“Here come the judge!” is a popular phrase captured in our music and pop culture. It can be good news if he’s coming to take down the bad guy. But if, when he gets closer, he looks more problematic than the bad guy, some ancient words from God to Habakkuk become important.
Habakkuk’s struggle was… “do I tolerate the injustice and idolatry I see rampant in my own country or do I invite God’s judgment, which ultimately means an invading army more godless and wicked than the place I live in?”
His dilemma could be ours. Culture can need correction, but that often involves trauma. Which do you prefer? Cultural decay or corrective trauma? The later often involves the strong man; the judge. Politics and church revivals don’t always get it done.
So Habakkuk took his struggle to God. And God responded in typical fashion:
- God did not answer Habakkuk with an exhaustive ethical justification for what He was about to do
- God did answer Habakkuk with a call to faith – to trust in His appropriate timing and judgment on those needing correction and those doing the correcting
Ultimately, behind the strong man or judge, is God. And He had these things to say to Habakkuk (and to us) regarding His view of the strong man and what his end would be – every time.
- Strong man invasion and threat of invasion are not sustainable. God will always judge those who invade and take what is not theirs. One day, they will be held accountable.
- Strong man dynasties cannot be built using materials stolen from other people’s families and homes. God will judge because that which is stolen cries out to Him.
- Strong man trophy cities cannot be constructed using the blood of captured peoples. The very labor conscripted for pride produces blood that fuels the fire of judgment and revolution. God will see to it.
- Strong man humiliation and manipulation of dependent cultures will ultimately result in humiliation of the oppressor. God will ensure that what goes around, comes around.
- Strong man godlessness among international bullies is an illusion. Only God’s invisible strength endures forever. What you can’t see is stronger and more permanent that what you can.
How does this help us today?
Justice, whether personal, civic or international is seldom a choice between Sunday School and Serial Murder. There are shades and nuances, ebbs and flows. So it’s comforting to know there is One who follows it all and will ultimately hold each instrument of judgment accountable.
It’s also important to realize that breaking news is often premature. What’s news today is often not the full story. There is a day coming when the full impact of all strong men will be revealed. Their role in history will be fully understood. But that day is not today.
We are given a survival tool; a kind of Swiss army knife by which to read international and economic news: faith. This multi-functional tool allows us to proceed in peace when all is crashing down around us. It allows us to move with confidence when culture is rotten and the corrective action coming seems even more so.
The strong man God used to correct Habakkuk’s culture did indeed come – Babylonia. But even in its strength, there were those living by faith who sent the strong man a message: “I’m not gonna bow to you!”. This is a message we sometimes need to send in our own day. And the day did indeed arrive when the One True Judge came. And the strong man fell in a single night.
Justice and justice. Here comes the Judge – the Big One! Live by it.