1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.
2 How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
but you do not come to save.
3 Must I forever see these evil deeds?
Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
who love to argue and fight.
4 The law has become paralyzed,
and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
so that justice has become perverted.
Habakkuk 1:1-4 (NLT)
Throughout history people have read these words of the prophet Habakkuk and seen their own world and their own time in them. I confess, I am tempted to do the same thing. Stop and read them again. Take in each and every word. I’ll wait. Now be honest. Did images from the current news cycle come to mind? Did certain stories jump out at you? Did you sit there and think, “Man, he must have been looking forward to our world today.” Don’t feel too bad if you did. I have definitely done it. I was even tempted to do it this morning as I preached through the book of Habakkuk. It seems to fit perfectly.
I believe one of the reasons it seems so timely is that human nature hasn’t changed. The sins we commit today are no different than the sins committed one hundred, one thousand, or ten thousand years ago. We’re a fallen bunch and it has been that way since Adam and Eve had a snack in Eden. As someone once quipped, “The more things change the more they stay the same.”
When teaching or preaching a text like Habakkuk it is important to remember the original context. Habakkuk was a prophet living in Judah over over 2,600 hundred years ago. He was speaking to a nation that had continually abandoned its God. He was speaking of a pagan nation that God was going to raise up and use to punish those who were unfaithful. That is the context and to rip the words of the prophet out and slap them on those of us living in the 21st century is bad exegesis.
I do believe there are lessons to be learned and applications to be made but we have to remember when these words were written, who they were written to, and how they were understood in that day. I think the basic message is still applicable today. God will punish the wicked and there will be grace and restoration for those who repent. That is the underlying theme throughout all of Scripture.
Those opening verses are pretty interesting though. Read them again. I’ll wait. I know Habakkuk is addressing the sinfulness of Judah but it just goes to show that we haven’t changed much have we? The wicked continue to live contrary to God’s will and He continues to wait patiently. Don’t be fooled though. At some point He will hold us all accountable. His patience will run out. I am thankful for the grace and mercy found in Christ. Without it we would be in bad shape.
Grace and peace.