Ancient Answers to Modern Questions

Ancient Answers to Modern Questions

Why doesn’t God punish evil? This is one of the greatest questions people have today, but this isn’t a new question. This has been one asked for thousands of years, since near the beginning of time. While this is a prevalent modern question, we can find an ancient answer to our question- in the places where people asked this question of God.

In about 600 BC, a prophet of God named Habakkuk asked this very question (Job asked a similar question to his friend 1,000 years earlier[1].) Habakkuk lived in a time when his country,Judah,practiced great evil under their king Jehoiakim. Violence was widespread throughout the nation and Jehoiakim persecuted God’s followers, yet God had not punished the evil that was occuring. Habakkuk didn’t understand- why hadn’t God punished these evildoers[2]?. As a prophet he was so close to God that he was able to speak directly with him; even a prophet of God didn’t have the answer to one of the world’s greatest questions. God had his answer for Habakkuk: “I will send Babylon to punish Judah”[3].

Habakkuk was dissatisfied with this answer, because Babylon was a also a very evil (if not more so) nation. God had stated that he intended to use evil, in order to punish evil. Habakkuk expressed his discontentment to God, because he didn’t like the consequence of Judah’s evil to bring about more evil[4]. So God replied back that he would also punish Babylon in time. The punishment for Judah would come some day in the near future. Several years later in 587 BC, Babylon invaded Judah. Similarly, in 539 BC Babylon was destroyed. At the time, Habakkuk did not know when these events would happen, but after finally accepting God’s way of punishment, he settled on patience for justice [5].

So why doesn’t God punish evil? Who is to say he doesn’t. Habakkuk dared to talk back to God[6], because the punishment in his context did not meet his expectations. Habakkuk did not see the punishment immediately in the exact way he wanted, nevertheless justice did occur. When we wonder why God doesn’t punish evil, do we consider maybe he does or will; in a way we don’t expect or desire? Even a country with greater immorality can be used by God to achieve the justice the way he sees fit. Yes, Habakkuk talked back- but this sin was used for God’s glory, so that we may have a tangible answer for the great question. This dialogue with God is classified as an “oracle[7] and God told him to write it [8]. This question was pondered long ago and is widespread today, but we have ancient wisdom to turn to for answers[9].

This is Part 1 of “Ancient Answers to Modern Questions” blog series- through the people who questioned God in the Bible, we can find answers to some of our greatest questions. Check out Part 2.

Ancient Answers

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  1. Job 24-Job 25 (Link)
  2. Hab 1:2-4 (Link)
  3. Hab 1:5-11 (Link)
  4. Hab 1:12--2:1 (Link)
  5. Hab 3:16, 3:1-15, 3:17-19 (Link)
  6. Rom 9:20 (Link)
  7. Hab 1:1 (Link)
  8. Hab 2: (Link)
  9. Romans 15:4 (Link)