Habakkuk — I can relate.

Bible References: Book of Habakkuk

Heart of Story: This prophet is like me who asks God, “Why are you letting these evil times happen?” At the same time, Habakkuk affirms his faith in God, no matter what occurs in his immediate environment.

Back Story: In the Bible Habakkuk is identified as a minor prophet, certainly, not because his writing was less important than many other prophets, but because it was brief. Habakkuk is only 3 chapters long. Many learned scholars believe that Habakkuk was a Levite and a member of the Levitical choir in God’s Temple. Probably, he lived in Jerusalem. His book is dated between 606 and 597 BC, after the fall of Nineveh (Assyria) and before the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians.  Habakkuk is completely different from other prophet’s writings in that the book was not written to Judah, Israel, or Judah’s enemies. Habakkuk is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. It provides us with acceptable ways to complain to God. The book ends with a vision to Habakkuk of God’s glory.

Story Line: In the first chapter of Habakkuk, he has the temerity to ask God why God is allowing certain happenings in Judah, particularly in Jerusalem, where Habakkuk lives. Habakkuk first question to God in effect was: If you are so powerful, God, why do you let the wicked flourish and good people suffer?

God’s answer is that he is raising up the Babylonians to enact retribution on the wicked inhabitants of Judah. Habakkuk is stunned by God’s answer. God  is going to use the Babylonians to enact retribution on Judah. Everyone in the world at that time knew that the Babylonians were evil, wicked, perverted.

Habakkuk’s second question to God was, how can You, a just and righteous judge, use these cruel, wicked Babylonians? These guys are more wicked than Judah! Then, Habakkuk attempts to support his assertion by describing the awful behaviors of Babylonians.

God does not answer Habakkuk immediately. Yet, Habakkuk firmly believed that God would respond to him and God would do it in his own time. As Habakkuk waited for God’s answer, he watched to see what God did and would do. Habakkuk looked for signs to explain God’s seeming non-response.

In God’s second answer to Habakkuk, God gave Habakkuk a revelation in a vision. God told Habakkuk to write it down and share it with others.  God revealed to Habakkuk what was going to occur at the end of the ages, the final outcome of the wicked.

Finally, Habakkuk affirms that he will trust in God regardless of the seeming devastation on the earth.

Pondering Relationships:  No where in this book do we read that Habakkuk has a relationship with anyone but God. In that relationship even though Habakkuk is the created and God the creator, Habakkuk questions some of God’s decisions, i.e., why aren’t You punishing the wicked, why would You use the horrible Babylonians as your instrument of retribution.

Habakkuk’s dialogue with God shows that it is okay for each of us to question God. The way that we question God is important. Reread Habakkuk’s honest perplexity about God’s sovereign actions. Habakkuk wasn’t rude or derisive. He wanted to know God’s answers.

When I read Habakkuk’s questioning of God, I remember Mary (the mother of Jesus) questioning the angel in regard to how she was going to have a baby given that she never has intercourse with a man. Ponder Habakkuk and Mary’s honest perplexity and God and the angel’s responses to them explaining God’s decision. Now, think about Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, questioning the angel. Zechariah must have been derisive or disbelieving of the angel’s words or the angel would not have condemned Zechariah to muteness during the 9 months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy.

Reflection: It is okay to meet God with our honest perplexities and questions.

Copyright: March 8, 2019; Carolyn A. Roth

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