Habakkuk 1:1 The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see.
2 O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!
3 Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
4 Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.
The book of Habakkuk is a short book. Verse 1 tells us that Habakkuk was a prophet. Habakkuk served God during the reign of king Josiah. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah. His book is much shorter than that of Jeremiah.
Biblical prophets were not infallible. They were men chosen by God and they are called holy men according to II Peter 1:21. Holy men were still men. They were men who knew the true God and they sought to serve Him faithfully. They did not understand all the ways of God. In spite of their humanity, every word of Scripture they wrote was exactly what God dictated to them. They did not add their own commentary. In spite of the fact that many professing Christians think we have no accurate record from God, God says we do. It is “handy” to claim there is no accurate record. That leaves room for disobedience without calling it disobedience. It leaves room for variances without admitting to not following God’s Word faithfully. It leads to many different sins.
In the opening verses of the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk complained to God about why He was not punishing the sins of Judah. Later in the book, after God revealed some of His ways to him, he then wondered why God would use a pagan nation, Babylon, to punish His people.
In verse 2 Habakkuk addressed the LORD. He knew the LORD as the self-existent God. He wondered how long he needed to cry to the LORD, without Him hearing him. The fact that Habakkuk was writing this, is a clear factor that God did hear every word he spoke to Him. Every word written here is directly from the LORD. The writers of the Scriptures did not add their own ideas or versions of what God said. Habakkuk wondered how God could ignore his pleas to Him. He would come to understand that God does not ignore the facts. He deals with things differently than we as people often do. Habakkuk needed a further lesson in who the LORD really is.
Habakkuk did not understand true justice at this point. He would learn this. People can have some understanding of justice, but they generally want justice on humanistic terms. They do not want justice that is pure and right. We as people do not know how to act with pure justice on our own. We tend to want to have revenge for wrongs done. God is not that way. He is holy and true and He demands holiness and truth from His children. When His children want to continue to defy Him, He responds in such a way as to help His children to see that His way is always right and the wise person humbly submits to God’s way.
In verse 3 Habakkuk wondered why God had opened his understanding to see the sins of Judah. What was God’s purpose in exposing the sins of Judah to him, but seemingly not dealing with those sins.
There were people in Judah who were trouble makers. They were raising up strife and contention. Probably all of us have seen children raising up strife. They just look for a fight. It is not always just children who do this. Obviously, from our text, adults can be guilty of this sin as well.
In verse 4, Habakkuk wrongly assumed that the law was not being applied properly. He assumed that justice was not being carried out. Habakkuk assumed that the wicked had the upper hand and they were compassing about the righteous. In the end, he assumed that wrong judgment was enacted.
Habakkuk needed to step back and let God show him His greatness. God was not overlooking anything here. No one was getting away with anything. Those who walk in sin know they are wrong. They might convince themselves that they are right, but they have a conscience. They can sear their conscience, but they still have one. They can put on a brave front before others, but in the quietness of their own lives, they know things are not as they should be. Pride is a terrible sin that causes those obsessed with it to sin and justify their sin. A person can be so blinded by their pride that they refuse to see the truth.
Habakkuk could see the sin being committed in Judah. He saw the lack of judgment taking place among the people. He had been pleading with God to act on what he saw. He did not understand why God was delaying His response to what Habakkuk saw as a grievous matter.
It is good to have our eyes open to sin. Habakkuk was not guilty of sin here. He was not guilty of trying to bury his sin and hypocritically judge others for their sin. However, he needed to trust God to take care of matters in a righteous manner. Habakkuk was called by God to proclaim, “thus saith the LORD”. God would take care of the timing of His response.
We do not always understand God’s ways. His ways are much higher than our ways. His justice is much purer than our justice. His longsuffering is much greater than ours is. Habakkuk was given the ability to see the sin taking place in Judah. He was also called upon to point out the sin being committed. He was not in charge of stopping the sin. God is the judge. Habakkuk knew this but needed to be reminded of that fact.
Today, it is also possible to see the sin in other people. It is also important to speak against the sin being committed. Sometimes we can assume we know how to address the matter better than God does. God has given us answers as to how different sins are to be addressed in our wicked world. However, we cannot make the changes needed in the hearts of people. People can be very stubborn. God has the power to break the hardened heart. He is working today. It is sad to watch how certain people struggle because they refuse to turn to God in repentance and desire His forgiveness and peace. We need to pray and seek God’s wisdom in living right before God ourselves, and then in knowing how to seek to help others to turn to God and know His blessings. There is a danger today in trying to manufacture a blessing that is not actually a blessing. Let us be careful not to cheapen God’s Word with humanistic reasoning. Let us be sure we know the true God and then walk humbly with Him and exalt Him as God. Habakkuk would learn better how to walk humbly with God as His prophet.