Sunday: Perplexed Prophet

Read Habakkuk 1.

Image © Providence Collection from

Image © Providence Collection from

What are the questions that the prophet asks of God? Though his situation is, of course, different from ours, how often do we find ourselves asking these types of questions?

Habakkuk is unique among prophets because he did not speak for God to the people but rather spoke to God about the people. The prophet begins his struggle to understand God’s purposes with a cry of bewilderment: “How long, O Lord?” In the Bible, this question is typical of a lament (Ps. 13:1Jer. 12:4). It implies a situation of crisis from which the speaker seeks deliverance.

The crisis about which Habakkuk calls for help is violence that permeated society. The original Hebrew word for “violence” is hamas, and it is used six times in Habakkuk’s book. The term implies acts of injury, both physical and moral, inflicted on others (Gen. 6:11).

Being a prophet, Habakkuk knows well how much God loves justice and hates oppression; so, he wants to know why God allows injustice to continue. All around he notices violence and law-breaking, and it seems that the wicked triumphs over the righteous. Justice is being perverted by the powerful, as it was in the time of Amos (Amos 2:6-8), and as it so often is today.

God’s answer reveals His future plans. The Lord will use the army of Babylon to punish the people. This announcement surprises the prophet. He did not anticipate that God would use such a ruthless army to discipline Judah. In verse 8 the Babylonian cavalry are compared to a leopard, wolf, and eagle—three predators whose speed and power bring violent death to their prey.

Babylon’s ruthless arrogance acknowledges no accountability, seeks no repentance, offers no reparations. It violates the most fundamental order of created life. Habakkuk is told that Babylon’s army will be used as a “rod of My [God’s] anger” (Isa. 10:5, NKJV). The punishment will take place during Habakkuk’s lifetime (Hab. 1:5). This whole situation raises even more difficult questions about divine justice.

How can we learn to trust in God’s goodness and justice when the world seems so full of badness and injustice? What is our only recourse?



Sunday: Perplexed Prophet — 11 Comments

  1. We have studied in 4th lesson, this quarter, that our God, is the Lord of all nations, and because He loves His people, sometimes He punishs him in order to make him to return to His God. We have an example in Hebrews 12:6, 7"For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"

  2. let us take corrections from history of the past nation, and learn how to trust God and believe in his words and promises for he said instead his word will not come to fulfilment it is better the heaven and the earth pass away.

  3. God uses various methods of discipline, this is just one of them. The responsibility is ours to ensure that our lives are in comunion with God, so that we are not punished with the wicked.

  4. God settles everything in the fullness of time. Galatians4:7. David was once surprised when he saw the wicked prospering and that they had everything, ate well, were in good health, were rich and their families were well. David became envious. (Psalms73:1-16). Until David went into the sanctuary and saw their end was he comforted (Psams73:17)
    Someone who is seeing all the injustice in the world might be asking the question, 'how long O Lord?' You are trying to do things fairly and you always lose but those who bribe and are unfaithful are prospering, HOLD ON IT WONT BE LONG. CHRIST now is in the Most Holy Place and anytime He is coming to redeem us.
    You must go forward like the children of Israel in Exodus14:15 so that one day you will say like what Paul said in the book of Timothy that, 'I have fought a good fight, I have finished the course(race) and I have kept the faith'
    Hold on like the prophet Habakkuk, hold on like Daniel, hold like Christ in Getsmane, hold on like Peter, hold on like John the beloved disciple,
    In the fulnes of time, Christ is going to come and there will be no tears again. Revelation21:1-4

  5. [Moderator's Note: Please use full names when commenting. Thank you.]

    thank you ngoni for that explanation. many people including myself at times do question the very justice of the lord. we forget that what makes us different from the wicked is that we have been tested and passed the test. the test for elijah was at the brook cherith, otherwise he might have ended up having an affair with the widow of zerephath, and the message would have been completely different. when we are tested we must come out as gold [job 23:10]

  6. Lesson 3, "a holy and just God" we learned that God is willing to draw us closer to Him by all means, negative or positive like we saw the massive locust plaque + severe drought that devastated the southern kingdom judah...."perplexed prophet". God is again using the army of Babylon to punish the people of Judah. We do not need to question God's dealing with us today.

  7. What is allowed by God as a result of sin is for our benefit, to save us from the second death.

    • Kimberly, your comment sounds a little like what Job's friends told him. 😉

      Job didn't know why he had to go through such horrific experiences. but Job's friends thought they knew and told him so. But in the end, God said that Job's friends did not speak the truth!

      While it is true that God often uses the bad things that Satan brings against us to draw us closer to Him, that is not always the reason we suffer. God does not bring the evil. Sometimes we suffer just because Satan lives and hates all of God's people. At such times, we can be grateful that God has promised that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear.

      • God is not the reason for suffering, that is not what I said. I didn't say God brings the evil either.

        • Dear Kimberley,

          Please forgive me for not making myself clear. I didn't intend to imply that you said either of those things. I was expanding my response by trying to explain something about suffering on this planet.

          But let me simplify my response to you:

          You wrote that the suffering God allows is for our benefit.

          I say that sometimes this is so. But other times this is not so. This is illustrated in the story of Job, whom God declared righteous even before He allowed Satan to bring suffering on him. His friends tried to tell Job that the reason he suffered was that he might have sinned, and the suffering was meant to discipline (benefit) him. But they were wrong. There was a totally different reason.

          I am thinking today of a woman I've known since college days -- a gentle, quiet Christian woman. Some years ago, her husband died after years of suffering from Alzheimer's disease. These were hard years, and anyone would be presumptuous to suggest that these were for her "benefit." Within about five years after her husband's death, she lost two of her three sons to death.

          Would we dare to suggest that this was for her "benefit." I know, I wouldn't.

          So I believe that we need to be very cautious when we speak to people who are suffering. It is always safe to sympathize with them, cry with them, pray with them. But we may be on very dangerous ground when we suggest why they are suffering.

  8. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. " that is what I meant, I guess I didn't word it right for some. Both my mom and dad have cancer , (myeloma and throat) I would never suggest they deserve their suffering, and I would never think that of anyone.


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