The book of Habakkuk is one of the more interesting books in the Bible because it features a series of complaints that are brought to God from the prophet, Habakkuk. The amazing thing is that God answers these complaints. Through his answers, we see that God wants us to understand the times we live in and how to respond as people of faith. Let’s jump right in and look at the first complaint.
COMPLAINT: “GOD, HOW COME PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH EVIL?”
Habakkuk’s first complaint to God was actually pretty simple. The Israelites in his day were in a period of long spiritual decline. As a result, people neglected God in growing numbers, which caused great concern for people like Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 1:2 “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence is everywhere!’ I cry, but you do not come to save.”
Habakkuk lived in a world where people were ignoring God and his commands (Habakkuk 1:4). He wondered why God allowed all this evil to go unpunished. We have a sense of what this is like because we live in a world that increasingly approves what the Bible condemns. However, these weren’t pagans who were doing these things. They were God’s people. This first complaint can be a strong warning to Christians who are ignoring God with the way they live their lives. As Christians, we have to take a look at our own relationship with God. If we are not diligent to keep pursuing God, then we will drift away from him. Let’s look at God’s answer to Habakkuk.
ANSWER: “I’M GOD. I HAVE THINGS UNDER CONTROL.”
God graciously responds to Habakkuk’s complaint and reveals to all of us that God is still a judge, under whom nothing escapes his notice. God is not like a human judge, but is an impartial judge who upholds justice in every instance. God, as judge, has a plan for dealing with his people.
Habakkuk 1:5 “Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it.”
God is going to raise up the cruel Babylonians (Habakkuk 1:6) in order to deal with Israel. God’s judgment against Judah shocks everyone, including Habakkuk. God will deal with sin. In the next lesson, we will deal with Habakkuk’s response to God. First, let’s look at the lessons we can already gain from this portion of the book.
DON’T MISUNDERSTAND GOD’S PATIENCE
We have to be careful not to think that we are getting away with our sins. For example, if we sin and God doesn’t zap us from the sky with lightning, it doesn’t mean he approves. This is because of God’s patience and kindness toward us.
Romans 2:4 “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”
God delays his judgment toward us because he wants us to turn to him (2 Peter 3:8-9). This is what the Bible calls repentance, turning to God with your heart and attitude. That is why God delays in judging our sin: so we can repent.
GET READY FOR GOD’S JUDGMENT
In Habakkuk, we find that God’s judgment was delayed, but it was still coming. The same is true for us. God warns us today about what will happen if we keep turning away from God:
Romans 2:5 “But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.”
God’s judgment is coming on those who don’t trust in him. Now is the time for you to come to God in faith, knowing that he stands ready to forgive and restore you.