Habakkuk 1:1-11

The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
    but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
    but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.

The Lord’s Answer

5 “Look at the nations and watch—
    and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
    that you would not believe,
    even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
    that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
    to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
    they are a law to themselves
    and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
    fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
    their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9     they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
    and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
    and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
    by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
    guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”


Habakkuk was a prophet during the reign of King Jehoiakim, around the same time that Jeremiah was writing.  Jehoiakim is noted in 2 Chronicles 36:5-8 as a king who did evil in the sight of the Lord, and just like most rulers he had influence over the people and how they lived.  Habakkuk opens his writing with the first of two complaints against what he is witnessing among God’s people.

Habakkuk is distraught over the injustice he is witnessing between the people of Israel.  It seems that he is concerned about the actual system of justice under the law which people are distorting.  This is not unlike what we witness today in our societies.  The laws of God are made very clear to us in the Bible and yet, because of the ignorance to read it, we do not know where the real truth lies.  Take the 10 commandments for instance.  There are some that everyone knows by heart, such as: do not murder, do not steal.  We all agree that these are punishable crimes, and are against the law.  However, there are people murdering children and stealing time from their employers each day that are condoned for their accomplishments.

We are seeing the same thing Habakkuk saw – distortion of the law.  He complains that justice is paralyzed, and in a way this is correct.  However, ultimate justice will always win, because this life is just a passing glimpse.  Those who do evil will certainly get what they deserve in the end, and forever.  I find myself stuck in this same torture as Habakkuk – seeing evil and injustice all around, and feeling like God is sitting idly by while so many are perishing.  But as Christians we must always remember that God has had a plan since before creation.  He does not let all of this go unnoticed.  On the contrary, even the bad things are being used for God’s ultimate glory, and His people’s ultimate good.

“16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1

Notice that as God begins to explain what is going to take place among the Israelites He states: “I am raising up the Babylonians“.  God, Himself, is at work in the very people that will oppress the Israelites.  He describes them as a great terror, as prideful, and bent on destruction.  God has actively made these people this way for His purposes.  The Babylonians are a ‘law unto themselves’; they do what they please and that is what is excepted.  There is no law that binds them to fairness or truth.  They are gods in their own minds and will  move forward in doing what gives them pleasure and power.  When they have finished with one place and people they quickly move on because their thirst for power cannot be quenched.

Verse 11 gives us the reason for all of this unbridled evil: their god.  Notice that they do not belong to the one true God.  Their god is themselves, pride, and Satan.  Even though God is using them here to bring judgement on the Israelites, He will soon also judge them.  “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” – 1 John 2:16.  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12.

This is one of the hardest things we must come to accept as Christians, and even as people in general: God is in control of everything. This is what is referred to as God’s sovereignty.  Every single thing that happens, even when you drop your pen, is because God has ordained it.  He does not just look down the corridor of time to see what you will choose and therefor place things in front of you to choose from.  No, He places the desires of your heart into your heart, so you choose what He wants – every single time.

Romans 9 states it very clearly:

16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?”20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?

22 What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

So we get a small glimpse of God’s sovereignty in these first few verses of Habakkuk.  These truths should make us rejoice, even in the pain of what we deem is unfair.  To us, who are unable to see over the horizon, choosing one person for salvation while not another is blasphemous, but we are not God.  We cannot see the end, and the whys.  We are incapable of making the ultimate correct decisions to reach the best possible outcome for God’s glory… but He isn’t.  What we should focus on is why God chose us, and not someone else.  What makes us so worthy to be saved?  Nothing.  We are no better than anyone else, infact we all deserve death.  But God in His grace has given us life, and our attitudes should be one of thanksgiving and mercy to others because of His great mercy to us.

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