THEME: The perplexity of the prophet
The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see [Hab. 1:1].
"The burden" means the judgment. Actually, this is not Habakkuk's question, but rather it is the Lord's answer. The answer of God is really the prophecy of the Book of Habakkuk. The Lord's answer is judgment which Habakkuk called, as did the other prophets, "the burden."
First Problem Of The Prophet (1:2-4)
Habakkuk's first problem is this: Why does God permit evil?
O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence and thou wilt not save! [Hab. 1:2].
"O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!" Habakkuk is telling God that He is refusing to answer his prayers. He cries out in a night of despair as he sees violence among his people. And God is doing nothing and saying nothing. This is the elegy of Habakkuk. As we shall see, the book concludes with a paean of praise and a note of joy.
My friend, if you have a question, my feeling is that you ought to take it to the Lord as Habakkuk did. If you are sincere, you will get an answer from God.
Why dost thou show me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are that raise up strife and contention.
Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth [Hab. 1:3-4].
Here is his big question: Why does God permit this evil to continue among His own people -- the iniquity, the injustice, the strife, and contention?
This is both an old question and a new question. It is one which you could ask today. Let's look at it in detail.
Habakkuk, as I suggested in the Introduction, probably wrote sometime after the time of King Josiah, the last good king of the southern kingdom of Judah. After Josiah there was Jehoahaz, a bad one who didn't last more than three months; then Jehoiakim came along and reigned eleven years, and he was a bad one. It was a time of disintegration, deterioration, and degradation in the kingdom. There was a breaking down of the Mosaic Law, and the people were turning away from God. The question was: Why was God permitting this evil?
While I was in a Bible conference in the east several years ago, I talked with two young professors, one from Vanderbilt University and the other from Missouri. They both were Christians and brilliant young men. They told me that the the godless professors would use this method to try to destroy young people's faith in the integrity of the Word of God. They would begin like this: "You do not believe that a God of love would permit evil in the world, do you? Do you think a loving God, kind in heart, would permit suffering in the world?"
The enemy, you will recall, used that same method with Eve, as recorded in Genesis 3. He said something like this: "Do you mean to tell me that God does not want you to eat of that tree? Why? That tree has the most delicious fruit of any tree in the garden, and if you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will become like God. I can't believe that a good God would forbid your eating of that tree. I just can't understand it!" He was destroying, you see, her confidence in the goodness of God. That is always where the enemy starts.
Habakkuk's question fitted into the local situation of his day. People were getting by with sin, and God was seemingly doing nothing about it. His question was, Why doesn't God judge the wicked? Why does God permit evil men and women to prosper? And isn't that a good question in our day? I'm sure that many of God's people have asked, 'Why doesn't God judge the evil in our nation today? Why does He permit the rich to get richer? And why is it that the average person is having to bear the burden of taxation and inflation? Why doesn't God do something about it?" Is this your question?
That was the psalmist's question in Psalm 73:2-3; "But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." As he looked around, he saw that the ones who were prospering were the wicked! It almost robbed him of his faith. Why wasn't God doing something about it?
The people of Judah apparently felt that they were God's little pets and that He would not punish them for their sins. Probably the first time they did something evil they were apprehensive, wondering if God would punish them. When He did nothing, they assumed that He hadn't noticed or didn't care. The writer of Ecclesiastes says in Eccl 8:11; "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil."
I can remember when I was a boy and swiped my first watermelon. It was in the summertime, and a storm was coming up. By the time I had pulled a watermelon off the vine and had started to the fence with it, there was a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder the like of which you can only have in southern Oklahoma! I thought the Lord was judging me right there and then for what I had done. But the day came when I discovered that it wasn't judgment from God and I could do that sort of thing without fear.
Human nature does not change. The sins which were committed undercover in the backyard are now done openly in the front yard. Does that change the fact that sin is wrong in the sight of God and that He is going to judge every sin? No, God has not changed His standards or His procedures. Even though His execution against an evil work is not performed speedily, His judgment is sure to come eventually.
