Habakkuk 1

Things Are Not Always As They Seem.

“The Lord replied, ‘Look around at the nations; look and be amazed!a For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.'” ­– Habakkuk 1:5 NLT

Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah. He lived in the southern kingdom of Judah prior to the fall of the city of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. So he had a ringside seat to all the attrocities going on inside the nation of Judah. He also had to watch as the enemy surrounded the nation and prepared to destroy it. His unique vantage point caused Habakkuk to wrestle with questions about what God was doing or not doing in regards to His chosen people. As a prophet, Habakkuk was appalled at the sin and injustice going on within the borders of Judah. “Violence is everywhere!” he cried out to God. Evil and misery surrounded him. Justice was non-existent and it seemed as if the entire population of Judah loved to fight and argue over everything. The wicked outnumbered the righteous. And from Habakkuk’s perspective, it appeared as if God was doing nothing about it.

But God assures Habakkuk that his perception was far from reality. God was doing something about it. Something that Habakkuk and his fellow citizens of Judah would find unbelievable. God was going to use the pagan nation of Babylon to punish and destroy His own chosen people. Yes, God was going to use the wicked to destroy the righteous – except that the people of Judah were far from righteous in their behavior. They had become as wicked as the nations that had once occupied the land of Canaan. There were just as idolatrous, morally impure, and deserving of God’s wrath as any other nation on the face of the earth. The presence of the Temple and their position as God’s chosen people was not going to spare them from divine punishment. God was going to act, and yes, He was going to use a nation that was “deeply guilty, for their own strength is their god” (Habakkuk 1:11b NLT).

Habakkuk was shocked. “”Surely you do not plan to wipe us out?” (Habakkuk 1:12b NLT). God had told him he wouldn’t believe it, and he didn’t. The people of God saw themselves as indestructible and above reproach. Even though the people of Judah had watched their kinsmen in Israel suffer a similar fate and fall to the Assyrians, they continued to live in open rebellion to God, expecting Him to continue to protect them because they were the descendants of Abraham and heirs of the covenant God had made to Abraham. From their perspective, God needed them to fulfill His promise. They were essential to God’s future plans. So Habakkuk was blown away at the thought that God would actually destroy them. He couldn’t understand how any of this was going to work out for the best. But Habakkuk, even though he was a prophet, suffered from a lack of vision. He was myopic and focused on the here and now. He couldn’t see past the present and understand that God had something bigger in mind than the preservation of a handful of Jews in the land of Palestine. God didn’t need the Temple or the city of Jerusalem to accomplish His will. He didn’t need Habakkuk, Jeremiah, or any other Jew living in the land at that time. God could and would accomplish His divine plan in spite of them. The fact that He would preserve and protect even a single one of them was an expression of His grace, not His need for their help. God’s plan is preeminent, and He will do whatever He has to do to see it accomplished. And because God is righteous, all that He does is right and just. He makes no mistakes. His actions are always right and His motivations pure. Habakkuk did not understand. None of it made sense to him. But God was in control. Things were not as they seemed. God was going to do what needed to be done and the outcome would be just what was needed for righteousness to prevail.

Father, open my eyes and help me to see life from Your perspective. Allow me to view the circumstances of my life from Your vantage point and not mine. I can become so focused on my own desires and what I believe needs to happen, that I lose sight of what You are doing in the world. Never let me forget that You are in control, even when things appear out of control. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men