I am preparing a sermon on Habakkuk. Eugene Peterson says this about Habakkuk. “That God-followers don’t get preferential treatment in life always comes as a surprise. But it’s also a surprise to find that there are few men and women within the Bible who show up alongside us as such moments….Most prophets, most of the time, speak God’s Word to us………[But] Habakkuk speaks our word to God……The prophet realized that God was going to use the godless military machine of Babylon to bring God’s judgment on God’s own people….It didn’t make sense and Habakkuk was quick and bold to say so.”
So what can we learn from Habakkuk. First, its OK to bring your complaints to God. “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do no listen?” (Hab. 1:2) The prophet had been praying for some time about the unjust, violent conditions in Judah. He brought his complaints to God, rather then complaining about the cultural conditions. Men, don’t vent before others about how difficult life has become, rather bring your grievances to the Lord. Do your grieving in secret before the Lord.
Secondly, God’s answer. “Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed…..I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.” (1:5-6). Babylon was not yet a super power, but God was preparing them to bring judgment on his people. Men, don’t allow preconceived notions of God, prevent you from seeing what God is doing in the earth. He is not inactive, but is in control of human events. Be attentive to his voice, then secondarily to the latest new cycle.
Thirdly, Habakkuk’s response. He did not understand, but he trusted God. “O Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die” (1:12). He was ready to face the crisis, even though he was perplexed. He would wait. “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” (2:1). Men, our most important activity in these trying days is watchful prayer, helping us to respond in a godly manner.
Fourthly, God’s command. God asks Habakkuk to write down His answer so other understand that justice will prevail. “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it….Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (2:2-3). God helped Habakkuk to see the difference between the ungodly and the faithful. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance – full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive” (2:2 – Message). Through a series of five woes, God shows how judgment will come. Men, justice will prevail for those in right standing before God.
Fifthly, Habakkuk’s prayer. Habakkuk started asking God to “do something” and ends up praying for God to show mercy. “Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy.” (3:2). He trusted in God.
“Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us” (3:16b), while he was praising God, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (3:19). Men, in the midst of the cultural chaos, cry out for mercy as you worship God. It will change our perspective.