Majoring in the Minors: Habakkuk

You have likely heard people called “boomers,” or maybe even “zoomers,” but have you come across the term “doomer?” A doomer is someone who holds a pessimistic view of life, who despairs over impending societal collapse, and feels a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in the face of doom and gloom. In all honesty, as Christians we can sometimes find ourselves with a “doomer” mindset when we survey the world around us raging with wickedness, political corruption, and false worship, and question if God is still working and why He allows such evil. Thousands of years ago, a prophet named Habakkuk grappled with this very situation as he looked around his world and cried out to God in despair. Habakkuk’s inquiries and God’s responses offer us a profound reminder that our faith ultimately centers not on our circumstances, but on Christ, the fulfillment of prophecy.

The book of Habakkuk is unique in its genre. Rather than the book being focused solely on the prophecy or the recipients of the message, it gives a behind-the-scenes peek of a prophet’s prayer life as he wrestles with his message. Habakkuk had observed the violence, iniquity, and destruction around him from his own people and brought his frustration to the Lord, crying out, “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” Based on what he knows of God’s holy and just character, he assumes such sinful behavior would be met with swift and heavy punishment– not silence.

God responds to the prophet in an unexpected way. Yes, God will bring justice, but His judgment will not immediately result in the clean, ordered, and obedient world that Habakkuk seems to expect. The Lord’s chosen instruments of retribution are the wicked Chaldeans, a nation more sinful than Judah! Habakkuk wrestles with this. He wonders why God, who cannot look at wrong, will punish wickedness with wickedness? It just doesn’t add up. So again, he makes his complaint known, and awaits God’s reply.

God patiently affirms His plan, but condemns the wickedness of the sinful nations. He broadens Habakkuk’s perspective, and reminds him that though judgment seems slow, it is certain, and “the righteous shall live by his faith“ (2:4). His glory is still the end game, for one day, “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (2:14). Habakkuk may not like his imminent circumstances, but God’s plan of salvation is certain, and righteousness will reign in the end.

Habakkuk responds with humble submission. He reflects on God’s past deliverance of His people from Egypt and affirms God’s character and wisdom. He recalls, “You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed. You crushed the head of the house of the wicked, laying him bare from thigh to neck.” (3:13).

The book concludes with a profound song of praise, as Habakkuk shifts his focus from the global political stage and gets personal. He resolves, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer's; he makes me tread on my high places” (3:17-19).

Habakkuk’s dilemma transcends his historical context as we find ourselves struggling against the same frustrations with the state of the world. Like Habakkuk, we too often look through a peephole when we should look into the window of God’s sovereign plan through history. Faith is not believing in a plan we deem best for ourselves, nor is it placing our hope in what we think God should do. Instead, it is the profound conviction that God, as the Master Architect of His grand design, directs all events towards the ultimate good of those who place their trust in Him.

As Habakkuk recounts God’s mighty deeds throughout the ages and looks forward to a future salvation, we see a foreshadowing of what is to come in Jesus Christ, the true Anointed One. Yet again, even this salvation did not come in its expected form. Salvation came as a baby in a manger, not in a military leader. Christ serves as our true prophet, echoing the sentiments of Habakkuk when He asked, “How long must I put up with this faithless generation?” (Mark 9:19). However, unlike Habakkuk, He did not merely observe in despair. Instead, He bore the weight of judgment on behalf of His people, boldly proclaimed His Father's will, lived by faith, and crushed the head of the evil one.

The Chaldeans did eventually conquer Judah, but Habakkuk’s prophecy has not fully come to pass. The earth is not yet filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, and the Anointed One has not yet come again in glory (Matt 24:30). And so, like Habakkuk, we must walk by faith looking for salvation in God’s timing, not our own.

As we wait, we don’t have to ignore what’s going on in our world or dismiss how it affects our daily lives, or call evil good. We must trust the Lord, and not look to get around difficult circumstances but look through them to see what is being accomplished. When the Lord says He will do something, it is not the promise of a politician or the wishful thinking of the human heart; it is an unwavering declaration of divine certainty.

Unlike the doomer, the Christian understands that the world as we know it is only a fleeting moment against eternity. When we are faced with the wickedness of the world around us, that is where the rubber meets the road. Faith enables us to understand that God’s purposes for his people and His character is unwavering and His timing is never not off – ours is. Though we may echo Habakkuk’s pleas of “How long oh Lord” (1:2) we must not linger there. We must move into “I will quietly wait” (3:16), even if it means facing utter devastation, for in Christ, we find our salvation and our joy. For though nations rage, kingdoms rise and fall, Christ’s kingdom is everlasting to everlasting, The faith we are called to walk in is not anchored in our circumstances, but in Christ Himself. His promises are sure, and all nations will ultimately bow before Him, acknowledging Him as the Anointed One.

Megan K. Taylor earned her MA in Theological Studies from Westminster Theological Seminary. She and her husband, Joel, live in Sanford, Fl where she works for Ligonier Ministries and is a member of Saint Paul’s PCA.

Megan Taylor