January 16th 2010

Be Utterly Amazed!

2nd of a series of studies from Habakkuk

“Look at the nations and watch – and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.”

Habakkuk 1:4 (NIV UK)

God can answer our prayers in a surprising way.

Habakkuk had complained to God about how bad things were, and he thought God should respond in a certain way. In the prophet’s mind God was the strong deliverer, and this was the time to show his greatness once again. Had not God always saved his people, even at the last moment? History had shown how God intervenes.

God, however, explained to Habakkuk that he would let things go from bad to worse. The Babylonians, also known as the Chaldeans, “that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling-places not their own”, would invade Judah. They would “fly like a vulture swooping to devour”, be “bent on violence”, and “gather prisoners like sand” (1:6-9). This was not the deliverance that Habakkuk had anticipated. God was not being true to Habakkuk’s image of what God should be like.

“But surely not?” retorted Habakkuk. The Babylonians burn incense to their gods of victory. Will they keep on “destroying the nations without mercy?” (1:16-17). Having voiced his objection, Habakkuk decided to wait on the city walls to see what God would say now (2:1). Again, it was not to be what he expected.

I know that often I want God to supply a prescribed answer to my prayers. I say something like, “God, here is the problem, and this is the way I think you should answer it”, and I get frustrated when things don’t go according to my plans. Sometimes nothing happens, sometimes the situation just gets worse, and sometimes out of the blue God does “immeasurably more” than all that I ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). God is sovereign, not me. It is his “eternal purpose”, not mine, that is accomplished in Christ Jesus (3:11).

Habakkuk was dumbfounded. God would not relent. In fact God told Habakkuk to have the prophecy written down on tablets that a messenger could carry throughout the land. It would be like a banner that proclaimed, “The Babylonians are coming!” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

So how was Habakkuk to react to all this?  The answer, just like the catastrophe that was about to happen to Judah, would be utterly amazing, and it would inspire the writers of the New Testament.


Sovereign Lord, thank you that you hear my prayers. Help me to be at peace with the answers you give, even when they are not what I expect or want.


Study by James Henderson