Come on now, you don’t think I really intend to write a blog post about a minor prophet hidden away in the crevices of the Old Testament do you? Indeed, today I am dusting off my inner puritan1 by striving to go back to a book written in ancient times. The reality has increasingly dawned upon me for years that one of the issues in modern-day evangelical circles is a lack of knowledge about the Old Testament Scriptures. So much treasure is found in the rich pages of the Old Testament where we see God acting in glorious ways. Whether it be traversing the terrain of Canaan with Joshua or listening to the prophetic words of Jeremiah, there is much depth for us in the Old Testament. So, let us begin mining a few pieces of gold out of the prophet Habakkuk.
1. God’s Perfect Judgment
Habakkuk looks around him seeing the evil and perverse ways of the people of God. His own kinsmen who should be obeying the law, looking forward to the promise, and glorifying God are acting out in wickedness. He makes this clear in verses 2-3 of chapter 1:
“O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” -Habakkuk 1:2-3
Clearly, the prophet finds himself in the midst of a dire situation. God answers that He will raise up the abominably wicked nation of the Chaldeans to pour out His judgment upon Judah (1:6). This reality prompts Habakkuk to ask questions regarding how God could use a seemingly more wicked nation to judge the one more righteous (1:12-17)? No doubt this circumstance would prompt such an inquiry. In the end, God promises to pour out His wrath upon the Chaldeans as well. He would judge the sins of Judah and those of the Chaldeans. That promise demonstrates the perfect justice of God. No individual’s sin shall go unpunished. Even for us as believers, we are not saved because God spared punishment, but because Christ took the wrath of God’s judgment we deserve. Rest assured, God will judge the wicked, they shall not escape.
2. God’s Shocking Activity
As the book unfolds it becomes clear that God was not going to proceed in the way that Habakkuk would have predicted. In fact, it takes all of five verses for this to become apparent when we read God saying to the prophet:
“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” -Habakkuk 1:5
Our finite brains made of dust cannot comprehend all the actions of our almighty God. His ways are higher than our own. The plans which He has laid are beyond what we could ever dream of in all our days. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, His activity in the world today is just as astounding as it was in the era of Habakkuk. This reality means we must depend on Him knowing that He shall do what is right according to His perfect wisdom. Everything would have seemed to be going horribly for the people of God from a human perspective. However, we see that all of it was precisely according to the plan of God bringing Him glory.
3. Societies That Abandon God’s Justice Enact Perverted Justice
The people of God are living in absolute perversion and iniquity. Habakkuk sees that reality very plainly and he also asserts:
“So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.” -Habakkuk 1:4
The law was the holy and righteous standard revealed by God Himself. It has been abandoned amongst the very people to whom God had first given it. The result of this grave tragedy was not merely that true justice failed to go forth, but also that perverted justice was instituted by the people. When a people or nation abandon God’s authoritative standard, they will promote a view of justice according to the false beliefs of their sin. That is precisely what will happen in each and every case. Our society today promotes a twisted standard justice by promoting “abortion rights” with fervor. Such a practice evidences a nation who has abandoned God and the standards of His law/Word.
4. Rest in God’s Providence
The final section of Habakkuk is one of the most captivating in all of Scripture. Having been told that his people and the Chaldeans shall see judgment, the book closes with the prophet saying:
“Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; 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.”
Even if all the natural provisions of life failed, Habakkuk would still rejoice in God. That should be the cry of every believer. Should we be in the midst of a generation where God is pouring out judgment and lose everything, still we will praise God finding joy in Him! My friends, this heart stems from one whose soul is satisfied with God entrusting themselves entirely to His good plan. May we learn from all these lessons of the ancient book of Habakkuk where we see many grand truths given to instruct us for the glory of God!
1 For some on the internet landscape who may take this comment too seriously, this is a joke 😉