Skittish chickens scattered as relief trucks clattered past the weathered huts of the village. Barefoot children stared. Traffic on this rain-ravaged “road” was rare.
Suddenly, a walled mansion loomed into view of the convoy. It was the mayor’s house—although he didn’t live in it. His people lacked basic necessities, while he lounged in luxury in a distant city.
Such unfairness angers us. It angered God’s prophet too. When Habakkuk saw rampant oppression he asked, “How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” (Hab. 1:2). But God had noticed, and He said, “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods . . . who builds his house by unjust gain!” (2:6, 9). Judgment was coming!
We welcome God’s judgment of others, but there’s a pivot point in Habakkuk that gives us pause: “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (2:20). All the earth. The oppressed along with oppressors. Sometimes the appropriate response to God’s seeming silence is . . . silence!
Why silence? Because we easily overlook our own spiritual poverty. Silence allows us to recognize our sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.
Habakkuk learned to trust God, and we can too. We don’t know all His ways, but we do know that He is good. Nothing is beyond His control and timing.
Lord, when trouble comes we can pray like Habakkuk, “We have heard of your fame; we stand in awe of your deeds. Repeat them in our day; in our time make them known” (Hab. 3:2).
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Proverbs 29:7
We sometimes wonder why God allows the kind of pain and suffering that seems to rise above all reason. Six hundred years before Christ, the Jewish prophet Habakkuk wondered the same thing. He struggled to understand how a good God could appear to look the other way while the groaning of Jerusalem’s oppressed weak and poor went unanswered. His doubts deepened when the Lord answered his prayers by telling him that he was going to call in the cruel armies of Babylon to bring the “holy city” to its senses. But Habakkuk didn’t lose his faith. After being honest enough to express his doubts and questions to God, he learned there is a time to surrender in silence before a God who can restore trust to those who wait on Him (2:20)—even when we don’t understand.
In that place of quiet, after pouring out our doubts and complaints to God, we can learn what it means to quietly rest in the One who has in so many ways already shown Himself inexpressibly good and faithful (Hab. 3:17–19).
For further study on Habakkuk and other Old Testament books, check out this free resource at christianuniversity.org/OT128.