Habakkuk: The Righteous Shall Live By His Faith.

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  • Habakkuk: The Righteous Shall Live By His Faith.

    Word of the Cross Bible Study – June 25th, 2014

    Perhaps of all the minor prophets, Habakkuk's prophecy is still applicable today. He asks the question that comes to mind when righteous individuals suffer the consequences of living in a sinful society. Is it fair that the righteous suffer due to the ungodliness of their neighbors? Why don't only the ungodly suffer for their acts of sin? Why must the innocent also suffer?

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ID:	1670Throughout history, it plays out again and again, when governments are corrupt, everyone suffers. When a nation suffers for its immorality, even those who have remained steadfast suffer the consequences of the immorality. We can see this all around us. Wars and conflict consume the nations. Many of God-fearing people live in apprehension amidst their crime-ridden neighborhoods. In some areas, drug addicts and gangs prey upon the innocent to support their lifestyles and habits. World-wide, biological diseases that are spread by sinful behavior find a way to affect even those who have never partaken in immoral acts which cause them. Corruption and fraud in government costs every citizen in different ways. Honesty becomes an outdated ethic. Moral principles and standards as revealed in the Scriptures, and those who choose to live by them, are regarded as foolish and mocked by the liberal entertainment and news media.

    What is in store for any nation facing such collapse? As things grow progressively worse, and society falls apart as institutions collapse, must the righteous also suffer with the guilty? The book of Habakkuk asks and answers that question as well as provides other details concerning the downfall of nations.

    Background to Habakkuk

    “The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw. O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save? Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.” (Habakkuk 1:1-4)

    Habakkuk was written around 612 to 606 B.C. A series of prophets had warned that the consequences of apostasy from God would ultimately lead to the downfall of the nation of Judah and captivity. Habakkuk writes just previous to the beginning of the fulfillment of these warnings. Chaldea, or Babylon, had been growing in power and spreading out to consume the other nations around it. The Assyrians, the ancient enemies of both Israel and Judah, had been conquered by the Chaldeans in 612 B.C. This, too, had been in accordance with the prophecies. As more nations fell to this new empire, it was drawing ever closer to Judah. Habakkuk's message is given just before Judah itself is invaded. The first invasions and the carrying away of the first group of Judah's population will occur in 605 B.C. Judah's fall will be complete in 586 B.C when Jerusalem is destroyed and the last deportation is made.

    The Reason for Judgment

    The book begins with Habakkuk complaining about the wickedness that pervades the land. In the first four verses he complains about the violence, iniquity, wickedness, destruction, strife, contention, lack of law, and perversion of justice in the land. His is a cry unto God to do something about it. He felt the same sorrow as he witnessed the corruption of Judah as any God-fearing citizens feel when he or she considers their own countries similar dilemma. We can well imagine a lump in Habakkuk's throat as he looks at the temple standing in Jerusalem but no longer used to glorify Jehovah. It would be much like hearing the National Anthem of our own country, seeing our flag fluttering in the breeze, and remembering the noble principles upon which our own nation was founded but which now seem to be discarded. Habakkuk thus asks, "O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?" It is said to be careful what you ask for because you may get it.

    God's Answer

    Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told. For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own." (Habakkuk 1:5, 6)

    The prophetic warnings had been coming for generations. The people had not heeded the words. There had been some good times under good leadership, but much of Judah's history had been like taking two steps backwards for every step forward as far as their spirituality and morality were concerned. Therefore the Lord tells Habakkuk that the time has come. Habakkuk had wanted the Lord to do something drastic, and the Lord informs Habakkuk that this has been His plan all along. He is raising up the Chaldeans to punish Judah for their infidelity.

    “They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards, more fierce than the evening wolves; their horsemen press proudly on. Their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swift to devour. They all come for violence, all their faces forward. They gather captives like sand. At kings they scoff, and at rulers they laugh. They laugh at every fortress, for they pile up earth and take it. Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!” (Habakkuk 1:8-10). Habakkuk had pleaded for the injustice and wickedness to cease in Judah, and God promises it shall for Judah will fall into the hands of Chaldea.

    Habakkuk's Objection

    You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13)

    It is important to see that Habakkuk's objection is based upon his belief in God's justice and righteousness. As wicked as Judah has become, Chaldea is much worse. How could God allow Judah to be punished by giving them into Chaldea's hands? At least there are a few righteous persons left in Judah. What will happen to them when the Chaldeans invade? And will not this be looked upon by the Chaldeans as some kind of reward? How is it that they can get by with being as wicked as they want to be and gain from it at the same time?

    The Lord's Assurances and Lessons to be Learned

    I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint." (Habakkuk 2:1) Habakkuk has stated his case and feels it is a pretty good one. He awaits an answer and it comes. He is told to write it down. “And the Lord answered me: 'Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.'” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)

    Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him." (2:4). The Lord knows that the Chaldeans are wicked. They are not conquerors because they are interested in doing the Lord's work and punishing Judah for their sin. They are conquerors because they are wicked, greedy and treacherous. The day will come when Babylon, after having served God's purpose, will itself be invaded, looted and destroyed. "The cup in the Lord's right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory." (see 2:6-17). Chaldea will get away with nothing as it seems. Likewise, there will be a day of reckoning for all who do wickedly. Even those today who suppose they are getting away with committing sin and mock those who choose to live righteously in Christ.

    But the righteous will live by his faith" (2:4b). Whatever happens, those who are righteous will live by their faith. Whether the Chaldeans come or not. Whether the moral climate improves or not, faith is preeminent among the faithful. In all circumstances, good or bad, the righteous continue to live by faith. Our faith is not tied to prosperity or poverty; sickness or health; the morality or lack of it in others. It is tied to our God and His word (Romans 10:17). Whatever happens to our own nation today, the righteous shall live by his faith.

    Yet I will exalt in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength..." (Habakkuk 3:18, 19). Habakkuk now understands. Come what may, He will continue to trust in God, even in the most terrible of storms. He will be secure and happy, even as his nation falls and everything he knows is swept away. He knows that even in the darkest hour, the righteous will never be forgotten by God. Whatever is in the future for our own nation, be sure to always remember that.

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