When God Seems Silent in the Face of Evil
When God Seems Silent in the Face of Evil.
“How Long, O Lord, will I call for help…But the righteous will live by his faith.”
Habakkuk’s faith was wavering, for he could not understand. Throughout the land of Judah, the people had abandoned the law and justice of God. After the death of Josiah, the spiritual reforms he established were quickly abandoned by the people. The nation became entrenched in sin and wickedness. The law was ignored, and the justice and holiness of God were perverted. Consequently, Habakkuk was perplexed. How could a holy God remain indifferent to their sin? Throughout the Scriptures, one of the characteristics of godly people is their grief and lament when corruption runs rampant. Thus, Habakkuk cannot understand how a righteous God can remain silent as sin increases.
In verses 4-11, God responds. He is not silent and does not allow sin to run unchecked. He will bring his discipline and judgment. However, the way God will bring judgment upon Judah for their sin surprises Habakkuk even more, for God will use the Chaldean to defeat Judah. With this announcement, Habakkuk is even more confused. How can a righteous God, whose eyes are too pure to approve evil (vs. 13), use the Chaldeans to bring judgment, for the Chaldeans were even more wicked than Judah? Habakkuk understands something that we often fail to grasp: the holiness of God. God's holiness reveals not only God's purity but also the righteous anger God demonstrates towards sin. God’s holiness cannot remain indifferent towards sin, nor will he leave sin unchecked and unpunished. But how can a holy God use sinful men to bring his judgment?
In Chapter 2, God provides the answer. God has his purposes, and he will accomplish his purpose. In the end, he will bring judgment upon all unrighteousness. Even when God seems inactive and indifferent towards sin from our perspective, he is still working in history to accomplish his purpose in his timing. The delay in God’s judgment should never be mistaken as unconcern or apathy. In verse 3, God reminds Habakkuk that He is active, moving the world events to accomplish his purpose. This is true even when it is not evident to our eyes. At the right time, God will execute judgment and bring justice to the world. The wicked view the delay as a sign of God’s acceptance of evil. In their twisted mind, God will not judge (vs. 4). But the righteous live by faith that God will establish his righteousness and justice. This brings the assurance of salvation to the righteous and the certainty of the judgment of the wicked. (See Romans 1:16-32, where Paul quotes this passage to affirm this truth). The evil’s “soul is not right within him.” That is, they are morally corrupt. They place their confidence in human ability and wisdom. They trust in humanity to solve the problems and moral questions of life. They seek achievement and human understanding to achieve satisfaction and security in life. But they fail to recognize that the human soul, and thus the human moral compass, is ultimately corrupted by sin.
The righteous, on the other hand, will “live by his faith.” Instead of trusting in humanity, he places his trust and confidence in God. The righteous find life through faith and live continually by faith. Faith is the basis of salvation and the manner by which we live. Faith becomes the key to life. It not only gives us direction in life but gives us perspective to understand God's sovereign purpose. Faith is not just an act; it is a way of living.
As our culture continues a downward spiral into sin, we can likewise begin to wonder if heaven is indifferent. When wrong has become right, and right has become wrong, we cry for a response from heaven. When heaven seems silent, we can begin to waver and question God. Habakkuk reminds us that God will act and bring judgment upon sin, but it will be in his timing to fulfill his purpose. Until that day, we live by faith, trusting in God and his word even when he seems silent.