In our day very few people believe in the judgment of God. They feel like Habakkuk did when he saw his nation getting worse and worse until sin was flagrant and God was doing nothing about it. Don't you feel that way about conditions as they are? Is God doing anything about it today? It doesn't look as if He is. He even let a group of theologians up in New England come up with the idea a few years ago that God was dead. What they actually meant was that there is no God and there has never been a God. What made them arrive at such a conclusion? It is because they don't see Him interfering in the affairs of men today. But isn't He interfering? Isn't God overruling in the affairs of mankind today? He permitted us to go through a period of affluence, and folk became careless -- even God's people became careless. Now we are in such a state that we wonder how much longer we are going to survive as a nation.
Habakkuk was a man with a very tender heart, and he hated to see lawlessness abounding and going unpunished. He hated to see the innocent people being threatened and exploited and destroyed. He was asking, "God, why aren't you doing something about it?"
Well, God had an answer for him, and He has an answer for you if this is your question.
God's Answer (1:5-11)
Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you [Hab. 1:5].
"Behold ye among the heathen," or better, "Behold ye among the nations." God is challenging Habakkuk to open his eyes and look about him, to get a world view of what He is doing. One great crisis after another has taken place. The great Assyrian Empire in the north has been conquered, and Nineveh, its capital, has been destroyed. On the banks of the Euphrates River, a kingdom is arising which already has won a victory over Egypt at Carchemish. Nebuchadnezzar is the victor, and he is bringing Babylon to the fore as a world power. God is saying to Habakkuk, "Behold ye among the nations -- you think I'm not doing anything? I am not sitting on the fifty-yard line watching this little world. I am very much involved." He is not involved to the extent that He is subject to it and has to make certain plays because they are forced upon Him. God is moving in a sovereign way in the universe. He is doing something about sin -- "Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvelouslly."
"For I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you." God is saying, "It is going to be difficult for you to believe it. Instead of doing nothing, I am doing a great deal." In fact, Habakkuk is going to ask God to slow down when he finds out what God is doing.
"For I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you" is quoted by Paul in the great sermon he gave in Antioch of Pisidia. (I have always felt that this is one of the greatest sermons Paul preached, and yet it is receiving very little attention in our day.) It is recorded in Acts 13. Now notice these words: "Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man [the Lord Jesus Christ] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: and by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you" (Acts 13:38-41). As you can see, Paul is quoting from Habakkuk 1:5. It is an amazing application of this verse. Paul is saying that God has provided a salvation, and He didn't do it (as Paul said elsewhere) in a corner. At the time of the Crucifixion, Jews from all over the world were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. They carried the word everywhere that Jesus of Nazareth had died on a cross, and it was rumored that He was raised from the dead. Also, Jews from all over the world were back in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the little group of believers. Multitudes were saved at that time and in succeeding days. When that news went out, the Roman world ignored it at first. Paul is telling them that God has worked a work in their days, "a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you."
Today the world asks, "Why doesn't God do something about sin?" My friend, God has done something about it! Over nineteen hundred years ago He gave His Son to die. He intruded into the affairs of the world. And He says that He is going to intrude again in the affairs of the world -- yet today the world goes merrily along picking daisies and having a good time in sin. But God is moving. It is marvelous how Paul used Habakkuk 1:5.
And in Habakkuk's day God was moving. In spite of the lawlessness, the war, and the sin in all the nations, God was overruling and moving in judgment.
Now God is specific in what He was doing --
For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs [Hab. 1:6].
God is saying to Habakkuk, 'Look around you. Down there on the banks of the Euphrates River, a nation is rising which will become the first great world power." (We can check with Daniel on that because Babylon is the head of gold, and it is the lion of Daniel's visions.) Babylon was number one on the parade of the great nations of the world.
"To possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs." God is telling Habakkuk that the Babylonians are going to take the land of Judah away from them. It was a shock to Habakkuk to hear this.
