"So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted. (Habakkuk 1:4)
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk was discouraged with what he saw amongst God’s people. Carnality abounded, evil flourished, and holiness stood neglected. He saw little difference between the people of God and the people of the world. To him, the law was paralyzed, meaning the word of God did not affect the people of God. He saw the Bible as ineffective in the lives of ancient Israel, lifeless and cold, unable to work in their midst. In his pride, Habakkuk was slipping into the sins, not of the prodigal, but of the older brother. Sins of spiritual pride and superiority.
Habakkuk, however, was in for a major surprise, for God was working behind the scenes of human history to revive the faith of his beloved children. At the conclusion of his prophetic ministry, Habakkuk would sing, “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines…yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation” (Habakkuk 3:17-18). God brought him to a place where, even if he could not see fruitfulness amongst God’s people, he would trust the LORD and take joy in him.
I want to point out, for every believer or ministry leader or pastor-teacher who might feel it so, the word of God is not paralyzed. It is living and active. It is sharper than a double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It is accomplishing the work for which it has been sent (Isaiah 55:11). As you read it, as you memorize it, as you teach it, God’s word works in the lives of those who receive it. Yes, the birds of the air are snatching up the word sown by the wayside. Yes, the stones in the earth keep it from taking root. And yes, the thorns and thistles choke it out. But the seed of the word will and does find good soil. Then, it bears fruit thirty, sixty, and one hundred fold.
Do not say to yourself, “All this Bible reading and teaching and study is for naught. I read a study about the state of the church. The bible is paralyzed. It does nothing.” Don’t enter into that error. We do not have to add to or adapt the Word. We don’t have to make it fruitful. It is working. It is moving. It lives. It comes from the God of all flesh, the infinite and glorious Creator-God who always is and always will be. He is eternal and majestic, and His word is unlike anything humanity has ever beheld. High and wonderful, his book is worthy of our attention and concentration. We don’t have to muck it up by adding to it, subtracting from it, or making it seem as if it is an unknowable work requiring a Ph.D. to understand. There aren’t three or four brilliant scholars who really “get” the Bible, while everyone else has missed it for the last four thousand years. No, the word is not paralyzed.
Though the hearts of man might be paralyzed, the Word of God is not. Let us read it. Let us preach it. Let us study it. For the infinite God has decided to reveal himself to finite humanity, and his word is a major way he accomplishes that purpose.