2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? 3 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. 4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.
These words of perplexity and anguish come from the soul of the prophet Habakkuk, as he surveys the contemporary scene in Israel.
Historically, the nation is being invaded by the Babylonians. The time is somewhere between 609 – 598 BC - the verge of the fall of Jerusalem and the Southern Kingdom.
Habakkuk is disturbed by the fact that his nation is godless. God seems to be doing nothing in Israel, and that fact is seen primarily in the absence of law and order … “the law is paralyzed and justice never goes forth …”
Last week my colleague and fellow pastor, Nsenduluka Kapambwe, pastor of the Grace Reformed Baptist Church was brutally assaulted by thieves in his home at night. In that same week my neighbors in Windhoek West had the same experience! I know far too many people from all areas of Windhoek who have had the same experience.
The words of the prophet Habakkuk are haunting us: “The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted’.
By now it is clear that the police and the law courts are not coping with criminals. The prisons are overcrowded.
The problem is not necessarily the police. I know that many police officers are professional and committed people. It is not necessarily the law system that has gone wrong, although the law struggles to mete out effective punishments that would deter criminals from pursuing their vices.
The problem is that the average citizen in Namibia is becoming more and more godless!
HOW LONG O LORD?
God’s response to the prophet Habakkuk is very sobering. He tells Habakkuk that He will send the Babylonians as His instrument of punishment upon the godless nation of Israel.
You read it right! You might struggle to believe it. Habakkuk certainly struggled to believe it but that is what God said, and this is what God did! In 587 BC the Babylonians finally took the city of Jerusalem and carried its prominent citizens into exile.
The heart of our problem here in Windhoek is that the average citizen has become apathetic to truth. When commitment to biblical truth dies, evil easily flourishes.
And it did in Jerusalem!
And it does in Windhoek.
What might we expect?
I don’t know, but I and our congregation – the Eastside Baptist Church do pray with Habakkuk in Chapter 3:2 “ Lord … in your wrath remember mercy!”