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If I only understood

Each of us would certainly agree that mankind is perplexed at the ways of God in this world of chaos and confusion. The actions and dealings of God with the children of men are indeed misunderstood, to say the least. In the Book of Habakkuk God has given us insight into His ways and movements among the children of men.


Habakkuk was a Levite and his name meant The Embraced One. He writes because of his concern for the people and his country. He was a contemporary of Jeremiah and because of the conditions, which existed in his country, like Jeremiah, he was heartbroken and his heart was deeply stirred. Grief grips his soul. He thinks about what might happen in the days to come. Yet, in spite of all of this, he is the prophet of faith and hope.

Just as his name means Embraced, he embraced God in prayer when his soul was perplexed. When he could not understand the ways of God in a world of war and sin. When he sought for the solving of his problems.


This wonderful book teaches us how to live victoriously in a world of sin. The truth at the heart of the book to all believers is, the way from fear is faith. For the spiritually hungry there are deep lessons to be learned.


Paul said in Romans 15:4 For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.


Habakkuk 1:1-4


1 The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.


2 O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save.

3 Why do You show me iniquity, And cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises.

4 Therefore the law is powerless, And justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds.

When Heaven is silent first you may be afflicted with heartache. In verses 1-3 we see that there had been a noticeable silence from heaven. Habakkuk cries out to God and he assumes that God “will not hear”

When Habakkuk calls out to God, it is because he is burdened for his people and his land. Very few in the land felt the conditions, which Habakkuk felt. He certainly did not understand why these conditions existed. Habakkuk could not perceive why such a great God could allow these things to happen. The poor mistreated, the people suffering at the hands of a wicked enemy that were invading the land. The soul of Habakkuk was depressed. He had doubts and he was perfectly honest with God. Yet, he did not sense that God was doing anything about it

Habakkuk had 2 questions in mind


1) “Why is God deaf?” and in the first part of the 2nd verse, we see he feels God has not heard.

Then later he asked

2) “Why is God so mute?” in verse 13

In his mind, God was inactive and seemed to be doing nothing and Habakkuk carried this problem with him both day and night. It bore down on his soul without alleviation. We can be like Habakkuk and may be afflicted with heartache.

We may conclude that all hope is lost and in verse 4 Habakkuk concluded that God had withdrawn His hand from the matter and was allowing evil to rule. He says, “the law is powerless”.

They had learned the Law of Deuteronomy 20 years earlier yet now they ignored it. Situational ethics was now the king and the result was-despair, spiritual lethargy, and hopelessness. They were catatonic, and to Habakkuk, this was unbearable. We can conclude that Habakkuk was not pleased with what was happening in the land.

Neither are we in times of distress and silence from our Lord. The law had no ability over the progress of evil in that day. The law was despised there was no respect for it, everyone was a law to himself. The law was disregarded it was not applied to life, it was not applied to conduct, the law had no value, virtue was slighted, no one cared about moral or spiritual conditions.

The poor were defenseless and good people were ill-treated, good people were laughed at

and there was no protection in the law, there was no court of appeal.

The judgment was defaulting with no power in the courts to exercise the demands of the law, evil was not being punished, sin and wrongdoing were the order of the day.

Habakkuk was burdened and went before God. What was God doing about this situation? Nothing!


Listen, my friend, you may be afflicted with heartache and you may conclude that all hope is lost but God is still at work. This is a wonderful lesson for us to learn: temporary silence from our Lord does not suggest permanent neglect.

In verses 5-6 we see this-


5 “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.


6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.

God was calling attention to His own work. God was saying that although you do not understand or discern it, I am active at all times. He was not silent in the heavens. The climax of His work was not completed. He was not through with Judah or the Chaldeans.

I think it is important to say here that God is never in a hurry or is He ever behind schedule. As I will say on occasion “God is seldom early but He is never late”. When God works, it is unusual and unexpected. He has His way, His own way and time for doing things.

God had heard Habakkuk, God was not deaf or mute. In verse 5 God is promising a visitation. He is not indifferent to world conditions. He had not abdicated His throne. Habakkuk did not know what God was going to do. God was preparing a rod of punishment because of the sins of His people. God always has His people in mind

Then in verse 6, He tells Habakkuk that He is going to use the Chaldeans as a tool to punish His people. God sometimes compels evil men to serve His purposes. This might surprise you but it is consistent with how God has often dealt with His people throughout history.

What is your take away today from this? My hope is that from Habakkuk you learn that God is always at work. As Don Moen once wrote, "He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me". We may not see it, or recognize it, but God is at work. Even in the death of Jesus, He was at work.


It seems regularly that I have the opportunity to use this quote from Charles Spurgeon. Whether in a sermon or in a conversation with someone. The simplicity and the depth of it make it one of my favorite go to quotes-


“God is too good to be unkind and He is too wise to be mistaken. And when we cannot trace His hand, we must trust His heart.”


So when you find yourself saying “If I only understood” remember, He is at work in you today, And when (you) we cannot trace His hand, (you) we must trust His heart.


A thought to ponder,


Elbert Nasworthy



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