Habakkuk: A Faith Tested

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The righteous will live by faith! We know very little about Habakkuk the person or Habakkuk the book. We believe that Habakkuk lived in the 7th century about the time of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was so popular and well known, that may well be one of the reasons that we know so little about Habakkuk. We believe that it was at this time because the book reveals the impending danger of Babylon.

Habakkuk the person, reminds me of Thomas. He is wonderfully human. Habakkuk doesn’t always live in the mountain tops of life. He is sometimes found complaining. He is also like Job, in that he doesn’t mind questioning God.

How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? It takes a person secure in their faith and in their relationship with God to be that bold. As righteous as Habakkuk was, he needed answers to some questions that just didn’t make sense. We often hear a miss-truth in the Church – faith is blind!

Opera singer Mary Ann Brant went to a New York post office to pick up a package. The clerk asked her for some identification, and she realized she hadn’t brought any. “I can’t give you the package without some identification,” the clerk insisted. “All right,” she said. “I’ll show you who I am.” With that, she began to sing one of the arias for which she was well known. A crowd gathered around to listen, and in a few moments the clerk said, “OK, lady, you can have the package. Just be quiet.” That’s what the world wants us to do — be quiet about who we are. But Jesus has given us a song to sing.

Faith never means denying reality or ignoring the facts. We go into a patients room that has a terminal illness. We ask them how they are doing and they will quickly respond they are fine. We call it denial! Faith is finding a balance between living with reality and living with hope.

I visited Mammoth Cave a number of years ago. In this largest cavern, several hundred feet underground, the guide points out the extensive system of electric lights in the cave, and then, after a warning, shuts them off. “The black is so thick and total it is disconcerting. I have heard of darkness so complete you could not see your hand in front of your face, but that was the only time I ever experienced it. After a few seconds of this complete blackout, the guide lights one match. One tiny match can light up a cavern of thousands of square feet!

This is what John in the gospel was talking about with faith. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. Habakkuk, is in a world of darkness. He too, is lighting a match of faith to find meaning to what is happening to he and his people.

Habakkuk asked God two big questions. “Why hasn’t Hababkkuk’s preaching changed the people so that they will repent?” They will repent because God will raise up the Babylonians to punish them. If repentance doesn’t come through a willing heart it will come through hardship. “Why will God use a more wicked or sinful nation to punish His people?” In the end, even the Babylonians will be punished.

Habakkuk was pressing God to work a miracle right now! We all know that God moves and acts in His own time, not ours. God responds to Habakkuk in a revelation. What is God’s answer to Habakkuk? The just shall live by his faith.

What does God mean by this response to Habakkuk? The “just” are those who have been justified by God. In Habakkuk’s case in would be the Hebrew people. The Hebrew’s were justified by their covenant with God though Abraham. Today, we are the “just” because of the blood of Christ. Paul writes to the Church at Rome (1:17). For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

To “live by his faith” is a call for the believer to live by faith in God. Habakkuk, you may not feel that your preaching has brought any change to your people, but trust God. You may not understand why God would use a nation that is more wicked than even your own people, but trust God. Faith is allowing God to be God and allowing God to have His own timing.

Faith in God is putting complete trust in someone based on their vision, not ours.
Early one morning a father was awakened by the smoke detector in his basement.
He woke his wife and they quickly went to their children’s bedroom and woke them up and started heading for the door through the smoke which was getting quite heavy. The father was carrying his one and a half year-old daughter in one arm and held the hand of his four year-old son with the other. The son, being scared and unsure of what was happening pulled his hand from his father’s clasp and ran to what he thought was a place of safety, a corner of his bedroom where his favorite stuffed toys were kept. The father got outside and called to his son who appeared at the bedroom window crying and calling for help. The father called to him and told him to jump, but the boy yelled in reply, “But I can’t see you!” Then the father called back with a reassuring message: “That’s alright, I can see you!”

We have confidence — not in our ability to see clearly — but in God’s! He can see us just fine! Our trust must be in Him.

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