Habakkuk and Evil

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In my devotional reading I have moved back into the Minor Prophets. I always joke that these are the easiest part of any Bible to find because the pages are usually still stuck together. It is sad that these are so overlooked by the average Bible reader—seldom read except as part of an organized Bible reading program. The Minor Prophets have much to say to us today about major questions we have in life.

One such question is my philosophical favorite—the question of evil. The question of evil is one that has inspired generations of unbelief from people seeking but failing to find an answer. It is asked in various ways:

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why would an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God allow evil to exist?”

“Why would God permit sin, especially some of the more horrendous sins?”

If you think you are the first to ask this, rest assured that you are not alone. If you would like to consider my answer, check out my article here. This question has been asked from time immemorial. In the Minor Prophets we find it addressed in Habakkuk. The prophet starts by asking God why He seems to not listen to calls for help (1:2), and why it seems the law is paralyzed and justice never prevails (1:4). We’ve all felt this way at times and we want to call God to task for it, just as Job did and as Habakkuk does here. God responded to Job by showing his own smallness in asking the question. God responds to Habakkuk by declaring the intent to make things even worse.

God tells Habakkuk that He is going to answer the question of why evil succeeds and good fails, by calling up and bringing forth a far more evil nation—Babylon—to sack Judea and carry God’s people into captivity. In other words, God is going to answer the question of evil by sovereignly calling into service those who are far more evil. An evil nation will prosper and those under God’s covenant are to be scourged by them.

Habakkuk’s response is beautiful: “O Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish” (1:12). He sees that God, who is their everlasting Lord, has a different time frame from mankind. While mankind wants an answer and delivery now, God has His own plan, agenda and schedule. God will follow that and not be held to a creature’s standards. The prophet knows that God’s plan includes the eventual delivery of his people and their purification. Habakkuk trusts God to make the right decision and understands that whatever God does is within God’s right to do.

When you look at the world around and wonder why evil seems to flourish and good seems to fail, understand that God is in control. His schedule is working. His plan is succeeding.

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