Doubting God’s Plan: Habakkuk 1:12-2:4
By Erik Bennett, January 15, 2018
When my daughter was first learning to swim, she was scared to death to put her head underwater. I repeatedly tried to help her overcome her fears, but she refused to put her head in the water. One day at the pool, I told her that I was going to take her underwater with me. I explained to her that, as her father, I was not trying to hurt her and she was safe. I told her to trust me even though she was afraid. As she cried, I took her in my arms, counted to three and took her underwater with me. After it was over, my daughter’s fear of putting her head underwater began to fade, and now she loves to swim. I knew that her fears of going underwater were unfounded and that she needed to learn to trust me.
We need to learn to trust God even when we are afraid, unsure, and hesitant to take steps of faith. There will be times when God’s plan does not make sense to us and when we question whether God is in control. In these moments, the book of Habakkuk challenges us to walk in faith even when we don’t understand God’s plan.
In my last post, I wrote about Habakkuk’s first complaint and God’s amazing answer. Unfortunately, Habakkuk was not satisfied with God’s plan and he questioned God’s justice and righteousness. In this post, I will discuss Habakkuk second complaint and God’s challenge for Habakkuk to live in faith.
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
Are you not…? (1:12)
Habakkuk’s second complaint began with a question, “Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One?” Habakkuk based his complaint on his understanding of theology and the character of God. While Habakkuk understood that God is from everlasting and holy, he could not comprehend how an everlasting, all-knowing, holy God could use the evil Chaldeans to judge Judah (1:12).
From the prophet’s perspective, God’s plan was inadequate and unjust, but Habakkuk suffered from incomplete understanding about God and how God works out His sovereign plan in our fallen world. Habakkuk’s assumptions, based on his incomplete knowledge, led to wrong conclusions about how a holy God should deal with Judah’s sin.
According to Habakkuk, God’s plan did not resolve the problem of evil. Instead of seeing the Chaldeans as instruments of God’s judgment, Habakkuk saw God replacing the wickedness of Judah with the greater wickedness of the Chaldeans. Habakkuk described the Chaldeans as wicked, idolatrous (1:16), and merciless (1:17). Therefore, from the prophet’s perspective, God’s plan was not a solution, but instead, it showed that God was “idly” looking at evil and remaining silent as wickedness prevailed (1:13).
I Will Take My Stand (2:1)
Habakkuk ended his second complaint with the words:
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. (Hab. 2:1 ESV).
Instead of fulfilling his call as a prophet to write the words of the God and proclaiming them to the nation, Habakkuk was protesting God’s plan. Habakkuk was frustrated, confused, and he refused to budge until God explained what was going on.
Although Habakkuk’s bold and honest protest may resonant with anyone struggling to make sense of God’s plan in this broken, fallen world, it appears the prophet allowed his doubts and questions to bring him dangerously close to pride. While I believe God welcomes honest doubts and questions, He desires that we obey even when we don’t understand.
Write it Down (2:2-3)
God began His answer to Habakkuk’s second complaint by directly confronting Habakkuk’s protest and telling him to fulfill his call as a prophet. God commanded Habakkuk to write down the message of judgment and make it plain for everyone to read. God’s plan was going to happen whether Habakkuk liked it or not. God’s word would be fulfilled even if Habakkuk did not understand.
God’s response to Habakkuk reminds me of interactions with my children. While I want my children to share their doubts and fears with me, there comes a time when the discussion is over and it is time for obedience. I will cut off questioning that is getting close to rebellion or disobedience by telling my children, “Say OK and obey.” God’s call for Habakkuk to obey would reveal whether Habakkuk would continue to serve God, even when he disapproved of God’s plan.
Walk by Faith (2:4)
After commanding Habakkuk to obey, God calls the prophet to walk in faith.
Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith (Hab 2:4).
Faith is the key to righteousness and to overcoming doubts and questions. Habakkuk could rely on his own understanding and become puffed up, or he could submit to the plan of God and walk in faith even when he could not see.
Much like Habakkuk, we are instructed to walk by faith. Faith is the foundation of the Christian life and the basis for knowing God. We learn from Habakkuk that God does not need our approval, nor is it necessary that He explain Himself to us. While we all struggle with doubts and questions, the Christian life is a journey of faith.
We all struggle at times with questioning and doubting God. Sometimes, like Habakkuk, our incomplete understanding can lead us to question God’s plan in our lives. When we suffer, we question God’s goodness. When evil prospers, we question God’s justice. When we want, we question God’s provision.
We, like Habakkuk, are called to walk in obedience and faith even when we doubt. The rest of the book of Habakkuk reveals that faith in God is well placed. In the remaining verses (Hab. 2:5-3:19), God transformed the doubt of Habakkuk into amazing faith. Habakkuk teaches us that God is not idly watching evil prosper, but instead He is actively working out His righteous, sovereign plan. God wants us to know that He is in control and His plan is good. Our choice is whether we will trust our own understanding or will we walk in faith.