The book of Habakkuk opens using the following words to describe the political, moral, and spiritual condition of the culture more than 2,500 years ago: violence, iniquity, wrong, destruction, strife, contention, the law is paralyzed, justice never goes forth, the wicked surround the righteous, and justice perverted.
Nowadays, if you watch the news, listen to talk radio, or scan the comments sections on blogs and social media, you’ll find total strangers seeking to set one another on fire publicly. You’ll quickly understand that even though time has marched on, godliness has not come along for the ride.
Most of the time, a prophet speaks a word from God to the people. In Habakkuk, the prophet speaks to God on behalf of the few godly people remaining. His questions (1:2–3) are the same ones any frustrated person continues to ask:
Amazingly, God actually answers him – twice! Imagine the next time you are checking the news or social media and ask yourself, “What would it be like if God actually jumped in and answered a few questions?” That’s what happens in Habakkuk.
To understand the point of God’s answers, we must examine Habakkuk 2:2–5 (ESV):
And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.”
The problem in every culture is that people do not have a vision for God’s Kingdom. One day, there will be no more churches, nations, elections, wars, sins, or tears. One day, King Jesus is returning to set up His eternal Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the way that the world is supposed to be and will be when sinners and their sins are all dealt with once and for all. Once we have a vision of God’s Kingdom written down in the Scriptures, we then have a vision by which to judge our own culture and our lives within that culture. In this way, the Christian life is to be lived Kingdom down, not culture up, which is why Jesus taught us to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10 ESV).
Do you spend more time and energy focused on the sinful culture or on God’s eternal Kingdom? What aspects of your life are not currently being lived in congruence with God’s Kingdom and identity for you?