THE PROPHET’S DESPAIR

THE PROPHET’S DESPAIR

You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net and destroying nations without mercy? (Hab. 1: 14-17).

Habakkuk must have listened with deepening despair to God’s answer to his dilemma. Instead of giving him hope, what God had to say brought more questions. If God was responsible for the coming invasion, using a nation as wicked and cruel as the Babylonians, what hope was there for his people? Their enemy seemed invincible. They swept across the globe without stopping, overrunning one nation after the other like a fisherman catching helpless shoals of fish in his nets.

There was no nation that could stand against the might of Babylon. The very name struck terror in their hearts – and, make no mistake – they were coming because God said they were coming. He had chosen them as His instrument of discipline for His people.

What was even worse, although God hated idolatry, and for idolatry more than anything else He had a case against His people, the Babylonians worshipped the very instruments that brought them success as though it were their “nets” that had the power over the “fish”. In the end, they were idolaters of the worst kind because they worshipped themselves. After all, wasn’t it their military might and prowess that gave them the victory?

Pride was the bottom line. They were proud and confident in themselves. They didn’t need any gods and they certainly didn’t need God. Their gods were only a token of themselves. Remember Nebuchadnezzar – the greatest of the Babylonian emperors? His power and authority were absolute. What he said went. When Daniel’s three colleagues refused to bow to his image, he had them thrown into the fiery furnace. He simply eliminated everyone who failed to submit to him. He thought he had absolute power but he did not reckon on God.

Although Habakkuk could not understand God’s ways, he had to learn that even a despot like Nebuchadnezzar in the end, had to bow to God’s supreme authority. It may seem to the prophet that Babylon was unstoppable. It may seem that they were invincible, swallowing up nation after nation like fisherman catching hapless shoals of fish, worshipping their strength and skill, but God still held the whip and used it for His own ends.

When we look out at our world, we tend to see it through Habakkuk’s eyes. It seems that evil has the upper hand and that wicked people are invincible and unstoppable. Terrorism seems to rule, terrorists of the worst kind because they do it in the name of their religion.

Memories of September 11 still strike fear in the hearts of people. Who were they and where will they strike next? Even if the ringleaders have been taken out, there are always others waiting in the wings to take their places – another Osama bin Laden, a Hitler, a Stalin or a Mugabe coming up behind to crack the whip. When and where will it all end? Will there ever be peace in our world? Why does God seem so far away and so inactive in the face of human suffering? A dark, bleak picture with no light at the end of the tunnel.

How often don’t we feel like that when we are in the middle of our own crisis! Our circumstances seem to be in control and we feel like helpless pawns in the hands of the “Babylonians”. God’s so-called “answers” don’t even bring comfort and reassurance. Instead of getting us out, He tells us that He is behind it! How crazy is that? If that is so, then we can’t even go to God for help. He’s in bed with the enemy!

Every difficulty, every hardship, every crisis is a process. Habakkuk was in the middle of his but God had not finished with him yet. What kept him going? Firstly, his questions were not arrogant but honest. He did not accuse but he did express his misgivings.  Secondly, he kept reassuring himself with what he knew about God. He looked for the stepping stones which were solid under his feet as he navigated the flood. Thirdly, he waited. He didn’t walk away in a huff before God was finished with him. He knew God well enough to give Him the benefit of the doubt.

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what He will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint (Hab. 2:1).

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Luella Campbell


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