God’s Renewing Word of Peace and Justice
Habakkuk 1:1-17: The words of the prophet Habakkuk come from near the end of the seventh century B.C., at a time when the Babylonians were in power. Habakkuk was deeply disturbed by the violence and injustice in the land of Judah, and today’s reading records a prayer-filled conversation between the prophet and the LORD God. He questions why God is so slow to deal with the evil and lawlessness that was taking place.
1 This is the message that the Lord revealed to the prophet Habakkuk.
Habakkuk Complains of Injustice
2 O Lord, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence? 3 Why do you make me see such trouble? How can you stand to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all around me, and there is fighting and quarreling everywhere. 4 The law is weak and useless, and justice is never done. Evil people get the better of the righteous, and so justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Reply
5 Then the Lord said to his people, “Keep watching the nations around you, and you will be astonished at what you see. I am going to do something that you will not believe when you hear about it. 6 I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people. They are marching out across the world to conquer other lands. 7 They spread fear and terror, and in their pride they are a law to themselves.
8 “Their horses are faster than leopards, fiercer than hungry wolves. Their cavalry troops come riding from distant lands; their horses paw the ground. They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey.
9 “Their armies advance in violent conquest, and everyone is terrified as they approach. Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand. 10 They treat kings with contempt and laugh at high officials. No fortress can stop them—they pile up earth against it and capture it. 11 Then they sweep on like the wind and are gone, these men whose power is their god.”
Habakkuk Complains to the Lord Again
12 Lord, from the very beginning you are God. You are my God, holy and eternal. Lord, my God and protector, you have chosen the Babylonians and made them strong so that they can punish us. 13 But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?
14 How can you treat people like fish or like a swarm of insects that have no ruler to direct them? 15 The Babylonians catch people with hooks, as though they were fish. They drag them off in nets and shout for joy over their catch! 16 They even worship their nets and offer sacrifices to them, because their nets provide them with the best of everything.
17 Are they going to use their swords forever and keep on destroying nations without mercy?
Today’s Key Verse: Habakkuk 1:12a
LORD, from the very beginning you are God. You are my God, holy and eternal.
According to the Law of Moses, the people of Israel were to treat each other with fairness. Yet many of the Lord’s prophets accused the people and their leaders of being unjust. In verse 2, Habakkuk asks, “O LORD, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence?” Do you ever talk to God about the violence and injustice you see in the world? Are there situations that lay heavy on your heart?
Lord, the violence in our world fills me with frustration, despair, and sadness. Too often I feel powerless against it. Help me see the ways in which I can be a peacemaker in your world. Amen.
Habakkuk 2:1-20: The LORD answers Habakkuk.