Habakkuk was a prophet of God during a time when the nation of Israel was rebelling against God. I can identify with much of what that old prophet must have felt. The book of Habakkuk is only three chapters long and is well worth reading because it really reminds us that in our day and all the turmoil in the world and all the problems the nations face are really nothing new. Habakkuk asked God why evil seemed to get away with sinning and the righteous seemed to not be able to prosper. Boy I know that feeling and I bet you have wondered why God allows evil to prosper too. God graciously answered Habakkuk’s questions and then Habakkuk said a prayer that I think is worth a look.
A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth.
Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. Repeat them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. His glory covered the heavens and his praise filled the earth. His splendor was like the sunrise; rays flashed from his hand, where his power was hidden. Plague went before him; pestilence followed his steps. He stood, and shook the earth; he looked, and made the nations tremble. The ancient mountains crumbled and the age-old hills collapsed—but he marches on forever.
I saw the tents of Cushan in distress, the dwellings of Midian in anguish. Were you angry with the rivers, Lord? Was your wrath against the streams? Did you rage against the sea when you rode your horses and your chariots to victory? You uncovered your bow, you called for many arrows. You split the earth with rivers; the mountains saw you and writhed. Torrents of water swept by; the deep roared and lifted its waves on high. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations.
You came out to deliver your people, to save your anointed one. You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness, you stripped him from head to foot. With his own spear you pierced his head when his warriors stormed out to scatter us, gloating as though about to devour the wretched who were in hiding. You trampled the sea with your horses, churning the great waters. I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. Habakkuk 3: 1-19, (New International Version).
Punishment came to the nation of Israel many times and Habakkuk seemed to be a student of history. The reason for such punishment was to turn the hearts of the people back to God. Habakkuk knew that God was right in doing what was done even though he probably didn’t like his beloved nation being invaded. He also asked God to be merciful in delivering justice to the rebellious sinners. Is it time for us to pray this prayer? Is it time for us to follow in the steps of Habakkuk and have courage to pray such a prayer? We should be praying for those who are going astray from God’s teachings even if we don’t have the courage to pray for a nation that is turning away from God. God is so gracious and will give many chances for people to repent, for nations to repent and come to Him. I love that about God, we see His patience over and over in the stories from the Old Testament. We see His patience today too. Some make the mistake of thinking that God is not at work in our world today and therefore they conclude that God doesn’t really exist. I feel sorry for them because one day they will know the truth of their foolish thinking and feel the consequences of their believing a lie.
There are Christians today who are living in countries where evil rules and the evil wants to exterminate the righteous. We need to pray for these Christians. We don’t have to know their names because the Holy Spirit will know who we are praying for and will bring their names before the throne of God for us. We can pray that they have strength to face each day and that they continue to love those around them who may be their enemies. We can pray that they never get tired of doing good for their enemies. We can stand with them in prayer and God will be gracious and hear our prayers for them. We can do it, but will we do it? I am challenging me as much as I am challenging you to pray.
Habakkuk was told by God to be patient and to watch and to write down what he saw God doing among the nations of the world (Habakkuk 1:5 and 2:2). We need to do the same. There is nothing we can do to change the hearts of the people around us except to pray that God will change them. We can’t change anyone’s mind by arguing with them or pleading with them. But we can pray and ask God to work in their life to get their attention and be reminded that God is in control and has a plan and is executing that plan and justice will be involved and consequences will come upon the rebellious. The battle belongs to the Lord and we just need to let go and let God do His work among our nations and in the lives of those we love who are in rebellion against God. Praying this prayer can help us to do that because regardless of how we feel or think about world events we have no control over them but God does. I hope this is encouraging to you today. God is our strength. God is faithful. God is everlasting. God works among the nations. We can trust in the Lord!