Habakkuk 1:13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil 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?

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    Please ask more of a question than simply quoting a verse. What is your difficulty in understanding it? – curiousdannii Jan 18 at 3:49

According to the following two commentaries https://bibleapps.com/kad/habakkuk/1.htm Keil and Delitzsch

and https://bibleapps.com/barnes/habakkuk/1.htm Barnes notes, the idea is that God cannot "tolerate" the distress which the wicked man prepares for others. It has nothing to do with seeing with the eyes as was stated by Tony Chan.

I do disagree with the notion that God the Father for a moment turned His eyes away from Jesus while He was on the cross. And I understand this is based on Matthew 27:46.

The Father did not forsake His Son on that cross. The Son was the sin bearer according to 2 Corinthians 5:21. In other words, God the Father treated the "sinless" Christ as though He were a sinner. (John 3:14).

Also at 2 Corinthians 5:19 it says, "namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself." You also have the words of Jesus at John 16:32, "Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father IS WITH ME."

I maintain the Son "felt" forsaken just like David did at Psalm 22 as he was being hunted down by Saul. David complained or thought to himself, Psalm 22:11, "Be not far from me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help." David explains further from verses 12-21.

From verses 22-31 he praises God (vs25) for delivering him. Notice the next Psalm which is the famous Psalm 23. In short, I do not believe God the Father forsook His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ "felt" forsaken just like we all do at times.


The theme of Hab 1 is common in Scripture - Why do the wicked prosper? Ps 73 is devoted to the same topic. Note Ps 73:3 -

For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

The entire book of Job also debates the same matter but from a slightly different perspective.

Thus, it was well-known that God sees the wickedness of sinful men such as explicitly recorded in many places such as Ex 3:7, Ps 37:35, Jonah 1:2, Jer 23:11, 14, etc. In Hab 1:3, even the prophet complains about having to witness the evil around him.

Thus, Habakkak's comment in Hab 1:13 about God being "too pure to look upon evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing" is clearly a hyperbolic literary device. The prophet is clear saying that things are so bad, why don't you do something, God? The rest of hab 1:13 is:

So why do You [the LORD] tolerate the faithless? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

In Ps 74:10, 22, 23 we rread a similar theme –

How long, O God, will the enemy taunt You? Will the foe revile Your name forever? Rise up, O God; defend Your cause! Remember how the fool mocks You all day long. Do not disregard the clamor of Your adversaries, the uproar of Your enemies that ascends continually.

All these prophets were seeking to rouse God from an apparent inaction to defend the cause of righteousness and they used numerous figures of speech to do this. Habakkuk is no exception.

  • Well outlined. +1. Old Testament man only really had his own [natural] reasoning/understanding to lean on, and this response, here by Habakkuk, was not uncommon. – Dave Jan 17 at 21:32
  • @Dave 1. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' 2. 'Take not thy Holy Spirit from me' (David). The faithful and the spiritual had more than that which is of nature, whatever age they happened to live within. – Nigel J Jan 18 at 5:53

Habakkuk was frustrated and complained to God in 1:3

Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Observe the parallelism later in verse 13:

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; 
you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.

These two lines basically say the same thing. God knows everything. He does not need eyes to know something. This is an example of anthropomorphism. It is bringing God to the human level so that we can understand him better.

When the Son of God was dying on the Cross, there was a moment God the Father turned his eyes away from Jesus in Matthew 27:46

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

  • 'Forsaken' does not have the same meaning as 'out of sight'. – Nigel J Jan 18 at 5:49

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