The Just Shall Live by Faith
The dialogue between Habakkuk and God wrestles with the fundamental question of “How can God remain silent in the face of evil and even use wicked instruments as His tools to discipline His own people?” The prophet seeks deliverance for the people of Judah; but God responds with the promise of judgment in the form of the wicked Babylonian empire. We see the struggle in Habakkuk’s mind as he moves from a state of perplexity and confusion as he openly questions the wisdom of God to a settled conviction that the just must live by faith. God remains sovereign as the Righteous Judge and works out His plan according to His timetable. We need to wait on the Lord with perseverance with the expectation of long term deliverance and justice.
The Long Term Conviction of Faith Exults in the God of Our Salvation Despite the Perplexing Questions of the Pain and Apparent Injustice of Our Present Circumstances
Habakkuk 3:2 “In wrath remember mercy.”
Habakkuk 2:4 “The just shall live by faith.”
I. PERPLEXING PARADOX — PERVERTED JUSTICE?? (CHAP. 1)
THE PROPHET WRESTLES WITH THE APPROPRIATENESS OF GOD USING THE WICKED CHALDEANS TO JUDGE HIS OWN PEOPLE —
DIVINE DISCIPLINE CAN BE PACKAGED IN STRANGE WAYS
A. (:2-4) COMPLAINT OF THE PROPHET — DELAY OF THE LORD IN RESTORING JUSTICE TO THE LAND –
THE LAMENT OF A DISTURBED SOUL
B. (:5-11) CONSTERNATION OF THE PROPHET — DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD BY USING CRUEL CHALDEANS AS INSTRUMENT OF JUDGMENT –
THE ASTONISHMENT OF A SHOCKED PROPHET
C. (:12-17) COMFORT/CONFUSION OF THE PROPHET – DEPENDENCE ON THE LORD DESPITE PERPEXITY OF INCOMPREHENSIBLE TACTICS – –
THE HOPE OF A PERPLEXED PROPHET
II. PERMANENT PRINCIPLE – GOD IS A RIGHTEOUS JUDGE (CHAP. 2)
(MAKE NO MISTAKE: THE WICKED WILL BE PUNISHED)
PERPLEXITY REGARDING GOD’S WAYS AND GOD’S TIMING SHOULD NEVER SHAKE OUR FAITH IN GOD’S RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS OR
FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PROMISES
(:1) INTRODUCTION: THE PROPHET WAITS FOR A RESPONSE
A. (:2-3) DON’T BE SHORT-SIGHTED OR IMPATIENT REGARDING THE LORD’S LONG TERM PROGRAM –
PROPHETIC REVELATION PROMISES THE CERTAINTY OF FULFILLMENT ACCORDING TO GOD’S TIMETABLE
B. (:4-5) KEY PRINCIPLE: GOD WILL ALWAYS MAKE A DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE PROUD AND THE RIGHTEOUS
III. PERSEVERING PERSPECTIVE – GOD WILL DELIVER HIS PEOPLE (CHAP. 3)
THE PERSEVERING PERSPECTIVE COMBINES THE SHORT TERM PAIN OF DISCIPLINE WITH THE TRIUMPHANT RESOLVE TO REJOICE IN
GOD’S LONG TERM DELIVERANCE
A. (:1-2) CHANGED PERSPECTIVE OF THE PROPHET –
COMBINES ACCEPTANCE OF DISCIPLINE WITH HOPE FOR THE FUTURE
B. (:3-15) HISTORICAL REMEMBRANCES OF GOD IN HIS MAJESTIC GLORY AND SOVEREIGN POWER –
COMBINES THE OUTPOURING OF GOD’S WRATH WITH THE REPEATED DELIVERANCE OF HIS PEOPLE
C. (:16-19) TRIUMPHANT RESOLVE OF THE PROPHET –
COMBINES THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD WITH THE UPLIFTING RESOURCES OF THE JOY AND STRENGTH OF THE LORD
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To understand that God does not always answer our prayers in the way that we would like.
• To learn what it means to walk by faith in the midst of perplexity and confusion.
• To deepen our conviction in the sovereignty of God as the Righteous Judge – even when He chooses to use wicked instruments to fulfill His will.
• To wrestle with the age-old question of “How can a Good God allow evil in this world and why do bad things happen to good people?”
• To gain perspective into the way that God disciplines His own beloved people and the purposes for such discipline.
• To instill perseverance as wait on the Lord for His timing to fulfill His purposes.
David Malick: The surprising judgment which the Lord is going to bring upon wicked Judah through the evil, idolatrous Babylonians does not compromise His goodness, but engenders faith because He will one day also judge the Babylonians and deliver His people as their mighty warrior
Ray Stedman: The prophet Habakkuk was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, who is known to us as the weeping prophet, because he ministered to the Southern Kingdom of Judah in the darkest days of its national history, just before the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem and carried the people into captivity. Habakkuk (his name means, “the embracer”) also was in Jerusalem at that time, so he too saw all that went on.
John Piper: The situation which Habakkuk faces is the imminent invasion of the southern kingdom of Judah by the Chaldeans (who are the same as the Babylonians). This invasion eventually happened at the end of the sixth century B.C. and Jerusalem fell to Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. The Lord revealed to Habakkuk beforehand that Judah was going to be punished for her sin by the Chaldeans. Unlike Joel and Zephaniah and Amos, Habakkuk does not even mention the possibility that destruction could be averted. He does not call for national repentance. It is too late. Instead, he predicts the destruction of Judah and beyond that the doom of the Chaldeans themselves. And he promises that the only way to preserve your life through the judgment is by faith. So even though destruction is decreed for the nation, there is hope for individuals who hold fast their confidence in God.
J. Vernon McGee: This little book opens in gloom and closes in glory. It begins with a question mark and closes with an exclamation point. Habakkuk is a big WHY? Why God permits evil is a question that every thoughtful mind has faced. I think that this book is the answer to that question. Will God straighten out the injustice of the world? This book answers that question. Is God doing anything about the wrongs of the world? This book says that He is. In my opinion it is possible to reduce the doubt of Thomas in the New Testament, of Habakkuk in the Old Testament, and of modern man into the one word: Why? It is the fundamental question of the human race.
Freeman: The style of Habakkuk is unique. Instead of addressing the people directly as the Lord’s spokesman, Habakkuk imparts his message as a dialogue between himself and God based upon certain questions which perplex him. The prophecy is divided into two parts. The first part, consisting of chapters 1-2, is the dialogue between the prophet and God concerning the Lord’s announcement of the approaching judgment upon sinful Judah at the hands of the Babylonians. The second section, chapter 3, is a prayer in the form of a psalm. The psalm is a remembrance of the mighty works of the Lord in the past for His people, and a prayer for the Lord to revive His work on behalf of Israel.