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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: A Faith to Cling To

Don Smith :: Habakkuk 1:12-17

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A Faith to Cling To — A Call to Rejoice in the God of Our Salvation

Part Three: “The Holy Will of God” – Habakkuk 1:12-17

The Scriptures are the lenses God gave us not only to see Him, but also ourselves and the world around us.

  • What would things look like if we could actually see through God’s holy eyes?
  • The Bible tells us sin, any sin…visible, invisible, act, attitude, or motivation would be a grave offense to His holy nature and awaken His righteous indignation against that which degrades His glorious reputation.
  • Rebellion, any rebellion…Satanic, angelic, international or personal would be foreseen and ordained as ways to accomplish His holy purposes.
  • The child of God, every child of God…regardless of their ethnicity, gender, calling or past failures would be seen through eyes of love and grace because of their identity in Christ.
  • Therefore, learning to see things from God’s perspective requires of us to know God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation.

A.W. Tozer believed it is essential to see through God’s holy eyes the world in which we live if we are to be moved to action by the sad condition of our world. He said,

Until we have seen ourselves as God sees us, we are not likely to be much disturbed over conditions around us as long as they do not get so far out of hand as to threaten our comfortable way of life. We have learned to live with unholiness and have come to look upon it as the natural and expected thing.

Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down iniquity and save the world from irreparable moral collapse, He is said to be angry. Every wrathful judgment in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation. The holiness of God, the wrath of God, and the health of the creation are inseparably united. God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates polio [cancer] that would take the life of her child. [The Knowledge of the Holy, pgs 110,113]

As Habakkuk looked at the world around him, he was troubled and perplexed.

  • He was surrounded by a culture with irreparable moral collapse, injustice and violence.
  • The burdened prophet cried out to the Lord for justice in his day.
  • But when the Lord appeared to Habakkuk, he learned God had appointed a fierce violent people known as the Chaldeans to be His instruments of working justice.
  • God’s plan to use a people more unrighteous than his own seemed to be a flagrant violation or inconsistency in God’s holy nature.
  • Therefore, the prophet protested the Lord’s announcement that judgment was coming to take Judah into captivity like an east wind gathers the sands and carries it away.
  • Habukkuk was struggling to see things through God’s eyes.
  • His protests were not unlike our own when God’s mysterious ways seem irreconcilable and inconsistent with God’s holy character.
  • The prophet’s response in Habakkuk 1:12-17 is a classic case study of finite men trying to see things through God’s eyes.

He Admitted God Sees Everything through Holy Eyes – Habakkuk 1:12-13

1. Habakkuk affirmed his faith in God’s nature – (Psa 46:1; 93:1-2; Isa 63:16)
He ascribed to the Lord eternality.

  • He was known to Israel as “Our Father; Our Redeemer, from Everlasting is His name.”
  • His throne was established from of old and unrivaled by earthly kings seated on their thrones.
  • His perspective is eternal and not bound or restricted by what is seen in the temporal.
  • Therefore, the Bible concludes, “He is an ever present help in trouble.”

Habakkuk also acknowledged the Lord as Judah’s Covenant-Keeping God.

  • It was He who initiated and confirmed His covenant with Abraham.
  • “The Lord” or “JAHWEH” is the name God gave to describe His eternality.
  • The Lord described Himself to Moses as…
The faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face. (Deu 7:9)

Habakkuk claimed his God was the Holy One. (Isa 37:23)

  • His relationship with God was through the Holy One of Israel.
  • It was the Holy One of Israel that men reproached and blasphemed even though His transcendent glory was veiled in human flesh and His moral perfection was infinite.
  • In Him there was no turning or shadow.
  • Every word He spoke or work He did flowed from His holy nature.
  • Because God is holy, He cannot tolerate any form of sin that destroys His creation.
  • His righteous indignation and justice, therefore, are consistent with His holy nature.

The prophet having looked through the lenses of Scripture believed “God’s eyes are purer than to behold evil.” (Eze 5:11)

  • In other words, God couldn’t behold the oppression brought upon His people without doing something.
  • He wasn’t impervious or passive at the sight of His people’s suffering and adversity.
  • Yet there was a point at which the Lord would not spare or pity those who continue defiling and dishonoring His holy name.

Habakkuk also believed that even if God had to bring judgment on Judah His eyes were still upon the righteous. (Psa 17:7-8; 32:8; 33:18-19; Zec 2:8)

  • There was a remnant like himself and Jeremiah who remained faithful.
  • Even though his culture was condemned, God saw His righteous ones.
  • They were the apple of His eyes.
  • He would sustain and save those who trusted in Him by hiding them under His wings.
  • He would guide them through the cultural chaos with His holy eyes.

