Likely a contemporary of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, Habakkuk’s society provided little for the prophet to celebrate. The nation was in denial, rejecting spiritual challenge while facing impending doom. As hardship pressed upon him, Habakkuk cried out the age-old questions, “Why the suffering and pain? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do the wicked seem to rise in victory time and again? If you are all-powerful, God, why don’t you do something?” While Babylonians aren’t strengthening their forces against us per say, we grapple with similar questions from time to time. We get similar responses as well.
Questioning seems like it should belong to unbelievers. To the contrary, our faith in God is often the catalyst for our questions. We know God is God. We see he’s able. We know he does the miraculous. We believe. But his answers don’t seem forthcoming. They don’t fit the situation the way we expect them to. In fact, God’s response sometimes is silent rather than comforting. But God isn’t ignoring us. He hasn’t forsaken his people. He’s not remaining apathetic to our cries. When God gave Habakkuk an answer, it was wasn’t what the prophet expected, either. God told him that he was letting the enemy become powerful. He was letting the enemy get the upper-hand… in order to work out a greater good for his people. The answer wasn’t one Habakkuk understood. They weren’t words he wanted to hear. Having God say he is permitting the enemy to capsize the world around us isn’t something we embrace with full understanding either.
However, God knew what it would take for his people who had forsaken him to experience a spiritual awakening. Their disconnect had been permanent, with little regret. They’d boxed God into a tiny compartment, opened only when it was convenient. Then, they’d ceased opening the God-box at all. Blessings weren’t the answer. Prosperity had reaffirmed their love of idol worship. God’s kindness and love had been repeatedly rejected; his face had been slapped many times over. The only way they could again recognize God’s presence and acknowledge his power was through the pressure. Its subsequent pain squeezed out the questions, and those who knew God were the first to ask them. Rightly so, they were accustomed to turning to him.
“God, what’s going on here? Have you forsaken the righteous? Why is the enemy winning?”
When God revealed his plan of destruction, it probably didn’t feel like much of an answer. To hear God reply to your hurt with, “I’m letting things get bad on purpose” doesn’t hold much comfort, until you glimpse the bigger picture of people being brought to their senses for the sake of their spiritual well-being and see that the pain would ultimately bring an end to the evil that pressed upon the righteous in the first place. That’s semi-easy to swallow if those who are doing wrong are the only ones to feel the squeeze, if the God-fearing remain totally unaffected, and if wickedness is being blasted all around, but, when God adds that he plans to bless the adversary in order to accomplish this, things again get very confusing.
If we apply this to our day, our complaints would be against terrorists who use their money to fund wars against the innocent. Money God let them acquire. It’d be our disgruntle against those who work little and gain much in the jobs we share…at the expense of our own promotion. It’d be our judgement of the hypocrites whose lifestyles depart from God’s word but whom God somehow uses regularly with multiplied gifts and whom he overloads with bountiful blessings…while we are struggling to fulfill…even to find...our purpose.
But God’s method is well thought out as well as intentional. The enemy’s victory isn’t the end of the story. As God told Habakkuk, he has an appointed time for his people’s suffering to end and an appointed time for the destruction of the adversary. Once the temporary elevation of the adversary humbled God’s people, the enemy, God’s tool for a time, was discarded, crushed by the blows of God’s wrath when he again defended his people.
That’s the real answer to our questions. See God’s appointed time. Instead of listening to our clock tick off 24-hour segments, view God’s time table: one day=one thousand years. Instead of focusing on our present, think about God’s eternal one. While we want pain to end. God wants salvation for his people. Shifting perspective is where the high heel, or rather the high HILL thinking comes in. Awareness of God’s timing results in trust. Trusting God exchanges the here-and-now emotional turmoil, stress, and questioning for a leave-it-in-God’s-hands-He-knows-best outlook.
Habakkuk’s shift in thinking resulted in this proclamation:
“Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places” (Habakkuk 3: 17-20 KJV)
See, "walking upon mine high places" (KJV) is the same as “walking on my high hills” in the NKJV. In this passage, “to make" means to set or appoint. “To walk” is to tread, march, go, or lead. “High places” are the hills and mountains, symbolic of close places with God and places of worship. It’s also the place of victory in battle.
When we choose trust in God, we choose joy because we know that God will give us what we need to overcome and to become what the pressure is supposed to achieve. It gives us assurance that the enemy will be defeated. It builds fresh intimacy with God. And it gives our feet a reason to dance, to have a “high heel” time, anytime.
Tip/Tidbit: Renew your hope in God's appointed time.