A "bitter and hasty nation" is a good description of the Babylonian Empire. They were bitter, hateful, and hotheaded, marching for world conquest. They actually took the city of Jerusalem three times, and the third time they burned it to the ground. The Babylonians were a law unto themselves. They considered themselves the superior race, the dominant race, and did not recognize anyone as being equal to them.
They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves [Hab. 1:7].
"Their dignity shall proceed of themselves" -- that is, they rely upon themselves. They have great self-confidence and are great boasters. These qualities are evident in Nebuchadnezzar, the founder of this great empire. In the Book of Daniel we find that Nebuchadnezzar suffered from a form of insanity, egomania, called hysteria by modern psychiatry. It was sort of a manic-depressive psychosis. The time came when he didn't even know who he was. In fact, he went out and ate grass like an animal.
Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat [Hab. 1:8].
What a picture this is! The Babylonians used the cavalry as probably no other nation has used it. The Egyptians used chariots, and the Assyrians had the latest model in chariots. Now the Babylonians have a different method, the cavalry.
"More fierce than the evening wolves." I remember the hungry wolves in west Texas when I was a boy. After the snow had fallen, my dad warned us to be careful when we went outside. If there were a pack of wolves, it would be necessary to shoot one of them. Then when the blood began to flow, the pack would turn on the wounded wolf and devour him so that we could escape.
"They shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat." The Babylonian army would come like hungry animals and ferocious birds and seize upon their prey. That was the story of the Chaldeans, the Babylonians.
They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand [Hab. 1:9].
"They shall come all for violence." God's people had been engaging in violence, but they hadn't seen anything yet. Wait until the Babylonians get there. God is going to give them a good dose of violence! You see, chickens do come home to roost -- ". . . whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Gal. 6:7).
"Their faces shall sup up as the east wind" has also been translated as "the set of their faces is forward." In both translations the thought seems to be that the enemy will be formidable and irresistible in its advance.
"And they shall gather the captivity as the sand." Nebuchadnezzar led his forces against Jerusalem three times. At the final attack, he burned the city and also the temple and took the survivors into captivity. The Babylonians had only one purpose in view, which was to capture as many nations and as many peoples as possible and make slaves of them. This is what happened to the southern kingdom of Judah.
And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it [Hab. 1:10].
"And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them." They were confident in their own strength and in the power of their heathen gods. As the Assyrians before them, they were arrogant as they marched through the earth.
"They shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it." They had only to cast up bulwarks to capture walled cities; and, when the cities surrendered, they took the inhabitants into captivity.
Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god [Hab. 1:11].
This is exactly what Nebuchadnezzar did. In Daniel 4:30 we read the words of this man: "The king spake, and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honor of my majesty?" He was lifted up with pride. He was an egomaniac. He trusted completely in himself with no trust in God. And we have a few of those around today -- trusting in self rather than in God. In my own nation there is a lack of humility. And, as in Nebuchadnezzar, it is a form of insanity. Each political party -- not one, but all of them -- boasts about what it can do or has done. They point the finger of guilt at the other party and at those holding office. Well, I agree they should repent, but my feeling is that everyone who is at the other end of the pointing fingers should also repent. Our big problem in America is that we depend upon our own strength, our own power, and our own ability. I turn off certain television programs because I am tired of listening to individuals boasting of their accomplishments, which are not very much. It reminds me of that scriptural suggestion of a mountain travailing. What did it bring forth? Another mountain? No, it brought forth a mouse! Although the boasting of great men today sounds like a mountain, what they have accomplished is about as big as a mouse.
In these verses God is saying to Habakkuk, "You think I am doing nothing about the sin of My people, but I am preparing a nation down yonder on the banks of the Euphrates River, and if My people do not repent, I'm going to turn the Babylonians loose." My friend, they came, and the record indicates that their destruction of Jerusalem was fierce and terrible. Some of the things they did when they took the people of Judah captive were almost unspeakable.
Second Problem Of The Prophet (1:12-17)
Now when God says that He is going to use the Babylonians to judge His people, this raises another question in Habakkuk's mind. If you think he had a question before, he really has a question now.
Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction [Hab. 1:12].
