We’re delving deeply into the prophets this week. Some of the language seems pretty strange! I have a feeling that there will be a lot to say this week, so I will post this today!
Habakkuk questioned God. He had some of the same questions as Job: “Why do good people suffer?” “Why isn’t God answering my prayer?” “Why does everybody seem to be against me?”.
Habakkuk lived during the reign of Jehoiakim (you’ll read what God thinks of this king next week). The king was leading Judah further away from God. The leaders refused to obey God’s law; the rich exploited the poor; the courts were crooked; bribery was rampant. They forgot God’s command:
You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit. 7 Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and righteous, for I will not acquit the wicked. 8 And you shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted and subverts the cause of those who are in the right. Ex 23:6-8 (ESV)
Habakkuk didn’t understand how God could use a wicked nation to punish His people. It seemed inconsistent. Through the dialog in this story God reminds us that His timetable and our timetable are frequently different.
Habakkuk was a watchman on the wall. In ancient days, these men were responsible for staying awake and looking for trouble. If he fell asleep and didn’t warn the people, his hands would be stained with their blood. But if he warned them and they refused to listen, he was in the clear. Habakkuk had warned the people, but they didn’t listen.
Today we are all watchmen, tasked by God to warn the world of the evils to come and to share the Gospel with those we contact. Are you fulfilling your duties as a watchman?
Chapter 3 is such a phenomenal set of verses, and it may have been used as a “prayer psalm” (the word Selah is used three times, and it’s the same word used in many Psalms. We’re not sure exactly what it means, but many feel that it it’s a pause given so the participants could ponder what had been said or sung). It’s ending gives me great comfort, and I hope it gives you the same comfort.
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. Hab 3:17-19 (ESV)