At church, we run a weekly Friday night dinner and Bible study called Bible Cafe. We study a variety of different topics and Bible passages, and the past 3 weeks we have looked at Habakkuk. Yes, Habakkuk. It is a real book, in the Bible, yet most Christians have no idea it exists or why they should care about it. But as I have been reading this with other Christians and discussing the issues it raises, I realized that the lively discussions on Friday nights have shown how important and relevant the message of this obscure prophet have been for me.
The message of Habakkuk 1 is quite simple, but requires a short history lesson. Habakkuk lived in the southern kingdom of Judah about 600 years before Jesus. Not long beforehand the northern kingdom of Israel was destroyed due to their rebellion against God, but the southern kingdom didn’t take any notice. There was injustice with the rich oppressing the poor and no-one taking notice of God.
Habakkuk lived amongst the mess and injustice, and he called out to his God. He accused God of not doing anything about the injustice, of not caring. In response, God explained that he was doing something – he was sending the Babylonian army to come and punish them all! God, the God of Israel, was going to use the up-and-coming world superpower to punish his people!
There is a lot in this for us, who also live in a world of injustice. We see bad things happen to good people. We have unfair bosses (or employees). People close to us get sick or even die. And we cry out to God: “What are you doing about it???” We cannot know the full answer to this most of the time, but we can know that he cares about us and that he is doing something. He is powerful enough to even control foreign armies, so he can help us in our time of need.
In fact, God has already done something. Something big. In Jesus, God dealt with injustice – and one day all we see the results in a world that will be shown to be fixed and just in every way. God did not ignore our rebellion, but punished it by punishing Jesus in our place, therefore being just as well as merciful.
Our God listens. And cares. And can fix it. What wonderful news from an obscure prophet!