2. Habakkuk further Confessed His Confidence in God’s Faithfulness.

  • He believed, even though Judah would rightly be judged, they would not be utterly destroyed.
  • That is why he clearly affirmed, “We will not die!”
  • His confidence was in God’s faithfulness and not the faithfulness of God’s people.
  • God would keep His covenant promise to bring forth a Savior through Judah, because salvation has always been God’s work not man’s.

He also admitted God had sovereignly ordained the Chaldeans for judgment.

  • He believed it was God’s holy prerogative to judge His rebellious people.

He even went so far as to attribute God’s chastening and correction as an act of love.

  • Habakkuk, being a man of the Word had seen through the lenses of the Scriptures numerous example’s of God’s faithfulness to Israel by disciplining them as a father disciplines a child for their good. (Heb 12:10-11)
  • God was chastening Israel out of love to produce the fruit of righteousness.
  • Habakkuk had a glimpse of Israel’s imminent judgment through the eyes of a holy God.

3. He also Proclaimed God to Be His Rock. (Deu 32:4; 33:27; Psa 31:2-3; 62:6-8; 92:15)

  • Even though God chastens to correct, the Lord was his rock of refuge.
  • He would be his fortress of defense to save him in the midst of calamity.
  • His Word was true, without injustice and fully reliable.
  • God would lead him as He did Israel in the wilderness.
  • He was the rock out of which came life giving water when it was struck by Moses.
  • Therefore, He was the rock of his salvation.
  • Habakkuk would cling to the Rock when everything else was like sinking sand.

At this point we need to ask ourselves the relevance of Habakkuk’s view of God.

  • What if we cried out to the Lord for justice against violence in an unjust judicial system only to have the Lord promise to raise up radical Islamic terrorist groups to infiltrate and destroy our country?
  • What would we believe to be true about God?
  • What if you cried out for justice at the work place by asking for a pay raise only to have the boss advance a cranky fellow worker to have authority over you?
  • What would you believe to be true about God?
  • What if you cried out to the Lord for your child’s life after he had been randomly shot by a punk gang member only to learn the accused was released because of a legal technicality?
  • What if you prayed for justice in an adulterous divorce only to receive a judgment by the court that left you bankrupt and lonely while the guilty spouse walked away with his love interest enjoying wealth and property?
  • These are the kinds of things that test what we believe to be true about God, when we don’t understand His mysterious ways.
  • Would we be able to see these things through the eyes of a holy God?
  • Would we trust God’s eternal perspective to solve our temporal problems?
  • Would we believe God always is faithful to His covenant promises even when we suffer and the wicked prosper?
  • Would we acknowledge in our adversity that God may be using this for purposes know only to Him?
  • Would we find Christ to be our Rock and Refuge or would we blame Him and become bitter for the things He ordained to enter our lives?
  • If we honestly ask ourselves these questions, we begin to appreciate Habakkuk’s faith and confidence in God in spite of all the hardship he was facing.
  • He definitely believed God saw things through holy eyes but he couldn’t reconcile how God could see His people chastised by a people more unrighteous than they.
  • We begin to see Habakkuk’s need to see more clearly what it means to be righteous through God’s eyes.

God Eyes See Our Righteousness Differently than We Do – Habakkuk 1:13-15

1. Habakkuk asked God why He would use instruments of wickedness to chastise God’s chosen people? (Psa 50:3; 94:8-11; Isa 40:27-28; Rom 3:10-12, 22-23)

  • He wondered how God could stand silently by looking upon the treacherous dealings of the Chaldeans, knowing they were devouring His promised seed.
  • Habakkuk can accept God’s justice but struggled to understand how God could use a people, in his estimation, far more unrighteous than Judah to be the means of His justice.
  • He can accept God’s will but questions His ways.
  • One of the problems facing the prophet is seeing through God’s eyes man’s righteousness.
  • How human like to ascribe to others more evil than to themselves.
  • God, however, doesn’t grade on a curve.
  • Through God’s holy eyes “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one.” (Rom 3:10-12, 23)
  • God’s justice rests on Adam’s race “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”
  • What Habakkuk failed to see was that any righteousness Judah enjoyed came only by God’s grace.
  • God would preserve Judah but only because He had promised to bring forth the Savior through their nation.
  • When we question why the wicked seem to prosper while the righteous suffer, we need to remember any righteousness we have has been imputed to us by faith alone through grace alone in Christ alone.
  • If we were to see man’s righteousness through God’s eyes we would see filthy rags.
  • If we were to see God’s righteousness through God’s eyes we would see Christ.

2. Habakkuk’s consternation drove him to ask God why He made men like fish without a ruler to be caught by wicked fishermen?

  • The prophet felt like a fish swimming in a storm tossed sea with sharks, angler’s hooks and drag nets all around him.
  • This was a relevant picture in Habakkuk’s mind.
  • The Babylonians portrayed themselves as fishermen.
  • They proudly hooked their captive’s lips and led them about like lines of fish.
  • Habakkuk wondered why God would use such wicked men to accomplish His justice.
  • We have only to remind ourselves that this is the same God who ordained His righteous Son to be crucified by the hands of wicked men using the harshest method…the cross.

