Habakkuk: Week 2 - Why does God tolerate evil?
Sermon Date: July 9th, 2017
Reading: Habakkuk 1:12-2:20
Habakkuk was written in the middle of a hard time for the prophet, he is complaining to God that there is injustice, destruction, wrongdoings, violence and conflict in his land (Jerusalem, Kingdom of Judah). He feels that God isn’t doing anything, the “law is paralysed”, “justice never prevails”, “justice is perverted” and “the wicked surround the righteous”. We feel this way many times, hopefully we have learnt last week that we are allowed to moan and complain, to be angry and frustrated. We can cry out to God, He will not judge or reject us. God’s answer to Habakkuk is bad news too, they will be conquered by a fierce nation, the Babylonians.
Habakkuk is not about God responding to his prayer by changing the circumstances, which He has done many times and continues to do. In this story, the only thing that is changed is Habakkuk’s vision and heart. It is about being joyful and secure in an unjust world, by trusting in the God who promises to deliver his people and defeat evil. In this study we will see how Habakkuk challenges God once again and asks why a Holy God can tolerate evil. God replies by revealing the promise of a better future for those who trust in God.
- Have you ever had to tolerate unpleasant situations for a greater good?
- When do kids call their parents evil? What kind of things do good parents have to make their children go through that they don't like?
- Why do you think that God tolerates evil?
(hint: sometimes it helps us grow and learn, but not always. Love is free, free will's consequence is that there could be evil. God values loving freely more than the “cost” of rejection and evil)
Read Habakkuk 1:12 – 17
- How does Habakkuk recognize that God is? (v. 12)
- Read v. 13. What does he mean by “your eyes are too pure to look on evil”?
Bad thing happen, it doesn't mean that God is trying to teach us something, it is simply the consequence of a fallen world. In our freedom as humans many times we choose badly and then bad stuff happens. God is love, God is just, God is holy, but that doesn't mean that He stops all the evil that there is on Earth.
Read Habakkuk 2:1-20
v. 1 says “I will stand at my watch... I will look to see what He will say to me...”. Do you tend to spend time waiting on God?
v.2 Habakkuk is called to write down the revelation and send heralds to share the news. There is an obvious comparison to sharing the news of the gospel with others. But, do you ever write down prayers or what you think God might be revealing you? Can you share your experience?
v.2-3 Talks about God's timing. It is talking mainly about this revelation and when will God respond to Habakkuk's prayer. Do you think God responds at the correct time? Does anyone have a testimony of when God responded at the precise time of need?
v. 4 “But the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” is used by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 (please read them as a group). It is the core of his message, salvation by faith. Can you see God's 'grace in this old prophecy?
(Hint: They are called to trust in God that He will save them at the end, they are called to be faithful and righteous, God will do his part. We are called to trust and believe in what Jesus did for us, to remain faithful, we are righteous because of Jesus' death on the cross and we trust that God has the final word :)
v. 5-17 Talk about the evil the Babylonians are doing and going to continue doing. God uses phrases like “disgrace will cover your glory”, they will be in “ridicule and scorn”, “shaming your house”, “woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain”and “filled with shame instead of glory”. Their actions won't go unanswered, there is a consequence to their wrongdoings. These verses show that in their life they aren't satisfied or fulfilled by living this way. Do you see any resemblance with people who are greedy and corrupt today?
v.18-19 Talk about the idols that Babylonians used to make expecting to give them “life”. What are the idols in our society today?
This prophecy speaks mainly about what his happening with God's people at that time and what will happen with the Babylonians. But as many old testament prophecies there are some amazing verses which have a double fulfilment. This means that they are talking about what is happening back then but some are fulfilled again in Jesus or later on.
Habakkuk 2:4 “But the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” is fullfilled by Jesus' death on the cross and resurrection. In what way is it fullfilled?
Habakkuk 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. Has this been fulfilled? If not, when do you think this prophecy will be accomplished?
(Hint: Not every tribe knows about the glory of God yet)
Habakkuk 2:20 “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him”. The Jewish people didn't try to share about their God with other nations. Do you think what God said might give us a hint that they were supposed to?
(Hint: In Genesis we find that all the nations of the Earth would be blessed by God through Abraham, they were called to be a light to the nations, but they never seemed to see the need to share their God with other people)
We have gone through many complex questions. In Habakkuk 2 we find a bit about what God will do in the future. Part of our mission as the global Church is to accomplish what we find in 2:14 “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”. Let us spend a few minutes in prayer, asking God to help us share about his Glory with everyone.
Nico Hilding-Ohlsson, 09/07/2017