Habakkuk – The Mysteries of Providence

People who never ask hard questions may not actually be thinking! Our media-saturated culture with billions of images doesn’t foster the use of our minds unless we intentionally engage them. One of the reasons I blog is to challenge myself to think, to think biblically, to think accurately, and to encourage others to think. Take a concordance and dig into the use of the word “mind” and you’ll discover the strategic place thinking has in the life of a Christ-follower.

For the next several days I want to dig more deeply into Habakkuk, a book filled with complaints, questions, dialogue, insight, truth and prayer.
DATE
The date of this book is uncertain but many scholars fix the time of Habakkuk’s prophecy to be during the Babylonian period, perhaps during the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah.
THEME
The mysteries of God’s providence. Why is life unfolding as it is? What is God doing in the scenes of history and behind the scenes? Habakkuk is a prophet filled with perplexity over the mystery of unpunished evil.

One of my favourite hymns is that of William Cowper – “God Moves In A Mysterious Way.” If I were to choose a thematic set of hymns and songs to accompany this study I’d certainly include it.

1:1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received
The book launches with this summary statement. Habakkuk has his questions, hard questions which have gripped his mind, and God has responded to them. Truth has been received and now Habakkuk is about to pass it on. Surely he is not the only person in God’s kingdom making these inquiries. Honestly, we’re not that unique! Many of us will ask the same questions though perhaps in different ways and at different times in our life journey.

Complaint #1
Some people are more prone to complaining than others. We tend to distance ourselves from perpetual critics, don’t we? Who wants to “hang out” with a critic?
Habakkuk’s pressing questions are personal. God has enrolled him in a training program – shall we call it Providence 101? Habakkuk sees violence, injustice, destruction, strife and conflict all around. God’s standards seem paralyzed and wickedness abounds. Surely God cares? Why doesn’t He do something about all this evil?
Ever felt the same way? I have. Read the newspaper as I often do, listen to the radio news, or watch a graphic version of the same reality and you will ask questions….if you’re thinking! I need God’s help to “make sense” of this wicked world. What on earth and in heaven is happening?

How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted
.

A few points of application before I stop typing.
#1 Be honest with GOD about the issues that perplex you.
#2 Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions.
#3 Write out your questions. Some times in the process of crafting sentences you are able to clarify the core issues which need to be addressed.
#4 Let your questions press you into a deeper seeking of God. Many “doubters” become “sceptics” and “cynics” and ultimately reject their “faith.” If you need help, seek it! Part of the responsibility of other Christ followers is to “come alongside” to help as the Spirit of God equips us to get to the heart of the matter. I thank God for the plethora of resources available to thinking people. Consider the Biblical tools available to us. Acquaint yourself with solid books, websites, seminars….resources prepared by thinking, scholarly, Christ-followers who have given themselves to this serious task. Even read (with care) the tough books sceptics are penning in a day and age where “everything” is on the table.

I challenge you as to read and reread and reread God’s word. “The entrance of God’s word” brings the light we so desperately need in our darkness!

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