Habakkuk and Confidence
Do you remember the last time you read the story of Habakkuk in the Bible[i]? At the beginning of the book, the prophet is in Judah because God wants his people to repent from their idol worshipping ways and turn back to Him. Thus, the prophet is feeling ignored and rejected by his own people. Habakkuk 1:2-4 (ESV) states, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you ‘Violence!’ and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.”
God hears Habakkuk and begins by saying, “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” One can imagine the joy on Habakkuk’s face after he heard this and the anticipation about the rest of God’s plan. God continues by explaining how he will use the Chaldeans to correct the unfaithful Israelites. The God of hope described the Chaldeans as a bitter, fierce, violent, and dreadful nation to Habakkuk (Hab. 1:5-11). The prophet’s reaction to God’s plan understandably is one of semi-denial and shock. He compares the Israelites to the Chaldeans, as if to say, “We are your chosen people, God. We are on a bad streak, but we are nothing as bad as these people. So, why would you, the Holy everlasting God, sit idly by while they destroy us?”
` God then makes it clear that He does not show favoritism. No sin goes unnoticed or unpunished by God. The Chaldeans were arrogant and idolatrous. Similarly, the Israelites had also become arrogant and adulterous. Thus, God tells Habakkuk, “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Hab. 2:4) God ends the second chapter by telling the prophet that all the Earth shall be silent because He is always present on His throne. God uses the word “silent” to describe the reverence and submission that everyone should have for Him, because of His divine authority.
God had every right to take permanent vengeance on His children that walked away. Yet, God’s wrath abates because the Israelites repent of their sins. God remembered His people and His vow to always love them. Just like with the Israelites, God loves you. He sent Jesus down to this Earth to give us confidence that we can also be saved if we believe, repent by getting baptized, and vow to live by His son’s example (Heb. 10:19-23). Habakkuk didn’t understand God’s plan for the Israelite’s, but he chose to embrace God by remaining confident and placing His faith in Him. Habakkuk knew that obedience to God was the only path for salvation. Like Habakkuk, we should remain confident and trusting in the Lord’s salvation. (Heb. 4:11)
[i] Only the name of this minor prophet is known and even the etymology of the name is unclear. However, many attribute the name’s origins to the Hebrew root word chibuk (חיבוק), meaning embrace