And the Oracle Tells Me…
Habakkuk 1:1 – The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
Pick a topic, any topic. Israel and Gaza? Kids and murderers crossing the borders into America together? How about even more hot topic issues like gay marriage and abortion?
Yep, any topic.
You will most likely have people on both sides of a political, moral, religious, human fence screaming foul.
Only once in my life did I make a stance on politics that put the political story first and I realized that I had made a mistake. Since then, I have done everything I can to try and keep God first.
But a funny thing happens when we take a step back and look at the world. We begin to realize that it really sucks out there. I mean this truly. There is so much evil going on in the world today that it is enough to make Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and John Wayne cry so much that they would need testosterone injections.
Habakkuk realized, in 620 B.C., that his world was not much different from our world today.
In his time he was sad from seeing all of the sin, violence, and corruption outnumbering the righteous. Sound familiar? Sound like something we are living?
Habakkuk feels that God is not there.
Habakkuk 1:2 – How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save?
He starts his cry by saying, “How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen….” A few verses later he even claims that the law is being “ignored. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.”
While we don’t truly know how long it is before God replies to Habakkuk in each of his complaints, the first one seems to come pretty quickly. And God seems to give an answer that even shocks Habakkuk, as it would shock any of us today.
God says that He is allowing the evil army of the Babylonians to gain strength to destroy Judah. God knows what He is saying even tells Habakkuk that he will be “utterly astounded.” He tells Habakkuk that he won’t believe what is about to happen. By verse 11, God does say that they will be held guilty for their actions, but God is going to use the Babylonians anyway.
Habakkuk 1:11 – They are guilty; their strength is their god.
How many Christians have been praying for change to happen? How many times have we cried out to God to allow us to be the change that brings about revival in our land? How many times have we thought it was US that were the agents of that change?
What would happen if God was going to use something else? Many are calling for an economic catastrophe late next year. Or what would happen if, God forbid, a foreign army took over America? Terrorists have been trying to get a foothold here. What happens if we lose our security and it happens?
You know, God does not always give us the answers we want. We spend so much time trying to get God to give us the blessing or the answer WE want instead of the blessing or answer that HE needs to give. And we spend a lot of our time questioning the answer that God does give us because it isn’t the one we want.
How do you respond to God when that happens?
Well, here is what Habakkuk did….
First, when God says He will destroy Judah, Habakkuk reminds God of His covenantal promise for Israel to live on and he says, “My Holy One, we will not die.”
Habakkuk 1:5 – Look at the nations and observe—be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.
God told Habakkuk that he wouldn’t believe what he was about to hear, and now that is showing to be true. Habakkuk can’t understand why God would use a nation that is so evil to punish Judah. He even tells God that Judah is more righteous than Babylon.
It is very easy to think that our own country, moral standard, denomination, fill in the blank, is more righteous than others, but is it?
Look for a moment at the book of Amos. The message in Amos is that even though Israel thought they were better because of their righteousness, they weren’t. God had given the Law to the Israelites and they rejected it. They knew better than to reject that which God had given them, so that made their sins far worse than those who did not have the Law.
Amos 2:4 – I will not relent from punishing Judah for three crimes, even four, because they have rejected the instruction of the Lord
So let’s give some real world application to this.
Not even looking at countries or political powers, let’s look at individuals for a moment. We each go through times in our lives that bring tragedy and pain. It is simply this life that we live. Rather than giving people a pat on the back and quoting either Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28-29, we should help that person work through the pain. We may have to cry with them. We may have to hurt with them. We may even have to question with them.
That isn’t a place to stay. No one should stay in indifference indefinitely, but it is part of the process.
Too often we believe that questioning is wrong.
People have feelings and questions. We need to express them. Habakkuk did.
Habakkuk 1:13 – Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous?
I do need to say something here though. Expressing questions should be done in a proper manner. All over social media is not the proper choice. Being outright antagonistic and nihilistic toward God is not the right choice. When we have questions, we should bring them up to our elders or pastors or accountability partners. They are the ones who can grieve with us. They are the ones who will help us to understand God’s will in tragedy.
We need to balance between the extremes of self-pity and hopelessness and the other extreme of staying angry at God. Howard Hendricks once said, “Humans only occasionally achieve balance as they are swinging from one extreme to the other.”
So now Habakkuk raised his second set of questions to God.
Habakkuk 1:17 – Will they therefore empty their net and continually slaughter nations without mercy?
Now he waits patiently for God to answer. And so will we. That is Habakkuk 2 and next week’s post.