Habakkuk not only didn’t understand how God viewed men’s righteousness but also how God Sees Our Covetousness as Idolatry – Habakkuk 1:16-17

1. The prophet questioned how long God would put up with those who worshipped their weapons of war?

  • If ever there was a proud idolatrous people it was the Chaldeans.
  • They worshipped their nets and offered sacrifices to them because by them they conquered many nations and enjoyed the spoils of the land.
  • Habakkuk couldn’t reconcile the fact that God despised idolaters yet still appointed the Chaldeans to be His rod of chastisement on Judah.

2. But Habakkuk hadn’t realize that God equally disdained Judah’s covetousness as another form of idolatry. (Eph 5:5; Col 3:5)

  • A restless discontent heart with God’s good providence is idolatry.
  • It is misplaced passion for things rather than for God.
  • So the prophet didn’t share God’s perspective of man’s righteousness or idolatry.
  • Babylon’s idolatry was worshipping their weapons of war to gain things.
  • Judah’s idolatry was covetousness for things rather than giving God gratitude for all He had provided them through out their history.
  • Habakkuk questioned how long God would put up with the Babylonians who continued to slay other nations.
  • The answer simply stated is…God will use them as long as they serve His holy purposes.

This morning we need to ask ourselves a few questions even as Habakkuk did of the Lord:

  • Do we believe God is solving eternal problems while we are screaming for immediate solutions to the things that bother us today?
  • Do we believe everything God ordained flows from His holy nature?
  • Do we believe God is a covenant-keeping God who will remain faithful even when we are faithless?
  • Do we believe God’s eyes are too pure to keep watching the righteous suffer without being moved to come to their rescue?
  • Do we believe Christ is our Rock and Refuge in times of storm?
  • Do we believe our righteousness is as filthy rages and that we are no better than the vilest sinner in the world if it weren’t for God’s sovereign grace?
  • Do we believe our covetousness is considered by God as idolatry and therefore offended by this as if we were worshipping a totem pole or carved stone?

Learning to see ourselves and others through the eyes of God challenges our sense of self-righteousness.

  • For if we fail to see God’s infinite holiness, we fail to see our own depravity.
  • If we fail to see our depravity, we fail to see God’s justice.
  • If we fail to see God’s justice, we fail to see our need of Christ and the cross.
  • And if we fail to see our need of Christ and the cross, we fail to see His unfathomable love and grace.

As we come to the Lord’s Table, we see God’s justice and mercy merge.

  • Here we see through God’s eyes His great provision for sinners.
  • Here we see Christ present with His church prepared to meet with them and nourish them with the bread and the cup.
  • We are reminded at this table that the Redeemed are the apple of God’s eye because we are like worms hidden in Christ and His cross.
  • When God fixes His loving eyes on us, He sees His Son, the pleasure and joy of heaven.
  • When He sees the righteous He is pleased with His Son’s finished work in us.
  • If we were to see ourselves as the apple of God’s eye we would better understand that our times of adversity are meant to conform us into the likeness of His beloved Son and drive us to the throne of mercy where He meets us with compassion and grace.

The Scriptures are the lenses God gave us not only to see Him, but also ourselves and the world around us.

  • What do you think God sees this morning as we prepare to sup with Him?

Questions for Further Discussion and Discovery

  1. When we don’t understand “why?” things have entered our life why must we return to what we know to be true about “who” God is?
  2. How can God see regenerate sinners and see them as holy?
  3. What significance is it to the child of God to know they are the “apple of His eyes”?
  4. How is God’s perspective to our concerns likely to be different than ours?
  5. What covenant promises has God made to His church today?
  6. What do you think Habakkuk meant when he attributed to God that His “eyes are purer than to behold evil” when there is nothing out of His sight?
  7. When you are convicted of your unfaithfulness why is it important to know God remains faithful to Himself as well as us?
  8. How does this knowledge cause you to live a holy life rather than a license to sin?
  9. If God uses evil agencies (angels and men) to fulfill His holy purposes how might that influence our perspective of life on planet earth?
  10. What does it mean to consider God as your Rock?
  11. When have you ever thought of Him as this?
  12. How do you reconcile tragedy striking your life while it seems to sidestep others who live without fear of God?
  13. Have you ever shared Habakkuk’s analogy of humanity being like fish swimming in a storm tossed sea sought by indiscriminate anglers with hooks, gaffs and nets? If so why?
  14. Why is idolatry considered by God as “covetousness?” (Eph 5:5; Col 3:5)
  15. How could we pray for each other today swimming in an ocean filled with sharks, angler’s hooks and nets?

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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