Why Aren’t You Doing Anything, God?
Unlike most other Biblical prophets, Habakkuk does not speak on behalf of God, but rather represented his people in seeking answers from Yahweh during one of the most tumultuous periods in Judah’s history. While the northern kingdom had been under Assyria for about 100 years, Habakkuk’s initial concern was not Babylon’s acquisitive military appetite in the second half of the 7th century BC, but the lawlessness within his own nation.
We are not told how long he had been raising this issue (1:2), but from a historical perspective, we know that King Josiah’s sons, who ruled after him, were a despicable lot! It would not be unreasonable to deduce that the destruction, violence, and perversion of God’s laws had reached an insufferable state, triggering his deep sense of social justice for those without a voice. Habakkuk’s complaints to the Lord for His seeming inaction were emphatic and censuring! ‘Why did you cause me to see these horrible scenarios? I cried out to You everyday against the unjust atrocities, but You kept silent’ (1:2-4). He was certainly expecting God to do something about it, having seen the situation through ‘His eyes.’ God did not chide Habakkuk, as his response was exactly what He was looking for in Judah. The implication being that we can be in unconscious denial to the violence, destruction, and injustices around us, so much so that we no longer react to them with the sensitivity God anticipates from us. If we were able see issues from God’s perspective, how would we react? What followed changed their discourse.
Yahweh’s reply was immediate, but what shocked Habakkuk was God’s intent to use the iniquitous Chaldeans to punish Judah (1:5-11). This revelation launched him into an outspoken prayer in defense of his own ‘more righteous’ people and sarcastically questioning God’s uprightness in His choice of Babylon (1:12-17): ‘Are You not the Infinite One, my Holy One? Will anyone remain alive after the Chaldeans have had their way with us? Do You know what You are doing in having a more wicked people to judge your righteous people? What is wrong with Your eyes? I thought You disapprove of evil and wickedness? You must be out of Your mind!’ Habakkuk’s was obviously distressed by God’s decision, using the analogy of the Israelites being as helpless as the fish in the seas being resourcefully harvested by the Babylonian fishermen’s unquenchable craving. His faith in God, however, remained intact, and Yahweh again, did not reproach him.
I am always overwhelmed by God’s unchanging character in His mercy and grace whenever He lingers over the impending judgment of a nation, people or an individual. He longingly looks for repentance and humility amidst pride and arrogance, with time on His side, due largely to His covenantal love for His creation (Gen 8:21-22). Habakkuk’s sense of utter helplessness, which made him turn to Yahweh for answers, ‘Why Aren’t You Doing Anything, God?’ is exemplary for us today. There is much in this world, even in our own backyard, which desperately calls us to intercede daily for His gracious and just solution. Let us persevere faithfully.