In the Book of Habakkuk, we read the prophet’s expressions of grief. But unlike most of the prophets, Habakkuk journals his laments directly to God. In three short chapters, Habakkuk questions God’s character in some familiar ways. First, he questions God’s goodness because of all the evil, injustice, and tragedy in the world.
Like any good leader, Habakkuk intercedes on behalf of those he’s responsible for and acknowledges their failures. But he also seems to imply that the Israelites’ wrongdoing is God’s fault.
Habakkuk 1:1-4 says,
How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (NIV)
Habakkuk asks God why he tolerates the violence, injustice, and conflict, and unlike when I ask God these questions, the prophet actually receives a response. God is done allowing the Israelites to ignore him.
Habakkuk 1:6 says, “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own” (NIV).
Habakkuk does an about-face when he learns God has reached the end of his patience with the Israelites. I love the plain language in The Message version of Habakkuk 1:12-13, which says,
God, you’re from eternity, aren’t you? Holy God, we aren’t going to die, are we?
God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment work? Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline?
But you can’t be serious! You can’t condone evil!
So why don’t you do something about this? Why are you silent now?
This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch! (MSG)
Did you catch where Habakkuk flips from asking God to intervene to objecting to God’s choice to answer his prayer directly? It’s difficult to release control of the outcomes of our prayers.
If you’ve ever wondered if the Old Testament prophets truly existed, I offer this as Exhibit A. Habakkuk’s response is the most human reaction I can think of. Even today, we often balk at God’s response to our prayers. Don’t we?
Habakkuk was so bothered by the evil Babylonians that he completely forgot that the Israelites were acting wrongly. He goes on to list all the sins of his soon-to-be oppressors:
- They get rich by stealing from the poor, recklessly overtaxing the poor and keeping the money for themselves.
- They force people into slave labor.
- They are bad leaders who get drunk and invite sexual sin.
- They worship idols.
What Habakkuk seems to misunderstand is that all sin equally offends God. It was the Israelites’ responsibility to introduce the other tribes and nations to the one true God. Their choice to reject God’s laws was harmful to their own families and harmful for the world. Continue reading my latest post for The Glorious Table here….
Are you Ready to Thrive in 2022?
I’ve learned that there are seasons of life that are easier to walk through when we focus on taking the next step rather than looking for the end of the path. Ready or not, we’re entering a new normal. For many of us, we’re discovering that we have to re-learn how to juggle multiple commitments and daily life at home.
In the past, my solution to handle the intense seasons was to place my needs, wants, and dreams last. But do you know what would eventually happen? I would end up resenting my situation.
So, now, I take time to re-evaluate my commitments and goals. Then, I figure out how I can continue to thrive in my calling even if I have to reduce the energy and time I put toward that part of my weekly calendar momentarily.
I hope you’ll find the questions and activities I’ve complied here helpful as you consider how to thrive in 2022.