This was Habakkuk's problem: Since the Babylonians were even more wicked than the people of Judah, why would God choose a more wicked nation to punish a nation which was comparatively less wicked? This would not be the first time God had used such a method. In Isaiah 10:5 the Assyrian is called the rod of God's anger. In other words, God used Assyria like a whip in order to chastise the northern kingdom. After God had used Assyria for the chastisement of Israel, He judged Assyria for her own sins.
We find the same thing repeated here. God is going to use a wicked nation, Babylon, to chastise His people. When He is through with that chastisement, He will judge Babylon. God did just that. He moves in the affairs of men.
But the problem remains: How can a holy God use a sinful nation to accomplish His purposes?
This may be a new thought for you. You probably have heard it said -- even from some pulpits -- that God would never let Russia overcome the United States because we are the fair-haired boys, the good guys, the fine people. We are the ones who send missionaries to godless nations. God would never use Russia to chastise us. My friend, if you believe the Bible, you will see that God's method is to use a sinful nation to judge a people who are less sinful. If we could see what God is doing today behind the scenes, I am sure it would terrify us. I believe He is actually moving against our nation. Why? Because at one time our nation had a knowledge of God, superficial though it may have been. The Bible was once held in reverence. Very few people knew much about it, but it was respected. In our day the Bible is ignored and absolutely rejected by the nation. They may take an oath by placing their hand upon it, but they neither know nor care to know what is between its covers. Will God allow our nation to continue in its godlessness and in its flagrant sins? I don't think so. Will God use a godless nation to chastise us? Well, that was Habakkuk's question. Why would God, who is a holy God, use a pagan, heathen people to chastise His people?
Listen to Habakkuk's eloquent complaint. "Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One?" God has come out of eternity; He is the eternal God. "O LORD my God, mine Holy One" -- Habakkuk says, in effect, "You are a Holy God. How can you use a nation like Babylon? Word has come to us that there is a great nation rising down there on the banks of the Euphrates River, but I never dreamed that You would use them against us! They have been friendly to us." When King Hezekiah was sick, they sent ambassadors to him, and he gave them the red-carpet treatment, showing them all the treasures of the kingdom. Of course, the ambassadors made note of that because they would be coming back one day to get that gold. But Habakkuk didn't realize all that. He never dreamed that God would use Babylon to chastise Judah. He didn't understand why a holy God would use such a method.
Then he says, "We shall not die." He was right about that. This goes back to the promises of God to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. God made promises to Moses and to Joshua and to David. He gave promises to the prophets who had appeared on the scene before Habakkuk. God had said that He would never let the nation perish. "We shall not die."
That is a good statement, by the way, to drop down upon our millennial friends who believe that God is through with the nation Israel. God is not through with them; God has an eternal purpose with them, just as He has with the church which He is calling out of this world. And, thank God, the child of God today can say, "We shall not die." The Lord Jesus Christ came to this earth to die -- He said He did -- to die in your stead and in my stead. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life," and He came back from the dead. He ". . . was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25). The Lord Jesus said to the two weeping sisters of Lazarus, ". . . I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead [think of that!], yet shall he live." When Habakkuk said, "We shall not die," he was right; they wouldn't. "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26, italics mine). This is the message of the gospel. It is something for you and me to believe. Of course, someday you are going to die physically, but are you dead now spiritually? If you are, you will be dead in trespasses and sins for the rest of eternity, and that means eternal separation from God. God is a holy God, and He is not going to take sin to heaven. But He has promised that if we will trust His Son, He will give us eternal life. God says, "If you will believe that you are a sinner, that you don't deserve salvation and can't work for it, then I offer it to you as a gift. And by My grace you will be saved. You will receive eternal life. He that hath the Son hath life." My friend, do you have the Son today? If you do, you have life, eternal life, and you will not die.
