You Would Not Believe If Told | Habakkuk 1:5

Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.

Habakkuk 1:5 ESV

We must carefully observe this verse within its context because many have taken it to mean something entirely different then what it originally meant. The thought that God is going to do something that is completely unbelievable is an appealing concept. When we find ourselves pleading along with Isaiah for God to rend open the heavens and come down, this verse seems to appear as an answer: God will do something incredible.

However, while prosperity preachers may proclaim this text joyfully from the conference stage, Habakkuk received this word with fear and trembling. This verse is the beginning of God’s answer to Habakkuk’s question of why God was allowing the Israelites to be so sinful. Habakkuk was looking for justice, and God answered. His answer came in the form of the Babylonians, a powerful and ruthless empire. God would soon use the wicked Babylonians to punish the backslidden Israel.

Just as God predicted, Habakkuk could not believe his ears. Yes, Israel was sinful, but they were still God’s people. How could God use such wicked tools to punish His people, the very people that He redeemed out of Egypt? This revelation from God must have hit Habakkuk like a battering ram to the chest. Habakkuk looked out from his point of view and could not imagine how God would use such a destructive plan for His glory; however, the beauty of retrospective viewing is that now we can see the glories of God being displayed through Israel’s Babylonian captivity.

There are several implications of this text for us today. First, God is always doing a work, even if we do not have the vision or faith to see it. Second, God’s workings are rarely what we expect. Nearly every biblical account testifies to this fact, especially the life of our Lord Himself. No one could ever have predicted that God’s plan of redemption would come through Him becoming one of us. Third, even when His plan seems to be harmful to us, we must trust that He knows the greater benefits that will come from going through it. We must trust that God’s perspective is infinite in scope while ours is wholly finite. We must trust that God is God, and that He knows what is best. Indeed, we only need to consider our salvation from sin through Christ’s death upon the cross in order to see that our God can bring great good out of great suffering and even wickedness.


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