an unspeakable joy in the midst of these extreme circumstances.
That’s what Habakkuk is about.
Disclaimer: Pat Robertson I’m not. I am not claiming to be some sort of prophet and say that God told me he is using ISIS as an instrument of judgment. It is quite possible that this does not apply at all. My point here is to use a contemporary example to help us understand the Scriptures better. Either way I’m convinced we’ve got much to learn from Habakkuk.
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