“Look and Be Astounded” (Hab. 1:5-11)

Good Friday and Coronavirus Pandemic

Malaking suffering and pain ang dulot nitong krisis natin ngayon. Malaking suffering din ang dinanas ng Panginoong Jesus sa krus. Lahat yun ay ayon sa plano ng Diyos to accomplish his redemptive purposes. Pero hindi sa Good Friday ang tapos ng story. Meron pang Easter Sunday. Yung crisis natin ngayon ay not yet the last word. Meron pang mangyayari na dapat nating abangan. And we hope for that. But while we hope, we also grieve. Hindi naman tayo mga “stoic” na parang walang pakiramdam o parang in denial sa suffering na nangyayari sa paligid natin at sa buhay natin. That is why Habbakuk’s prayer of lament is important for us na matutunan natin. And this is also connected sa gospel.

Good Friday and Habakkuk’s Lament

Sinabi ko last time na itong cry of lament ni Habakkuk ay nagtuturo sa atin kay Jesus na ultimate lamenter. Hindi lang naman siya sa krus umiyak, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; quoting psalm of lament Psa. 22:1). Even before that, sa prayer of Gethsemane, his prayers were already full of sorrow and anguish. Matt. 26:36-39. Si Habakkuk, dala niya bigat ng kasalanan at kasamaang nangyayari sa Judah. Si Jesus, buong mundo ang dala-dala niyang bigat ng kasalanan at kasamaan. Nung umiyak si Cristo sa krus sa Diyos, tahimik ang Diyos, parang walang sagot, parang walang pakialam, parang walang ginagawa. Ganun din ang damdamin ni Habakkuk, pero may sagot ang Diyos sa daing niya.

Sa Habakkuk 1:5-11, makikita natin ang reply ni God first prayer of complaint ni Habakukk: “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. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!”

Even sa mga times na parang di sumasagot si Lord sa mga prayers natin at mga questions natin, the truth is sumasagot siya. That is our hope that is why we are persevering in prayer, especially in times of suffering. Ganyan din ang hope ni David (Psalm 4:1.) Sumasagot siya, pero maaaring hindi agad-agad na tulad nito, like sa case ni Job. Sumasagot siya, pero most probably not in a way na we expected him to answer, or in a way much bigger than what we are praying for, or in a way na di natin lubos na maiintindihan (Isa. 55:8-9). Tulad nitong sagot niya kay Habakkuk.

Look and be amazed by what God is doing (1:5)

Sa Tagalog, merong additional explanation na itong mula v. 5 ay sinabi ni Yahweh…o sagot ng Diyos. Pero sa original ay walang transition. Obvious sa tone ng passage naman na hindi na ‘to si Habakkuk. Diyos na ang nagsasalita. 

Look among the nations and see…Yung mga verbs dito ay “imperative plural,” meaning utos ito hindi lang kay Habakkuk, but to the whole nation of Judah. Sa English di ganoon ka-evident kung singular or plural, pero sa Tagalog maliwanag. Sa MBB, “Masdan mo,” although pinaliwanag na sa simula na ito ay salita ng Diyos “sa kanyang bayan.” Sa ASD, “Tingnan ninyo…” God’s answer was bigger than Habakkuk. Whole nation ang kinausap na ng Diyos. Si Habakkuk din naman representing the cries of God’s people. It also shows us the tremendous impact ng intercession. As we pray in behalf of others, malawak ang sakop ng sagot ng Diyos.

Ang sagot dito ni Lord for Habakkuk and the people of Judah, tingnan nila kung ano ang ginagawa ng Diyos. Isang reason why we have complaints, why we ask how long and why is because we don’t see fully. Marami tayong di nakikita, marami tayong di nalalaman. Tingnan natin ang abot ng makikita natin. At ano ang magiging resulta?

Wonder and be astounded. Although imperative ang form nito, implied na ito ang magiging resulta kapag nakita ng Judah ang ginagawa ng Diyos. Positive kung by faith ang response nila kahit di nila maintindihan: “Ang galing ng Panginoon.” Negative naman, pagtataka, kung may pagdududa, “Hala, bakit ganyan ang ginagawa mo.” Tulad ng magiging response ni Habakkuk sa 1:12-17. So even if we see what we need to see, God’s work, in his wisdom, is much bigger than what we can comprehend. Di man natin maintindihan lahat, basta alam natin may ginagawa siya, and it is more than enough for us to believe in times of suffering.

For I am doing a work in your days…May ginagawa ang Diyos. Hindi lang sa Judah. But “among the nations.” Limited kasi scope ng prayers natin, limited scope ng focus natin. God is inviting us to look beyond our personal or church or even national concerns. God’s work is bigger. Kaya nga tinuro ni Jesus na ang prayer natin ay concern sa kingdom of God coming on earth as it is in heaven. Global ang pandemic, global din dapat ang prayers natin, global din dapat ang perspective natin. In the days of Habakkuk sure. But also in our days. Walang isang segundo man lang na bahagi ng kasaysayan na huminto ang Diyos sa paggawa. When he “sits on the throne” hindi ibig sabihing nakaupo lang siya at walang ginagawa. Hindi siya naka-lockdown or in quarantine. His work is therefore most “essential.”

