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questioning figure August 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Habakkuk

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Why is there so much evil and violence in the world? Why doesn’t God do something? Since the days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden there has been evil. Evil is not something new, and evil is not God’s fault. Still we ask, why doesn’t God fix it? This question is also what the prophet Habakkuk asks of God before Jerusalem is destroyed in 586 B.C.. What he learns will help us.

Habakkuk is a prophet to the nation of Judah. His prophecy may have been written during the early reign of Eliakim (Jehoiakim), brother of Jehoahaz after he (Jehoahaz or in some contexts called Shallum) was dethroned and exiled by the king of Egypt. Although their father, King Josiah, made many spiritual reforms, his people remained evil.

Habakkuk observes the evil and violence in his own country and surrounding nations. He also sees an evil conquering nation coming from the north which consumes all other nations in its path - Babylon. He wants to know what God is going to do about it.

In a dialogue with him, God gives answers to Habakkuk. The good news is that He will judge - He will bring justice. The bad news is that the LORD will use Babylon to do it, i.e., punish His people.

“Wait!” Habakkuk says. “That is not what I meant. Surely, you will not wipe out your own people! You are too righteous to destroy your people with a nation that is more unrighteous than your own.”

God replies to Habakkuk: “write it down in stone and declare it to Judah,” (Habakkuk 2:2). “This will happen, both now and in the future. Judah will face attack and be in danger of being consumed,” (the survivors of Judah will soon be taken into exile by Babylon). God further instructs Habakkuk to be patient; Babylon will get its due punishment. The destroyer will itself be destroyed.

In the last days of the earth, a reunited Israel will face this same kind of threat from another nation, which is referred to in the Bible as mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:5). A mystery is something which is not yet revealed; so we do not know who this nation will be, but we know she will be like Babylon.

“The just will live by faith.” This is one of four declarations in the Bible which say this (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). Here, God says to Habakkuk, “Behold, as for the proud one [referring to the king of Babylon; Habakkuk 2:5-6] His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith,” (NASB). The just will live by faith; that is he will experience God’s favor and blessing. This is in contrast to the king of Babylon’s unrighteousness and drunkenness which will lead him to the grave. However, neither Judah nor any other nations are righteous, so they, too, will be judged when Babylon sweeps through their lands. What about us; do we want God’s favor and blessings? If so, we must turn to God in faith and stop deceiving ourselves into thinking we can escape His judgment or discipline (more...).

Knowing the certain judgment upon Judah, Habakkuk prays to God: “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy,” (Habakkuk 3:2, NIV). Habakkuk knows God will not change His mind this time. He sees the imminent attack of Babylon, and prays for God’s power and mercy.

Habakkuk then has a vision of God’s power in future days when He will deliver His people, His anointed one. Commentators debate whether “anointed one” refers to Christ or to the future Israel. In context, in the poetic parallelism of prophecy, “anointed one” seems to refer to His people Israel. God has His hand of blessing on His people. They are chosen and anointed, and God will deliver them.

A phrase in Habakkuk seems to typify, not just Israel or Judah, but other nations as well (even ours): “For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted,” (Habakkuk 1:4b, NASB ‘95). Although most of us are not Jews, if we have a personal relationship with God through His anointed Son, Jesus, we, too, will eventually see deliverance from evil. Most of us would wish our nation to escape judgment, but we cannot escape it any more than the nations which were soon to be swept away by Babylon. We may, like Habakkuk, have to endure times of trouble from God’s judgment on our nation. How will we escape? We can only escape God’s judgment by turning from our sins to God and praying for His mercy (more...).

How will we endure judgment if our nation must go through it? It will do no good to complain. Instead, we should take the attitude of Habakkuk. He awaits patiently for God’s prophesied judgment, although he does not desire it. The nation of Judah might lose their crops and their cattle and flocks, but Habakkuk is resolved to be joyful in God His Savior. He has confidence that God will help him to be on top of his troubles instead of beneath them (Habakkuk 3:16b-19). If we trust in God as our Savior, we can experience the same joy even in the midst of our trials. Will we make the decision to accept God’s will and be joyful in our God until the day He delivers?

Lessons to Live By

Why Does God Allow Evil? Why doesn’t He end it?

  • God will judge, He will bring justice, but He starts with His own people.
  • The just will live by faith. Do we want God’s favor and blessings? If so, we must turn to God in faith and stop deceiving ourselves, thinking that we can escape God’s judgment or discipline.
  • How can we escape God’s judgment? We can only escape God’s judgment by turning from our sins to God and praying for His mercy (more...).
  • How will we endure judgment if our nation must go through it? If we trust in God as our Savior, we can experience joy even in the midst of our trials.

Today’s Bible Memory Verse

Habakkuk 2:4 (NASB ‘ 95) “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.”

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