Doubt Your Doubts // sermon series, week 2 - trusting god in an unjust world
habakkuk 1:12-17; 2:1-20
The righteous can trust in God despite the presence of evil in the world because God will one day judge the wicked.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
- Has there ever been in time in your life where you doubted or questioned God’s goodness? What about your situation made it difficult to reconcile His character with your circumstances?
- When faced with blatant evil, are you tempted more to doubt God’s sovereignty (if He is truly in control) or God’s goodness (if He is morally trustworthy with His plans and purposes)?
How can an all-powerful God allow evil if He is truly good? This is what theologians and philosophers call “the problem of evil,” and it’s not just an abstract problem for intellectuals to ponder and debate. Rather, it is something that we all must come to terms with, no matter how philosophically inclined we are or what our religious faith might be. Ever since Genesis 3, the problem of evil has been an everyday problem for humanity. But what are we to make of God’s purposes and plans in light of evil? This is an issue that the prophet Habakkuk encountered. In this study, we will see how Habakkuk’s struggle to trust God in the face of present injustice and ongoing evil informs our own lives as this prophet learned to hope in God with assured confidence in His purposes.
Unpack the biblical text to discover what the Scripture says or means about a particular topic.
ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 1:12–2:20
The structure to Habakkuk’s oracle is simple. It is made up of two cycles—the first is Habakkuk lamenting and the second is God responding. The final portion (chapter 3) consists of Habakkuk offering prayer and praise to God. However, the earlier portions of the book show us how he reaches the point of becoming confident in God. The first lament concerns the social injustice that was taking place at the time among the people of Judah (1:2-4). God responds by relaying to Habakkuk His plans to raise up the Chaldeans (i.e. the Babylonians) in order to conquer the Israelites as a form of punishment for their corrupt and oppressive practices (1:5-11). This perplexes Habakkuk in that the Chaldeans are seemingly more evil and corrupt than the Israelites (1:13b); yet God is at work in bringing them to power over other nations. This prompts Habakkuk’s second complaint in 1:12–2:1, which along with God’s response in 2:2-20 will be the focus of our study.
ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 1:12–2:1
- In light of the previous verses, why do you think that Habakkuk brings up God’s eternal nature and holiness in verse 12 (especially in view of 1:11)?
- According to verse 13, why does Habakkuk seem confused about God’s plans to use the Chaldeans? What attribute of God seems to be creating problems for his thinking?
- What kind of imagery does Habakkuk use to describe the Chaldeans’ relationship with other nations in 1:14-17? What does this suggest about God’s sovereignty over nations and world history in general (if time allows, see also Isa. 44:24-28; 46:9-10; Dan. 2:21)?
ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 2:2-5
- When does 2:3 say this vision will be fulfilled? How does this verse speak to our need to trust God’s timing in fulfilling His promises rather than to impose our expectations on His plans?
- How is the faith of the righteous contrasted with the self-confidence of the Babylonians in 2:4?
- Where is Habakkuk 2:4 quoted in the New Testament (see Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; cf. Heb. 10:38)?
- What does the New Testament’s use of Habakkuk 2:4 tell us about the nature of saving faith, the kind of faith the gospel requires?
ask a volunteer to read Habakkuk 2:6-20
- What does the set of five oracles against the Babylonians tell us about God’s final plans for the wicked, regardless of how powerful they might become during the present time?
- What does Habakkuk 2:14 tell us about Yahweh’s ultimate purpose for the world (see also Num. 14:21; Ps. 72:19; Isa. 6:3; Rev. 11:15; cf. Gen. 12:2-3; Ex. 19:5-6)?
- How does the judgment and destruction of earthly kingdoms factor into the fulfillment of this purpose?
- Why does the condemnation of idol making and idol worship in 2:18-20 seem relevant to the context of Habakkuk? How does verse 20 contrast Yahweh with idols and in turn promote worship of Yahweh alone?a
Help your group identify how the truths from the Scripture passage apply directly to their lives.
- What can we learn from Habakkuk’s recollection of God’s timelessness and holy character in light of difficult circumstances (see 1:12)? Why must we never look at God’s plans separately from His revealed character in Scripture?
- What promises of God encourage you when you are going through a difficult time? What promises remind you of His good and trustworthy character?
- How could the Book of Habakkuk be useful in explaining the place of evil in the world to a non-Christian? How can the book’s teaching help us model for others what it looks like to experience genuine struggle with a difficult reality while also maintaining a humble confidence in God?
- In what ways does the Book of Habakkuk point us to Jesus and the gospel? Why must we as Christians never wrestle with “the problem of evil” without first connecting it to the gospel—God entering His creation and experiencing suffering as a human being to overcome evil?
Praise the God who is sovereign over your circumstances. Reaffirm your trust in the goodness of God. Tell Him you love Him and you trust that He is in control. Give any worries or concerns over to Him. List specific circumstances in your life which you entrust to Him. Finally, thank Jesus for dying to break the curse of sin and for His return that will seal God’s triumph over the whole world.