THINK: Habakkuk is a really cool book because, among other things, its style is unique among all the prophetic books of the Bible. The others all have oracles addressed to Israel (or Judah, as it were), but Habakkuk is simply a conversation between the prophet and God that written down and meant to be read by the people. And the conversation is raw. Habakkuk lived around the same time as Jeremiah, likely during the reign of Josiah and then afterwards into the reign of Jehoiakim’s reign. He was an individual committed to righteousness who watched as his nation turned its back on God and then watched as God brought about it’s destruction.
The book begins with Habakkuk asking why God isn’t punishing all the evil that’s happening. God says, “Oh I will, I’m sending Babylon to destroy the nation.” Then Habakkuk wonders why God would choose Babylon because they’re even less righteous than Israel. Then God says, “Oh I know, they’ll face destruction too eventually.” And Habakkuk closes with an amazing prayer of thanksgiving and hope. The whole thing is this incredible and vulnerable look into the heart of a brokenhearted man who wants to see his people turn back to God.
And one of the themes, I think, that runs throughout the book is patience. It starts out with Habakkuk feeling impatient and just asking God how long he will have to wait before God will answer him. How long can God ignore the violence? And then God lets him know that he does see and he is acting. Justice is coming but Habakkuk needs to be patient and trust in God’s sovereignty. And then when he learns that punishment for evil is coming in the form of Babylon, Habakkuk gets impatient again and has to be reminded, once again, that God is in control, that God is aware, and that God’s sovereignty means his justice is coming.
Patience is hard to have when we look out at a broken world. It’s even harder to have when that brokenness affects us directly. But patience is possible when we understand just who our God is and just what he is about. The great Oswald Chambers wrote this about patience:
“Patience is not indifference; patience conveys the idea of an immensely strong rock withstanding all onslaughts. The vision of God is the source of patience, because it imparts a moral inspiration. Moses endured, not because he had an ideal of right and duty, but because be had a vision of God. He ‘endured, as seeing Him Who is invisible.’ A man with the vision of God is not devoted to a cause or to any particular issue; he is devoted to God Himself. You always know when the vision is of God because of the inspiration that comes with it; things come with largeness and tonic to the life because everything is energized by God. If God gives you a time spiritually, as He gave His Son actually, of temptation in the wilderness, with no word from Himself at all, endure, and the power to endure is there because you see God.”
In our times of distress, frustration, and brokenheartedness over the state of our world, we need to remember God’s word to Habakkuk – though it lingers, wait for it (2:3). He is in control. He makes all things new and sets all things right. Patience isn’t easy. But it’s possible because we have great hope!
PRAY: Pray Habakkuk’s words today; speak them to God and let them be your own: “LORD I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy…though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength.”