Summary: Illustrates from Habakkuk and the life of Joseph how God works in all of our lifes circumstances. Demonstrates how beautifully even the bad circumstances can be turned to good.
Habakkuk 1:1-4, 1 This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received from the LORD in a vision. 2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! "Violence!" I cry, but you do not come to save. 3 Must I forever see this sin and misery all around me? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. 4 The law has become paralyzed and useless, and there is no justice given in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, and justice is perverted with bribes and trickery.
Habakkuk here makes a complaint to God. And when I was reading along in the Bible, this complaint stood out to me. Because it seems like something that we could say now. Habakkuk was complaining about Judah at the time, but he could just as easily been complaining about the U.S. or even Boston. It seems like every time we turn on the TV, we see more violence. Someone else got shot. Someone else was stabbed. There was another robbery. It seems that contention and strife are all around us. It’s no wonder half of all marriages end in divorce in the U.S. People just plain can’t get along with each other. We think that we’re such an advanced society, because we have such phenomenal technology and we think we’re so smart. But we’ve forgotten the basics of life, like how to get along with people. We have no justice in our land. I could give example after example of injustice, but I will just mention one recent thing that comes to my mind. Just recently a court in the United States decided that we cannot say “Under God” in our pledge of allegiance. These are the kinds of people deciding what is wrong and right in our land. Our whole sense of right and wrong is perverted. There used to be a day in our country when the majority were righteous, and the wicked were a minority. But it is true of us now, just as it was in Habakkuk’s day, that the wicked far outnumber the righteous.
Now violence and injustice and sin have been prevalent throughout most of history. If that was Habakkuk’s complaint, a simple answer would be in order. Since the fall of man, this world has been under the evil control of Satan. That explains why there is evil in the world. We don’t have to question the cause or the source of evil. The real issue here is the question of Habakkuk in verse 2. This question lays heavy on his heart. In fact, my version says in verse 1, “This is the message…” But in the Hebrew, and probably in the Vietnamese, it calls it a “burden.” And this is the burden of Habakkuk, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! ‘Violence!’ I cry, but you do not come to save.” The question of Habakkuk is simple. In all the suffering, in all the violence and injustice, “Where is God?”
He understands the wickedness of the human heart. He understands the violence of the people. He understands the injustice. His only question is why God doesn’t act. Surely, the omnipotent Creator God has the power to act. And surely because he hates wickedness, he has the desire to act. So, the question that plagues Habakkuk is “Why isn’t he acting?”
And the thing is that we may ask the same question. We could wonder about the violence and the injustice. But we could go even further than that. God has promised us a lot. He’s promised us a lot in his Word and maybe he’s made individual promises to you. And it may be something that you expect God to do, but you just don’t see it happening. It may seem to you, like it did to Habakkuk, that God has abandoned you. I’m not talking about small, insignificant things. I’m talking about things that are a real burden to you. They weigh heavy on your heart. And yet even when this thing weighs so heavy on your heart, it seems that God is unconcerned. And you can begin to question: Where is God in all this? How can God be in control if this is happening? And the temptation is to give up on God’s promises and to give up on God.
Joseph was a young man with a promise from God. He had a dream. And this dream was from God.
Genesis 37:5-7, “5 One night Joseph had a dream and promptly reported the details to his brothers, causing them to hate him even more. 6 "Listen to this dream," he announced. 7 "We were out in the field tying up bundles of grain. My bundle stood up, and then your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before it!"