Last night at CSF we continued our study of what I am calling secondary characters in the Bible, the sort of people who may not get top billing but who play an important part in the story. We moved into the minor prophets last evening, looking at Habakkuk. Originally I was going to do Habakkuk the week prior to Spring Break as it pairs well with the story of Job which we had looked at the previous week. Both books discuss the problem of evil and suffering and ask where is God or how could God let this happen. Unfortunately, snow led to that night being cancelled.
First off, to set the stage for the prophets, I summarized the story of scripture up to that point:
*God Creates and Humanity lives in Relationship with the Creator
*Humanity Rebels and the Relationship is Broken
*God launches a rescue mission to restore this relationship – this mission begins with the call of Abraham and the promise to bless all nations through his descendants. It then moves through the rescue of Israel from slavery and the giving of the Law through their becoming a nation and eventually rejecting God as king. In this Israel, who was to be an example to other nations, wants to be like other nations and have a king. God gives them a king, some are good but many are bad. Bad kings lead them away from God so God sends prophets to call them back.
Enter Habakkuk. Being such a short book we read it and discussed it rather then me just talking about it. Habakkuk 1:2-4 begins with Habakkuk complaining, wanting to know where God is and why God is silent in the face of violence. God responds (Habakkuk 1:5-9) by saying the Babylonians will soon arrive to punish those who are violent among God’s people. This is not the response Habakkuk wanted, as the Babylonians are even worse (1:12-17). God response includes what is now a well-known statement, “the righteous will live by faith” (2:4).
We spent time reflecting on what this means.
1. Such a faith is a trust in God’s entire plan for the whole world – God says in Hab 2:14 that the earth will be filled with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea. In other words, God’s rescue mission will succeed no matter how dark things look from Habakkuk’s perspective, or ours.
2. Along with that, such faith remembers what God did in the past, recognizes God is faithful and thus lives based on God’s promises for the future. Important to say then that faith is not just assent or belief, rather it is an active trust that plays out in real life.
3. At the same time, we see from Habakkuk’s conversation with God that when we struggle to understand what is happening in our world, it is okay to ask. Even to complain. This is what real relationship entails, even relationship with God.
4. Finally, such faith leads to prayer and praise. Habakkuk 3 is a long prayer and is a model for where we end up through our conversations with God.
I think there is a lot in Habakkuk that is very relevant to us as we live out our faith in the contemporary world.