Suffering and evil–why does it exist? More importantly, how do we account for it as believers, people who say there is an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing God? The problem of suffering and evil is one of, if not, the largest problems of the Christian faith/worldview. Yet here we sit, as Christians, believing in an all-good, all-loving, all-powerful God. How? Maybe a better question to ask is, “Why?” It is in these times that confusion often reigns. We want to have confidence in God…but how? How can Christians go from confusion to confidence? We go from confusion to confidence by understanding the sovereignty of God and the three truths it involves. In this series of posts, the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk will be our guide, leading us from confusion to confidence by helping us understand God’s sovereignty. The first truth Habakkuk leads us to understand is “Who we Are“. Today, Habakkuk will lead us to understand “What Confusion We Face”.
In Habakkuk 1:2-4, Habakkuk is a confused prophet. He is a frustrated prophet. He is meant to be calling people back to God and warning of God’s discipline of His covenant people. But all Habakkuk sees is God ignoring injustice. Ignoring iniquity. Ignoring violence. Ignoring wickedness. Habakkuk sees no justice from God. Habakkuk sees no righteousness in God’s actions. Habakkuk is confused. And we would be too if we were in his shoes. Habakkuk sees material prosperity and spiritual poverty existing side by side. He sees this in God’s special covenant people: Israel.
This is a very interesting time in Israel’s history. The nation has already been divided (north = Israel, south = Judah). The nation of Israel has already been captured and deported by the Assyrians. Josiah was king in Judah just prior to this time. The book of the law had been found. The Passover had been kept. All was ok spiritually. But then Josiah was killed in battle. The Egyptians soon after invaded and set up their own king. There is much material prosperity from Josiah’s reign still in place during Habakkuk’s time, but the new king does not follow God. So there is also much spiritual corruption. So while there is real material prosperity, there is also rampant spiritual poverty! (2 Chronicles 35-36)
In other words, there are people who are wicked, violent, and unjust getting rewarded materially as if they are spiritually great. Habakkuk is frustrated. Habakkuk is irritated. Habakkuk is confused by this. Habakkuk knows God is just. He knows God can not let sin go unpunished. But all he sees is injustice going unpunished. So God answers Habakkuk. God will bring justice. But justice means judgment. God’s answer to Habakkuk’s confusion only adds more confusion. What God is going to do Habakkuk will not believe. “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (Habakkuk 1:5). God’s answer is unbelievable. God’s justice is confusing. God’s justice is judgment. But it is judgment on the very nation He promised to protect and preserve. And Habakkuk is more confused by that (Habakkuk 1:12). Habakkuk is confused at how God will use a wicked nation, the Babylonians to bring justice. Habakkuk is confused by God’s judgment. Habakkuk’s confusion is in his understanding of God’s plan.
Habakkuk, as our guide, experienced that same confusion we face as well. We have confusion in our understanding of God’s plan. How could He use someone more wicked than us? How could God judge us by someone that needs judgment themselves? Romans 8:28 states that “for those who love God all things work together for good”. But how can an unjust judgment be good? These are the things that confuse. These are the things that frustrate. These are the things that cause us to question God and His plan. But as we will see next week, these confusions, frustrations, and questions cause us to evaluate where our confidence must be found.