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A WORD FOR TODAY, July 26, 2021
“The revelation which Habakkuk the prophet saw. Yahweh, how long will I cry, and you will not hear? I cry out to you ‘Violence!’ and will you not save? Why do you show me iniquity, and look at perversity? For destruction and violence are before me. There is strife, and contention rises up. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails; for the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.” Habakkuk 1:1-4, WEB
Habakkuk the prophet struggled with the world that seemed so unfair to him. He was consumed by the burden the moral dilemma of a holy God who allowed bad things to happen to good people. He asked our question for the day, “How long will I cry and you will not hear?” Haven’t we all felt that way sometime? Haven’t we all wondered why it seems God is deaf to our pleas for His grace?
The book of Habakkuk is a conversation between God and the prophet which serves as an oracle for the people of Israel. This oracle was a burden for the prophet. Habakkuk appeared to be a whiner, crying out to God about His slow response to the injustice in Israel. “How long?” he asked. Habakkuk was speaking for all the righteous in Israel who had waited so long to hear God’s answer to the wickedness in His people. Habakkuk simply could not understand why God was allowing evil to rule in the world. He did not understand why God was not disciplining His people so that they would turn back to Him.
Sound familiar? How many of us have cried out with the same sense of wonder at the delay of God’s justice? We are frustrated by the suffering we see in the world, uncertain how God could have no concern for His people. Habakkuk knew that the people had sinned against God, but he also knew that God could make them turn back. He asked, “How long?” He wanted to know how long it would be until God brought His people to repentance.
The answer that he received was even more shocking. God answered that the Babylonians would discipline the people of Israel. Habakkuk was upset by this answer because he could not understand how God could use an even more ungodly nation to do such an important work. He suffered the burden of seeing the future of God’s people that would include pain, exile and more injustice. This is not pleasant for anyone to hear, but prophets were often burdened with visions of things they would rather not see. God’s answer was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear. It was shocking and disturbing to think that God would use wickedness against His own people. But God assured Habakkuk that this was just the beginning of the story.
God works in His own time. We look around us and see a world that is full of injustice and suffering and we wonder when God will bring change to the world. God answers our cry with a promise, “Though it takes time, wait for it; because it will surely come.” (2:3b) Babylon would bring Israel to her knees, but God had not forgotten His people. Babylon would also see God’s justice and Israel would be restored. God knows what He is doing and He knows the time. We only know a see a small part of God’s plan and we are called to trust that God does know what He is doing. We do not want to wait, but that is why we live by faith. Our faithful and faith filled response to God’s grace is trusting that He will do what is right when it is right.
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