In Habakkuk 1:2-4, we hear a prophet of God who is perplexed by God’s seeming inactivity. Habakkuk prays and prays, but God “does not answer” (1:2). The prophet experiences and perceives violence and evil and wickedness all around him, but God “does not save.” All this makes Habakkuk wonder why God seems to be “idly looking” (1:3) while all this transpires. How can God allow this to happen and the wicked to triumph over the righteous (2:4)?
God’s reply to Habakkuk is unexpected (1:5-11). God is aware of the evil of Israel and He is not idle, rather, He is “doing a work,” (1:5). But this work is unexpected: “I’m doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told” (1:5).
The great work that God was doing, in answer to all the evil happening in Israel, was this: God was raising up a pagan, unbelieving nation to bring judgment on Israel (1:6). God was raising up Babylon as a hammer which would strike Israel and bring about destruction. The coming disaster is vividly described as the army of Babylon is terrifying (1:6-11).
The key truth that we see in this Habakkuk 1:1-11 is that even when it looks like God is ‘idly looking’ on evil, He is actually sovereignly at work. In Habakkuk’s time, God was patient with Israel, even as they slid into rampant idolatry and evil. God raised up prophets to call His people back to Himself. But they were obstinate in their sin and now God was raising up a foreign to discipline them and show the judgment of God on sin.
This was an unexpected work. But as Habakkuk and we see it our eyes behold the awesome power of God. God is at work, He is not IDLE.
God’s work is often done in an unexpected way to our human thinking. We certainly see this in the gospel:
–Unexpected work of the Incarnation: God the SON came humbly, not as a ruling king: John 1:14.
-Unexpected defeat of sin through Jesus’ death. (Heb 2:14-15). God defeated sin and killed sin by God the Son dying on a cross as a man.
–Unexpected use of evil actions from evil men to bring about salvation to the world (Acts 2:22-24). God brought about righteous purposes through unrighteous men acting in an unrighteous way.
-Unexpected work of God building his church through preaching the gospel and prayer. It looks pathetic and weak, but the gospel is the “power of salvation for everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
–Unexpected work of God in growing Christians through trials and hardships (Jas 1:2-4). God uses trials and He may give us a THORN in the flesh for our good (2 Cor 12:7-9)