In 2007, Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers filed a lawsuit against God. He wanted a permanent injunction against the Almighty, whom he blamed for various natural disasters and for failing to stop terrorism. He said he had tried to contact God previously about these matters but received no response. The suit was dismissed because the court did not know where to serve notice.
Sometimes we feel angry about the silence of God. Why does He allow natural and man-made tragedies? Is it really part of His loving plan? The prophet Habakkuk was thinking along these lines in today’s reading: “Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
The dilemma was that in Habakkuk’s opinion silence did not suit God’s character (vv. 12–13). He is holy and just and perfect. His eyes are “too pure to look on evil.” Why, then, would He use one wicked nation (Babylon) to punish another (Judah)? Where was the righteousness or justice in that?
In verses 14–17, Habakkuk developed a stinging and sarcastic metaphor to give his question more force. Powerful people are like fishermen who catch fish, sell them, and use the money to live in luxury without giving a second thought to the fish. Their victims are like the hapless fish who are caught, killed, chopped up, and sold. The powerful basically worship their fishing nets, that is, the tools that give them power. Power is their idol. How long will this state of affairs continue?
Why would the Lord use such a vile nation as an instrument of His justice? Why would He remain silent while it continued its evil ways? Habakkuk felt angry, but he asked his question in expectant faith (2:1).
God did answer the prophet’s question (beginning in 2:2). What about us? Can we give answers for the hope and faith that we have (see 1 Peter 3:15)? To better prepare yourself, read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel, which deals with the “problem of evil” (Habakkuk’s question here) as the first objection to God made by many unbelievers.