2015-12-20 - Habakkuk
The Complaint of Habakkuk
Jensen begins his survey of Habakkuk by noting:
“The spiritual condition of Judah when Habakkuk was ministering was one of dark apostasy (1:2-4). The fruits of Josiah’s reform program must have been very temporary, if a prophet of God would complain about national corruption only a decade later.” 1
Verse 1: This is simply an introductory statement, to let us know that what follows is from the Prophet Habakkuk.
Verse 2: Habakkuk starts by pointing out the obvious: the community was in crisis. As already noted, the reforms of Josiah, the last godly king of Judah, didn’t last. This should remind us that even if we get the “good” leadership we want, it doesn’t mean things will turn around. Remember: The real problem is the nature of fallen humanity. This was the case in Judah where there was an atmosphere of violence. It was now the reign of Jehoiakim. It was so threatening to Judea, that Habakkuk realized only God was capable of doing anything about it.
“And Pharaoh Neco made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the place of Josiah his father, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. … Jehoiakim gave the silver and the gold to Pharaoh, but he taxed the land to give the money according to the command of Pharaoh. He exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, from everyone according to his assessment, to give it to Pharaoh Neco.
Jeremiah as God’s spokesman also preached against the sinfulness of Jehoiakim.
“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.
When children shoot children, parents abuse kids, and sexual violence is perpetuated against men, women and children, these are only symptoms of the real problem. And what is that? People are not committed to the Lord. This world of violence is the one we find daily in the media, which blames society for all of it. This was also the world of Habakkuk. He was in despair. The situation was hopeless… or was it? He certainly believed it was. But at the same time, he understood God was in charge, and He had the answers.
One problem was, “God wasn’t listening.” We are left with the impression Habakkuk has been going to God frequently, but God hasn’t answered. Have you even felt like your prayers were bouncing off the ceiling? This is sometimes referred to as "the dark night of the soul." We frequently find the psalmist expressing the same pain, i.e.:
“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalms 13:1-2).
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.