I praise God that He gives us what we need not what we want. I am so thankful that He’s sovereign and in control of everything and that in spite of how scary things look I know I can trust Him to be good. But when life gets scary, sometimes it’s hard for us to remember His faithfulness especially when facing the unexpected. Habakkuk talked with God and asked Him why He allowed sin to go unpunished. God replied that He was going to punish sin and He was going to use the Babylonians to do that. This announcement that an cruel nation that worshipped its own military might was going to be God’s instrument of judgment was beyond shocking to the prophet—crushing might be a better word for how Habakkuk felt. He knew the kind of people the Babylonians were and therefore he knew the danger his people, friends and family, were in.
First of all, notice in Habakkuk 1:12, the prophet appeals to the eternal character of God and His promise to Israel. God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that the children of Israel. Because God is eternal and His covenant was an everlasting covenant, the prophet reasoned “We shall not die”. He assumed that with such a fierce enemy that the nation of Israel would be wiped off the face of the Earth. And from the descriptions we read in God’s revelation to Habakkuk that sounds about right. One thing is for sure, they weren’t coming over to play tiddlywinks.
The prophet’s second point is that because God is holy and pure, it doesn’t make sense for Him to use sinners to accomplish His purposes. In fact, Habakkuk sees this as out of character for God. The latter half of verse 12 in most Bibles is punctuated with a period. I think it would be better taken as a question. “God, how can you use them?” The fact is, God can use all circumstances, people, and places to accomplish His sovereign will. God never causes sin and God is not evil, but even sin and evil are no surprise to God and they can do nothing to thwart His purposes. As vile as the Babylonians were, God was able to use their vileness as a tool to discipline His people Israel.
Finally, Habakkuk asks “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” His point in Habakkuk 1:13-17 seems to be “You know what they’re like, Lord. How can you look at them when you know they treat people like the catch of the day in a seafood restaurant?” The Babylonians treated the people they conquered harshly and eventually that would come back to haunt them. But when God revealed the fact that they were going to conquer Israel to the prophet, all Habakkuk knew was that his people were going to be treated as little more than raw material for them to build the Babylonian empire. Because of their conquest, Habakkuk 1:16 tells us, the Babylonians lived well—on the backs of those they conquered and enslaved. Ultimately, Habakkuk wonders “Will they go on like this forever?”
Now, friends, you and I know that God will ultimately punish sin. So, when we face a situation like Habakkuk and there are people acting in ways that we know are sinful and we wonder where God is, we can remember that He is where He was—in Heaven, on His throne, right where He was when He punished His Son on the cross for that sin that grieves us. Because He is faithful, we can trust Him, no matter how much we hurt.
Unless otherwise noted, scripture is taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007