Habakkuk 1

Habakkuk 1

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The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

  O LORD, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not hear?
  Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
  Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
  Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
  So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
  For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.

The Lord’s Answer

  “Look among the nations, and see;
    wonder and be astounded.
  For I am doing a work in your days
    that you would not believe if told.
  For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
    that bitter and hasty nation,
  who march through the breadth of the earth,
    to seize dwellings not their own.
  They are dreaded and fearsome;
    their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
  Their horses are swifter than leopards,
    more fierce than the evening wolves;
    their horsemen press proudly on.
  Their horsemen come from afar;
    they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
  They all come for violence,
    all their faces forward.
    They gather captives like sand.
  At kings they scoff,
    and at rulers they laugh.
  They laugh at every fortress,
    for they pile up earth and take it.
  Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
    guilty men, whose own might is their god!”

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

  Are you not from everlasting,
    O LORD my God, my Holy One?
    We shall not die.
  O LORD, you have ordained them as a judgment,
    and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.
  You who are of purer eyes than to see evil
    and cannot look at wrong,
  why do you idly look at traitors
    and remain silent when the wicked swallows up
    the man more righteous than he?
  You make mankind like the fish of the sea,
    like crawling things that have no ruler.
  He brings all of them up with a hook;
    he drags them out with his net;
  he gathers them in his dragnet;
    so he rejoices and is glad.
  Therefore he sacrifices to his net
    and makes offerings to his dragnet;
  for by them he lives in luxury,
    and his food is rich.
  Is he then to keep on emptying his net
    and mercilessly killing nations forever?


Habakkuk 1 Commentary

by Hank Workman

There are times we all have questions.  Many of these questions go to the heart of things as we look at our world, our life even, and wonder where God is in the middle of it all.  For some, they settle into their doubts and simply move on with life.  They become cynical and hardened to the truths of God.  For others, they may continue to ask questions and look for the answers.  They seek God in all of the wreckage of life and the world, putting their trust in Him.

Habakkuk was such a man with many questions.  A prophet more than likely during the time between the fall of Nineveh and the invasion of Babylon, he looked at the state of the world and was completely broken.  Fascinatingly, the name Habakkuk means “He who embraces” or “He who clings”.  He would live up to this name of his as the questions rattled off before God, did not push him toward indifference but that of clinging to the promises and character of God.  He would trust God regardless of how things looked.

God heard the questions and responded.  He promised to do amazing acts that would not only astound Habakkuk but the people themselves.

There are many times circumstances seem unbearable.  We look at the situation and wonder how will God protect?  How will He overcome the situations that bear down on our hearts and bring a turnaround?  Yes, there are times when it’s personal, we wonder even if God hears our prayers or cares.  Yet we must remind ourselves of the character of God.  Despite how things look, He is in control.  He is.  He always has a plan, even in the middle of such heartache or turmoil.  He has a working out of things we may not perceive due to how personal the issue may be even.  What He asks of us is to trust Him.  What He reminds us of, which the peace of the Holy Spirit can bring, is to wait for His movement.  The challenge today is for us to live the very meaning of the name of Habakkuk.  “Embrace” this God who saves and is faithful. “Cling” to the promises of God even though it seems so unreachable.  Seek the Holy Spirit to answer questions but also strengthen you through this period.  God is in control, not man.

Habakkuk 1 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

Many years ago, in 2010, I was driving home from work heading north toward Fort Wayne. My windshield wipers were frantically trying to keep pace with the torrential downpour of a typical Midwestern summer thunderstorm. As I turned to drive down Highway 27 North, I spotted a young teenager walking in the rain with cargo shorts and no shirt. He didn’t seem to mind getting wet but I stopped and offered him a ride anyway. He agreed and jumped in my car soaking wet. His name was Joe.

I quickly discovered that Joe was a determined youngster who had run away from home. He was heading toward Michigan. Somehow, in his mind, he believed that he could escape life’s problems by changing his geographical location. His problems were extensive. Depressed. Addicted. Abandoned. Suicidal. The great equalizer for Joe’s fatalistic attitude was hope, but that was nonexistent in his world. Even though he put up a good front about running away and starting a new life up north, his genuine feelings were revealed in his reflections on the past that he could seemingly never escape and definitely never forget.

We stopped at Subway where he was able to eat for the first time that day as we continued to talk about his journey. Keep in mind that I was not a pastor at this time. In fact, I wasn’t even genuinely following Jesus. I was a typical 20-something newly married and totally self-centered. My focus was squarely upon my own goals, my own accomplishments, and my own happiness. I picked Joe up because my humanity felt sorry for him, not because I wanted to tell him about Jesus. In fact, there was an annoyance factor present as I had assumed he just wanted a ride down the street and then I could go on my way. But as Joe forced me to look deeper at him, God forced me to take a deeper look at myself.

I knew about the hope of Jesus and was sure that He was the answer to the massive hole in Joe’s heart. But I wasn’t even following wholeheartedly, so I struggled to know where to begin. How could I ask this young suicidal kid to follow the Savior that I myself wasn’t interested in following? He didn’t know about Jesus and saw no reason to follow. I knew about Jesus, saw lots of reasons to follow, but refused to. As far as I’m concerned, the only major difference between Joe and me that day was that he had a terrible life and I’d had a pretty good one. Sad, but true.

As we arrived back at my house in Fort Wayne, Joe wanted to go on his way. He thanked me for my generosity but said he didn’t want to be a burden to me anymore, and he felt that it was all for nothing since he really didn’t have much to live for anyway. Once again, I assured him there was a purpose for his life and that God did love him. But his fatalism was too much. I placed my hand on his shoulder and pleaded with Joe in prayer not to lose hope and to trust the words that I was speaking to him. After my prayer, he thanked me once again but said once more that it probably won’t matter. He had screwed up his entire life and that’s all he knew how to do. This is how it had always been for him and this is how it will always be. As he walked out my front door and back out into the rain that evening, my heart was broken into pieces.

For days, weeks, and months following, I could not shake this experience with Joe. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. I was enraged at myself, first and foremost. How could I not help him? What could I have said differently? What if I had actually been following Jesus and studying His Word… would things have been different? My questions grew deeper and I began to question God’s sovereignty. Why did God allow this to happen to Joe? Why didn’t He step in and change his life? Does God see what’s going on down here?

The night Joe left, I opened my Bible. I didn’t open it because I was forced to, or because I was told I should, and it definitely wasn’t because I felt guilty. I opened it with a broken and humble heart searching for concrete answers. I opened my Bible at random directly to Habakkuk 1. I had never read Habakkuk before but I began reading.

O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?  3  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.  4  So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.  5  “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.

Habakkuk 1:2-5 ESV

I tasted these words to the core of my soul. They struck me in a way I had never felt before. And then the moment came, which many of you have experienced when I read words on the page that God was undoubtedly speaking directly to me. Verse 5.

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told

Habakkuk 1:5 ESV

At that moment, I had to make a decision. Would I trust and believe these words despite what I had just seen with my own eyes, or, would I walk away abandoning the disappointment of Joe to the deepest and darkest corners of my mind?

Let me ask you. Can you believe these words today? Can you believe that Jesus is doing something in your day, in your life, in your heart – and the mystery of it, the power within it, the hope running through it – though sometimes blinded by the sludge of sin – is so amazing that you would not believe it even if you were told?

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