A reminder from Habakkuk:
‘Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places’ (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
This is a victorious verse … but look at how the book of Habakkuk begins:
‘How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save.’ Habakkuk 1:2How many times have we, as sidewalk counselors, cried out to God with a similar concern?
- “Look at how many babies are slaughtered … why do You not do something?”
- “Look at the smug arrogance of the abortionist! Why do you not cover him with leprosy or make him fall flat on his nose?”
- “Look at the women streaming in to kill their babies, mocking us and mocking You!”
- “Why do You not strike this place with a tornado?”
- “How long …. how long will we stand here proclaiming truth and help, and NO ONE listens?”
“Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days — You would not believe if you were told” (Habakkuk 1:5).
God hears our cry. He understands our angst and sorrow. He mourns for the destruction of the innocents more than we do. And in this verse, He shows us that there is an answer. It is coming. He also tells us we are to observe, be amazed, and expect miracles.
It is usually not what we expect
‘For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, That fierce and impetuous people Who march throughout the earth To seize dwelling places which are not theirs. Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on. But they will be held guilty, They whose strength is their god.” Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they? ‘Habakkuk 1:6,11,13
His answer as far as we perceive seems to be the use of the wicked to cause more havoc and wickedness. It appears as though God favors the treacherous, and is silent as they mock and consume those who love God. How can this be? Part of the struggle for those who minister on abortion center sidewalks is that the wicked seem to prevail.
Notice what God does NOT do. He does not reprimand Habakkuk or smite him dead for his doubts or questions. He also does not provide an immediate answer.
God gives hope of a future retribution
‘“Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith. Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay. Because you have looted many nations, All the remainder of the peoples will loot you— Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, To the town and all its inhabitants’ (Habakkuk 2:2-4,8).
God reminds the prophet first of His knowledge of the difference between the wicked and the righteous. The soul is not right in the wicked, but the righteous live by faith. Then after being sure it is understood that God sees who is who in this battle of good vs. evil, He gives marching orders: First, RECORD what is happening.
I think this is a call to the church to be sure the world knows. Record the truth of what is happening to a million babies a year. Write about it. Speak about it. Do NOT remain silent in the face of this wickedness.
Next, WAIT FOR IT. In other words, God IS aware and IS acting. We can not rush or improve on His timing. WAIT for Him. He assures us what we long for will come to pass.
God outlines what is in store for the wicked
“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed And founds a town with violence! Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts That peoples toil for fire, And nations grow weary for nothing? For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord , As the waters cover the sea. You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the Lord ’ s right hand will come around to you, And utter disgrace will come upon your glory. For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, And the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them, Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, To the town and all its inhabitants. Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’ To a mute stone, ‘Arise!’ And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, And there is no breath at all inside it. But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2: 12-14,16-17,19-20).
God warns the wicked that great calamity will come upon them who have filled the town with violence. Disgrace, nakedness, violence upon them, devastation … and at that time, ALL the earth will be filled with the KNOWLEDGE of the Lord. The wicked will no longer taunt and mock for the consequence of their wickedness will be evident, and the One who controls all the earth will be magnified and glorified.
And then He tells us that we will ALL fall silent before Him: the wicked in recognition of their due punishment for their actions, the righteous in Holy wonder and awe.
THIS is the overwhelming nugget of truth to sustain us:
But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Trust this. Know this. Live with hopeful and faithful expectation because of this truth. Jesus is on the Throne.
‘Lord , I have heard the report about You and I fear. O Lord , revive Your work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy. Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls, Yet I will exult in the Lord , I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places. For the choir director, on my stringed instruments’ (Habakkuk 3:2,17-19).
I love how the prophet responds. Instead of his initial anguished cry for the destruction of the wicked, he now is filled with compassion.
In wrath, remember mercy.
The wicked are doomed. We should take no delight in that truth, nor should they be our focus. Our focus is clear and made even clearer in the conclusion of this amazing book. NO MATTER WHAT fruits you see or do not see as a result of your service to God, exult in Him, rejoice in your salvation, and recognize HE is the source of your strength. He lifts us up!