Bruce Jenner is now calling himself Caitlyn. (Will that get you on a Wheaties box these days?) Gay marriage bells ring the world over. (If you don’t embrace this change, don’t ask for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee). Wealthy politicians use class warfare lingo to exploit voters. (“I’m on your side. It’s that other rich guy who’s cheating you!”) Addiction never goes out of style. (I mean, who doesn’t think it’s cool to lose teeth, spit chaw, poke yourself with needles, and have a slumber party at the jail! People are literally falling all over themselves for a chance to do these things!) Meanwhile, a celebrity suing his ex for custody of their frozen embryos could threaten the right of Americans to kill unborn babies. (What is the world coming to?)
MacBeth said it best I think:
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
You get the drift. Stop the planet. I want off.
We all feel this way at times. Something deep inside is revolted by the state of things. Someone needs to grab the world and paddle its butt until the baboons say, “Dang! That’s red!”
That’s basically what Habakkuk is about. (Minus Caitlyn, MacBeth, and the baboons). Habakkuk was a prophet who gave God a piece of his mind because the world was so screwed up. God’s law was being violated in every way possible, and God did nothing about it. Habakkuk prayed that God would change the world–make the leaders more godly, the culture more religious, the people more moral.
But God didn’t. There was no revival. The Jew Research polls showed religion declining. Then Israel was invaded by Babylon, a pagan nation. This was not the narrative they expected. It isn’t the narrative we’re taught to expect either.
What about the power of prayer and all that jazz?
Habakkuk’s prayers weren’t totally useless. The Lord gave him a revelation: Something did need to change–Habakkuk’s perspective (Hab. 2:2-3).
On one level, God’s revelation to Habakkuk concerned the coming destruction of Babylon. On another level, Babylon’s destruction typified a day when God would judge all of humanity AND accomplish the righteousness we could not. That day came when Jesus died on the cross.
Habakkuk asked why God allowed so much unrighteousness. God’s answer? He left sins unpunished because He always intended to present His Messiah as an atoning sacrifice (Rom. 3:25). At the cross, God set everything right. Jesus did what the Father asked: He took responsibility for every sin that was and will be committed. He suffered the death penalty on every person’s behalf. At the cross, in the person of Christ, every evil act was judged; every fallen person was executed (2 Cor. 5:14).
Habakkuk came to understand that “the righteous will live by faith” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17). Habakkuk looked forward in faith to the cross. God also calls us to trust in the cross.
We will never find rightness in this world. Rightness is only found at the cross. We want God to come into every little situation and fix it. We want Him to go commando on the abortion clinics, tough love the addicts, and tell Jenner to put some pants on. But God wants us to come to the cross where He has already made all things new (Rev. 21:5).