The prophet Habakkuk questioned the Almighty. He had requested “help” from God regarding the “iniquity” that was all around him among the Lord’s own people. Jehovah was allowing “violence” and “strife” to continue in direct violation of divine statutes without any apparent consequences.
God’s reply was quite distressing: “I am raising up the Chaldeans” as agents of discipline against the Lord’s own covenant community. Brutal soldiers on “horses swifter than leopards” would one day “gather captives like sand.” These foes were not chosen by God because of their goodness. The Babylonian warriors themselves were “guilty men, whose own might” was their “god.”
Habakkuk was alarmed by this frightening pronouncement which provoked within him a second question. Would the unchanging Yahweh, who had made precious promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, use a nation less righteous than the Jews to bring complete destruction upon the chosen ones of the Lord? Would God “idly look at traitors and remain silent” while ungodly pagans swallowed up God’s worshipers? Would the Lord do nothing as these foreign armies were “mercilessly killing” not only the elect, but also many other nations?
The response to this second query would come in Habakkuk 2:4, and it would inform not only the Old Testament saints, but also the entire New Testament church, since it would be quoted in Romans, Galatians, and Hebrews. More on that in our next devotion, but until then, what can we conclude from Habakkuk 1? Our God permits us to ask Him about very troubling issues, though we may be surprised by the way that He responds to us in His Word.
The ultimate answer for our beleaguered hearts can only be found in Jesus, the Son of God. Through His cross and resurrection we have become convinced that the Lord did not ignore our evil, but has atoned for our sins with His own blood. The wicked will not be able to abuse the Lord’s children forever. The Messiah who died for us will rescue us from His and our enemies.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Lord God, You love justice. We are amazed at Your patience, for there is still evil all around us. We see perversions of every kind, yet we trust that Your ways are perfect. You have a plan involving even powerful and wicked nations. You work out Your holy goodness using people groups who are swift to kill their adversaries. Even rebellious angels fit into Your glorious decrees somehow. You are the everlasting God. You have ordained judgments upon the earth. Will You use an oppressive army to discipline Your church? Surely we are brought to wonder about the unfolding of events even in our time, but it is well beyond us to guess the details of what will come to pass. We do receive what You have revealed in Your Word, and we know You, O mighty and majestic God.