Habakkuk: The Righteous will live by Faith
1:1-15, 2:4, 3:17-19 (Pastor Heo)
1 The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.
2 How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
The LORD’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. 6 I am raising up the Babylonians,that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; 9 they all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on— guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
12 LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die. You, LORD, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? 14 You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler. 15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. 16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. 17 Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?
2:4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —
3:17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
12 books of OT minor prophets
- Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
These are the “minor” prophets – this doesn’t mean less important, just relatively short books – small amount.
- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel = “Major” prophets because they each are very long (dozens of chapters).
Not much is known of Habakkuk, except that he was very faithful to cling to his God.
- In 3:17-19, “though [terrible things]… yet… I will rejoice in the Lord, … he is my strength…”
Do you have assurance of salvation? Then this is more than enough reason to be joyful, thankful to God in our surroundings.
Habakkuk – the name – appears only twice (chp 1:1 “an oracle…”) and chp 3:1 “a prayer/praise…”
Even though his name only appears two times in the whole Bible, the key verse is so so important that this key verse is repeated again in the NT 3 times. “The righteous will live by his faith…” (Hab. 2:4)
- the title of this sermon,
- the key verse,
- the theme of this book,
- and the whole Bible.
This short sentence is quoted 3 times in the NT:
- Romans 1:17 (this is a key verse in Romans) “17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written (Hab. 2:4): “The righteous will live by faith.””
- Galatians 3:11 “11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.””
- Hebrews 10:38 “38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.””
This is one of the greatest doctrines of Christianity: Justification by Faith (이신득의)
We must cry to God to receive blessing. She [baby in the audience] is a good model.
In conclusion, we will study about Justification by Faith in the second part of the sermon.
When is the time of this book?
In this book, there are only 3 chapters. There is no mention of a king, so it is not easy to guess the historical period, but we get a hint in chp 1:6 “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous…” This is a hint to get the time (620 BC?) This is a prediction of the coming Babylonian attack – Habakkuk lived in Jerusalem toward the end of the southern kingdom.
- Before Babylonia, Assyria was once the most powerful kingdom in ancient times 250-650BC. Then, Assyria started to decline rapidly and Babylonia started to rise up in world history.
- 612BC, Nineveh (capital) was overrun by Babylonia. Then moved the capital to Harran, and later Carchemish.
- The battle of Carchemish was when Assyria and Egypt teamed up against Babylonia – but they were both completely defeated. At this moment, Assyria ceased to exist in world history, and Egypt retreated and was no longer a player in world matters.
- Babylonia (605 BC) – Nebuchadnezzar attacked Israel and took Daniel (and others) to Babylonia (the 1st Deportation). Then in 597 BC, he did the same thing and took Ezekiel (among others). In 586 BC, Jerusalem was totally destroyed by Babylonia.
So, the probable date is between 612-605 BC. Clear?
Among the prophetic writings, this book is unique.
- There is no oracle addressed to Jerusalem.
- There are two rounds of dialogue between Habakkuk and God.
- There are two rounds of debate (chp 1, 2),
- and in chp 3, Habakkuk ends his book with praise and thanksgiving, confession of faith. (3:17-19)
“Though… yet I will rejoice in the LORD.”
Why? Because of salvation – this is more than enough to give praise, thanks, honor to God.
Chp 1: First complaint = “Why/how…”
“1:2 How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”
Do you see evil around you sometimes? “Why God, do you allow evil to exist around me? You are good. Why does evil go unpunished?”
To this complaint, God’s answer is: “OK, you’re right. I prepared Babylonia to punish Jerusalem.”
1:6 I am raising up the Babylonians,that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.
With this answer, Habakkuk became more confused…
“Yes, I agree, Judah is wicked, evil, bad, to you. But, compared relatively, THAT country (Babylonia) is MORE wicked than us. Then why do you use the more wicked country to punish the less wicked country?”
