In fact, the answer he received from God left him reeling. Even so, the prophet got way more good than he’d even asked for—his faith was strengthened as his knowledge of God and God’s ways grew deeper, wider, and fuller. Habakkuk also learned to wait, and because he waited, he reaped the fruit of patience, trust, and hope.
From the study of Habakkuk we learn that when God’s ways don’t seem to make sense, it’s only because we can’t see the big picture as God sees it. We only get a small glimpse of the magnitude of who God is.
We also learn from Habakkuk what to do in our own seasons of waiting—for a spouse, a child, a diagnosis, a job offer, healing... Habakkuk shows us that God is faithful to deliver his people, including you and me, friend. He delivers in His own perfect way and in His own perfect time. Will we trust? Will we wait? If so, we will discover that God is trustworthy and worth waiting for!
Habakkuk: Learning to Live by Faith
In this ten-week Bible study for women, Lydia Brownback explores Habakkuk verse by verse, addressing the complex subject of God's judgment and wrath. Each lesson helps women, like us, understand why God allows pain and suffering, and how He deals with unrepentant sin.
Today we'll look at lesson two, An Unwanted Answer, from Habakkuk 1:5-11.
"Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!” Habakkuk 1:5-11
The God we serve is a prayer-answering God, right? Do you believe that? Do you think that He answers every prayer? He does! There really is no such thing as an unanswered prayer, but there are not-yet-answered prayers. You may ask "What's the difference?" The difference is that God IS going to answer our prayers, we just have to wait.
Sometimes, you and I need to be reminded that, yes, God is working, even though we cannot see it. Yes, God is answering our prayers, even though the answer may be something we never expected or wanted, as in Habakkuk's case.
When we don't see God working, when we can't see the answers to our prayers, the answer may just be "WAIT!" Waiting is difficult, isn't it? We don't particularly love to just wait, do we? I know sometimes I get very anxious during the waiting times. I want God to just hurry up and do His thing.
Habakkuk wonders how long God will tolerate the wicked people of Judah and put up with their sinfulness and pride. But God tells the prophet to "Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told" (1:5).
I believe that much of God's work in our lives and in the lives of those around us—both believers and unbelievers—would leave us in wonder and astounded if we only knew. God promised Habakkuk "I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told." I expect that God could say the same thing to us today.
Much of what He is doing in us and in those around us today we must wait on Him to reveal and trust that He is indeed working. This grows our faith. When that work that He is doing is revealed, that work that we would not even believe if told, He alone will get all the glory and all the praise.
Those 5 words: faith, wait, trust, glory, and praise, are key to a prayer life that honors God.
In God's answer to Hanukkah's prayer, He tells the prophet that He is going to use "the Chaldeans [Babylonians], that bitter and hasty nation" (1:6) to accomplish His purpose. I've just recently read through Ezekiel and there too you see God using the ungodly to accomplish His purpose.
"But it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another." Psalm 75:7
If you've ever wondered if God is in control, wonder no more! He is! He even uses the ungodly to accomplish His purposes. He puts down. He lifts up. He changes times and seasons. He removes kings and leaders. He sets up kings and leaders. He gives wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. He withholds wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. "...there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Romans 13:1b).
God is in COMPLETE control, friend. Let's remember that when the next election rolls around.
Let's put ourselves in Habakkuk's sandals for just a moment. He's been waiting on an answer to his prayer and wondering why God doesn't act on Judah's behalf. It looks to the prophet that God has left His people to be plundered and destroyed. But He hasn't. He assures Habakkuk that He is working and that he wouldn't even believe it if He told him about it.
While this may be an unwanted answer to Habakkuk's prayer the fact that God promises that He IS working, even if the prophet can't see it, should strengthen his faith while encouraging him to wait on and trust in God. In the end, God WILL get all the glory and all the praise!
Years ago, I read this quote from Elisabeth Elliot and it made a profound impression on me and how I now view suffering: "Our vision is so limited we can hardly imagine a love that does not show itself in protection from suffering. The love of God is of a different nature altogether. It does not hate tragedy. It never denies reality. It stands in the very teeth of suffering.”
The people of Israel had suffered because of their sinful ways. Now, the people of Judah were going to suffer because of their sinful ways. Sometimes, suffering is because of our sin. Sometimes it's not. But all suffering has purpose, and that purpose is to bring us closer to an all-knowing, altogether loving Heavenly Father. Never forget, friend, "The love of God is of a different nature altogether."
I love this thought that Lydia Brownback leaves us with at the end of this lesson:
"God was going to raise up and empower the wicked Babylonians to discipline His wayward people [Judah]. Identify a time when an unlikely source of spiritual growth was brought into your life. What was it, and how did it cause you to grow?"
What People Are Saying About This Bible Study
“The brilliant and beautiful mix of sound teaching, helpful charts, lists, sidebars, and appealing graphics—as well as insightful questions that get the reader into the text of Scripture—make these studies that women will want to invest time in and will look back on as time well spent.” --Nancy Guthrie, Bible teacher; author, Even Better than Eden
Have you ever received an unwanted answer to prayer? How does God's answer to Habakkuk strengthen your faith?
You may also be interested in 6 Things We Can Learn From Habakkuk.
Other Bible Studies by Lydia Brownback:
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