This text presents one more book from the Old Testament’s Minor Prophets: Habakkuk. The prophet, who has a peculiar name, Nahum and Zephaniah (both from the Minors Prophets’ group) were contemporaries. Habakkuk lived in the land of Judah, about 600 years before Christ, and an evident characteristic is seen throughout his book: he really was a questioner. A questioning starts his book:
“O Lord, how long shall I cry, and You will not hear? Even cry out to You, ‘Violence!’ And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble?” Hab 1:2-3a
The prophet described a violent and unjust scenario in Jerusalem, and he inquired how long it would last for the people chosen by God. Habakkuk prayed for justice and deliverance to the people, nevertheless, God’s response was not exactly what he expected for. Firstly, God agreed with the exposed situation, the unjust and violent people needed to be punished and God’s determination is that they should be severely punished by the Chaldeans (Hab 1:5).
The Chaldean people was bitter and impetuous (Hab 1:6), having destroyed many, had their own rights, that is, they made their decisions according to their own will. Moreover, their power was considered as their god. (Hab 1:7-11)
Seeing God’s determination, the prophet Habakkuk tried to intercede for the people once again, questioning the Lord’s decision.
“Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction.” Hab 1:12
There is an attempt of the prophet, in the verses 12-17 from the first chapter, to convince God that decision was not the best for Judah. He sustained that God shouldn’t destroy his people and besides, God shouldn’t use a wicked people to punish a relatively just people such as Judah. The prophet was not arrogant nor prepotent but waited to listen to God’s answer to his questionings. However, the Lord replied:
“Then the Lord answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” Hab 2:2-4
And after that statement, the Lord even detailed in 15 verses (Hab 2:5-20) all things that would happen to the Chaldeans as a consequence for having exceeded in the discipline towards God’s people, a prophecy known as the Chaldeans’ five woes. Followed by two God’s responses, Habakkuk was enlightened. The Lord assured him the word would be fulfilled, but he needed to have faith.
The lesson given in the prophet’s book is already known in Christian circles: “the righteous will live by their faith”. When we question the series of events around us, when situations pressure us and we start complaining, we need to take a stance of belief. Believing that our God is powerful to supply every need of ours (Phil 4:19) because He knows our heart (1 Kings 8:38-39). At first, Habakkuk questioned God’s delay in the interest of justice. We need to understand that God does not delay in fulfilling His word, He is long-suffering instead. He wanted to give the people the opportunity to repent, and He acts the same way with us. The Lord does not let us go without answers, every petition shall be answered (Mt 7:7-8). But if He makes us wait, He is being longsuffering.
Habakkuk was like us, lacking in faith. But after being enlightened by the Lord, he could have a taste of His grace and praise His name with a song.
“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls— yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.” Hab 3:17-19
Young one, may we be like Habakkuk! The prophet believed in God’s promise to His people and could rejoice and praise the name of the Lord. Often times we do not understand God’s plan, but in our hearts, we must be sure: There is a plan for each one of us, and it was made by our wonderful Father. Although we long for having control over our lives, one thing is certain: only will we be fully happy when we entrust everything – everything indeed – in the hands of the Author and Finisher of our faith.
“God is too good to those who are faithful, and often amazes them with unexpected blessings” (Charles Spurgeon)
Author: Fernanda Amorim