To this, God answers with 2:4 “Do you have faith? A right relationship with me? Then, the righteous will live by faith.”
This story is from:
- doubt -> certainty,
- complaint -> confidence.
Habakkuk gets to understand God’s sovereignty, goodness all the time.
He finishes his book with a psalm/song of praise.
Remember: The greatest doctrine of Christianity: Justification by Faith – comes from this short book/verse (2:4).
So… let me make clear this HUGE doctrine in a short time.
Justification by Faith
What is the logical order in our experience of salvation?
The word/doctrine of salvation is SO HUGE for us to understand. So there are many other words to help express this.
Conversion, Justification, Regeneration, Sanctification, Union, Glorification – these actually all take place instantaneously – at once.
- Realize sin
- Conversion comes
- Regeneration (born again)
- Union with Christ
- Adoption (children of God)
Originally speaking, we are all children of the evil one and are sinners. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Eph 2:1-2 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is at work in those who are disobedient. At one time, we all also followed the cravings of the sinful nature like them. We were by nature, objects of wrath.”
Q: How can a man be just(ified) by God? How can he be declared righteous by God and have a right relationship with God?
- In Regeneration, we receive a new life.
- In Justification, we receive a new position.
Justification : the action of God (not man) in which God declares him righteous who believes in Jesus Christ. This is a declarative act of God. This is not declared BY man, but declared OF man.
So, how can we be justified? 3 points.
#1: By the grace of God
We must be clear, definitely, no one can be declared righteous by keeping the law, by good works, the works of the Law. – “only rather through the Law we become conscious of sin.” (Romans)
- Romans 3:24 “We are justified freely by the grace of God through the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ.”
Thus, the grace of God is the root/source/origin of justification. It begins in the heart of God. Realizing that God is omniscient, and our own lack of righteousness and our inability to attain it, God decided to provide it for us.
- Our justification is from the heart of God.
- The grace of God is the root of our justification.
#2: By the blood of Christ
- Romans 5:9 “Since we have been justified through the blood of Jesus Christ, how much more shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Jesus Christ.”
The blood = the ground of our Justification (the grace = the root of our Justification)
Because Jesus has borne the penalty for our sin on the cross, God is able to remit the punishment and restore us to his favor.
In Justification, our sins are not excused, but punished = Jesus is our substitute. Jesus is MY substitute.
The resurrection of Jesus is PROOF that his death has fully satisfied the claims of our sin.
#3: By faith
- By the grace of God
- By the blood of Christ
- By our faith
- Romans “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God…”
- Romans 10:10
- Galatians 2:16 “Know that a man is not justified by observing the Law…”
So, we too must put our faith in Jesus Christ so that we may be declared righteous.
- Faith = the condition of our justification
- Grace = root
- Blood = ground
Faith = condition – not meritorious
It is not FOR faith we are justified, but BY faith.
Faith is not the price we paid for justification, it is just the means of appropriating it.
So, if we are declared righteous by God, what benefits can we get?
1. There is remission of sin (forgiveness)
No more condemnation
- “There is no condemnation for those who are IN Jesus Christ…” “There is peace with God…”
- Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God…” (restoration to God’s favor)
- 2 Cor 5:21 “God made him who had no sin to become sin for us so that we might have a right relationship with God…” (imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us)
If we are declared righteous by God, we can also be assured of our final glorification. Do you have assurance of glorification? Romans 8:38 “Those he predestined, he also called, justified, glorified.” It’s already done in God’s sight.
2. Do you have any complaint/question to God?
Yes, if we live by sight, “God, you are Almighty, so WHY ME??? I go to church, give my tithe, suffer… Why good men suffer? Why bad men win?”
To this complaint, God’s answer is the same, “The righteous will live by faith, not by sight.”
The righteous will live by eternal perspective, not temporary perspective. What is unseen is eternal. What is seen is temporary.
Jesus says, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice is a foolish man who built his house on the sand… vice versa, you are a wise man who built his house on the rock.”