Cry Out For Justice
Thank You, Lord: You are my rock and refuge, my strong fortress. You sustain me in my daily struggles.
Read HABAKKUK 1:1–11
The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“The Bible clearly teaches that God often deals with us at the point of our pain” (William T. Arnold). Habakkuk was struggling in pain due to the fact that God was going to use a godless nation as his instrument of punishment. Wisely, he decides to listen to God.
As Christians, we are expected to be the light of the world (Matt. 5:14). It is natural for us to have the same expectation of our faith communities. We cannot bear to see in church or Christian organizations the kind of violence, injustice, exploitation, wrongdoing, corruption, conflict and destruction that is described in Habakkuk’s community (i.e., the nation of Judah; 2,3), let alone to suffer under such circumstances. Habakkuk complains about God tolerating the wicked, who violate the Law and inflict suffering upon the righteous (4). When facing social injustice and economic disparity in our Christian communities, some people may be tolerant, numb, indifferent or silent, allowing the abuse of power, discrimination and other corruption to remain unchallenged. With great compassion, Habakkuk challenges the Supreme Judge of heaven and earth. We need his courage to speak up for the truth and bring the case to the highest authority for judgment.
In response to Habakkuk’s complaint, God reveals his plan to punish Judah by using the Babylonians (6). The invaders’ brutality, fierceness, military strength and arrogance will only aggravate the innocents’ plight in Judah instead of alleviating it (7–11). God’s response seems to have strengthened Habakkuk’s case: justice never emerges! Habakkuk asks for the internal crisis to stop, but God creates an external crisis in return. God’s logic seems to be quite different from ours.
Perhaps Habakkuk’s experience is not new to us. Sometimes we ask God to save us from our current trouble and he gives us further calamity. Before going on to study how Habakkuk responds to such an unthinkable answer from God, we need to stop and ask ourselves: what would be my reaction if I got such an answer from God?
Will not the Judge of all the earth do right (Gen. 18:25)? Abraham’s faith makes him bargain with God relentlessly for Sodom. Can we do the same for the innocent?
What do you find most puzzling about the Lord’s answer to Habakkuk? Has God ever used something negative in your life to get you back on track? If so, what good did it bring about?
God of the mountains and the valleys, trusting You in the valleys of life can be a struggle. I need Your love, guidance, forgiveness and grace to see me through.
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