Woe to Wow 1

Over the years I have learned to appreciate the Minor Prophets. Some of that has to do with history and seeing God move in the past in His “Providence.” Even more than my love for history is the realization that God is active in the world even now. We are facing many of the same things the Minor Prophets faced.


The providence of God is all through scripture. He raises up nations and He takes down nations. None escapes His observations. The Psalmist declares in Psalm 22:28 (ESV):

For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations.


The northern tribes of Israel fell away from God. Eventually the Assyrian empire removed them from history. Judah became an apostate nation under the leadership of some ungodly kings and Babylon carried the nation into captivity for seventy years. God’s use of His “servant,” Cyrus enabled their return to the land of Israel (see Isaiah 44-45).


We sometimes are deluded into thinking that we are in control of the nation and the world. We tend to treat government as if it was a god. We do have control in regard to our actions, but God is in control of everything. He is the Sovereign of every nation. As the Jewish prayers begin, “Blessed are you LORD, our God, You are ‘King of the Universe.’” How silly He must think we are to believe we are in charge of our world, nation, even our very lives. We control very little.


I want to look at the Book of Habakkuk over the next few days. I want us to see the relevance of his words for us today. We can even make applications from our own history from the book.


Habakkuk had been a priest and a contemporary of Jeremiah. You’ll remember that Jeremiah predicted the seventy year captivity and preached a strong message of repentance to the people of Judah for about fifty years. By the “nickels and noses” standards of modern churches, Jeremiah was an utter failure. By God’s standards, he was a faithful prophet. Listen to his words in Jeremiah 25:11-12 (ESV):

11 This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. 12 Then after seventy years are completed, I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity, declares the Lord, making the land an everlasting waste.


Habakkuk was witnessing the decay of his once God-fearing nation. He was frustrated and perhaps angry. He cried out to God. In Habakkuk 1:2-4 (ESV) we read:

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.

Does this sound even a little comparable to our nation today? Many American Christians have been crying out to God in a similar fashion wondering how long they have to pray about the condition of America. Some ask for a Great Awakening and wonder if/when it will come. People want change, a return to God to reestablish the foundations of our society.


Other Christians, on the contrary, may read the Bible occasionally but have no interest in applying the scriptures to the world in which we live. They have disengaged from having God in the culture. In many ways they live like their culture, but do not even consider that God wants to be the Ruler of our nation.


Habakkuk presents a series of “woes” to the people. Much like Isaiah 5:20, he sees evil being called good, and good being called evil. He wants an explanation and he wants divine action. Does this sound familiar?


As Habakkuk works through a process with God in his short book, he arrives at the solution for his nation and ours. It is Habakkuk 2:4 (ESV):

. . . the righteous shall live by his faith [or faithfulness].


The solution for Judah was God’s presence in the lives of His people – by faith. But the people of Judah wouldn’t see it. They had to be shown the “hard way” what they needed.


What is the solution for America? It is God in America. That was the solution for our Founders. After all, when those men signed the Declaration of Independence they concluded with:

“For the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” 


Apparently, America, like Judah, will have to learn the hard way since we don’t know our history and don’t want to learn from it. God can turn our “woe” to “wow.” It may not come in the way we would want or expect, but it will come. We must live by faith to see it.


Keep The Light of God’s “Wow” Burning!