October 11, 2013
READ: Habakkuk 2:9-17
I will wait to see what the Lord says and how He will answer my complaint (v.1).
As we bumped slowly down the rain-ravaged, two-track ‘road’, we inched past weathered dwellings where skittish chickens dodged barefoot children. Simple fences framed gardens that sprouted low-yield corn and tomatoes. Wiry farmers prodded lumbering buffaloes as they tilled larger fields.
Suddenly a mansion, sprawling and fortress-like, loomed in the distance. It was the mayor’s house. But he seldom visited this rural palace or his impoverished people. He pursued his lavish life in a city far from his isolated domain. His people needed electricity, water and basic health care. But he couldn’t be bothered. Even worse, in a nearby area, we knew of another provincial leader who used mass murder to consolidate his hold on political power.
The prophet Habakkuk asked hard questions of God about this kind of injustice. Violence and oppression had overrun his land, so he lamented, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But You do not listen!” (Habakkuk 1:2). God replied, “What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly!” God further warned, “You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger. But by the murders you committed, you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives” (2:9-10).
We don’t have answers for all the injustice in the world. But we can be assured of this: God wants us to do our part to work for justice. It’s a theme that resonates throughout the prophets’ writings (Isaiah 58:3-7; Micah 6:8) and is a key theme of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
God will one day put all things right. Until then, His plan is to use us to work for peace and justice. —Tim Gustafson
What does Isaiah 58 say about oppression?
Do you have any habits or lifestyle choices that oppress others in some way? What are three ways to work for justice in your local community?