Habakkuk also lived in a time of injustice—and just like him, we must not look away.
In the Old Testament, prophets were God’s spokespeople who told it to his people straight—we must pay attention. The Bible paints the prophets as those who jolt us awake and force us to see what is happening and what God says about such things.
As one scholar puts it: “The situation of a person immersed in the prophet’s words is one of being exposed to a ceaseless shattering of indifference, and one needs a skull of stone to remain callous to such blows.”
Prophets are the watchmen signaling with waving arms, often to people wanting to look away. Look up and see the evil done against others (Mic. 2:1–2), the prophets said. See the impact of your own choices on the vulnerable (Isa. 10:1–2). See the disobedience of God’s people (Zeph. 3:4). God sees the ways we’ve gotten things super wrong, guys, and he’s coming to do something about it. Get ready. We might not be paying attention, but he is.
It would be easy for some of us—and beneficial at times—to look away from the wrong done around us. We much prefer the aesthetics that way. Yet there are consequences to indifference.
We should not be surprised by discipline from the Lord if we choose not to pay attention to the discrepancy between our community’s actions and God’s righteous standard, just as the prophets warned in Israel. The Lord told them it was because they did not listen; it was because they didn’t pay attention to his words that they were sent into exile (Jer. 29:18–19).
All right, you may think, suppose we pay attention to the injustice and brokenness around us, even when we want to look away. Then what? Do we acknowledge it, then put on a happy face? What do we do with anger, …