This is the question of the ages. Interestingly enough, one of the Old Testament prophets, Habakkuk doesn’t actually prophesy, but asks God, “Why?” Consequently, he recorded God’s answer that still holds true today. We ask, “God, if you are in control, why is the world in such a mess? God gives us an answer. Let’s dig in…
This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.
2 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.
3 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.
4 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.
The Lord’s Reply
5 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.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
and conquer other lands.
7 They are notorious for their cruelty
and do whatever they like.
8 Their horses are swifter than cheetahs
and fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their charioteers charge from far away.
Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.
9 “On they come, all bent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind,
sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.
10 They scoff at kings and princes
and scorn all their fortresses.
They simply pile ramps of earth
against their walls and capture them!
11 They sweep past like the wind
and are gone.
But they are deeply guilty,
for their own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 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.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.
Will you wink at their treachery?
Should you be silent while the wicked
swallow up people more righteous than they?
14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed?Habakkuk 1 NLT
Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks
and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets
and burn incense in front of them.
“These nets are the gods who have made us rich!”
they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever?
Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?
Pleading with God
Here we have supplication. Habakkuk was pleading with God, crying and basically yelling at Him. Habakkuk was a priest, prophet and a musician. He starts with a sob and ends with a song, as you’ll see.
Habakkuk wrote around 625-605 BC. He witnessed a good king, Josiah, be killed in battle and evil King Jehoiakim bring all the pagan worship back. I don’t blame Habakkuk. He was perplexed. He was wondering where God went? How could He allow such evil?
Habakkuk was worried about the Assyrians who had taken over the whole area. They were the first superpower nation. Nevertheless, God tells him that He’s going to raise up the Babylonians to conquer the Assyrians and at the same time bring Judgment to Judah.
Then, Habakkuk questions God’s plan. He didn’t get why God would judge the Jews at the hands of Babylon, who were more wicked than those being judged!
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.
Let’s pause here a bit. Here Habakkuk exhibits 4 attitudes which we should take on when we want to get answers from God…
- Determination – He climbed, he did something. He got the right perspective.
- Isolation – He went to his watchtower where it’s not just a high perch, but a quiet one. He wanted to quiet his heart and mind and train his ear to hear the voice of God.
- He humbled himself. He wants to be corrected if he’s wrong. What a concept! Isn’t that what’s wrong with the world today? Everyone thinks they are right and refuse to accept that could be wrong. That is pride. And pride hinders salvation!
- He expects to get an answer from God. Furthermore, he’s willing to wait until he gets it. That’s another problem we have. We ask for God’s help, but we want it right away. That’s the affect of our instant gratification world. We have to be patient with God. It’s His timing, not ours!
If you take on these attitudes, God will hear and answer your prayers! Seek the Lord rather than jump to conclusions.
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.1 Peter 5:5b-7 NKJV
Notice he says, “in due time.” In other words, not your timing, but God’s timing. Period.
The Lord’s Second Reply
2 Then the Lord said to me,
“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
3 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.
4 “Look at the proud!
They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked.
But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.
5 Wealth is treacherous,
and the arrogant are never at rest.
They open their mouths as wide as the grave,
and like death, they are never satisfied.
In their greed they have gathered up many nations
and swallowed many peoples.
6 “But soon their captives will taunt them.
They will mock them, saying,
‘What sorrow awaits you thieves!
Now you will get what you deserve!
You’ve become rich by extortion,
but how much longer can this go on?’
7 Suddenly, your debtors will take action.
They will turn on you and take all you have,
while you stand trembling and helpless.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
now all the survivors will plunder you.
You committed murder throughout the countryside
and filled the towns with violence.
9 “What sorrow awaits you who build big houses
with money gained dishonestly!
You believe your wealth will buy security,
putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger.
10 But by the murders you committed,
you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives.
11 The very stones in the walls cry out against you,
and the beams in the ceilings echo the complaint.
12 “What sorrow awaits you who build cities
with money gained through murder and corruption!
13 Has not the Lord of Heaven’s Armies promised
that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes?
They work so hard,
but all in vain!
14 For as the waters fill the sea,
the earth will be filled with an awareness
of the glory of the Lord.
15 “What sorrow awaits you who make your neighbors drunk!
You force your cup on them
so you can gloat over their shameful nakedness.
16 But soon it will be your turn to be disgraced.
Come, drink and be exposed!
Drink from the cup of the Lord’s judgment,
and all your glory will be turned to shame.
17 You cut down the forests of Lebanon.
Now you will be cut down.
You destroyed the wild animals,
so now their terror will be yours.