…that you would not believe if told. Unbelievable hindi lang because they have not big enough faith, but because of their limited capacity to understand the infinite wisdom of God. 

What is God doing? (1:6)

“For behold…” tingnan n’yo, ito ang dahilan kung bakit ito “unbelieveable”, kung bakit you will be amazed and be astounded, “…I am raising up the Chaldeans…” SaJeremiah 5:14, na contemporary ni Habakkuk, “I am bringing against you…” Itong Chaldeans, another term for Babylonians, ang gagamitin ng Diyos to deal with, to discipline, God’s people. Ito ang sagot ng Diyos sa problemang violence, chaos, moral collapse, covenant unfaithfulness sa Judah. Hindi ito aksidente. Plano ito ng Diyos. Tulad ng pag-raise niya kay Pharaoh (Exod 9:16) na ginamit ni Lord noon sa Israel, gagamitin din niya si Nebuchadnezzar to deal with his people. Sa time ni Habakkuk, si Nabopolassar pa, tatay niya ang hari ng Babylon. In decline ang Assyria, on the rise naman sila. 

Kitang kita dito ang sovereign work ni God not just as answer sa prayer ni Habakkuk, but sovereign work in all history, all evil, all suffering, kahit ano, kahit sino, kahit gaano kasama gagamitin niya to accomplish his redemptive purposes. 

Heto yung unbelievable. God will deal sa kasamaan ng Judah by using a nation na higit na mas masama pa sa kanila. Gaano sila kasama?

What is Babylon (1:6-11)?

  • Malupit at marahas sa pagsakop (Hab. 1:6). They were not gentle. They were on a mission to conquer. Di sila papipigil.
  • Nakakatakot at walang respeto sa batas ng iba (Hab. 1:7). Sarili nila ang batas na umiiral.
  • Di matatakasan at di matatalo (Hab. 1:8). Yung military resources nila (horses/horsement) ay ikinumpara sa bilis ng leopard (mas mabilis pa), sa bangis ng asong-gubat (mas mabangis pa), at sa precision sa pagdagit ng agila as predator sa kanyang prey.
  • Marahas at nakakatakot (Hab. 1:9), like v. 6. But here may emphasis sa violence na they were capable of, hindi lang sa iilan, kundi sa marami. They will not be content hangga’t di nila nasasakop ang lahat.
  • Arogante sila (Hab. 1:10). 
  • Dinidiyos nila, tiwalang-tiwala sila sa sariling lakas (Hab. 1:11). 

Guilty men. Idolatrous. Ito ang klase ng bansa na gagamitin ng Diyos para solusyunan ang problema ng Judah. Ha? Violence nga ang nirereklamo ni Habakkuk. Mas matinding violence pa ang sagot ng Diyos. Lawlessness at idolatry nga ang naghahari sa Judah, mas malala pa pala yung gagamitin ng Diyos. Injustice and oppression nga ang daing ni Habakkuk, sasakupin pa sila ng ibang bansa na di kumikilala sa Diyos. Anong klaseng sagot at solusyun yun? Yun naman ang susunod niyang irereklamo sa Hab. 1:12-17. But for now, hindi na natin pwedeng sabihing walang ginagawa ang Diyos dahil meron. Na hindi sumasagot ang Diyos dahil sumasagot siya. Yun nga lang, unbelievable for us. And God knows that. And he is patient toward us to help us, tulad ni Habakkuk, to grow in our faith and reliance on him.

Theological Reflection

God responds to the cry of his people. Nakikinig siya, nadarama niya, tumutugon siya. Hindi siya deadma sa mga hinaing natin.

God is sovereign over evil, even using evil to accomplish God’s redemptive purposes for his people. 

Where else in redemptive history makikita natin ‘to? Sa story ni Joseph, kung paanong pinagmalupitan siya ng mga kapatid niya (Gen. 50:20). At marami pang iba. But the greatest expression nito ay sa krus ng Panginoong Jesus. Ang sagot ng Diyos sa injustice, violence, lawlessness, at pain na inirereklamo natin sa Diyos ay ang most painful tragedy in human history at greatest act of  injustice, violence and lawlessness done against the only Righteous Man who ever lived – when Jesus was murdered on the cross. Yan ang pinaka-sagot at diyan nakatali ang sagot ng Diyos sa lahat ng panalangin natin. 

Growing Deeper

  • Prayer. Pray with expectant faith. Pray with expectation that God will answer dahil kay Cristo kahit di pa natin maintindihan lahat.
  • Meditation. Look at what God is doing and listen to what he is saying. Not what the government is doing, not what social media is saying. There is a time for that sure. But this passage calls us to spend longer time and pay more careful attention to what God is doing around the world and saying to us how to respond.
  • Worship. We can’t understand everything. But we can stand in awe and wonder in his infinite wisdom and infinite power and sovereignty to accomplish everything he purposed to do.

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