Justice Is a Joke
1 1-4 The problem as God gave Habakkuk to see it:
God, how long do I have to cry out for help
before you listen?
How many times do I have to yell, “Help! Murder! Police!”
before you come to the rescue?
Why do you force me to look at evil,
stare trouble in the face day after day?
Anarchy and violence break out,
quarrels and fights all over the place.
Law and order fall to pieces.
Justice is a joke.
The wicked have the righteous hamstrung
and stand justice on its head.
God Says, “Look!”
5-11 “Look around at the godless nations.
Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock.
Something’s about to take place
and you’re going to find it hard to believe.
I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you,
Babylonians, fierce and ferocious—
grabbing up nations right and left,
A dreadful and terrible people,
making up its own rules as it goes.
Their horses run like the wind,
attack like bloodthirsty wolves.
A stampede of galloping horses
thunders out of nowhere.
They descend like vultures
circling in on carrion.
They’re out to kill. Death is on their minds.
They collect victims like squirrels gathering nuts.
They mock kings,
poke fun at generals,
Spit on forts,
and leave them in the dust.
They’ll all be blown away by the wind.
Brazen in sin, they call strength their god.”
Why Is God Silent Now?
12-13 God, you’re from eternity, aren’t you?
Holy God, we aren’t going to die, are we?
God, you chose Babylonians for your judgment work?
Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline?
But you can’t be serious!
You can’t condone evil!
So why don’t you do something about this?
Why are you silent now?
This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous
and you stand around and watch!
* * *
14-16 You’re treating men and women
as so many fish in the ocean,
Swimming without direction,
swimming but not getting anywhere.
Then this evil Babylonian arrives and goes fishing.
He pulls in a good catch.
He catches his limit and fills his bucket—
a good day of fishing! He’s happy!
He praises his rod and reel,
piles his fishing gear on an altar and worships it!
It’s made his day,
and he’s going to eat well tonight!
* * *
17 Are you going to let this go on and on?
Will you let this Babylonian fisherman
Fish like a weekend angler,
killing people as if they’re nothing but fish?
* * *
2 What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst.
I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon.
I’ll wait to see what God says,
how he’ll answer my complaint.
Full of Self, but Soul-Empty
2-3 And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
* * *
4 “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance—
full of himself but soul-empty.
But the person in right standing before God
through loyal and steady believing
is fully alive, really alive.
5-6 “Note well: Money deceives.
The arrogant rich don’t last.
They are more hungry for wealth
than the grave is for cadavers.
Like death, they always want more,
but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies.
They are cemeteries filled with dead nations,
graveyards filled with corpses.
Don’t give people like this a second thought.
Soon the whole world will be taunting them:
6-8 “‘Who do you think you are—
getting rich by stealing and extortion?
How long do you think
you can get away with this?’
Indeed, how long before your victims wake up,
stand up and make you the victim?
You’ve plundered nation after nation.
Now you’ll get a taste of your own medicine.
All the survivors are out to plunder you,
a payback for all your murders and massacres.
9-11 “Who do you think you are—
recklessly grabbing and looting,
Living it up, acting like king of the mountain,
acting above it all, above trials and troubles?
You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house.
In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself.
You’ve undermined your foundations,
rotted out your own soul.
The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you.
The woodwork will step forward with evidence.
12-14 “Who do you think you are—
building a town by murder, a city with crime?
Don’t you know that God-of-the-Angel-Armies
makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes,
Makes sure the harder you work
at that kind of thing, the less you are?
Meanwhile the earth fills up
with awareness of God’s glory
as the waters cover the sea.
15-17 “Who do you think you are—
inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties,
Giving them too much to drink,
roping them into your sexual orgies?
You thought you were having the time of your life.
Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace.
All the time you were drinking,
you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath.
You’ll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over—
hung over from Lebanon violence,
Hung over from animal massacres,
hung over from murder and mayhem,
From multiple violations
of place and people.
18-19 “What’s the use of a carved god
so skillfully carved by its sculptor?
What good is a fancy cast god
when all it tells is lies?
What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker
who makes gods that can’t even talk?
Who do you think you are—
saying to a stick of wood, ‘Wake up,’
Or to a dumb stone, ‘Get up’?
Can they teach you anything about anything?
There’s nothing to them but surface.
There’s nothing on the inside.
20 “But oh! God is in his holy Temple!
Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”
God Racing on the Crest of the Waves
3 1-2 A prayer of the prophet Habakkuk, with orchestra:
God, I’ve heard what our ancestors say about you,
and I’m stopped in my tracks, down on my knees.
Do among us what you did among them.
Work among us as you worked among them.
And as you bring judgment, as you surely must,
* * *
3-7 God’s on his way again,
retracing the old salvation route,
Coming up from the south through Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Skies are blazing with his splendor,
his praises sounding through the earth,
His cloud-brightness like dawn, exploding, spreading,
forked-lightning shooting from his hand—
what power hidden in that fist!
Plague marches before him,
pestilence at his heels!
He stops. He shakes Earth.
He looks around. Nations tremble.
The age-old mountains fall to pieces;
ancient hills collapse like a spent balloon.
The paths God takes are older
than the oldest mountains and hills.
I saw everyone worried, in a panic:
Old wilderness adversaries,
Cushan and Midian, were terrified,
hoping he wouldn’t notice them.
* * *
8-16 God, is it River you’re mad at?
Angry at old River?
Were you raging at Sea when you rode
horse and chariot through to salvation?
You unfurled your bow
and let loose a volley of arrows.
You split Earth with rivers.
Mountains saw what was coming.
They twisted in pain.
Flood Waters poured in.
Ocean roared and reared huge waves.
Sun and Moon stopped in their tracks.
Your flashing arrows stopped them,
your lightning-strike spears impaled them.
Angry, you stomped through Earth.
Furious, you crushed the godless nations.
You were out to save your people,
to save your specially chosen people.
You beat the stuffing
out of King Wicked,
Stripped him naked
from head to toe,
Set his severed head on his own spear
and blew away his army.
Scattered they were to the four winds—
and ended up food for the sharks!
You galloped through the Sea on your horses,
racing on the crest of the waves.
When I heard it, my stomach did flips.
I stammered and stuttered.
My bones turned to water.
I staggered and stumbled.
I sit back and wait for Doomsday
to descend on our attackers.
* * *
17-19 Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to God.
I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.
Counting on God’s Rule to prevail,
I take heart and gain strength.
I run like a deer.
I feel like I’m king of the mountain!
(For congregational use, with a full orchestra.)