Sunday, November 13, 2011

Habakkuk: God's Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

It is often pointed out by those in the Reformed tradition that God's comprehensive sovereignty is taught side-by-side with a strong sense of human responsibility.  The writers of Scripture do not try to play off these concepts against each other.  They affirm both realities without compromising either one.  Classic texts appealed to are Acts 2.23; Acts 4.27-28; and Isaiah 10.5-7, 15.  In Habakkuk this dynamic is manifest.

Habakkuk 1.5-6 the Lord speaks:
Look  among the nations! Observe!  Be astonished!  Wonder!  Because I am doing something in your days--you would not believe if you were told.  For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs.
Here we see God's sovereignty active in raising up the Chaldeans.  The Chaldeans (Babylonians) are a wicked nation and yet God is the active agent in raising them up to discipline his people (Judah).  This matches up with the realities found in Isaiah 10 listed above.  God raises up this nation and yet a few verses later this nation is held responsible.

Habakkuk 1.11 speaks to the Chaldeans' responsibility in very direct language:
Then they will sweep through like the wind and pass on.  But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god. 
The twin themes of God's sovereignty and human responsibility are set side-by-side in this context without compromising either reality.