There are many ways to fish! (I hope I get this right or Pastor Steve Cottrell will have to fill in my knowledge ‘gaps.”) Fishermen use hooks, nets, spears (in some parts of the world), even bare hands! The ultimate result is that fish are caught and the fishermen are filled with joy! I can still see the Facebook pictures of many of my ‘friends’ who have had a successful trip to the water.
In Habakkuk 1:14-2:1 the prophet uses a “fishing story” to describe the entrapment of people by “the wicked foe.” This ‘evil’ fisherman is on a mission. He is not going to “catch and release” but rather “catch and destroy.” He has had a successful ‘season’ of fishing and is filled with great joy. He is so adept at fishing he concludes that his own ability, his own skill, his mastery of this ‘sport’ has led to his success.
The ‘you’ in the first statement refers to God. God has permitted all of this to happen and Habakkuk is struggling with drawing the “right conclusions” from the unfolding events in his world.
“You have made men like fish in the sea,
like sea creatures that have no ruler.
The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.
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.
Now Habakkuk talks “straight” with God. How the ‘burning question’ on his heart is voiced in prayer.
Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”
I wonder what “back story” was happening in Habakkuk’s world. I know the Babylonians were about to invade and conquer God’s people (e.g. under the leadership of Nebuchadnezzar). But what questions were people asking the prophet? What ‘pressure’ did he have on his life to ‘figure out’ what was happening? These are God’s people, aren’t they? This is the “Promised Land,” isn’t it? Where was God? Who really was upon the throne of the universe?
Tough circumstances are a challenge to genuine faith. Too many of us yield to the temptation to claim “we know what’s going on.” Books, television shows, podcasts, blogs and even sermons are filled with “opinions” often times presented as “facts.”
God’s providence and sovereignty may well leave us speechless. As a song (recommended to me by one of my daughters years ago) and sung by Steven Curtis Chapman, a contemporary Christian songwriter and performer whose family has faced some very difficult experiences,) asserts “GOD is GOD and I am not. I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting!”