Let’s return to our discussion on Habakkuk.
Habakkuk voiced a prayer of complaint that many of God’s people since then have cried out in their own heart –
“Lord, why do You let wicked men prosper…especially when they oppress those who are striving to live righteously before You? How long will You let this injustice, violence, and iniquity go on?”
God has frequently allowed His servants to suffer under similar circumstances and conditions, and He graciously allows them to bring their complaints before Him.
While it may appear that God was silent, He was not absent nor inactive. Habakkuk’s answer was on its way – the fierce and violent army of the Chaldeans.
Every once in a while we receive an answer from God and the solution seems to be worse than we initially anticipated.
Habakkuk doubtless desired to see the wicked punished and judged for their sin. But He did not intend for the city to be destroyed and the nation attacked by a hostile army. In this answer from God, the entire nation would be judged! This was not exactly what Habakkuk had in mind.
And so Habakkuk raised His voice to God a second time – “Lord, surely we will not die in this severe judgment. You surely can’t forget Your promise and Your purposes for us.”
Habakkuk realized that the Chaldean army would sweep away the righteous with the wicked, and this seemed even more unjust of God who had ordained the judgment and chosen its means of delivery.
“How can You stand by when a wicked man swallows up a man more righteous than he?”
As bad as the wicked in Jerusalem may have been, the Chaldeans were exponentially worse!
How could God do this? How could He use wicked people to judge other wicked people?
So Habakkuk goes up to the watch post to wait and see the answer God will send…
And it comes quickly and clearly.
“Habakkuk, write this vision down. Make the letters large so that as people flee from the city they can read it clearly without having to stop…
- Don’t presume that delayed judgment will render you safe. It will come. It is on its way.
- Arrogant and proud people will not escape.
- However, the righteous man will live. And the reason for his escape from this judgment is on account of His faithfulness.
A righteous man in Jerusalem or in the nation will go through the judgment and will keep his life by his faithfulness to Me.”
And what follows in Habakkuk’s vision is an extended description of what the wicked are doing.
“Habakkuk, you wondered at the beginning of our conversation whether I saw the violence and wickedness that bothered you? I did – I saw all of it and more – I saw much more than you ever imagined.
And while all of this was going on in My city by My people, I was where I have always been – in my Holy Temple.”
And that brings the third and final prayer from Habakkuk –
“Lord, I know You know.
I see that You see.
And I know that You will judge thoroughly and righteously.
And after seeing all that You see, the wickedness and violence are much deeper than I have ever thought. Your report of this violence, Your work to judge this – I fear and tremble at it!
Lord, in the midst of Your righteous wrath, please act in mercy.”
So what did Habakkuk see with regard to God’s wrath and judgment?
Habakkuk 3:3-15 contains one of the most compelling and awesome descriptions anywhere in the Bible of God rising up in righteous anger and bringing wrath upon His people – and more specifically against the wicked nation that He used to judge His own people.
So in chapter 1, God describes for Habakkuk the judgment He is bringing to judge and punish His people. In chapter 3, He shows Habakkuk the judgment He is bring on the Chaldeans (and other nations), and the deliverance He plans for His people after judging them for sin (3:13).
So what is Habakkuk’s answer to all of this?
- “I will wait quietly for God to deliver and to judge.”
- “In the midst of the judgment, I will rejoice in my God.”
- “I will live in the strength that He supplies.”
And this truth became precious to Habakkuk, and He wrote it down as a psalm so that the truth it celebrates could regularly be reviewed and received by successive generations of God’s people who find themselves in similar conditions.
People like you and like me who join Habakkuk in the tower and await God’s answer.