Morning Coffee with Habakkuk
By Jonathan C. Brentner
Pull up a chair, pour some coffee (or your morning beverage of choice), and let’s spend some time with Habakkuk. I believe he can ease our burden in the light of what’s happening in the world around us.
“Haven’t we already done that?” you might ask. Yes, but if you are anything like me you need a fresh reminder of not only the prophet’s complaint, but also of the Lord’s response. Let’s start with Habakkuk’s grievance as recorded in chapter 1:
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
so justice goes forth perverted.
Does this not describe our nation and world?
My heart grieves as I think of the vile practices of Planned Parenthood, the horrors of sex trafficking, and the almost daily terrorist attacks that claim the lives of innocent lives throughout the world.
I see justice “perverted” in the actions of the left in America through their rampant election fraud, which in many cases is reversing the expressed will of the people and ripping at the fabric of our republic.
Now that I have voiced my complaint, let’s see what we can learn from the Lord’s response to Habakkuk. Can He encourage us in any way?
The Lord Sees
The Lord replied to Habakkuk’s protest by telling him that His response to the wickedness, violence, and perversion of justice in ancient Judah was already on the way. He saw everything and had in fact already taken steps to deal with evil the prophet had listed in his complaint.
The Lord was rising up the “Chaldeans” to judge His wayward people. Also known in Scripture as the Babylonians, they had become a “dreaded and fearsome” military force. Within three decades of when Habakkuk wrote his book, they would destroy much of Jerusalem, kill many people in the city, demolish the temple Solomon built, and take captive a large number of Israelites.
Like the prophet, it’s easy to think the Lord does not see the vile practices, bloodshed, and injustice of our day. We wonder why He does not quickly intervene to stop all the abortions or the other violence we so frequently see. Does He really see what is happening?
Yes, Scripture assures us that He indeed sees all these things and much, much more (see Prov. 15:3. Ps. 33:13-15). And, just like in the days of Habakkuk we can be certain His answer is already on the way even if we do not yet see it.
The Lord’s initial response greatly troubled the prophet (see Hab. 1:12-17). How could the Lord employ such a fiercely violent and idolatrous people as His instrument of justice on His chosen people?
The Lord responded in a similar way as He did to Habakkuk’s first complaint. He knew all about the sins of the Babylonians and would respond appropriately; they would not escape His wrath for their idolatry and cruelty. He would surely hold them accountable for their wickedness (2:6-20).
The key word for us is found in the Lord’s reply, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay” (2:3). Those who patiently waited for God’s justice on the Babylonians would surely see it.
We also “wait” for the Lord to intervene in our world. And although it indeed “seems slow” for us as we wait for His appearing, we can know it “will surely come.”
Is this not where our faith so often falters? We desire immediate justice for the evil around us but the Lord says, “Be patient, I will respond at the perfect time.” And so we wait.
Remember God’s Promises
The Lord’s command for Habakkuk to wait for His judgment on the Chaldeans came with a listing of His woes against them (Hab. 2:6-20). In addition, the prophet’s prayer in chapter 3 showcases the fierce side of the Lord’s character. I believe these things speak to both the future destruction of the Babylonians as well as to the future when He pours out His wrath during the seven year tribulation.
I say this because of God’s promise that we find in the midst of His listing of “woes” against the Babylonians, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14). This promise awaits a still future fulfillment, after a more complete defeat of the nations of the world arrayed against God, which will happen at Jesus’ return to earth. It’s during His future kingdom that Christ’s glory encompass the globe “as the waters cover the sea.”
As New Testament saints, we wait for the promise of the Lord’s appearing to take us home. Philippians 3:20-21 expresses this eager expectation, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” We have this sure promise and almost 2,000 years later we are still waiting.
Live By Faith
Given the lengthy delay, how do we remain focused on the Lord’s promised return and glorious transformation of our “lowly” bodies? It’s been a real long time, to say the least.
We find the answer in an often quoted phrase from the book of Habakkuk, “the righteous shall live by faith” (2:4). It’s faith in the promises of God’s Word that gives us hope to face each day despite what we see in the news, read about on social media, hear from the scoffers who deny the promise of Philippians 3:20-21.
In Romans 8:23-25 Paul says this regarding our joyous hope, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”
Do you see the connection with Philippians 3:21? When Jesus comes for us, He will redeem our bodies in the sense that He will give them imperishable ones as promised in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55. For now, we wait in faith for what we do not yet see.
Well, my coffee is long gone, but so also are my frustrations over why so many people are so successful in carrying out their wicked schemes. I realize the Lord sees even more of the evil and violence than I see, and frankly what I see is far more than enough.
In the meantime, I rest in Jesus’ unfailing promises as I again ponder the words of Habakkuk 2:3, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Although the Lord’s appearing and intervention in the affairs of the world seem rather slow according to my reckoning of time, I know these things will happen ever so quickly, in the twinkling of an eye.
Our wait for the promise of 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 could even end today . . . or sometime in the future. All we know is that it will surely happen.
P.S. You may want to put a bookmark in Habakkuk for future reference. Our wait may be longer than we hope and we may see things get even worse than they are today. But rest assured Jesus is coming.