Habakkuk 1:13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
For this verse, we are content to focus on the glorious holiness of God and trust in His sovereignty. You can probably spend less than 15 minutes and read through the entire book of Habakkuk for a more in depth understanding. That is time better spent than reading this blog, to be sure! What are you missing if you do? Is there another tab on your computer with Facebook or MySpace or ESPN or something else you are wishing to get back to? Contemplate and study God’s Word, dear reader!
Let’s deal with the first part of the verse, Habakkuk 1:13 “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.” Wow. Looking at this simply (the best way to interpret scripture), we can see that Habakkuk is saying that God is so holy that His eyes are too pure to even look upon evil. This part of the verse is about our utter depravity and His incomprehensible Holiness. I’ll quickly dispose of the notion that there is anything that God “doesn’t see.” This verse is not an admission that God is not omniscient; He is all-knowing. This is a common practice employed in the bible called anthropomorphizing. God, being so different and set apart from us, has chosen in his wisdom to reveal himself to us in terms we can comprehend. To imply that there is something God doesn’t know is sinful, so how do we reconcile that he cannot look upon wrong? Does His “not looking” imply that He is unaware of it? Or does it limit His power, which many believe must be infinite for him to be God?
Certainly not! God’s power is perfect, meaning that he possesses sufficient power to effect His will. It is not limited by any outside force, but it is limited, or more likely “restrained,” by the good pleasure of His will. So throw away the “Can God build a fence he cannot jump over?” or “Can God lie?” arguments for the impossibility of His infinite power. He will not violate His own nature or Holiness. He will not violate His perfect will!
Have you ever seen something so horrifying that you must look away? For some people, just a drop of blood makes them queasy. Others turn away from movies when they see violence. Some hard-hearted men actually enjoy the depravity depicted by Hollywood. The point is that the God of the universe is so utterly, perfectly sinless, that He desires NOT to look upon a single sin. Habakkuk is pleading with God at this time to destroy the evil around him. He is appealing to his knowledge that God hates sin so much he cannot look upon it to beg God to end the wicked uprising of the ungodly people around him. He is questioning God, saying WHY do You allow all this evil in the world. Not a new question at all!
Look at Habakkuk’s question: Habakkuk 1:13 b: why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he? The point of this verse is not what God sees or doesn’t see; the point of this verse, even this book is to direct the reader to oft hated doctrine of the sovereignty of God in all things. There is a false doctrine, dear Christian, that will tell you there is a struggle for good and evil in the world. It manifests itself in nearly every movie we ever see and make believe tale. It will tell you that evil and good are like a yin and yang, two sides of a different coin, in fact. This satanic doctrine will lead you to believe that God is not “allowing” evil, but rather that God is battling evil. In essence, this falsehood states that evil is outside God’s control, even though many will profess God will conquer. It will allow you to believe that Satan, all the demons and any other evil force gets its power from a source other than God. But the Bible is clear that there is ONE sovereign over all. One God, eternally existent as the three coequals, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: who, in his infinite wisdom (Ps 147:5) has chosen to allow wickedness, sin, rebellion and utter hatred for Him and His laws; who is the ONLY source of all power. (e.g., John 19:11 ) Habakkuk wants to know why, and it comes out more like a complaining accusation than a real question. But let’s give the man of God the benefit that 1) maybe he was really “just asking,” and 2) that he is not alone in his unbelief. Are we really any different from Habakkuk? Do you spend every minute acting as if you know God is in control? Do your utterances belie dissatisfaction with the way God has allowed things to transpire?
“If we cannot believe God when circumstances seem to be against us, we do not believe Him at all.” Charles Spurgeon
“As sure as God puts His children in the furnace he will be in the furnace with them” Charles Spurgeon
So keep in the context, Habakkuk whines a little it seems; Yes. And this is wrong (God hates complaining (Philippians 2:14), but he later gets the revelation that the righteous shall live by faith! (Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.) God commands that His people trust Him in all things, not just for fire-insurance! And he completes his tiny (compared to many) yet significant contribution to the eternal Word of God with Habakkuk 3:18 “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. Yes dear brother or sister, you can rejoice in the Lord. Take joy in the God of your salvation. Hate sin and unrighteousness, yes; but if the Lord wills it to continue, and you shall taste death before He returns, it is your responsibility AND privilege to be OK with that. Enjoy each moment that you wish judgment on the evil in this world that you are not the one to be judged. Rejoice the right judgment for your sins has been imputed to Christ alone, who is sufficient for your atonement.
When you memorize this verse, you can memorize just the first part if you want, but remember the meaning and context. God is Holy, beyond comprehension; and He is sovereign, in ALL things.