The change we see in Habakkuk is the result of encountering God.
At the start, he struggles to comprehend the world around him. He feels there’s no response to his prayers. He hasn’t lost his faith in God but is struggling to see the point.
Now there’s a change in tone. He’s no longer complaining. It appears he’s seen that God has done something. Why the sudden change? In chapter 2, God shows his true might and power. This prayer is a direct response to a personal encounter with God.
Pray and declare
He prays and proclaims the God he serves. We are charged with these two roles. Often we are left with the question of how. Habakkuk looks at the world around him and is awestruck at who God is (v2). Instead of anger, he is rejoicing in the Lord. He tells us God accepts us feeling angry but we shouldn’t stay that way. We can allow our attitudes to shift. We need to pray asking God to show us his glory.
Pray for mercy
Witnessing God’s power is no easy thing. It’s changed Habakkuk. He comes away feeling physically ill. If we meet with God this way it will also change us. He was so affected that he describes it as decay creeping into his bones. After seeing the wrath of God and what he’s capable of, we can only turn inwardly and look at our sin. We see ourselves for who we are. Habakkuk will wait patiently (v16).
Look to the cross and be joyful
Habakkuk sees the God who delivers his people and is joyful and is able to call him Saviour (v18). He’s now rejoicing. At the cross, this is where God says he is committed to justice. It’s the cross where Jesus took our punishment. It helps us to pray for a broken world. We know God will act in a final judgement. No matter what situations we face we can pray to God knowing he will act.
Rest in the sovereign Lord
We can be content like Habakkuk (v19). He finishes by ascribing the place where has arrived with feet like a deer walking on the heights. The danger is still real. Habakkuk is now resting in God as his source of strength. We can be changed when we see God’s glory.
We need God to break our apathetic hearts and lead us to trust in the grace of Jesus. Knowing God through Jesus can allow us to be joyful. God is enough.
“Woe” is an appropriate response to our world. Politicians have tried to create a world without injustice. They haven’t sold the problem that Habakkuk brings to the Lord. They can’t. Injustice is our nature. Politics can’t change human nature. The earth will be filled with the knowledge of God’s glory when he acts to end injustice. We should pray for mercy. God will act to end injustice.
Pray with confidence that God will act to end injustice
The judgement that God describes is what he has decided will happen. He has done it in the past (Babylonians in Daniel 4-5). It’s deserved.
Pray with confidence that God’s response to injustice will be just
You can’t have a God who will judge others and not judge you. We see the God we really need. He isn’t just aware of the injustice. His response is proportional. We should bring our questions to him in prayer, asking him to bring the injustice he’s promised. The Babylonians were guilty of many charges. They’re charges that could be made of us. The desires are often acted out at the expense of others. Our world is full of injustice and is fuelled by these desires. God has a proportionate response. It’s having all the evil you’ve done to others brought back on yourself. We try to convince ourselves we don’t deserve it.
Pray for mercy because God’s justice will affect all of us
How much do we care about those who suffer? When we get success who do we credit? God’s judgement isn’t just guaranteed and just – it’s universal. When accused we all deny our guilt. That’s human nature, but that doesn’t happen here. We are all deserving of God’s judgement. God sees two distinct groups of people. His enemies and the righteous. The distinction is based on what they believe.
Jesus is the one person who has always been perfectly just. He has paid the punishment. God’s judgement is escapable. That’s our hope. Our faith and our righteousness. In his patience God is paving the way for people to put their trust in Jesus. There are yet more people to trust in him. We don’t need a political or philosophical solution because we have faith.
Walking through fog is similar to Habakkuk’s experience as a prophet. It’s confusing and difficult. Habakkuk asks the question is God enough? He isn’t seeing great progress. It seems God keeps allowing evil to continue and to thrive. Do you feel you’re trying to keep going but there’s not enough light to carry on? As Habakkuk encounters God he journeys from doubt to trust. We are still troubled as to why the world is the way it is. His faith isn’t in understanding what God is doing, but knowing him well enough.
Faith is not impossible – we can bring our complaints to God
Habakkuk uses imagery of fish being swallowed up. He knows his people aren’t perfect. He sees that God is acting but complains he is using evil people. This question is ok to ask. We wonder how and why God uses evil people to achieve his purposes. Habakkuk feels uncomfortable. It wasn’t wrong for him to complain. God doesn’t rebuke him. We must take our complaints to God. The relationship God wants with you is honesty.
Faith is possible because we can depend on God’s promises
Habakkuk returns to the God he knows in his confusion. He has experience of depending on God. In the uncertainty he depends on the God he knows. Though we don’t understand all of God’s ways we can trust him. We can trust that he is sovereign over evil. He has revealed himself to us and given his promises. God has shown his righteousness (v13) since the beginning of time.
Habakkuk knows that God has promised to be with his people. He is for the Israelites, not against. Jesus died so we don’t have to. God is holy and keeps his promises. Habakkuk waits expectantly. He’s standing on the edge of the city and is expectant. In difficult situations we wait for God to work. Trusting God’s promises is the foundation of faith.
Faith is hopeful for the end
God replies with a revelation (2:2-4). God’s ways are often unsearchable. God shows that he sees the Babylonians’ evil. He will deal with it. In the end, God will judge evil. God is coming to set the world right. Faith leads us to righteousness. It’s through the faith that Habakkuk has shown that we can gain righteousness. There is enough light to keep going and to keep praying and speaking for Jesus. Will you relate to God through his promises? Will you wait hopefully for God to come back and put things right?
Are you tired of God not answering your prayers? You’re not alone. Perhaps you’re just like Habakkuk. It’s a book that’s easy to overlook. We know his complaint intimately. He was sent to pray for the nation. Sin and justice were rife. No one listens to him. Calling for help in the face of evil and feel like no one is answering. How many times you cried out ‘how long, Lord?’. It resonates with one of the deepest parts of us. It echoes our deepest struggles. Why doesn’t God act in the face of man made evil.
We know we need to speak and pray for the world, though a lot of the time we simply don’t want to. We’ve grown fatigued with our prayer life. We can see Habakkuk understands how we feel. He puts forward a different question. Is God enough for me to continue to pray and speak for the world in the face of evil? He goes from doubt to strength (3:19).
Knowing the active God is enough
God says he’s going to do something. He promises to act. He says he won’t understand. Perhaps the reason we think God isn’t doing anything is that we don’t see two seemingly unrelated things interact. Perhaps in our prayer life we don’t see God in the middle. We need to realise God is active even when we feel that he isn’t. Sometimes it will confuse us. God says even if he draws the line for us, we still won’t understand. God will act in ways we cannot understand. We can see we can trust him to do so.
The Babylonians are no joke. Is that how God is going to act?
Knowing the ruling God is enough
Habakkuk goes from wondering why God doesn’t act to acknowledging that he does and that he rules over everything (1:12b). We must come to know that God uses evil people to achieve his purposes, that he rules and governs over everything. Habakkuk doesn’t say God causes evil, but he does use it. He will judge it all in the end. Knowing God is sovereign is key for us to move from doubt to trust.
Knowing the trustworthy God is enough
On the cross God declares and shows us he can use evil for good. Though we are filled with sin, Jesus died and had all of God’s righteous anger poured out on him, even though he was perfect, so that we can have a relationship with him. It’s both God’s deliberate plan and it’s wicked (Acts 2:23). God has shown himself to be utterly trustworthy. It’s our mark in history that we can look back to.
Sometimes the answers to our prayers may not look like what we think they will. Truly knowing these three things is enough for us to keep praying in the face of evil. We can be sure that God will act in righteousness.