Reading: Habakkuk 1-3
Summary: While prophets served as God’s mouth pieces to deliver His message, Habakkuk’s approach is unique. His message centers around two question which he poses to God and Jehovah’s response. The first issue is Judah’s wickedness (remember the reigns of Manasseh and Amon). The second is prompted by God’s response to the first. He will use the Chaldeans (Babylon) to punish His own people. But how Habakkuk wondered, could God use such a wicked people to discipline his own?
Habakkuk wants to know what the Psalmist wants to know, what Zechariah wants to know, what Jeremiah wants to know, what martyred saints want to know, and what you and I want to know: How long, O Lord? (Habakkuk 1:2; Psalm 13:1; Zechariah 1:12; Jeremiah 47:6; Revelation 6:10).
How long will the Lord allow His own people to go on sinning before He acts or to allow the wicked to continue to prosper or to forget me in my own afflictions and hurts. How long before the Lord executes judgment on the wicked and blesses the righteous?
It isn’t a question of whether or not God can or will do it, but when?
Our anxiety over God’s timing is not exemplary of great faith. God, being perfect in every way, is no less so with His timing. The fact that He does not act when I think He should is but another reminder that His thoughts and ways are not only not my thoughts and ways, but they are infinitely higher than my own (Isa. 55:8-9).
So, Habakkuk has two reminders for us in our agitation over God’s apparent delays. First, “the righteous shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). An alternative reading from the footnote on this text suggests “faithfulness”. In other words, it’s not our place or responsibility to have everything figured out or to worry and fret when it appears that God has not appropriately moved in response to the circumstances of this world and my life. My job is to be faithful. Period.
The second reminder is that “the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him” (Hab. 2:20). God is where He’s supposed to be and needs to be and I should be good with that. Given that fact nothing is needed from me—silence. My questions, complaints, or irritation at God’s timing are wholly inappropriate and of no help.
None of this means I won’t still wonder, how long? It’s either that I will continue to have those questions or God will start explaining everything to me about why He does what He does.
And I’m not holding my breath.