2016-03-22 - Habakkuk
God's Timing and Living by Faith
God is giving Habakkuk a vision, one that essentially confirms his assessment of Babylon and reassures him God has a completely accurate view of who these people are. He gives a vision which is to be written and given to the Jews. This vision is to be a comfort. It is a promise that their enemy Babylon will be vanquished. Even in the midst of God’s judgment, the message is: God is in control, and he will bring justice on an evil people. The purpose of God’s discipline is to restore His own, not to destroy them.
There are a number of familiar principles found in these first few verses. First, God waits on His own time, to act. We noted this previously, when we were reminded that God’s ways are not our ways. There will be an end to the Babylonian oppression, in God’s own time. Here is another example of God moving in His own way/time:
“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
Remember, while Israel and Judah fell under discipline, God has promised that the nation will one day be restored, reestablished and will turn to Him. The Church has never replaced Israel and never will. Praise the Lord that He will heal His people, and because He will, we also can have confidence in our own salvation. God is faithful.
Next, God contrasts two peoples. He presents a phrase that will be familiar to the saints of all ages, “The righteous/just will live by faith.” Here in the Old Testament, we clearly see that salvation is a product of God’s mercy - and not works. In fact, it is this truth that is moved from here into the New Testament.
Of course it isn’t just being saved that is identified here, but we are also called to live in the reality of our salvation.
“But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
So, the righteous live by faith, but this hardly describes the Babylonians. God goes on to note their sin, the product of their fallen nature. This is first referred to in verse four, where the Babylonian is called “puffed-up.” They are self-impressed. And as such, they are never satisfied with what they have. This vanity drives their victories. It will also lead to their destruction, for they have become their own gods. What are the kind of things that become our gods?
To be continued.
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.