Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will never die.
You, Lord, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
14 You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler.
15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet and so he rejoices and is glad.
16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food.
17 Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?
Today, we see the prophet Habakkuk coming back to God. He is already broken hearted about Judah’s fall into a period of spiritual, moral, social and political decline. Perhaps he had hoped that God would send revival, as he had experienced during the reign of the previous king, King Josiah. Instead, God tells me that He is going to use the idolatrous, wicked Babylonians to chastise, judge and punish His people, to bring them back to their senses.
So in today’s passage, we read of Habakkuk’s reaction:- How could the holy Lord God use an unholy instrument like Babylon to correct a more holy nation like Judah? The Babylonians were known to literally put hooks in the jaws of their captives and drag them off to Babylon as slaves. So God was going to show Judah that they had become as base as the fish and creeping things and that they would be caught with hooks and nets. The Babylonians would celebrate their victory by worshipping the hooks and nets themselves.
All of this can seem rather distant to us today, especially, if we consider ourselves safe from such judgement as Christians. However, the God of Israel and Judah of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament and He never changes. He has not become more tolerant of sin. He is just as pure and holy as He was in Habakkuk’s time.
Certainly, we can look at the state of our nation today and weep with the prophets for the spiritual and moral decline. But Habakkuk was crying out for Judah, God’s chosen people. As Christians, we too are part of God’s chosen people. If God was prepared to go to great lengths to chastise and punish his people then, so that they would return and repent, would He not still be prepared to do the same to us today?
It is very easy for us to read of atrocities committed around the world or even closer to home and comfort ourselves that we are not that bad. After all, our own sins are so much more mundane and not so serious! We are not really repelled or appalled by our sin. Unfortunately, our man-made scale of the seriousness of our different sins is not God’s. God is so pure that ALL sin offends him. He is “too pure to look on evil” – that evil is us, when we sin. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to think about the idea, that God would want to turn away from me and not even look at me when I am sinning.
If you have read to the end of your Bible, you will know how it ends – God will finally judge everybody. 1 Peter 4:17 says: “For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
However, there is hope for the Christian. Verse 12 states: “My God, my Holy One, we will never die.” (Note only the NIV translates the “we” as “you”). Habakkuk relied on his faith in God to know that ultimately God would use this terrible punishment to bring His people back to him. He knew that God would not let Babylon totally destroy Judah. We can take the same comfort today. However, we must ensure that we don’t slip into complacency about our sins, hoping that God will forget about them and let us off otherwise perhaps our Lord God will use a modern day Babylon to chastise us as individuals and as a church. Instead, we need to “confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
Then we will see God’s victory for Jesus promised: “whoever, lives and believes in me shall never die!”.(John 11:26)
Let us pray:
Lord God, I often forget how seriously you take my sins to be. I brush them aside, hoping to forget them and hoping that you haven’t noticed them. But you, O Lord are holy and just and you cannot overlook my sin. Give me courage to come back to you and confess my sins quickly, so that you will never have to chastise me or punish me with a weapon as mighty as Babylon. Thank you that you are slow to anger and quick to forgive me. Amen
Tomorrow’s reading: Habakkuk 2:1