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evil looking man August 2 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Habakkuk

Why Does God Allow Evil?

Why is there so much evil and violence in the world? Why doesn’t God do something? Since the days of Adam and Eve in the garden there has been evil. Evil is not something new, and evil is not God’s fault. Still we ask, why doesn’t God fix it? This question is also the question that the prophet Habakkuk asked of God.

Habakkuk was a prophet to the nation of Judah. His prophecy was possibly written during the early reign of Eliakim (Jehoiakim), brother of Jehoahaz after he (Jehoahaz or in some contexts called Shallum) was dethroned and exiled by the king of Egypt. Though their father, King Josiah, had made many spiritual reforms, his people remained evil. Habakkuk saw the evil and violence in his own country and surrounding nations. He also saw an evil conquering nation coming from the north that consumed all other nations in its path - Babylon. He wanted to know what God was going to do about it.

God gave an answer to Habakkuk. The good news was that he will judge - he will bring justice. The bad news was that the LORD will first use Babylon to punish his people.

Wait! Habakkuk said. That is not what I meant. Surely, you will not wipe out your own people! You are too righteous to destroy your people with a nation that is more unrighteous than your own.

God responded to Habakkuk to write it down in stone and declare it to Judah, (Habakkuk 2:2). This will happen, both now and in the future. Judah will face attack and be in danger of being consumed (Judah, in fact, would soon be taken into exile by Babylon). He told Habakkuk to be patient; Babylon will get its due punishment. The destroyer will itself be destroyed.

In the last days of the earth, a reunited Israel will face this same kind of threat from another nation, which is referred to in the Bible as mystery Babylon (Revelation 17:5). A mystery is something that is not yet revealed; so we do not know exactly who this nation will be, but we know she will be like Babylon.

“The just will live by faith.” This is one of four declarations in the Bible that say this (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). Here, God says to Habakkuk, “Behold, as for the proud one [referring to the king of Babylon; Habakkuk 2:5-6] His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith,” (NASB). The just will live by faith; that is he will experience God’s favor and blessing. This is in contrast to the king of Babylon’s unrighteousness and drunkenness that will lead him to the grave. Unfortunately, however, neither Judah nor any other nations are righteous, so they, too, would be judged when Babylon sweeps through her lands. What about us; do we want God’s favor and blessings? If so, we must turn to God in faith and stop deceiving ourselves into thinking that we can escape his judgment or discipline (more...).

Knowing the certain judgment upon Judah, Habakkuk prays to God: “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy,” (Habakkuk 3:2, NIV). Habakkuk knew God would not change his mind. He saw the imminent attack of Babylon, and so he prays for God’s acts of power and mercy.

Habakkuk then has a vision of God’s power in future days when he will deliver his people, his anointed one. Commentators debate whether “anointed one” refers to Christ or to the future Israel. In context, in the poetic parallelism of prophecy, “anointed one” seems to refer to his people Israel. God has his hand of blessing on his people. They are chosen and anointed, and God will deliver them.

A phrase in Habakkuk seems to typify, not just Israel or Judah, but other nations as well (even ours): “For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted,” (Habakkuk 1:4b, NASB ‘95). Though most of us are not Jews, if we have a personal relationship with God through his anointed Son, Jesus, we, too, will eventually see deliverance from evil. Most of us would wish our nation to escape judgment, but we cannot escape it any more than the nations that were being swept away by wicked Babylon. We may, like Habakkuk, have to endure times of trouble from God’s judgment on our nation. How will we escape it? We can only escape God’s judgment by turning from our sins to God and praying for his mercy (more...).

How will we endure judgment if our nation must go through it? It will do no good to complain. Instead, we should take the attitude of Habakkuk. He waited patiently for God’s prophesied judgment, though he did not desire it. Though the nation of Judah might lose their crops and their cattle and flocks, Habakkuk still resolved to be joyful in God his Savior. He had confidence that God would help him to be on top of his troubles instead of beneath them (Habakkuk 3:16b-19). If we trust in God as our Savior, we can experience the same joy even in the midst of our trials. Will we make the decision to accept God’s will and be joyful in our God until the day He delivers?

Lessons to live by: Why Does God Allow Evil? Why doesn’t he end it?

  • God will judge, he will bring justice, but he will start with his own people.
  • The just will live by faith. Do we want God’s favor and blessings? If so, we must turn to God in faith and stop deceiving ourselves, thinking that we can escape God’s judgment or discipline.
  • How can we escape God’s judgment? We can only escape God’s judgment by turning from our sins to God and praying for his mercy (more...).
  • How will we endure judgment if our nation must go through it? If we trust in God as our Savior, we can experience joy even in the midst of our trials.

Today’s Bible memory verse: Habakkuk 2:4 "Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith” (NASB ‘ 95).

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