Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Many believers are comparing our times to the time of the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk. He had a couple of serious complaints that he brought to God Who, as the narrative goes, answered him. The complaints might be summed up as follows:
(The) kingdom was broken into parties and factions that were continually biting and devouring one another. This is a lamentation to all the sons of peace: There are that raise up strife and contention (v. 3), that foment divisions, widen breaches, incense men against one another, and sow discord among brethren, by doing the work of him that is the accuser of the brethren. Strifes and contentions that have been laid asleep, and begun to be forgotten, they awake, and industriously raise up again, and blow up the sparks that were hidden under the embers. And, if blessed are the peace-makers, cursed are such peace-breakers, that make parties, and so make mischief that spreads further, and lasts longer, than they can imagine. It is sad to see bad men warming their hands at those flames which are devouring all that is good in a nation, and stirring up the fire too. 3. That the torrent of violence and strife ran so strongly as to bid defiance to the restraints and regulations of laws and the administration of justice… (Matthew Henry Commentary, 1:2-3)*
See what I mean how it parallels today?
And see how Habakkuk felt a lot like we do today prompting him to clear his schedule and make some important time alone with God, which many are likewise doing now.
He gets right to the point:
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (Habakkuk said. To God.)
Then again, as put in another Old Testament work, “There is nothing new under the sun,” so the resurgence of such a hot mess at any time in history should be of no real surprise.
But the thing is, while treading the roiling waters of frustration and righteous anger, what’s a body to do?
The narrative indicates the following:
- clear your schedule and get alone with God,
- be specific in prayer,
- be patient–God’s timing isn’t always immediate; and
- remember God’s pattern. In a nutshell: After He designed a good place for the people to live and prosper, the people rebelled, they reaped what they sowed; but
- those who turned back to God were, at length, rescued one way or another…
And–most importantly–Habakkuk listened to God’s response which reminded him of the reaping-and-sowing analogy, calmed his frustration, settled his nerves, renewed his faith, and steeled his resolve against the days ahead (for the siege wasn’t over–and ours may not be for awhile yet, either).
And (thanks from us particularly at this specific time in history) H. did as he was told:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald[b] 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[c] will certainly come
and will not delay.
I suspect Habakkuk also remembered, with a little time away from the fray for reflection, that the end game of unchecked evil is only more evil because where there are no restraints there are no rails (or they’re torn down, burned, or looted), literally and figuratively, and rage has a way of continuously limiting mental clarity and spiritual focus which exacerbates chaos and destruction.
And pretty soon, if you’ve noticed, they even turn on each other; they “eat their own,” as the saying goes. So, lose-lose.
Yet we can be saved, remembering God, His pattern, and His salvation.**
Back to our hero and, unfortunately in one sense, also our mentor in these parallel and prophesied days.
Here’s the money quote, i.e., what Habakkuk remembered and took courage and comfort in when God finished:
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to tread on the heights.
After his huddle with God, Habakkuk did not emerge fearful and cowed by the destroyers.
He knew there was light ahead.
And he followed it.
Carry on likewise.
(For it ain’t over ’til it’s over.)
*Here are additional notes from Henry with more specifics on, sadly, whence came the strife (from “those who [professed] truth”):
1:1-11 The servants of the Lord are deeply afflicted by seeing ungodliness and violence prevail; especially among those who profess the truth. No man scrupled doing wrong to his neighbour. We should long to remove to the world where holiness and love reign for ever, and no violence shall be before us. God has good reasons for his long-suffering towards bad men, and the rebukes of good men. The day will come when the cry of sin will be heard against those that do wrong, and the cry of prayer for those that suffer wrong. They were to notice what was going forward among the heathen by the Chaldeans, and to consider themselves a nation to be scourged by them. But most men presume on continued prosperity, or that calamities will not come in their days. They are a bitter and hasty nation, fierce, cruel, and bearing down all before them. They shall overcome all that oppose them. But it is a great offence, and the common offence of proud people, to take glory to themselves. The closing words give a glimpse of comfort.
**For information on salvation, see here.
For more commentaries on this little OT treasure see also:
LINK TO THE BOOK HERE: