by PJ Salas
ʺ… the just will live by faith.ʺ Habakkuk 2:4.
There are those who view the Old Testament as being different from the New Testament; that God in the Old Testament is different from God in the New Testament. This is not true; and the above verse makes that clear. It has always been, since the fall of humanity, a faith based relationship with God. By faith, we live in His will and His ways.
Message of Faith
The message of Habakkuk, the Old Testament prophet, is one of faith. It is at a time of great rebellion and wickedness amidst God's people, a sinful nation. Interestingly, Habakkuk’s message is one of hope, as well as truth and alarm.
Habakkuk is weary of the sins of his people, grieved for their lack of love and care for God and His ways. He cries out to God in bewilderment as to how long this can go on. God’s response to the condition of His people is correction, captivity for seventy years in Babylon. Habakkuk is overcome with sadness for his people, that it has come to this; but God encourages Habakkuk, and reminds him that the just live by faith.
The Prophet’s Response
In chapter two of the prophet’s book, Habakkuk responds to God with these words: “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and how I will answer when I am corrected.” Habakkuk 2:1.
This should be the response of all people for all time. This is faith in action; and in fact, in verse four God emphasis what Habakkuk expresses, the just will live by faith.
The Judeans were living in sin, harrowing, heinous sin. They turned their backs on God repeatedly through the decades and centuries, time and time again. And yet they were recipients of the grace of God over and over. The Lord is truly merciful. However, there are times when God must step in and cut out the cancerous poison of sin from our lives, for it progressively advances to death.
God’s response to Habakkuk is interesting to say the least: He responds by saying the just will live by faith. Why is this God’s response? Because, in all matters of life, faith is necessary, and this is most especially true when all seems hopeless and lost.
Their Problem Our Problem
The problem of Judah is the problem of God’s people today; we are not living with faith in God. We live with faith in humanity, in things, in culture, and in human reasoning, and the result is our will and our way, ever spiraling downward.
Correction for Our Good
Our Creator so loves us that it is painful for Him to see us destroy ourselves; He hates our continual inclination to our own destruction. He loves us so much that He opens wide His arms of tender compassion, and ever shows us His grace, His generous and merciful favor. He corrects us for our good that we may learn what it means to live goodly and right lives, that we stop hurting ourselves, and stop hurting others.
Habakkuk’s name means to embrace, and that is exactly what he did; Habakkuk embraced his Savior and clung to Him no matter what was coming; his trust, his faith was completely in God.
God Brings Good
So it is for the people of God today; we are to embrace our Savior, cling to Him no matter what comes our way. We must realize and know that we serve a loving God who cares deeply about us; and when affliction and suffering come into our lives, He is there with us, helping us, and bringing good out of it.
Whether we suffer because we have done something to bring on that suffering, or whether we suffer because of the sinful world in which we live, in either instance, it is God who brings good, and gets us through (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Faith is an Action Word
Like Habakkuk we may be overwhelmed with the correction and suffering, yet we know, in all things it is for good to those who love God, called for His purposes (Romans 8:28). And it is our faith that keeps us on track.
It is in the daily battles, moment by moment struggles, that our faith is called to action. Faith is not a lifeless word, it is a verb, an action word that requires us to put into play our trust in God, no matter what we are dealing with, no matter the pain or struggle.
It is in the moments of life, when wrong thinking comes to mind, that we must resist by faith in God. It is in the times of discouragement and dismay that we actively choose to believe in God and His promises. Firmly we place our faith in Him, embracing our Savior, clinging tightly to Him, remembering He does not leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
We must call out to God, cry out to Him for the help we need, and not look to the outside; but rather, we cling to God. On God we need to lean; in Him we put our trust. Steadfastly we keep faith in Him, knowing deep within that God is with us, and He will not disappoint us.
Need to Remember
We should not forget that Jesus is the One who suffered for us, that we might learn how to live in the difficult times, in the times of correction, and learn to be obedient children of our Lord and Savior.
Jesus Himself suffered that He should learn obedience (Hebrews 5:8). So much more, we, who are sinful, suffer that we may learn to obey and live uprightly, not in harmful, destructive ways to others, and to ourselves.
When correction comes, in whatever form it shows itself, it is in these times that we learn to obey, and act firmly on our faith in God. By faith we know and believe, and trust our Lord. We remember all the times God has been with us, and all the blessings He granted us. We recall His Word filled with promises of future hope; especially that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), even in our darkest hour, even when we have brought on the horrible consequences.
Live by Faith
God holds out His hand to us and invites us to leave the sin behind, to walk with Him in the warmth of His love, to walk in the light of His grace and peace, to trust Him with our lives, and live our faith in Him.
ʺ…the just live by faith.ʺ Habakkuk 2:4.