2016-01-03 - Habakkuk
Chapter 1 Verse 4
Verse 4: To add insult to injury, the system, initially put in place by God, isn’t working. The court system was probably being controlled by the wealthy landowners. Government, especially the judicial system, had been intended to protect people, as Paul notes:
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience” (Romans 13:1–5 esv).We certainly can sympathize with Habakkuk’s outlook here. In our day, OJ goes free while the courts frequently rule against the religious freedoms guaranteed under the constitution. The fallacy, of course, is that any worldly system - even if established originally by God - should observe true justice. We are called to obey the system, but any expectation of justice is naive at best.
But Habakkuk in his assessment of the judicial system was only partially correct. He had jumped to a false conclusion. As Gaebelein points out:
“Deeply concerned abut evil, he falls into the error of jumping to a conclusion. In his double use of the word therefore there is a judgmental tone. “The law,” he goes on “is slackedn(literally “paralyzed”)." So he concludes that, because in his time he has not seen the wicked judged, justice is never done.” 1
Aside from the fact that we, too, can be guilty of the same kind of thinking, we shouldn’t be too hard on Habakkuk. After all, he is aware of one truth. As Robinson notes, when Habakkuk complains, it is never “against God, but to God.” 2
Habakkuk has made his plea to God. He knows where to go with the questions. Now will he be prepared to accept the answers. We will hear these answers next time.
We have seen the sad consequence when people turn their backs on God and His law. As people ignore or deny the truth, violence and injustice become the pattern of the day. However, we must not become discouraged. While it isn’t wrong to as, “When already?” we need to remember that God will make the decision when to end the injustice found in the world. And we certainly desire to see justice done. As Dr. McGee notes:
“Habakkuk was a man with a very tender heart, and he hated to see lawlessness abounding and going unpunished. He hated to see the innocent people being threatened and exploited and destroyed. He was asking, “God, why aren’t you doing something about it?” 3
But our focus needs to be elsewhere. As Peter tells us, God waits because of His compassion and patience. Instead of being concerned over when God will judge, we must focus on the here and now, and see today as an opportunity to point out the need for God, salvation, His Spirit and His Truth. Is there someone in your life who needs to experience the healing touch of God’s love? Pray that you may have a chance to reach that unsaved soul for Christ. While God bides His time, we are to give out the Gospel so the lost will be found, the unlovable will be loved, and the untouchable will finally be touched.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.