New Living Translation

Habakkuk 1

1This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
    But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
    but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
    Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
    I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
    who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
    and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
    so that justice has become perverted.

The Lord’s Reply

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed![a]
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.
I am raising up the Babylonians,[b]
    a cruel and violent people.
They will march across the world
    and conquer other lands.
They are notorious for their cruelty
    and do whatever they like.
Their horses are swifter than cheetahs[c]
    and fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their charioteers charge from far away.
    Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.

“On they come, all bent on violence.
    Their hordes advance like a desert wind,
    sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.
10 They scoff at kings and princes
    and scorn all their fortresses.
They simply pile ramps of earth
    against their walls and capture them!
11 They sweep past like the wind
    and are gone.
But they are deeply guilty,
    for their own strength is their god.”

Habakkuk’s Second Complaint

12 O Lord my God, my Holy One, you who are eternal—
    surely you do not plan to wipe us out?
O Lord, our Rock, you have sent these Babylonians to correct us,
    to punish us for our many sins.
13 But you are pure and cannot stand the sight of evil.
    Will you wink at their treachery?
Should you be silent while the wicked
    swallow up people more righteous than they?

14 Are we only fish to be caught and killed?
    Are we only sea creatures that have no leader?
15 Must we be strung up on their hooks
    and caught in their nets while they rejoice and celebrate?
16 Then they will worship their nets
    and burn incense in front of them.
“These nets are the gods who have made us rich!”
    they will claim.
17 Will you let them get away with this forever?
    Will they succeed forever in their heartless conquests?

Footnotes

  1. 1:5 Greek version reads Look, you mockers; / look and be amazed and die. Compare Acts 13:41.
  2. 1:6 Or Chaldeans.
  3. 1:8 Or leopards.

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?