Habakkuk 2:1-5; 3:17-19
Habakkak lived in a day in which wicked men ruled Judah. He saw sin go unpunished. He saw the righteous trodden down by the unrighteous. He saw God’s law impugned.
When was this day? Scholars are uncertain but believe that it was just prior to or just after the reign of King Josiah. Josiah ruled from 641 BC to 610 BC.
The first two chapters of Habakkuk are a dialogue between the prophet and God. Proper understanding of the text before us requires a knowledge of the full exchange between Habakkuk and God.
Habakkuk was upset. He cried out to God seeking an answer (1:1-4). God answered. God would use the Chaldeans to bring judgment. The judgment would come in the form of a sudden, swift, overwhelming military force that would possess the land and take many captives. God told Habakkuk that the Chaldean king would wrongly attribute his victory to his god.
The prophet then questioned God’s use of the ungodly Chaldeans to punish the more godly nation of Judah. After questioning the Lord, Habakkuk states, “. . . (I) will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”
Habakkuk voiced his concern that he will be subject to correction because he had challenged God. Instead of correction, God issues the command: “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.” God does not want His answer hidden. He does not hide His ways from men. God rewards those who seek the truth by giving them the truth they seek.
God stated that there is an appointed time at which the things that He has declared shall come to be. Of this appointed time, God states, “though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” To men, God’s appointed time will appear to be past due and perhaps an unkept promise, but to God, the appointed time shall come without delay.
In verse 4, there are two classes of people: the lifted up and the just. God identifies five characteristics of the lifted up in verse 5. They are drunkeness, pride, restlessness, greed, and power mongering. The Lord uses only one characteristic to describe the just. The just shall live by faith.
The lifted up are not just in God’s eyes. They are motivated by indulgence, self image, unsatisfied needs, a desire for more, and a need to exalt themselves. These characteristics contrast sharply with the one characteristic of the just. The just live by faith — faith in God to fulfill His every promise.
In God’s sight, men are either just or unjust. The unjust look to themselves, while the just look to God in faith. The unjust trust in their own works, while the just trust in God’s works.
The just live by faith. Living by faith does not mean living a life devoid of works. Faith produces works. Christians profess to live by faith. Works which are generated by faith are of God. Works of the flesh are not of God.
In the closing verses of his book, Habakkuk reflects upon that which he has seen. He is distressed by that which would come. Jerusalem would fall to the king of the Chaldeans and the land of Judah would be left desolate. These things would happen, but, he would rejoice in the Lord.
Habakkuk had prayed for revival. God answered with a vision in which He communicated a double message: Remember what I have done and be reminded that My will shall be done.
God’s answer was sufficient. Habakkuk declared, “I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
Habakkuk could rejoice because he was confident of the God of his salvation. As an act of faith, the prophet cast his cares upon the one who cares for him.
Habakkuk could declare victory in God because he lived by faith. The prophet knew “God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.” Habakkuk claimed the promises of God. Christians are called to demonstrate a similar faith. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
Let us live the living faith that God has freely given.