The question the author of Habakkuk poses to God is: “Where are you when bad things are happening?” It is a question that I’m guessing most of us have asked at one time or another in our life. As Israel sees its destruction, as it faces the Babylonians, here in chapter 1:6 they are called the Chaldeans, the question arising from the nation must be why does God not act to save us? Why is God allowing the total destruction of the land and the temple, and His people to be taken away into slavery?
This question is posed on a personal level in Job. The book of Job asks the question: Why do bad things happen to good people. The book of Habakkuk asks the question: Why do bad things happen to the chosen people of God and God does nothing about it? It is a bit of a longer question but it does take people from the individual to the communal as you would expect within a writing of Scripture. Our relationship with God is not just one on one. It is not just us and God, but a community, in our case a church, is involved and it is supposed to have an impact upon our individual relationship with God. Who we are as a child of God has much to do with our status as part of the family of our church.
A classic quote which captures this feeling is seen in vs.13: “Why do you look on the treacherous, and are silent when the wicked swallow those more righteous than they?” But the way, those who are more righteous would be, of course, us. We tend to put ourselves in that position, as the more righteous, even though as we read in Isaiah 64 that all of our deeds are sin and like filthy rags. But we tend to forget that and put ourselves in the tier of the righteous.
So, just to put this book of the Bible and this first chapter in context it is said to be spoken of Habakkuk who was a prophet of the Lord. Once again one of the 12 minor prophets that we are covering which start in the Bible with Hosea and ends with Malachi.