Is God Responsible?

Is God Responsible?

by Jacques Isaac Gabizon.


This book by Habakkuk is so unlike any other prophetic book, because here we see nothing else except for a back and forth conversation between a man and his God. Seeing the sad and evil conditions into which his country fell, and realizing how this city of Jerusalem was now further sinking, Habakkuk turns to God with these poignant words, “How long O Lord?”

We might ask the same question today. Why doesn’t God do anything about the rampant aggression, offences and crimes being committed presently in this world? We have heard the expression, getting away with murder. This is when people succeed in doing whatever they choose to, without being punished. This situation has been a reality for ages.

Habakkuk asked God this question some 2600 years ago and before him, some 4000 years ago, Job asked God this same thing. It seems that nothing has changed. So where is God when evil strikes?

But we need to pause for a moment, because so far there is something very unfair in our approach. Why are we asking God as if He is responsible for the evil in this world? Is He responsible for the decisions we take and the consequences it brings on? Is He responsible for our actions?

In fact, from Scripture, we see the Lord asking this very same question to us. Using the same words as Habakkuk, עַד־אָ֧נָה meaning how long, we read how the Lord challenged and demanded an answer from His people, “How long will this people spurn Me?” He asked this of Moses when He saw the rise of evil within his nation.  And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? Numbers 14:11. Similarly, we read, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My instructions?”  Exodus 16:28. His question cries out to us; why is evil so persistent, and  why does man return again and again to his sin?

We see how sin had reached an intolerable apex for God when He was compelled to start anew and send the flood. He was obliged time and again, to destroy this village or that city or that nation for their rebellion once evil had reached a point of no return.

And so, when we consider this deep question of How long o Lord, there is no silence from God but rather a deafness and blindness from our part when we point the finger at Him. We see that God suffers deeply from the evil in this world. We have seen this great verse at the end of Isaiah, a book filled with so much judgment yet at the end, God shares the true mark of fellowship when He states, “In all their affliction, I am afflicted. Isaiah 63:9

Does the Lord do anything in the case of evil’s presence? Let us not forget that God is the restrainer of evil, for as David said in Psalm 139:18, If I should count the number of my sins, they would outnumber the sand for no one is innocent. Therefore, God is ever over us and preventing evil to rule this world. We ought to start with this principle that God is not responsible for but instead restrains evil.

Jeremiah who also witnessed the downfall of Judah like Habakkuk said, “It is through His kindness (Heb. chesed ) that we are not completely consumed”.   Lam.3:22


And it is to Habakkuk that God gives such great and powerful yet so delicate answers.

First, God’s answers are found within the text itself, answers containing promises and prophecies that would comfort the most wounded heart. Just consider this one. As He speaks of the evil in this world, He somehow takes a break between two verses of judgments and gives us these words found in Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

After all, He is God and He will stop this evil and will one day cover this earth with peace and the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah. Just this verse alone is enough for an answer to the dilemma concerning evil; these words guarantee us that God will put an end to it and that goodness will prevail. This verse and many others like it will be considered in our text and each should be dayenu, enough to soothe our hearts.

But there is one direct and very powerfully dramatic answer that God gives Habakkuk who is then so affected by evil that he changed his attitude and perhaps, even wished he never asked the question to begin with.

Without arguing and without preliminaries, God lifts Habakkuk and transports him into the future. First, He seems to have taken hold of the prophet dropping him right in the middle of an invasion of Israel by a fierce enemy. Here God tells him how He, the Lord will deal with the evil Habakkuk complained about.

And when Habakkuk saw the utter wickedness behind this invasion, he changes from being a prosecutor of his people to a defense attorney. He tells God, You cannot do that. You cannot use greater evil to subdue and punish a lesser evil.

But what the Lord did in this invasion is retrieve His restraining hand for just a little while. As a result, the evil was so fierce that Habakkuk began to pray and plead for Israel. And this is the right attitude of a man of God; this is what I believe is the answer God expected from Habakkuk.  In many ways, Habakkuk graduated after this book to a higher calling; He understood evil to an even greater degree and that he needed to act on his faith.

Being dropped off in the midst of a fierce battle is what prophecies will do to the reader of the Scriptures, even to us. These prophecies can transport us into the past and the future so that we might witness the scene. We too can have a somewhat similar experience as the prophets did.

However, the second vision that the Lord gave Habakkuk in answer to his question, How Long O Lord  was enough for the prophet to rest his case altogether. What the Lord does here is to bring him to witness the Second Coming of Yeshua. So overwhelming a moment was this, that Habakkuk ends his book with these powerful words, Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food…Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength Habakkuk 3:17-19b

That is what the knowledge of prophecy can trigger in the heart of man. It will transform our worries into hope. May the study of the prophecies of Habakkuk bring each of us to say these beautiful words of Habakkuk as we are witnessing such an increase of evil these days. There is nothing so encouraging as to be reminded that Yeshua is coming back and will be here to stay. 

Click here to go to Habakkuk Sermon 1: “How Long O Lord?”

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