Judgment and Mercy

Stephen Shaffer


In the midst of the years revive it . . . (v. 2)

Courtrooms are designed for judgment. The responsibility of the judge or jury is to pronounce judgment on the accused. On occasions when someone is convicted of a crime, they may plead with the judge for mercy. When it comes to their sentencing, they receive either that, or judgment.

Habakkuk prays for judgment and mercy. Throughout the book of Habakkuk, God has promised judgment. Judgment first on Judah for unfaithfulness, and then on the Chaldeans for their oppression. In his prayer, Habakkuk appeals to God’s past judgment that has been tempered by mercy. He calls upon God to “revive” the work he had done before (v. 2). He speaks of the exodus, where plagues followed at God’s heels and God shook the nation of Egypt. In the exodus, Egypt was judged, but it was also where God was merciful and led his people out of Egypt. Habakkuk ends his prophecy with a prayer that God would again temper his judgment with mercy.

God answered Habakkuk’s prayer. Even as the people were judged and sent into exile, God brought them home again. When we plead for God’s justice and mercy, we are answered as well. In Jesus Christ, God has given both judgment and mercy. Jesus Christ took the judgment of sin upon himself and we receive mercy. Habakkuk’s prayer finds its ultimate answer in Jesus Christ.


Lord, thank you for your mercy in Jesus Christ. Amen.