Habakkuk: Day of Justice

Habakkuk: Day of Justice
Tsunami painting by Hokusai illustrating a post about the biblical prophet Habakkuk speaking about God battling on the waters for justice.

Habakkuk, the biblical prophet.

He sang about justice. And he wrote poetry, with big mythic themes. But he insisted on realism. Because he knew: change is hard.

Habakkuk’s book has no date and time stamp. So we don’t know when he lived. And thus, we don’t know exactly which injustices he protests.

Still, scholars have found some clues. Babylonia was on the move. A greedy empire with a brutal army. And emperors who enjoyed deploying it. To enrich themselves, and to show their power.

Plenty of injustice there.

But maybe Habakkuk wasn’t only talking about Babylonia. Maybe he left out the time stamp on purpose. Because current events helped him see a pattern. One that repeats in different times and places.

Poor people build a life, says Habakkuk, but the rich trample it. Corrupt leaders rule through crime. Yet, they use law to protect themselves. Still, anger against them simmers. And it will explode.

How long, O LORD, shall I cry out and you not listen? (1:2) Though the fig tree does not bud…I wait calmly for the day of distress (3:16-17).

When that day comes, God will battle on the waters.

Habakkuk means: the day will be like a new Exodus. The sea will part and then the slaves will escape. But the waters will flow back, and the oppressors will drown.

He also means: the day will be like a new Creation. As fierce as the original one, when God first subdued the mighty sea monsters.

Is your anger against Neharim [the water beast]? Your rage against Yam [the sea monster]? Loud roars the deep! You will make your steeds tread the sea, stirring the mighty waters! (3:8, 15).

God will carry a spear. Because creation begins with conflict. But the spear will flash in brilliance (3:11). Because in this new world, we will see that every day is good.  

Habakkuk’s words have no time stamp.

So, please, on this day of protest, pray with Habakkuk. Stand up against brutality and against racism.

Want to read even more prophetic views on today’s injustices? If so, read about Zechariah HERE.

  1. Thanks — you got me to read the book.

    (a) Given the power of his language, it’s interesting that he gets lumped into “Minor Prophets”.

    (b) I was thinking, yesterday, that religions often require us to believe things that are difficult to believe. My examples were mundane — that there is a God who created the world in 7 days, that there’s a “soul” that exists after death, that that “soul” is rewarded or punished according to its deeds in life. But reading the news, and Habakkuk, today, those are easy-peasey, compared to the great truth (or the Big Lie):

    . . . In time, God will bring His Messiah to fix up the rents in His creation.

    . Charles

    1. Thanks, Charles. I’ve been thinking about your reply and…yes, I often feel quite done with Messianic hope. Especially the damage done by the metaphor of a King.

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