New International Reader's Version

Habakkuk 1

1This is a prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received from the Lord. Here is what Habakkuk said.

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord

Lord, how long do I have to call out for help?
    Why don’t you listen to me?
How long must I keep telling you
    that things are terrible?
    Why don’t you save us?
Why do you make me watch while
    people treat others so unfairly?
Why do you put up with the wrong things
    they are doing?
I have to look at death.
    People are harming others.
    They are arguing and fighting all the time.
The law can’t do what it’s supposed to do.
    Fairness never comes out on top.
Sinful people surround those
    who do what is right.
    So people are never treated fairly.

The Lord Replies to Habakkuk

The Lord replies,

“Look at the nations. Watch them.
    Be totally amazed at what you see.
I am going to do something in your days
    that you would never believe.
You would not believe it
    even if someone told you about it.
I am going to send the armies of Babylon to attack you.
    They are very mean. They move quickly.
They sweep across the whole earth.
    They take over homes
    that do not belong to them.
They terrify others.
    They do not recognize any laws but their own.
    That is how proud they are.
Their horses are faster than leopards.
    They are meaner than wolves at sunset.
Their horsemen charge straight into battle.
    They ride in from far away.
They come down like an eagle
    diving for its food.
All of them are ready and willing to destroy others.
    Their huge armies advance like a wind out of the desert.
    They gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
    and make fun of rulers.
They laugh at all the cities
    that have high walls around them.
They build dirt ramps against the walls
    and capture the cities.
11 They sweep past like the wind.
    Then they go on their way.
They are guilty.
    They worship their own strength.”

Habakkuk Complains to the Lord Again

12 Lord, haven’t you existed forever?
    You are my holy God.
    You will never die.
Lord, you have appointed the Babylonians
    to punish your people.
    My Rock, you have chosen them to judge us.
13 Your eyes are too pure to look at what is evil.
    You can’t put up with the wrong things people do.
So why do you put up
    with those who can’t be trusted?
The evil Babylonians swallow up
    those who are more godly than themselves.
    So why are you silent?
14 You have made people to be like the fish in the sea.
    They are like the sea creatures that don’t have a ruler.
15 The evil Babylonians pull all of them up with hooks.
    They catch them in their nets.
They gather them up.
    So they celebrate.
    They are glad.
16 They offer sacrifices to their nets.
    They burn incense to them.
Their nets allow them to live in great comfort.
    They enjoy the finest food.
17 Are you going to let them
    keep on emptying their nets?
Will they go on destroying nations
    without showing them any mercy?

The Message

Habakkuk 1

Justice Is a Joke

11-4 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—
World-conquering Babylon,
    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 creel—
    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?