By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)
Scripture Readings: Habakkuk
Key Scripture Verse: Habakkuk 1:5 (NIV, Life Application Bible)
“‘Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.’”
Why does evil seem to prevail? Why do the unjust seem to flourish? These were the very types of questions that the prophet Habakkuk asked in his anguished questioning of God. Habakkuk wanted to know why God allowed the wicked within Judah to continue in their sin without punishment. God answered Habakkuk with our scripture verse cited above, that he had a plan that would surprise beyond belief.
The Lord said in the next verse, “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people,” saying that the he was intentionally allowing the Babylonians to gain strength and to become the most powerful world power—these people were ruthless and even more corrupt and evil than the Assyrians had been before them. In fact, it was the Babylonians who conquered the Assyrians. Remember in a previous post when I mentioned how God wiped out Nineveh (612 B.C.) because of their corruption—Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. They had been warned by God who took mercy on them when Jonah had warned them of his wrath, but over time they eventually returned to their corruption and God no longer would allow it, so Nineveh was destroyed for good. So, now we see that the Babylonians who conquered the Assyrians are being allowed by God to continue to rise in power. For clarity, here’s a time reference: Habakkuk prophesied between 612 B.C. when Nineveh fell and 588 B.C. when Judah, the Southern Kingdom of the Israelites, was invaded by the Babylonians, so between these dates is when this book was written.
When Habakkuk asks again and waits for God’s answer, God replies, “…the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and it will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” (Habakkuk 2:3) He tells Habakkuk to wait and to be patient, because he has a plan and justice will prevail, even if it doesn’t appear that way.
God also says in verse 4 (Habakkuk 2:4), “’See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”
God is telling Habakkuk, be patient—I know what I am doing. I will see that the faithful, righteous are cared for. Those who trust me will be taken care of.
Habakkuk was right in believing that God could not accept sin and he believed that those of Judah who persisted in sin would be disciplined. In chapter 3 Habakkuk appeals to God in prayer for the people, asking for mercy.
The story of Habakkuk is much like the book of Job in that Habakkuk learns that God really is in control and that, even if events seem confusing, he has a greater plan that might not be so obvious at first. God tells Habakkuk to trust and to know that he does care and is going to see that justice will prevail, after all. And that those who can trust him, even in the most difficult of times, will be given the strength and ability to go through those times.
Those who worship their idols of wealth and power and believe in their own strength will not prevail in the end. Those who believe and trust in their own creations more than they trust in God have created idols for themselves and are not doing God’s will; and although they may seem to be flourishing, in the long run they will fall.
God assures Habakkuk and us that he is in control, that he will provide for the faithful and those who trust and lean on him for their needs.
Habakkuk is reassured that evil will not prevail and that in disciplining Judah, God will have mercy for his faithful followers. Habakkuk concludes the book with the following: “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” It’s the message of the 23rd psalm, isn’t it? –even through the darkest valley, he is with us. He will be our shepherd and we will lack nothing that we need.
The message is the same that God reiterates throughout the Old Testament and what Jesus teaches in the New Testament to all beloved and faithful believers: love me, trust me, follow me, follow my direction—I want what is best for you, I will see you through the tough times, because I care for you–I love you!