Habakkuk 2:4 …but the righteous shall live by his faith.
I read this scripture this morning in my personal bible study. Although I have heard it many times and read over it, I decided to dig a bit deeper and ask the Lord for wisdom to understand the fullness of its meaning.
In my own words, here is what I discovered after reading the scriptures. Habakkuk lived during one of the most critical times for the people of Judah. There was war surrounding them and threats of a possible invasion, so to say the least, Habakkuk was distressed and afraid.
Habakkuk, a profit whose Hebrew name means “Embrace” was in doubt and turmoil over the affairs of God’s people and all of the violence and trouble he saw around him.
The prophet begins the book in utter despair. He basically says: “God, what are you doing? Why are you allowing people to take advantage of the less fortunate and the righteous? Why are you being so passive and not answering my prayers? Even the law, these people do not respect and anything they determine to be correct is perverse due to their sinful mindset. Furthermore, why do you place me in this position so I can witness all of this sin and trouble?”
That is a pretty deep prayer. I can only imagine the heaviness on Habakkuk’s heart to the point of crying out to God the way he does. And then, after he pours his heart out, the Lord replies, and boy does He reply.
He tells Habakkuk that He is going to do something pretty amazing, something Habakkuk himself would have a hard time believing even if the Lord told him. The Lord then goes on to say that He will use the Chaldeans (sometimes referred to as Babylonians) to come and take away power from the Israelites that are acting wickedly.
Now lets pause for a moment to get the scoop on these so-called Chaldeans. The Chaldeans were people who lived in southern Babylonia. Their army was a hardcore, blood-shedding, not so nice army. They were known for invading towns and they did not do so in “The name of the Lord”. As sighted in the book of Habakkuk, they had no allegiance to the God of Israel. Their god was their “self-power”, their ability to sweep through nations like the wind and keep moving.
This is what the bible says about them: “…that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.
They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand.
They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” Habakkuk 1:6-11
These are the people that God tells Habakkuk He is going to use to stop the violence and unrighteous behavior of His people. Habakkuk is taken aback. He prays again to God and questions God’s methods. In essence, he is saying: “Why God, why would you use wicked men for your plans. I don’t understand you!” Habakkuk questions God based on His own nature in verse thirteen of chapter one. Habakkuk knows that God’s very nature cannot let Him see iniquity and evil going on and not punish the guilty ones. He throws this fact into his prayer and then sits around waiting for God to reply.
This is simply amazing to me. How often do we see a circumstance that is affecting us or hurting someone we love and we pray for God to intervene. Finally, when He answers us, the answer we get is not what we thought He would do. We continue to question Him and His plans. Yet the prophet Isaiah reminds us that God does not always act in ways we understand or deem correct when he writes “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
Yes, God is going to use a wicked army to call back His beloved people. He is going to let them be captured and endure many trails until they turn back to Him. At the same time, He is going to bring destruction to the invaders. But he also reveals something very beautiful to Habakkuk through Habakkuk’s own prayer. In chapter three verse thirteen we see a foretelling of the coming of the Messiah. The Hebrew word “Anointed” used in this text refers to Jesus’ coming as God’s anointed King from the line of David. It is the same Hebrew word mashiach from the root word mashach used in the book of Daniel, in chapter 9. This word means “to anoint.” In the book of Daniel, this word is primarily used to describe David’s anointed heir, the ultimate King of Israel. Unbeknownst to Habakkuk, this King is Jesus the Messiah.
Knowing all of this, Habakkuk asks God to have mercy during His time of wrath. Although he may not agree with or understand God’s ways, he finally just asks that God please work on the behalf of His people during the difficult years that are coming.
Habakkuk goes on to say that although destruction will fall upon the land, he knows that he can rejoice and have joy regardless of the circumstances around him. In just three short chapters, Habakkuk goes from complaining to confidence in the Lord. Although he knows that the land where he calls home will be invaded, he says: “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places”.
And so now we know that when the Lord said: “…but the righteous shall live by his faith” Habakkuk was absolutely sure because of what God was revealing to him. Despite the injustice and turmoil all around him, he had heard from Almighty God and although the difficulties were not going to end, he knew he had nothing to fear because he was walking uprightly with the Lord. Many many years would pass before the Messiah would appear to take on the sins of the world, yet Habakkuk was called to live by his faith in God.
Now my question for you is:
Are you going through a season of trouble and uncertainty in your life? Can you say with assurance “…but the righteous shall live by his faith?”
Remember that we are only a piece of a larger puzzle. God looks down from heaven and sees all of the pieces thrown in different directions. He sees our attempts to make pieces fit in places where they do not belong. But He wants us to know that He is in control of all things and we can trust that when His plan unfolds, the missing pieces to the puzzle will all appear and fit, to make a glorious picture worthy of praise. In the end, we may not understand His ways, but we can live by faith knowing that He is in control.
May you and yours be blessed – Mariana
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