2016-03-08 - Habakkuk
God is Just, But ...
But, because of this relationship between God and His people, Habakkuk cannot imagine God would bring such a vile people as the Babylonians against the Jews. It is the “we may be messed up, but they’re worse” syndrome. Gaebelein notes:
“The connotation of the words “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” is that God cannot look at wickedness with favor. What Habakkuk meant in this remonstrance was that God, because of His transcendent holiness, cannot view with complacence anything evil. Yet He seems to the prophet to be countenancing the awful wickedness of the Chaldeans who in their depravity are far worse than the sinful Jews upon whom He is executing divine judgment. The complaint, then is made on the ground that “the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he.”
It is important to note that even when railing against the injustice in the world, and in Judea, even when questioning God’s actions, Habakkuk starts and ends this lament with statements of faith.
One can question God in two ways. First, people question Him out of rebellion. “If God was really a God of love, how could He let the world go the way it does? I can’t believe in a God who lets us live in such an ugly way!”
The second approach is one like Habakkuk’s. “I believe that You can act. I just don’t get what You are doing/not doing, because it seems that, from my understanding, You are acting inconsistently with Whom I believe You to be.” The problem here, of course, isn’t a lack of faith, but a lack of understanding which does impact faith.
“Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”” (Mark 9:24).
Habakkuk recognizes that because God is just, He cannot even look on evil. The result is that now Habakkuk has a new question. If God is just, how can He “excuse” the wickedness of the Babylonians and use them to bring judgment down on Judea. But this again comes from a provincial way of looking at both God and the world. God created the world and its people. He can and does act as He sees fit. Habakkuk falls into the same trap we do, putting God into a box. We assume that we know how God works, and if He acts in a way we don’t understand, we find ourselves shaken.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
It is out of this thinking, this frustration that Habakkuk speaks to within the next three verses.
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.