Updated: Oct 14, 2021
Have you ever wondered what God is doing in the face of evil? Have you ever felt that God is turning a blind eye on injustice? Well, you can find comfort in the midst of an evil reign by turning to the book of Habakkuk.
Habakkuk prayed “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.” (1:2-3). To him God seems to look idly at wrong. God is doing nothing about the injustice of his day.
In Habakkuk we find a believer who is not passive about social injustice. He’s concerned about the socio-political issues of his nation. So he sees the deplorable condition of Israel’s sinfulness and takes it all to God in prayer. He falsely assumes that God is turning a blind eye. So he is determined to bring these issues to God’s attentions in prayer.
What’s shocking to Habakkuk is God’s response to his petition. “I am raising up the Babylonians, that bitter and hasty nation” (1:6) to punish Israel. God wasn’t indeed looking idly at sin. He wasn’t an absentee God who watches from afar and is indifferent about what is happening in the world.
God was far from being idle. Evil was not getting the upper hand. He was in full control. The problem was that Habakkuk didn’t see this. In fact God was preparing the wicked Babylonians to punish Israel. And after punishing Israel, he would turn around and punish the Babylonians too. God is using the Babylonians not because they were more righteous than Israel. In fact they were the very opposite. They were more wicked than Israel and that’s what troubled Habakkuk. How could he use a nation so wicked to punish a people more righteous then they? Well, the time for the Babylonians hadn’t come. But sure enough, their evil will be deal with. God will sure judge Babylon. But for now God warns the Babylonians by issuing the five prophetic woes to them through Habakkuk.
Woe To You
The sins of the Babylonians had reached its fullness. Just as the sin of your oppressors haven’t reached their full measure. They day God chooses to deal with them, you will realize that God is indeed not idle about the circumstances of our lives.
One: “Woe to him who increases what is not his -for how long? – And to him who loads himself with many pledges?” (2:6).
Two: “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of disaster!” (2:9).
Three: “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity!” (2:12).
Four: “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!” (2:15).
Five: “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, yet in it there is no breath at all.” (2: 19).
Confidence In God
Having realized that God is not idly looking at the situations of our lives, but instead he’s doing more than we can imagine and that he’s fully aware of the sinfulness of our enemies, we can put our confidence in him. Habakkuk said, “Even if the olive tree will not bud…” yet will I praise him. It’s a nice way to say that I will praise you, Lord, through all circumstances of life.