We only have to turn on the news to hear the “messiness” of this world. Fear. Intolerance. Divisiveness. Persecution. War. Conflict. Oppression. Hatred.
When will God intervene? What is God doing in the midst of these dire circumstances?
I have been spending a season studying the message of The Prophets in the Bible. Habakkuk, who was one of the Minor Prophets, challenged God with questions similar to these. He received an answer from God, which seems incredibly applicable and a great reminder for all of us today.
Let’s set the context. Habakkuk was a prophet who lived and preached during the Southern Kingdom, called Judah. This was after the kingdom had been divided between the North and South. Usually a book of prophecy was God’s message to people, but this is a little different, since it records the dialogue between Habakkuk and God.
This book of the Bible begins with Habakkuk pleading with God in 1:2, “How long, Lord, must I call for help”. Habakkuk’s country, Judah, was hopelessly corrupted by sin, as we see in 1:4, “the law is paralysed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”
If we are honest, does this reflect our own thinking, at times? Laws don’t seem to be enforced. Justice doesn’t seem to prevail. The criminals seem to win, at the expense of honest people.
But, after all of this pleading, Habakkuk doesn’t get the response that he expects. Habakkuk expected God to punish Judah for becoming such a sinful country. Instead, God says that He is sending the evil Babylonians to conquer Judah. Yikes! You can almost hear Habakkuk’s desperation saying in 1:13, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
The Babylonians were even worse than Judah, so why was God sending them to do the punishing? God assures Habakkuk that after the Babylonians finish their job of punishing Judah, they will be punished for their own sins. In the meantime, the job of the righteous is to “live by his faithfulness” in verse 2:4. Did you catch that? God’s answer was “LIVE BY FAITH”!
Habakkuk concludes with a prayer of praise, saying 3:2, “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” He goes on to say in 3:19, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.” When we live with “feet of a deer, enabling me to tread on the heights” this means regardless of our circumstances, we must keep our eyes focused on Christ. God’s promises are our strong foundation! We can live undaunted and unafraid, knowing that He is sovereign and faithful.
In trying times, we don’t need to be discouraged. Our God uses people and nations – good and evil – to accomplish His goal of saving humanity. God will provide us with the courage and inner strength for any situation if we place our trust in Him.
Our job is to LIVE BY FAITH in a God who reigns victorious, knowing that justice WILL prevail and that ALL PEOPLE will be held to account someday.