Habakkuk 1 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
There is a lot of complaining in the Bible. People are always complaining to God: Why? How long? are some common complaints. No one likes to hear complaints. You might think God would get tired of complaining people. Sometimes both God and God’s people utter almost the same thing at the same time. Numbers 14:3, “Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword?” Then God find fault in 14:11, “How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me . . . ?” So Habakkuk continues the refrain,”O Lord, how long shall I cry for help. . . and why do you idly look at wrong?” v. 2-3. Or in v. 13, Habakkuk is beside himself trying to make sense of God’s ways, “why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?”
I am a big complainer due to my self-centeredness, pride, jealousy, and the hundreds of other sins I wallow in. I guess I think I know better than God. Habakkuk saw his own people in verses 2-4 run amok in Israel and by their callousness hurt God’s cause and God’s people. “So the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth . . . so justice goes forth perverted.” These sins cause anguish, anxiety, and sorrow for Habakkuk. So a little encouragement from God would go a long way to ease Habakkuk’s sorrow.
Then God speaks in vs. 5-11 which only (temporarily) pours salt in Habakkuk’s wound. God is bringing a bitter and hasty nation, who are dreaded and feared, who come for violence and they are guilty men, whose own might is their god” v. 5-11. This nation, the Chaldeans, are God’s answer to Habakkuk’s complaint. How would you feel with that answer? How do you feel when you hear you or someone you love has cancer? Or when they die? What about a baby that you lost? How do we react when we lose a job, a home, or the loss of a child? These are one breath at a time moments that seem like there is no hope or future.
Habakkuk feels confused, upset, and certainly could not understand the incongruity of a righteous God using such unrighteous people to accomplish His will. Why would a holy God use such bad people? The next chapter has a response the Apostle Paul uses in the New Testament.
Habakkuk is right to feel perplexed and God is right in all He does. Oh, so simple to write but so hard to accept in the losses of our lives. If you have not experienced deep, bone-jarring loss, you may. Some of you have experienced pain that tempted you to leave your faith for the nihilism of our culture. You know how searing loss can be and how alone you can feel in this world.
But when you juxtapose evil people and God’s will behind the destruction, well, that is just too much for some people. Yet as we keep reading Habakkuk we see that God is in control so the “but the righteous shall live by his faith” 2:4. That is where we must remain: living by faith, trusting in Christ. It may seem to some like hopeless passive place. For us, this is the place where we belong. And where we remain.