You committed murder throughout the countryside
and filled the towns with violence.
18 “What good is an idol carved by man,Habakkuk 2 NLT
or a cast image that deceives you?
How foolish to trust in your own creation—
a god that can’t even talk!
19 What sorrow awaits you who say to wooden idols,
‘Wake up and save us!’
To speechless stone images you say,
‘Rise up and teach us!’
Can an idol tell you what to do?
They may be overlaid with gold and silver,
but they are lifeless inside.
20 But the Lord is in his holy Temple.
Let all the earth be silent before him.”
God Works in Mysterious Ways!
- God knows the future of Babylon and us!
- Verse 4 is quoted 3 times in the New Testament! Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38. “Look at the proud. They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God.”
Whenever something is repeated in the Bible that means PAY ATTENTION! Who do you trust?
God is Amazingly Patient!
As Peter told us…
9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.2 Peter 3:9 NLT
When God doesn’t make sense, it’s us, not God. Humble yourself and ask Him for clarity. The Holy Spirit will help open your heart, mind and eyes to see the truth and understand. However, be aware that there are certain things that are God’s and that we’re not supposed to understand.
I love this proverb…
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
5 Woes for the Babylonians
The Babylonians were going to get their judgment too. God had a problem with 5 distinct sins they were committing, thus He issued warnings for them…
- V. 6 – Greed — they steal whatever they want.
- V. 9 – Gain — it’s the lust of the eyes. The want of more, better, the best, the fanciest, most luxurious, and on, and on.
- V. 12 – Murder and corruption
- V. 15 – Devious ploys — cheating
- V. 19 – Talking to idols — statues made of wood and decorated with gold
Why would anyone reject the ONE TRUE and LIVING GOD to talk to statues and paintings of dead people? Today was the “feast day” of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. It was an apparition of Mary on a wall in Mexico in 1531. It is of the devil, not of God!
Take at look at the paganism all over this graphic…
- So Many gods
- How Paganism Entered the Church
- The Truth about Mary
- What’s Wrong with Worshiping Mary?
- More on Worshiping Mary
Let’s go on…
Habakkuk 3 – Habakkuk’s Prayer
This prayer was sung by the prophet Habakkuk:
2 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.
3 I see God moving across the deserts from Edom,
the Holy One coming from Mount Paran.
His brilliant splendor fills the heavens,
and the earth is filled with his praise.
4 His coming is as brilliant as the sunrise.
Rays of light flash from his hands,
where his awesome power is hidden.
5 Pestilence marches before him;
plague follows close behind.
6 When he stops, the earth shakes.
When he looks, the nations tremble.
He shatters the everlasting mountains
and levels the eternal hills.
He is the Eternal One!
7 I see the people of Cushan in distress,
and the nation of Midian trembling in terror.
8 Was it in anger, Lord, that you struck the rivers
and parted the sea?
Were you displeased with them?
No, you were sending your chariots of salvation!
9 You brandished your bow
and your quiver of arrows.
You split open the earth with flowing rivers.
10 The mountains watched and trembled.
Onward swept the raging waters.
The mighty deep cried out,
lifting its hands in submission.
11 The sun and moon stood still in the sky
as your brilliant arrows flew
and your glittering spear flashed.
12 You marched across the land in anger
and trampled the nations in your fury.
13 You went out to rescue your chosen people,
to save your anointed ones.
You crushed the heads of the wicked
and stripped their bones from head to toe.
14 With his own weapons,
you destroyed the chief of those
who rushed out like a whirlwind,
thinking Israel would be easy prey.
15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
and the mighty waters piled high.
16 I trembled inside when I heard this;Habakkuk 3 NLT
my lips quivered with fear.
My legs gave way beneath me,
and I shook in terror.
I will wait quietly for the coming day
when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
17 Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
able to tread upon the heights.
(For the choir director: This prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments.)
It’s a song, a prayer set to music, yet it’s filled with awe. Every day you should look around and see the works of God’s hand. Take in the beauty of His creation. Instead of seeing evil, look for the good.
Yesterday, I gook a friend of mine who grew up in Phoenix, yet never visited the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It’s a wonderful, well-kept nature preserve nestled in a canyon in the Tonto National Forest. We spent the day marveling at God’s creation. We were enveloped by it.
Take a look…
Be Joyful in the God of YOUR Salvation!
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.Romans 5:3-5 NLT
He also wrote…
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4, 6-7 NLT
See, even in tough times, we can be joyful when we know that God’s got it!
Trust God. No one or nothing else!
He wants to be YOUR Friend!
What are you waiting for?! Let Him in!