1 Jul 2022

Habakkuk’s Angst

Submitted by John T Reagan
Habakkuk by F.O.Salisbury from bbc.co.uk

Author’s Note:  For this week’s post it was my intention to pass on to you a PDF of some notes I have taken on Daniel Chapter 2.  I’m still working on that project and, of course, it is taking longer than I would have liked.  That goal is motivated by my own search into end-time prophecy, especially considering the question of where Daniel’s “Abomination that brings Desolation” fits in with our current events.  I believe we are very close to the Lord’s return and I’m looking forward to sharing my study with you.  Hopefully, I’ll have that ready for next week’s post.

For the last two days, during my daily quiet time of reading the Bible, I have been stuck on the book of Habakkuk and his relationship with God.  I can’t seem to get past the beginning and ending verses.  The book is basically a conversation between Habakkuk, an angst-filled prophet, and God.  Here’s how Habakkuk starts their exchange in Habakkuk 1:2-3:

O Lord, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to You, “Violence!”
And You will not save.
Why do You show me iniquity,
And Cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me…

Prophets have a special relationship with God.  Of course, that is also true of everyone who operates as one of the fivefold ministry gifts that Jesus gave to the church (see Eph 4:11-12).  Every person called to minister as one of those gifts has a unique and special relationship with God.  For instance, we are all familiar with how God shares His shepherd’s heart with pastors.  Pastors see the flock of God with the same compassion and desire to nurture as God.  In the same way, God shares with prophets His own view of this world.  To have Him share His perspective with you in this way touches you deeply and connects you to your Lord in a unique and special way.  However, at the same time, most prophetic individuals I know struggle with what God shows them.  That’s because the world, from God’s perspective, is full of darkness and nastiness.  Don’t get me wrong.  The prophet’s relationship with our Lord is special and deeply fulfilling, but it is also a difficult path to walk.  There is light in this world, but more often than not it is often really hard to see that light because the darkness we live in is so pervasive.  When you see so much darkness, how do you not fall into despair?  That was Habakkuk's problem.  God shared with him what the children of Israel really looked like.  Their idolatries, greedy ways, and moral turpitude overwhelmed him.  “Why are you showing me this stuff, God?  It’s so ugly and repugnant.”  Habakkuk’s words highlight how the prophet’s relationship with God is bittersweet in nature.  It is sweet because God, the creator of the universe, has chosen to share His heart with you.  He has chosen to let you see the world the same way He sees it.  How awesome is that?  But, it is bitter because, more often than not, the spiritual realities you see are difficult to deal with.  After all, until Jesus returns, the world is and will remain a nasty place.  John the apostle experienced something similar when, in Revelation 10:8-11, God had him eat a scroll.  It was sweet to the taste, but it was bitter in his gut.  Prophetic people follow God with uncompromising determination, but that walk is a bittersweet walk.

Habakkuk had it doubly difficult.  God’s answer to his question was anything but comforting.  God described how He was bringing Babylon against Judea and they were going to destroy everything.  If you’re a prophet, what do you do with that?  You love your Lord and embrace that special relationship you have with Him, yet at the same time, you wish He wasn’t sharing with you all these hard things that you are seeing.  Still, Habakkuk did find a solution to his angst, and that solution speaks to all of us.  Spend some time pondering his final words.   

Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls---
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
he will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk 3:17-19

God bless.

PS:  If you are interested in learning more about what makes prophetic people tick (or think you may have some tendencies in the prophetic direction) you can read my book Understanding the Prophetic Nature.