God, Tell me “Why”
My mind reeled. Each wooden step creaked under my heavy footsteps as I descended from the watch tower. The vision God had given me was more of a nightmare—only I couldn’t wake up and find it was just a dream. What he had flashed before me as I waited before him was bitter truth, truth so horrible I could not believe it. That ravenous nation of Babylon was coming to engulf our Hebrew nation, just as it had with conquest after conquest. They felt their gods, Bel and Nebo gave them power to be invincible.
“Why?” I cried out to God. “You are a god of justice, how can you justify this awful thing?”
I knew that our nation deserved punishment. The people were entrenched in lawlessness of every kind, some even reverting to idol worship. They were far from the God who had chosen them as his special people. With a heavy heart, surrounded by all that sin, I found it hard to enter the temple and take my place in the choir. How could I sing in the midst of a rebellious people?
I challenged God for an answer, “Why? Why use a nation far more godless than us to be the instrument of punishment? Why not punish them?”
As a prophet I would have to deliver this message to the people, but I knew I would not be alone in asking all these “whys”. They would be bewildered just as I was.
“What is your purpose? I know your ways are higher than our ways and your thoughts are infinitely beyond ours, so you often shield your plans and purposes. Job shows us that. You never did reveal to him why all his calamity came upon him. Now you’re allowing this inexplicable way of punishing us. Why?”
His answer quieted my questions. He assured me that Babylon would get what was her punishment—but later. “Wait!” was his word to me.
To fortify my trust and confidence, He reminded me of his past intervention for our nation, bringing us through impossible situations. He had freed our enslaved people from a sadistic Pharaoh, nurtured us for forty years in the desert, opened a raging sea before us to allow our passage but then allowed the sea to engulf the pursuing Egyptians. He quieted the waters of the Jordan so we could pass, demolished the walls of Jericho by a miracle and conquered nation after nation to give us the land he had promised. He reminded me that he is an everlasting God, never changing. His purposes always triumph in the end, even though he sometimes surprises us in the way he reaches the conclusion.
He told Job that he controls the elements of nature, speaking to them, “Thus far shall you come and no farther.” He is the same with evil. It will be controlled and in the future when the truth of the whole plan is revealed, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is God.
I bowed in worship. Now my message as a prophet would be the whole truth.
God is in his holy temple, so even facing the worst scenario which might be ahead I could now sing and trust, as I did the next time in the temple, with the orchestra accompanying my song:
Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines;
Though the produce of the olive fails, and the fields yield no food,
Though the flock is cut off from the fold, and there is no herd in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
And makes me tread upon the heights.
--Habakkuk 3:18 (NRSV)
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