The Value of Habakkuk for Us Today

Written on: April 1, 2021

Article by: George Mansfield

Habakkuk 1

In preparation for each of this month’s articles, we encourage you to read the chapter in Habakkuk from which each is drawn.

The relevance of this book is underscored by that fact that several New Testament letters quote Habakkuk 2:4 where the prophet declared that, “The righteous shall live by faith” – (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38).

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In the Bible book bearing his name we find this information for our guidance in chapter 1,

Chapter 1:1-4 are the words of the prophet

Chapter 1:5-11 are the words of God

Chapter 1:12-17 finds God speaking again

We will resort to this outline in our discussion of chapter one.

In Habakkuk 1:1–4 the prophet voices his displeasure at what he believes is happening; an evil, worldly and powerful nation is coming to strip the land and remove all of God’s people. How could God allow that??? Is God closing his ears, eyes and mind to the situation? Habakkuk cries out “I call for help, and you do not hear!” “I cry out Violence! And You do not save.” When this is read carefully we can nearly hear the hurt and feel the pain of 1:3.

Habakkuk was a righteous man, living in a society that had gone mad. He questioned how God could know of these sins and abominations, and not do anything about them. Looking at society today, I wonder why God has not thundered in judgment against us as well.

Habakkuk 1:4, “Therefore the law is ignored, and justice is never upheld. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore justice comes out perverted!” (Perverted justice?) Yes!

This good man observed thatnot only were wicked people failing to keep God’s law, but they were attacking the righteous who were. They opposed those who had taken a stand for God. Justice was not equal for those claiming to live under God’s law. Habakkuk was disappointed that justice was no longer served in his society. Welcome to planet earth 2021! How could anything reasonably good could come out of what he was witnessing? Then God added that something worse was yet to come. It is no surprise then that in verses 3 and 4, Habakkuk feels God has deserted him!

But then, how many of us in our limited understanding have not questioned the wisdom and actions of God? How could God ‘allow’ the Holocaust, world wars, and our current slate of poorly chosen leaders to be responsible for national and world affairs?

Philip Yancey wonders Where is God when it Hurts? Harold Kushner has penned an excellent book entitled When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Works like these admit that there are limits to what we understand about God’s management of His world.

In uncertain times, we can yet be certain of our God who said to Israel: “Be strong and courageous. … Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” – Deuteronomy 31:6

Here is a little tale of what might have been happening to Habakkuk and can happen to us. I once heard of an agnostic farmer who wrote to the editor of his local newspaper, who was known to be a faithful Christian. The farmer said, “In defiance of your God I plowed my fields this year on Sunday, I disced and fertilized them on Sunday, I planted them on Sunday, I cultivated them on Sunday, and reaped them on Sunday. This October I had the biggest and best crops I have ever had. Mr. Churchman, how do you explain that?”

The editor replied, “Perhaps you don’t know what I know. God does not always settle His accounts in October!”

For Habakkuk and for us, this is a lesson not too late for the learning! God does not answer to us…we answer to Him.

Since “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation,” – II Corinthians 5:17; we must attempt to see things through God’s eyes.

Habakkuk criticized God for bringing the Chaldeans to discipline the Jews . He must have wondered: “God, we are Your chosen ones; What’s up here?” This comes out in his second speech – in 1:12-17. God replied that Habakkuk must learn to trust Him to do right in His own time. At a time of God’s choosing He would punish the Chaldeans, but in the meantime Israel must learn to trust Him.

When Alexander the Great,was on his way to conquer India in 326 BC., he was heard boasting “I am not a man I am God. I was not born of woman, I was born of fire!” This man who thought he was a god died 3 years later. By contrast, God commands us to keep our place before him – to “be faithful unto death and you will receive a crown of life.”– Revelation 2:10. The crown of life is his to give and not ours to take. God is in control.

LISTEN TO GOD! vs 5–11

God responded to his servant the prophet saying “Observe!” Be astonished.” “Wonder!”

Why? “Because I am doing something in your days that you wouldn’t believe if you were told. I am raising up the Chaldeans.” He then describes them as “fierce and impetuous people, those who march throughout the earth…. Are dreaded and feared.”

These wicked people are those who invent their own authority, have horses as swift as leopards… who fly like eagles swooping down to devour…they mock kings and laugh at rulers…

But they will be held guilty! –verse 11! End of story. Now we know God is not obligated to settle his accounts in October to maintain His holy integrity.

When the remaining chapters of the book are read a more complete picture emerges

For now, we see the following:

1) God allows us to see iniquity in our selves..

· To keep us humble.

· To help us become and remain submissive to him in hours of trouble.

· To make us value salvation all the more.

2) Why God allows us to see iniquity in others:

· To show us what we might have been ourselves.

· To make us see the wickedness of sin, that we might pass by it and hate it, and not indulge in it.

· To make us admire the grace of God when He saves sinners.

· To set us more earnestly to work that God might use us to save others and extend God’s kingdom.

Ah, my brethren, we need to know more of the evil of men, to make us more earnest in seeking their salvation; for if there be anything in which the Church is lacking more than in any other matter, it is in the matter of earnestness(Charles Spurgeon).

The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” – I Corinthians 1:25

St. Catharines ON