Habakkuk 1:1-11 – How Long Will You Tarry Lord?

The problem that he surfaces is there for us in verse 2 and following: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?” What he is really describing here, and surfacing, is essentially the discrepancy between revelation and experience. How can he reconcile what he knows of the character and purpose of a good and powerful God with all that he sees around him? That’s what he’s asking: “How can it possibly be that you, O God, are good and powerful, and yet violence and moral ineptitude and chaos confronts us at every point?” A collapsing economy, diminishing productivity, food shortage, violence, social injustice, and a wholesale disregard for God’s law—just a run through that little list immediately says to somebody, “Well, maybe this just isn’t as far removed from where we live as I thought.” Collapsing economy, diminishing productivity, food shortage, violence, social injustice, and a wholesale disregard for what God has said in his Word. That’s a problem, isn’t it?

When you look at those verses, you realize that the problem is essentially twofold. God’s timescale, verse 2: “How long” is this going to go on? And God’s tolerance, verse 3: “Why do you make me look at injustice?” and “Why do you tolerate wrong?” It’s a very contemporary question, isn’t it? It’s a question on the lips of every thoughtful believer. How long will this go on? And why is it that this good God whom we serve, this moral God that we serve, this all-powerful God that we serve, tolerates declension and spiritual and moral dry rot amongst those who profess to be the followers of his Son?

We need to make clear to ourselves that the history of Habakkuk’s era was under God’s control, and that that is true in every age. Indeed, we come full circle to… learning to see that the events of our world, whether in Habakkuk’s day or in our own day, are all tied in their significance to God’s eternal purpose in relationship to his kingdom. And if we will keep our gaze there, focused on the gospel, focused on this great good news, focused on King Jesus, focused on the fact that his perspectives on the unfolding story of world history are far more comprehensive than we could ever imagine, and yet remain absolutely focused on the person of his Son, Jesus, and of the triumph of his resurrection and the glory of his ascension and the absolute certainty of his return, then all of our cares and all of our cancers, all of our disappointments and all of our failures, all of our heartaches and heartbreaks and confusions may be brought under the all-embracing security of God’s sovereign purpose. He understands when, like Habakkuk, we cry out, “How long and why?” And the answer of his Word is finally given to us expressly in Jesus.

Alistair Begg

Read Habakkuk 1:1-11 and consider how you respond when God’s ways don’t make sense. In what ways can you grow in understanding God’s ways? In what ways can you grow in trusting God when understanding may not be possible?

Stricken, Smitten by Thomas Kelly

Posted on: July 17, 2020 - 12:00PM

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