Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;Habakkuk 1:13 NIV
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?
Habakkuk is an interesting prophet. We know nothing about him or his calling, although he was likely a contemporary of Jeremiah. Much of this book is a series of dialogs between Habakkuk and God. Habakkuk complained twice to God about the wickedness and violence in the land. Why did God tolerate all of the evil in the land? Both times God answered that it would not go unpunished. And Habakkuk ultimately responded with a prayer of praise and commitment.
Habakkuk’s complaint in this verse is one that we might be tempted to make today. God is holy and pure. His nature is such that he cannot condone (look on) evil or tolerate wrongdoing. And yet evil and wrongdoing are rampant in the world. Some people use this “problem of evil” as an excuse to reject the God of the Bible. But Habakkuk did not do that. He did not question the existence or nature of God. But he could not reconcile what he saw with what he believed. I can sympathize with Habakkuk’s dilemma, and no doubt many other believers do as well.
God’s response to Habakkuk does not answer all of the objections we might have to why God might tolerate evil for now. But God does make clear to Habakkuk that a time of judgment is coming for those who enrich themselves at the expense of others. And so, like Habakkuk, we can rejoice in God regardless of our circumstances. And trust that he is not ignoring humanity’s wrongdoing regardless of how things appear. Judgment is coming.