Friday, December 20, 2019

The Dilemma of Habakkuk

"Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do You tolerate the treacherous? Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" (Habakkuk 1:13).

Josiah was the last good king of Judah. With the help of Jeremiah and other prophets, Josiah led Judah in a national reformation, but sadly the revival was short-lived. After his death, the nation sank back into even worse violence and injustice than before. The prophet Habakkuk tells us that he came before God and complained. He asked God to arise and defend the righteous poor (Habakkuk 1:1–4) who were trying to live godly lives amid the corruption of Jewish society.

God replied to Habakkuk that He was indeed going to take action. He was going to raise up the Babylonians, and they were going to conquer and devastate Judah (Habakkuk 1:5–11). In essence, Habakkuk questioned further, “I admit that we are bad and deserve judgment,” but the Babylonians are worse than we are. How can You, O God, allow the wicked to destroy those who are relatively more righteous?” (Habakkuk 1:12–17).

God replied that indeed He was going to use the Babylonians to punish Judah, but that He would then punish the Babylonians for their wickedness. The Babylonians were going to devour all the nations (Habakkuk 2:5), but they would be utterly devastated when it was their turn for judgment (Habakkuk 2:6–19, esp. v. 16).

Meanwhile, “the righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4), because in spite of appearances, “the LORD is in His holy temple” (Habakkuk 2:20). What does it mean to live by faith? It does not mean merely believing in God. Rather, it means believing God, believing what He says, and acting in terms of it. For Habakkuk and his generation, and for us, it means that in the middle of the confusing events of history we are to trust God and rely on Him.

Habakkuk 2:4 implies that if a person has faith—that is, if he lives faithfully, he will find life. The New Testament quotes this sentence several times affirming that life and salvation come through faith, not through works. Habakkuk was confronted by a looming national disaster. He was looking at social, cultural, and possibly personal death. In the midst of this, life and salvation were found in God. The way to obtain that life and salvation from God is by living faithfully with Him.

Living faithfully, demonstrating trust, and practicing the real lordship of Christ is a way of living life in the presence of God, under His authority and to His glory. Adopt this concept as an operative principle in your walk with Christ.