Habakkuk 3 has the prophet continuing to wait upon the Lord. In this chapter, he prays. “I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear”. While Habakkuk has been vocal about his disappointment in God’s slow response to the evil around him, he also understands that God alone is in control and the timing of His response is all His – not something He’s seeking Habakkuk or anyone else to provide input. We sometimes forget who is in charge and try to tell God what to do too. But God alone sits in authority over our universe. He’s not necessarily looking for our input, just our obedience.
Habakkuk realizes that God has a plan for His people. God is in the restoration business, but on His terms and His timeline. “You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck”. And God will win, no matter who the adversary may be. We can read the end of the book and know that God alone prevails. He is the victor over all evil. We need to cling to that and let Him be God.
While Habakkuk has been impatient about God’s response, he seems to be understanding that his pushing isn’t going to necessarily move God to do it sooner. God has His own timeline. So Habakkuk concedes saying “Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us”. He realizes that all things happen in God’s time and in God’s way. His job is to wait upon the Lord and walk in obedience to Him. Too often we want to dictate what we say and do and don’t necessarily seek God’s direction and walk in His ways.
But there is plenty to rejoice in. God has prepared an amazing future for those of us who chose to deal with our sin and be set free for an eternity in His presence. “I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; He makes my feet like the deer’s; He makes me tread on my high places”. We have an amazing future ahead if we walk with God. That means addressing the sin problem that we have because of the choices we make that are contrary to God’s will and ways. But Jesus came to provide a way for us to overcome those things – a free gift of grace we have only to receive!
Habakkuk 2 has the prophet a bit irritated with the speed at which God is dealing with the evil around him. “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint”. Habakkuk has an axe to grind with God – these evil people are not being dealt with as quickly as he things is appropriate, and he simply can’t stand on the sidelines and watch them ‘get away’ with how they are living.
God welcomes our questions and concerns. He hears and responds to Habakkuk. “And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay”. So God wants His prophet to capture the answer and make it known to all the people. But it happens in His time, in His way, not as we might wish it to be. Habakkuk gets some clarity from God.
“The righteous shall live by his faith”. The reality is that God’s plan has never changed. From the Garden with Adam and Eve, until this very day, God has been all about a relationship with us. He desires us to walk in obedience to His commandments and live a life worthy of His calling. Unfortunately, when we take control of our lives and push Him aside, we go astray. “You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life”. We put self ahead of all else and cut ourselves off from His blessing.
But our choices don’t change God’s design and plan. He is still in control, even when He lets us seemingly run our own lives for a time. One day we’ll understand that reality. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. God is Creator and Author. He is the Almighty and sits in a place of oversight and control. He gives us free will, which if not lived well, gets us into all sorts of trouble. The issue with choice is we often make the wrong one and pick sinful actions. Those carry a price, and God’s righteousness will become ours if we don’t deal with our sin through Jesus sacrifice on the Cross.
Habakkuk 1 has the prophet carrying a burden of the vision he saw. We really don’t know much about this prophet as this is the only book in the Bible his name appears. Since he prophesied the coming Babylonian army and its destruction of Judah, he prophesied some time before that invasion. Many think that Habakkuk did his work sometime during the reign of King Johoiakim, perhaps around the year 607 b.c. It is likely that he lived during the time of the godly king Josiah (640 to 609 b.c.) and then gave this prophecy during the reign of one of Josiah’s successors.
Habakkuk knew what it was like to live during a time of revival, and then to see God’s people and the nation slide away into sin. Habakkuk sees the problem and presses God to see how long it will last. “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear”? He’s lived through a godly king ruling the land, and now is faced with evil and backsliding. He wondered where God was, and why God did not set things right. Habakkuk could see sin all around himself. The people were full of iniquity causing destruction and violence at every turn.
God has a plan to deal with it – but not exactly what Habakkuk had in mind. “I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own”. When the Chaldeans (Babylonians) came against Judah, they came as sent by the Lord. They wanted to conquer Judah all along, but God allowed that sinful desire to fit into His plan to judge Judah for their sin. It was all part of God’s bigger plan as they conquered and exiled God’s people.
Habakkuk has a problem with God’s approach and wonders why God would use a nation more evil that Judah to do His work. “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he”? The prophet doesn’t get it. This is using worse evil to deal and judge with evil. He felt the cure was maybe worse than the disease. But we have to learn to trust God and have faith in His plan. We can’t see the whole picture like He can. We only see dimly and a bit of the plan. God sees it all and has an absolute method to what He does.
Habakkuk 2 begins with the prophet setting an example of how we need to live. “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint”. We need to be paying attention and watching for what God has for us. We need to have eyes and ears focused on what God is up to, what He is telling us, the direction He is leading us. We need to pay attention and wait upon Him.
Because what God says will happen. His plan will be fulfilled. “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay”. What God has in store is going to occur, maybe not on our timeline, but certainly on His. He will accomplish His plan and purpose. So what should we do? “The righteous shall live by his faith”. It’s pretty simple. We need to walk in faith with the One who sets the plan. We need to live by faith.
That means we keep our eyes on God, not the things of man. We allow other things to push God off the throne of our life. We put other idols in His place – and they have no power or do no more than deflect our attention and efforts from the One who is the King. “What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it….for its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols”. There are many things that become idols in our lives. Anything that pushes God from the place of Lord and Master and replaces Him there is an idol. And they are all filled with emptiness. There is nothing to them.
But we have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe. “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him”. He is alive and active and waiting for us to come to Him. He wants us to keep Him on the throne of our life and to walk in humble obedience to Him. But we have the opportunity to know God. We have the position of being His very children. We only need to watch for and then walk with Him as He leads us. Jesus is our path to the Father. We can come to Him through faith in Christ. Do you know God? Are you plugged in?
Habakkuk is a prophet who writes around 620 BC or so. He has some questions that he wants God to answer. His first question revolves around his attitude that God is allowing bad things to happen. He is outraged at the violence and injustice all around him and wonders where God is? He points out seven different problems that come up in verses 2-4:
- iniquity (sin)
- wrong (wickedness)
The list is repetitive at the root – and sounds a whole lot like our society today – doesn’t it?
Habakkuk is seeking God around these things. He is praying when he says “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help”. He has been raising the flag but doesn’t feel like God is listening, or certainly not responding to his prayer. But God is listening and is definitely doing something, although it is probably not the answer Habakkuk wanted. God is raising up a foreign nation that will come and destroy Judah. “I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told”.
God says that Habakkuk wouldn’t believe what He is up to even if he understood. Why? Because the Chaldeans are a nasty bunch, yet God has chosen them to come and destroy Judah and punish their disobedience. Verses 6-11 describe just how evil they really are. Yet God can use anyone or anything to do His will, and is this case, it is an evil kingdom that will come to correct the disobedience of God’s people through destruction. So what does Habakkuk do? He asks God his second question. “Are you not from everlasting”? Habakkuk doesn’t like the answer and immediately tries to remind God that He is a God of love and can’t go off and destroy His people.
Habakkuk knows God and trusts God but can’t accept God’s answer here. He reminds God of His nature, and reminds Him that the enemy is evil and doesn’t give Him any credit for what they have done. He challenges the plan God has laid out, and wonders why God is taking the action He is. We have to work through questions like this the same way Habakkuk did – by communicating with God and understanding Him. That means we share our feelings and ask God the questions that we don’t understand. We can talk with Him. We have to in order to get His answers. Habakkuk has gotten one answer about what is to come, but continues to seek more clarity from God. We need to do the same.