Day 22 Habakkuk 1 ... Debating God

Everyone has a built-in sense of justice. If, in the Olympic games, a basketball referee calls thirty-nine fouls against the U.S. team and none against the Soviets, fans are outraged. Thatâs not fair! If a careless driver runs down a small child and nonchalantly drives on, other drivers will follow in hot pursuit. He canât get away with that! We may disagree on specific rules of fairness, but we all follow some inner code.

And, frankly, often life seems unfair. What child "deserves" to grow up in the slums of Calcutta, or Rio de Janeiro, or the East Bronx? Why should people like Adolf Hitler, and Pol Pot get away with tyrannizing millions of people? Why are some kind, gentle people struck down in the prime of life while other meaner people live into cantankerous old age?

We all ask different versions of such questions. The prophet named Habakkuk asked them of God directly, and got a no-holds-barred reply. Like his contemporary Jeremiah, Habakkuk did not mince words. He began with a series of blustery accusations in which he demanded that God explain why he wasnât responding to the injustice, violence, and evil that the prophet could clearly see around him.

God answered with the same message he had told Jeremiah, that he would send the Babylonians to punish Judah. But such words hardly reassured Habakkuk, for the Babylonians were ruthless, savage people. Could this be justice - using an even more evil nation to punish Judah? The book of Habakkuk does not solve the problem of evil. But Habakkukâs conversations with God convinced him of one certainty: God had not lost control. AS a God of justice, he could not let evil win. First, he would deal with the Babylonians on their own terms. Then, later, he would intervene with great force, shaking the very foundations of the earth until no sign of injustice remained.

"The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea," God promised Habakkuk (2:14). A glimpse of that powerful glory changed the prophetâs attitude from outrage to joy. In the course of his "debate" with God, Habakkuk learned new lessons about faith, which are beautifully expressed in the last chapter. Godâs answers so satisfied Habakkuk that his book, which begins with a complaint, ends with on of the most beautiful songs in the Bible.

Point to Ponder: What do you find most troubling about God's answer to Habakkuk? Most satisfying? How do you think God would answer them if he spoke to you directly? Have you ever asked God these questions? What did he answer?