Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Were You Thinking Habakkuk?

by Jim Rapp

(Habakkuk 1 – 3)

There are many models of the prophet in Scripture;
some thundered judgment, some wielded the sword
in their own hands, some wept, some, like Abraham
and Moses, interceded for those coming under the
judgment of God. And then there is Habakkuk who,
when shown the coming judgment on his people
said, in effect, but not without fear and trembling,
 "so be it, God." Which prophetic model most
reflects the heart of God? Or do they all?

What were you thinking Habakkuk?
Did you really believe I would zap
all those sinners and not touch
the things their sins had corrupted:

the herds of cattle taken by the powerful
from their impoverished brothers to be held
until redeemed at impossible rates of interest;
the vineyards planted on stolen ground
and tended for low pay by the very ones
from whom they had been taken;
the wages promised to workers but not given,
or if given, not enough to feed a man;
the barns-full of grain from fields stripped
clean from side to side and end to end
with nothing left for the widow and orphan;
land impoverished – farmed to exhaustion –
rather than given a deserved Sabbath of rest;
Hebrew brothers held in bondage beyond the
commanded year of Jubilee;
the King’s might maintained by excessive taxes
and forced labor, protected by young men
who should have been home tending fields;
the Temple’s elegant show, bought and paid for
by grinding the face of the poor;
daily commerce enriched by exploiting
the strangers in your midst?

No, Habakkuk. Sin does not stay isolated
in the hearts of sinners; the whole nation
is corrupted; it groans under the weight of sin.
Unrighteousness cannot be eradicated
from the land by precision thunderbolts
aimed at particular sinners;
everything is contaminated:
the air, the streams, the farms, the markets,
the government. Yes, even the house of God.
Unrighteousness has become the common wealth;
every man, woman, and child owns a part of it;
cherishes its fruits; grasps for his piece of it;
is loath to see its goodnesses destroyed;
closes his eyes, stops his ears, hardens his heart
lest he see and hear and know of his own complicity.

If it is righteous judgment you desire, Habakkuk,
then you must know that it can only be bought
at the cost of all that sin has corrupted.
When Babylon, my servant, sweeps over the land
the fig tree will no longer bud, and there will be
no grapes on the vines; the olive crop will fail,
and the fields will produce no food;
there will be no sheep in the pen,
and no cattle in the stalls.

You tremble, Habakkuk;
your lips quiver and your knees buckle.
Your heart is pounding.
Is the cost too high, Habakkuk?
Think, Habakkuk. Think.
Do you want the righteousness
you insist that I restore?

       At any cost, Yahweh! At any cost.
       Though all is lost, I will rejoice in You,
       I will be joyful in God my Savior.


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