Saturday, August 01, 2009

Habakkuk's Howlings

Besides being one for a Bible Spelling Bee (how many b's and k's?), Habakkuk's short book is one with such a vital message for those who cry out for justice and are tormented by the sight of the wicked prospering.

The book is the record of Habakkuk's prayers, and God's answers, before Habakkuk's final response. The scene is Jerusalem, and Habakkuk is dismayed at the prosperity of the wicked in the land. Habakkuk cries out to God in prayer, many times, and it appears as if the LORD doesn't want to hear or answer. Does God not care that justice is perverted and the wicked are winning?

God responds by revealing his plan to bring the Chaldeans (that is, the Babylonians) upon the nation to punish the people of God. The Chaldeans are the new superpower on the world stage, having defeated the Assyrians, and their own might is their god - they idolise their strength. Because of their strength and power, the smaller nations are easy pickings and prey. And worst of all, God is permitting them to do it.

Habakkuk's second complaint is perhaps justified, or at least permissible. Why is God allowing the foreign wicked to prosper against the local wicked? I mean, yes, okay, our people are bad, but have you seen the Chaldeans? Appealing to God's holiness, Habakkuk says that God cannot look at wrong, and yet God is going to allow a scenario where 'the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?' God, what are you playing at? I know we're bad, but we're not that bad.

The LORD responds by telling Habakkuk to write down the vision, the communicate the message that while his doings sometimes seem mysterious, and even baffle the righteous, that God is in control, and that while the Chaldeans prosper for a while, those who have been defeated by them will eventually taunt them with a multitude of woes - they will not ultimately prosper, and God is in control.

Chapter Three then contains Habakkuk's final response, his final prayer, which looks to God's saving acts in the past, and trusts for the same in the future - 'in wrath remember mercy.' As the Chaldeans attack, Habakkuk's trust is placed in God as he waits for the day of trouble to come upon the invaders, when they are turned back and defeated themselves.

The final verses are a great declaration of faith in God, no matter how bad the circumstances come - 'yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.' There are quite a few verses I want to come back to and blog about, but this posting gives us the big picture of what's happening in Habakkuk.

Wickedness in Jersualem &rarr Habakkuk's cry &rarr God's response of sending Chaldeans &rarr Habakkuk's complaint about greater wickedness &rarr God calls for faith and promises ultimate victory &rarr Habakkuk expresses his trust.

No comments:

Post a Comment