Habakkuk was a prophet who would understand our present day and age. He lived during a time of international crisis and national corruption. His book of 3 short chapters is unlike those of other prophets who primarily spoke to people about God. Habakkuk, on the other hand, spoke to God about people. You might say that he complained to God about people, but he was also frustrated because God seemed slow in responding. Here is what he had to say:
How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted. Habakkuk 1:2–4 (NLT)
Does not that sound like he is talking about contemporary events? We are seeing outbreaks of violence and perversion of justice. People are taking things into their own hands or arguing on social media with people they do not even know. Civility is absent.
But God is not absent, and he is not unaware of what is happening. He always has an answer to the problems of humanity. He tells Habakkuk to get ready because he is going to do something amazing:
The Lord replied, “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. Habakkuk 1:5 (NLT)
Yes, God is going to do something amazing, but just as he did in Habakkuk’s day, we might have difficulty understanding or accepting his course of action. We want solutions to the problems that we face, but we do not want to experience the pain and discomfort that God’s remedy will bring. God will use whatever is necessary to bring correction, even if we do not like it. Because the people in Habakkuk’s day had abandoned God, he raised up the Babylonians, “a cruel and violent people,” to exercise judgment and punishment.
Habakkuk responded with concern: O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal— surely you do not plan to wipe us out? O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us, to punish us for our many sins Habakkuk 1:12 (NLT). He wanted God to do something about the situation, but at the same time, he was concerned about the collateral damage or the thought of annihilation.
So, Habakkuk voiced his 2 complaints; first that God had not done anything about the violence and corruption, and then second, that God’s solution might be final. At this point, Habakkuk does a smart thing; he waits:
I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the Lord says and how he will answer my complaint. Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT)
God will listen to us even when we complain, but if at some point we do not stop complaining and wait for a response, how will we hear and understand what he is saying? As a wise man once said: Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. Proverbs 10:19 (NLT).
Then the Lord said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Habakkuk 2:2–4 (NLT)
Wait for It
This is the word of encouragement that we need today! God will not fail us and even though we may not understand or perhaps even like what he is going to do to bring about restoration, the wisest course of action for us in this hour is to wait patiently. He tells us to “Look at the proud.” There are similarities here with Psalm 73. It may seem as though the unrighteous people are getting away with it, but that is only because our vision is limited, and we cannot see the whole picture. God will make things right. In the meanwhile, “the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.”
In our present-day and if we have limited vision, we may be of the mindset that nothing will get better until we reach heaven. Some have given up hope for this life and this world, but God is not done with us yet. In the prophetic word to Habakkuk we find these 2 gems:
For as the waters fill the sea, the earth will be filled with an awareness of the glory of the Lord. Habakkuk 2:14 (NLT)
But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.” Habakkuk 2:20 (NLT)
Regardless of what happens in the natural realm, God is still moving by his Spirit. Revival is going to happen, God is preparing his church, “a bride without spot or wrinkle,” triumphant and victorious. He instructed us to pray boldly: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
Our vision for the future is not one of fear or defeat, it should be one of triumph and victory. As we continue in Habakkuk:
I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy. Habakkuk 3:2 (NLT)
Let our heart cry out: “help us again as you did in years gone by.” There is still much work to be done, people to be rescued and redeemed; lives transformed by the power of God. Nevertheless, Habakkuk concludes by saying that even if the crops and animals fail, it will not change his approach to God, “No Matter What Happens”[i]:
I will rejoice because of the Lord; I will be happy because of the God who delivers me! Habakkuk 3:18 (NET)
Reading Habakkuk reminds us that regardless of the situation we face, God is still God and we can be happy and rejoice because he will deliver us.