As a kid, I played the ever-popular Quiet Game, a favorite of moms everywhere. This simple game begins when one kid screams: “We are playing the quiet game…1,2,3, go!” Then every kid who hears the announcement clamps their mouth shut to remind them not to make a sound. The first one who talks or makes a noise is out.
The trick to winning the Quiet Game is to know how to work around the rules. If you have to talk, you yell, “PAUSE!” and then you say whatever you want without the fear of consequences. When you are done speaking, you yell, “UNPAUSE!” and revert to your tight-lipped game face. Pausing the game lets you escape the consequences.
Injustice in Habakkuk’s Day
Habakkuk saw everyone around him living like they had paused the rules of the game. In the nation of Judah, where Habakkuk lived, the people were supposed to be living under God’s laws. In reality, they were doing whatever they wanted without any consequences.
In the first part of our Habakkuk series, Cindy, from Go – Gather – Grow detailed the wickedness that was happening around Habakkuk as he lived in the 600s BC in the land of Judah. If you missed that, you can read it here in the Introduction to the Burden in the Book of Habakkuk.
Not only were God’s people living like the God’s rules were paused, it seemed like God was following suit by pausing the consequences He had laid out for what would happen to those who disobeyed Him. In Habakkuk 1:4, Habakkuk says it is like the law is ignored or, literally, numbed. Justice is never upheld or, literally, never goes forth. Habakkuk felt like God was just sitting there numbed, motionless while His people continued in sin and wickedness.
Because we live in a globally connected world, every day we hear about heart-breaking injustice. We hear of wars and atrocities in the Middle East and in Africa and wonder why God doesn’t step in and do something about it.
In our own country, we wonder about godless leaders and why God doesn’t do anything to stop them or call them out.
In our church family, among people that should know better, we hear about continual disobedience and wonder why God is taking so long in punishing those evil doers. Someone wealthier than you cheats on their taxes or steals from their employer. Why doesn’t God do something about it?
In our family, there are family members who seem to get away with living a godless life while we struggle along obeying the Lord. It doesn’t seem fair that you obey God yet your life is harder than theirs. When is God going to swoop down in judgment?
God answers Habakkuk
Habakkuk had enough and takes his question to God. In Habakkuk 1:2-4 Habakkuk pours out his bottled up frustration.
How long, O Lord, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.
3 Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.
4 Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.
Then God answers Habakkuk.
God tells Habakkuk that He has a plan for justice.
For Habakkuk’s specific complaint of injustice, God’s plan was to raise up the Chaldeans, a neighboring nation otherwise known as the Babylonians, to conquer the nation of Judah (Habakkuk 1:5-11).
This is not a brand new plan. Back in Deuteronomy 28, during Moses’ time, just before the people are going into the Promised Land, God reminds them to obey or else a nation will conquer and scatter them. Now, to Habakkuk, God gives more information about the plan, namely that the Chaldeans are the nation that will conquer and that it will happen in Habakkuk’s lifetime.
God tells Habakkuk to wait and to watch to see His plan unfold.
Waiting and Watching
Although the Chaldeans are not scheduled to come to conquer us today, God does have a plan for the injustice that we witness. Some of God’s plan has been revealed to us in the book of Revelation, but other parts have not. We do not know the specifics of how God’s justice will unfold for each injustice that we witness, but we can trust that God’s justice will come.
God invites us to be waiting and watching.
Waiting and watching means we are not trying to bring about justice in our own strength and power. Romans 12:19 says, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Waiting and watching means that we trust God will give justice at the perfect time. Too often we get impatient with God’s timing and we want Him to strike right away on our timetable. God has a plan for when and where He will give justice. Just like Gandalf from the Lord of the Rings, God in His justice “arrives precisely when He means to.”
Habakkuk is not finished asking God questions. Next week Cindy from Go Gather Grow will fill us in on Habakkuk’s follow up question to this new information of God’s plan in “Habakkuk: God says it all in the 5 Woes.”
In the meantime, comment below. What injustice in your world frustrates you the most? What Scripture promise lets you know that God will bring justice at exactly the right time?