Social Justice Project #12

What does the Bible say about justice?

Part 8: The Minor Prophets: Habakkuk

In the Hebrew Scriptures, prophets spoke for God, delivering His message to the two nations of Judah and Israel. They called the people to return to God and described the future penalty for failure to do so.

Sixty-two times in the seventeen prophetic books justice is mentioned. We know very little about Habakkuk except from the book which bears his name. He prophesied in the seventh century before Christ. Two verses in his prophecy mention justice, both in the first chapter.

Habakkuk is arranged in a series of prayers and answers by Yahweh. In the first, the prophet asks God why things were going badly for the people. He heaps blame on those who are in leadership who pervert justice and “restrict the righteous.” They, by their action, make the administration of law, and judgement, of no regard (Hab. 1:4).

The Babylonians, or Chaldeans, will come, Yahweh tell Habakkuk. God has brought them to this position. The Chaldeans rely on themselves and their own military power to define justice, or judgement (Hab. 1:7). They also worship their own strength. They will exercise judgement on the rebellious people. Ultimately, there is only one God and Habakkuk rejoices in this fact (Hab. 3:18-19).

These usages are consistent with the established definition of justice.

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