Habakkuk – Justification by Faith
by John C. Westervelt
Habakkuk was a prophet of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. He began prophesying a few years before Nebuchadnezzar first invaded Judah in 605 B.C. and took Daniel and others into captivity in Babylon.
Habakkuk trusted God, but he had some unanswered questions. Habakkuk asked, “How long will I call out to You, and You seem not to hear? Why do You make me look on the iniquity, wickedness, destruction, and violence of the people of Judah? Why do You let the law be ignored and the wicked hem in the righteous so that justice is perverted?”
God responded to Habakkuk. “Look among the nations. Observe. Be astonished. Wonder. Because I am doing something you would not believe. I am raising up the Chaldeans to overthrow Judah.”
The Chaldeans were a Semitic people who became dominant in the Babylonian Empire. God described these people in His dialogue with Habakkuk. “These fierce and impetuous people march throughout the earth to seize places which are not theirs. Their justice and authority originate with themselves. Their horsemen fly like an eagle swooping down to devour. All of them come for violence. They heap up rubble to climb over the walls of the cities. But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.”
Habakkuk had more questions. “Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God? Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. Why are You silent when the Chaldeans swallow up those more righteous than they?”
The Lord began His response to Habakkuk by telling him to record the answers on tablets of stone, so all the people could read them. Then the Lord said, “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” Six hundred and fifty years later, Paul would quote these words when writing to the Romans and Galatians to explain the doctrine of justification by faith to the early Christians.
God used the Chaldeans to take the Jews into captivity for their sins, but in due time the Chaldeans experienced a worse fate. The Lord spoke to the Chaldeans. “You cut down the forests of Lebanon – now you will be cut down. What profit was there in worshiping all your man-made idols? What fools you were to trust what you yourselves had made. Woe to those who commanded their lifeless wooden idols to save them. Can images speak for God? But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”
Habakkuk, having heard God’s word about the future of Judah, prayed. “O Lord, now I have heard Your report, and I worship You in awe for the fearful things You are going to do. In this time of our deep need, begin again to help us, as You did in years gone by. Show us Your power to save us. In Your wrath, remember mercy.”
Habakkuk Romans 1:17 Galatians 3:11
Copyright 2004 by John C. Westervelt
Return to Table of Contents