The Problem of Evil
When we look around today, we see the prevailing acceptance of evil that is probably unmatched in the annals of American history. In recent years the Supreme Court of America has made decisions that have legalized the murder of unborn babies, outlawed prayer and Bible reading in our public schools, and recently made gay marriage the law of the land. While the Supreme Court has a history of getting things wrong and we may be perplexed by the sinfulness of our society, let me assure you that we are not the first culture to be plagued by great wickedness in the land. In fact, in the next few blogs what I would like us to look at Habakkuk the prophet, who raised the question – “If God is all-powerful and all-loving, why does he tolerate evil?”
We read in Habakkuk 1 these words, “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received. How long, O Lord must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” But you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds”, (Hab.1:1-4 NIV). This sounds very familiar to the world that I live in. The word “Oracle”, refers to something heavy, a burden to be lifted, and Habakkuk’s message was certainly a heavy one. It was a heavy message for Habakkuk who was a spectator to great evil. He saw the presence of great wickedness all around him and was bombarded daily with the sinfulness of the people that he lived among. Some of us can relate to what Habakkuk was reporting. Also, he had a burden because of unanswered prayers. Habakkuk had poured out his heart in prayer, but nothing had happened. In the deep exercise of the prophet’s soul, his words seem to fall flat with God as he prayed for his nation of Judah. The nation was dear to his heart, but his heart grew sick as he saw the evil around him.
Habakkuk in this passage was asking God how long he must wait until God sends an answer to his plea for help. He takes no delight in portraying the sins of those who he so tenderly cares for, as he pours out his complaint before the ear of God. Will there be no end to the rising tide of sin in our day? Habakkuk was living in sinful times, surrounded by difficult circumstances, and he states the problem to God. The word “cry” in v.2 speaks of a cry of distress, a shout or scream for help.
As we see the proliferation of evil in our day and injustice all around us, if we are not concerned about such things there must be something wrong in our hearts. Habakkuk takes his complaint to God, but the answer he’s going to receive from God is more bewildering than the first stated problem. In our own lives, we must remove the hindrances which prevent the revival of God’s work in our hearts. We must be very watchful, least apathy, selfishness, and unbelief hinder the work of God in our own lives. If our God is a God of justice and goodness why is evil and suffering so rampant in our world? Some people never concern themselves with these questions – as long as their lives are going along relatively successfully and comfortably, they don’t consider the deep theological questions that Habakkuk raises in his short prophecy. In our service for the Lord Jesus Christ today we cannot tell why God delays His hand of justice, but we do know that God is willing that none should perish and if He is willing that none perish that should be a motivation for us to call people to repentance and salvation in Jesus Christ. We need a fresh vision of the power and mercy of our God to work in our day. I hope as we consider this prophecy over the next few blogs we will catch a broader understanding of how God works and how God moves, not only in Judah in Habakkuk’s day, but also America in our day.
In the King’s service,
Pastor Rich Sivo