“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.” (Habakkuk 1:2-4)”
Have you ever gone to God in prayer with a concern or conviction about something you wanted the Lord to fix or take care of? Perhaps it was a situation which overwhelmed you. Or maybe it was about another person who was troubling you.
For the prophet, the issue which prompted him to go to the Lord with such a desperate burden was the spiritual state of the nation of Judah. Judah was in dire straits. In other words, God’s people were in trouble and the prophet was going to God about it. However, the trouble Judah was in was self-inflicted. It was not that the Jewish nation in the 7th century B.C. was being attacked from without by some foreign enemy. Rather, they were self-destructing from within by their own sin and ungodliness.
The nation of Judah at that time was ironically reminiscent of the present spiritual state of America during our own time. The foes the United States currently faces outside its borders is far less a problem than its spiritual condition within itself. Much like Judah, America is self-destructing.
Consider today’s text and Habakkuk’s complaint to God. He complained that Judah was filled with violence. Internal destructive forces were dominating the culture resulting in acts that maimed, destroyed, and killed Jewish citizens. It was a time of lawlessness, terror, and lack of moral restraint.
Additionally, the prophet also expressed concern because of iniquity. Destruction stemming from violence, havoc and devastation, along with strife (disputes, brawls, quarrels, lawsuits and legal cases) and contentions were prevalent. The days seemed to parallel the Apostle Paul’s description of ungodliness found in Romans 1:18-32. Chaos ruled the promise land.
But what about the legal system which God designed to address sin and unrighteousness? Habakkuk further complained that the legal system was compromised. He described the law as paralyzed (numb; weary; cold; tired and feeble) and justice never prevailed. The wicked surrounded the righteous so that justice was perverted, crooked, twisted and confused.
However, Habakkuk had one more complaint to God. It wasn’t just that the Nation of Judah was spiritually spiraling out of control that had the prophet so vexed, it was also that, in Habakkuk’s opinion, God wasn’t doing anything to stop it.
Observe what Habakkuk said about God in today’s text. Habakkuk was crying for help, but God did not hear. In other words, God, you’re deaf. Additionally, the prophet indicated he thought God was indifferent by not delivering His people from their current spiritual condition. In other words, God you’re lazy and indifferent. Those were strong words from a prophet of God to the One, True God of the prophet.
Dr. John MacArthur comments that, “In Habakkuk’s first complaint, he perceived that God appeared indifferent to Judah’s sin. Jealous for his righteousness and knowing that a breach of the covenant required judgment (cf. Deut. 28), Habakkuk questioned God’s wisdom, expressing bewilderment at his seeming inactivity in the face of blatant violation of his law. The Jews had sinned by violence and injustice and should have been punished by the same.”
Well, be careful what you pray for because God may just answer your prayer. But not in the way you expected. More to follow when we meet again.
Until then, may God’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli Deo Gloria!