When Habakkuk said to God, "We shall not die," he was on the right track, but he just couldn't understand (as many of us can't understand) some of the performance of God in this world. God had told Habakkuk earlier that he needed to get a perspective of it. You and I have a tremendous advantage in our day because we have the perspective of history. We can look back to Habakkuk's day and even beyond to the very beginning of the human family. We have a very good perspective of God's dealing with the nations of this world and of God's dealing with the nation Israel. Also, God is dealing today with His church that is in the world.
God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He has told us that His ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa. 55:8-9).
My friend, do not be disturbed if you are not thinking as God thinks. You are not God. Unfortunately, many folk try to take His place. They are trying to work for their salvation, thinking that their character and their good works will merit them salvation. They expect God to pat them on the head someday and say, "You were certainly a nice, sweet little boy down there." Yet, actually, they were corrupt sinners, alienated from the life of God, with no capacity for God whatsoever. If you come to the Father, you will come His way, or you are not going to get there. We need to recognize this, my friend. We are a nation of proud people who need to be deflated as a pin deflates a balloon. Instead of blaming everyone else for the problems in our nation, or the problems in our church, or the problems in our home, we should fall on our knees before God and confess our own sins -- "not my brother, nor my sister, but it's me, Oh, Lord, standin' in the need of prayer."
This was the condition of the nation of Judah in the days of Habakkuk. He said to God, "We shall not die."
"O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment." Here is Habakkuk pointing his finger at Babylon. "They are the bad guys, and we are the good guys." It is amazing how quickly we can change our point of view. For years I went out to Flagstaff, Arizona, to the Southwest Bible and Missionary Conference. I always enjoyed being out there with the opportunity it offered to have fellowship with the Indians. It was there I learned a good example of man's way of looking at things. One of the young Indian pastors said to me, "You know, Dr. McGee, in the old days when the Indians would raid a village and kill some of the whites, it was called a massacre. But when the whites raided an Indian village and destroyed all the Indians, it was called a victory." It is interesting how we always class ourselves with the good guys.
"O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction." In other words, Habakkuk is saying, "Lord, it really isn't us who are bad after all. They are the mean fellows. They are the ones You should judge and correct." Has he forgotten that he went to the Lord and asked the Lord why He wasn't doing something about the evil among His own people? Habakkuk had pointed out that the people were flaunting the law and were ignoring God, paying no attention to God's commands. Habakkuk had accused God of not doing anything about the situation. Has he forgotten that?
Now here is Habakkuk's argument --
Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he? [Hab. 1:13].
"Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." That is a true statement. A holy God cannot look upon evil and iniquity. That is the reason no one can go to heaven with his sin on him. That is why we must all have the forgiveness for our sins. We all need the cleansing power of the blood of the Lamb. We must be given a new nature. We must be born again. Even Nicodemus, a very religious man, needed to be born again and to receive a new nature. Religion will not wash away sin. It is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again that will wash away sin. God cannot look on iniquity, and He never will look on iniquity. That is why there is no entrance into heaven for you until your sin has been dealt with.
You see, when God forgives you, it is because the penalty for your sin has been paid for by His Son. God is not a sentimental old gentleman who doesn't have the heart to judge little man down here on this earth. God is a holy God who will not look upon iniquity. Your sin will have to be confessed and forgiven before you can be accepted by Him.
"Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously." Habakkuk says, "You can't trust those Babylonians. They are sinners and a bunch of crooks!" He was right. They were. But God was going to use them to accomplish his purpose.
This is frightening to me. Don't ever get the idea that God cannot use a godless nation to chasten another nation. I speak now from the point of view of a white man and an American. For years the white man in all the great nations of Europe ruled the world through those great, proud nations. Then America became one of the leading nations of the world. God humiliated us in the war with Vietnam. He is humiliating us in our dealings with the Middle East. All they need to do is turn off the supply of oil, and suddenly we take a nosedive. God deals with the nations of the world in interesting ways. I watch what has been happening in the world with a great deal of interest. I have come to the conclusion that God is still moving among the nations of the world today. You and I may be frightened as we contemplate what lies ahead, but God is not frightened. He is still in charge. Nothing is out of His control. He is still running this universe.
"Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" Habakkuk said the wrong thing here. It is not "the man that is more righteous than he" because none are righteous. He should have said, "the man who is a greater sinner than he." But God didn't say that He was going to punish on that basis. God is going to use the Babylonians to punish His people.
This brings us to one of the most eloquent sections of the Word of God.
And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them?
They take up all of them with the angle, they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag: therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag; because by them their portion is fat, and their meat plenteous [Hab. 1:14-16].
"And makest men as the fishes of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them" refers to the callousness with which the Babylonians handled their enemies, treating them as fish of the sea or as creeping things in the soil which have no defense.
The angle and the net and the drag represent the armies and the weapons used by the Babylonians to carry on their military conquests.
God also uses the catching of fish as a figure of speech, but He catches fish to save them, not to destroy them. You remember that the Lord Jesus said to some of His own disciples who were fishermen, "You have been catching fish and that's fine, but I am going to give you a job of catching men" (see Matt. 4:19). My friend, to me the greatest business in the world is to be a fisherman, and that is all I claim to be. We are to fish for men in our day.
"Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and burn incense unto their drag." The Babylonians were pagans, of course, and gave no credit to the true and living God for their successes.
There are fishermen here in Southern California who think that they get a good catch because their priest has blessed the fishing fleet. That has nothing in the world to do with it, my friend. The reason that you can get plenty to eat is that God is good, and that is the only reason. God is good, and He is the one who provides.
Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations? [Hab. 1:17].
Habakkuk is asking God, "Are You going to permit them to go on into the future, destroying people after people?" God's answer is, "No, I'm going to send Judah into captivity in Babylon as a chastisement, a judgment for her sins, but then I will judge Babylon." My friend, God did exactly that, and in our day Babylon lies under the dust and rubble of the ages. It is a silent but eloquent testimony that God does judge evil.
Now let's translate this interrogation of Habakkuk into the times in which we live. Why does God permit evil? Well, He permits it because He is long-suffering. He is not willing that any should perish, and He has provided a cross, a crucified Savior, so that no one needs to perish. This He did at the first coming of Christ.
Habakkuk's second question is, "Why does not God judge the wicked?" God will answer that at the second coming of Christ, because at that time He will judge sin. All we need is a perspective to see the answers to these two questions. Christ came the first time to wear a crown of thorns and to die upon a cross. The next time He comes, He will wear a crown of glory and will hold the scepter that will rule the earth.
To make a personal application of this, we ask the question, "Why does God permit this trial to happen to me?" I do not know what the answer is for you, but God has an answer.
Several years ago I stayed in a motel in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, at a location where I could throw a rock into the state of Oklahoma. My dad is buried over there. When I was a boy of fourteen, I stood by his grave and wept. He had been killed in an accident at a cotton gin. After the funeral service was over and everyone had gone, I rode back on my bicycle to his grave. I wept and cried, "Why, oh God, did You take him?" Time has gone by, and today I have an answer for that. I know now that it was God's method of dealing with a boy who would never have entered the ministry otherwise.
Actually, what right do we have to question our Maker? What right does little man have to look into the face of heaven and demand, "Why do you do this?" Well, to begin with, it is none of our business. It is God's business. This is His universe, and He is running it to please Himself. We are to trust Him.
I can remember when I was a little boy in Oklahoma, we lived in an area that had many tornadoes. In the night my dad would pick me up, and I would begin to cry and ask, "Where are we going?" He would take me down to the storm cellar where it was dark and damp and not very comfortable. He would put me on a pallet, and in the morning I would awaken and be safe and secure. When I was a crying little boy, my dad didn't explain tornadoes to me. He simply protected me from them. All I knew was that I trusted my dad. After my dad died, I learned more and more to trust my Heavenly Father. There are times He has done things to me that He hasn't explained. He took my first child, and I really had a question about that. Do you want to know something? I still have a question mark about it. But I do know this: He has the answer. Someday He will tell me the answer. In the meantime, I'll trust Him.
—J. Vernon McGee's Thru The Bible