Hab 1:2-4 How long, O LORD, must I call for help…Or cry out to you, “Violence!” ….you make me look at injustice…..you tolerate wrong….. strife, and conflict abounds……the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails………justice is perverted. (NIV)
Habakkuk served during the time of the Babylonian invasion of Palestine, and this complaint of his spoke to the wickedness of the invading army. As the account of Habakkuk’s ministry continues, and God responds to his two complaints, we come to his prayer in the third chapter where he rehearses the accomplishments of God with His people Israel. “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds…” ; how did he hear of these accomplishments that took place so many years before his time? These were facts that were handed down from generation to generation by the parents, and it will do us well to duplicate this important command of God in our generation as we testify to our children of the goodness of God in our own lives, for that may be the only way that they will hear of God’s renown so that they too can stand in amazement of His deeds. Certainly it would be tremendous if God would repeat such things in our day – “Renew them in our day” – but God does not necessarily duplicates His deeds, but similarly, as in Habakkuk’s day, He may have to act in discipline because of our disobedience, and like Habakkuk we may have to request of Him that in such discipline – “…in wrath remember mercy” .
As the prayer continues, Habakkuk recalls God’s mercy to His people as He delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, leading them on their wilderness journey and delivering them from all those who opposed them . He recalled the day when “Sun and moon stood still in the heavens” when under Joshua He allowed the conquest to be completed by His chosen leader and armies of mere men; something that would have taken Him an instant in time had to be completed over many hours in a day. Habakkuk’s response was “I heard and my heart pounded……Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us.” and in faith he looked forward to God’s promise that even this fierce enemy would one day see God’s judgment.
The account closes with one of the greatest expressions of faith recorded in the Scriptures: “Though the fig tree does not bud …. no grapes …. the olive crop fails ….. no food….. no sheep …. no cattle ……. yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” . Even though the enemy had put a siege on the city of Jerusalem and there was no food to eat, no sheep or cattle to offer the daily sacrifices, things were desperate for the people, yet in all this his response was that he would rejoice in God his Saviour. Could this be our response today as we face similar circumstances? Lack of a job, resources running out, lying on a bed of sickness, a desperate situation; recalling God’s graciousness and mercy in the past can help us face the difficulties ahead! We are able to confess and testify that “The Sovereign LORD is my strength….he enables me ….” .