Why do You show me iniquity,And cause me to see trouble?
Why? It is the big question. We see things happen in this world and are perplexed. We believe that God is great and good—so why does He allow evil to exist? Scripture acknowledges this struggle—and it is the theme of the prophecy of Habakkuk. He has been called, “the doubting Thomas of the Old Testament.” If we are honest, we will say at times, “Me too!” Is God great, but not good? He could do something about the wicked things that happen, but chooses not to do so. Is God good, but not great? He does not want such horror to happen, but He cannot stop it all. Either proposition diminishes the nature of God—and that is why some conclude there is no God. Let us listen in on the struggle Habakkuk faced and hear the solutions He found that can give us a faith that stands.
Habakkuk is believed to have ministered at the same time as Jeremiah. Both men would observe the judgment of God being unleashed upon His people. Habakkuk refers to the Chaldeans—the Babylonians—whose brutal and bloody armies were attacking Judah. They were going to be God’s instrument to inflict discipline on His disobedient people. That Judah deserved chastisement was undeniable. Warning after warning had been given. The rod of correction had been applied in various times and degrees. The prophet is perplexed, however, that God would use a pagan people—surely more sinful than the Jews—as His means to discipline Israel.
What if God uses a violent people and the instrument of terrorism to visit His judgment on America? In a future day, might it be that the Holy One would allow an invasion of this land by an oppressive nation? Our response is typically, “We don’t deserve this!” No—we deserve far worse! Justice alone would have wiped us off the face of the earth long ago. It is only the mercy of a loving God that puts up with us. If I got what was coming to me, I would be cast into hell—and so would you. When we compare ourselves with others sinners, we can find some that are worse than we are, but the truth is that we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and the wages of sin is death.
The key verse in this book is also one of the most important in Scripture. It is found in 2:4, “But the just shall live by his faith.” This text is quoted three times in the New Testament (Rom.1:17; Gal.3:11; Heb.10:38). It is the key to real life—how eternal life commences, conquers, and is consummated as we are saved by faith, live by faith, and die in faith.
Never doubt in the dark what God has told you in the light. There will be dark times—always have been and always will be while we are in this world ravaged by sin and death. Habakkuk was in a dark place and it was getting darker. That is how it seems today. The Bible predicts a world that will become engulfed by the blackness of sin, until Christ’s return brings the dawn of a new day.
We need a persevering trust in these perplexing times. We must walk by faith and not by sight. The world says, “Seeing is believing” but God says, “Believing is seeing.”