But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him. – Habakkuk 2:20 (NKJV)
Have you ever prayed, “How long, O Lord?” Or wondered if God really does hear and answer?
Looking at world conditions today, do you question God’s sovereignty, asking, “Is He really in control? And if He is, why does He allow such evil to exist?”
Perhaps you’ve even wondered if God even exists.
If so, join the prophet Habakkuk—and the rest of us.
Who’s Habakkuk, you may ask. An Old Testament prophet who questioned what was going on in the world around him and how God was and wasn’t dealing with it.
The book he wrote (three chapters tucked away in the latter part of the Old Testament), rather than a direct message from God to the people of Judah, is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. It’s a record of Habakkuk’s wrestling with the same issues we wrestle with today, God’s answers, and Habakkuk’s response to those answers.
Written in about 607 B.C., the book describes the social corruption and spiritual apostasy of God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Habakkuk asks God two questions: “Why does evil in Judah go unpunished?” And, when God answered that judgment was coming by way of the Babylonians, “How can a just God use wicked Babylonia to punish a people more righteous than themselves?”
Does that sound familiar? I don’t have to go into detail about social corruption and spiritual apostasy in today’s world, do I?
But I’d like to share with you five truths I gleaned from the book of Habakkuk—truths I believe Habakkuk also learned.
First, God is sovereign. No matter how chaotic and out-of-control the world seems to be, God’s plan and purpose will prevail. He is in control.
Second, God’s timetable is not our timetable. “For a thousand years in Your sight is like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).
Third, God always keeps His promises. What He says He’ll do, He’ll do. The Old Testament is filled with God’s promises and how He kept them, prophecies that history has shown to be fulfilled. How can we doubt that the prophecies that haven’t been fulfilled to date will not be? As He told Habakkuk, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay” (Habakkuk 2:3).
Fourth, trust God—wait patiently (hard to do sometimes, I know) and live by faith (not fear). “The righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4b) was God’s answer to Habakkuk—and to us. Be faithful. Keep doing what is right regardless of what’s going on around you. Remember the words of Paul to the Galatian church: “Let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9 TLB).
And finally, it’s okay to question God—as long as you’re truly seeking to understand Him, His ways, and His Word and not questioning Him out of defiance and rebellion.
Habakkuk’s book ends with a prayer of praise to God even though he didn’t understand God’s ways.
What about you? Will you still praise Him when you don’t understand?
May I cling to You, Father, even when—especially when—I don’t understand. Amen.
NOTE: Too often we avoid the Old Testament with the mistaken assumption very little is relevant to our modern world. The more I read and study God’s Word, the more I’m convinced that all of it—I repeat, all of it—applies to us today.
Extra tea: Read and meditate on the book of Habakkuk