I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
The Lord’s Answer
2 Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4 See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.
What are we to do when the world is all topsy-turvy, when wrongdoing gets rewarded and good people suffer? We cry out to God that all is not as we think it should be. Habakkuk is a short book, only three chapters in length, about Habakkuk the prophet having a heartfelt conversation with God about these problems. Habakkuk asks God, “Why do you tolerate wrong?… The law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”
Problem 1: the leaders of Judah are doing unjust things. Habakkuk cries out to God.
God replies that God will send the Babylonians to punish the Jewish people for their wrongs.
Problem 2: Habakkuk cries out to God again – why will you use the Babylonians, who are even worse then the Jewish people, to enact judgment?
Our passage today is a portion of God’s second reply. Yes, God will use the Babylonians, though the enemy is puffed up and their desires are not upright. God’s greater purpose is that the “righteous will live by faith.” God’s ultimate purpose is that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14)
God’s words are as much for us today as they were in the time of Habakkuk. We too look around and see much wrongdoing, but can we trust that God has the greater purpose, can we live by faith in Him, until that day when the earth is filled with God’s glory, as awe inspiring as the mighty oceans filling the seas? What we cannot see we have to give over to trust in God, believing that God will accomplish all things in God’s intended time. That doesn’t mean we sit by passively, doing nothing. Certainly Habakkuk anguished over the unjust leaders in Judah. God asks us to combat evil as we are able, but even more, God asks us to trust in His greater purposes for good.
Lord, we praise you for your timeless Word, which speaks to us through all ages. You are good and righteous and just. Your hand is upon all people and all of creation. We look to the time when this whole earth resonates with the joy of beholding your glory, of seeing you reign as Almighty King of all creation. Let us praise you and even more, to trust you, despite whatever wrongs we see this day. Use us for good as you are good. For we pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.