Habakkuk’s Prayer

Your eyes are too pure to look at evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous ?” – Habakkuk 1:13 (NIV)

Do you get the sense that, if he were alive today, the prophet Habakkuk might make a great consumer advocate ? He’d be someone you’d contact if you felt you were being ripped off by a large company or internet scam, someone who would stand up for the less fortunate in society and those who had little access to the “system”. Instead, his time was 2,600 years ago and God’s calling for his life was that of a prophet. I’m reading the last few books of the Old Testament now and decided to stop and think for a bit about Habakkuk, one of the twelve “minor” prophets.

Habakkuk lived in Judah somewhere between 640 and 598 (?) B.C. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah the prophet. Couldn’t you picture these two prophets hanging around together ? They were both extremely emotional writers and were troubled by the fate that was about to hit their fellow people. Jerusalem would fall during their time, in 586 B.C. But I think what made Habakkuk distinct is that he took his concerns and his troubles directly to God. In that way, the book of Habakkuk is unique and it reminded me of the dialogue between Job and God at the end of that book.

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” – Job 42:5-6 (NIV)

In Job’s mind it probably seemed like forever before God would answer him. But when He did, there wasn’t much left for him to do but recognize that God’s will was supreme. Habakkuk’s dialogue seemed much more direct and appeared to be answered quicker. And his final prayer was one of tremendous faith in God and his plan. In both cases, Job and Habakkuk wondered aloud about apparent injustices in the world around them, and in his own due time, God responded as only he can.

“LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.” – Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV)

I’m finding that throughout my reading of the Old Testament that some themes become more apparent as time goes by. What I originally took from Job, among other things, was that after all of his sudden suffering, his first reaction was to praise God. But after reading Habakkuk, I also am reminded that God wants to hear from us in an honest, emotional way. We should pray in a direct manner to God, as Job and Habakkuk did, with all of our concerns and questions, to have a real, prayerful relationship with him. He of course responds as he sees fit, and when he sees fit. But eventually we get the response we can get nowhere else, and from no one else. That’s something we can all take comfort in.

“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” – Habakkuk 3:19 (NIV)


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