The Righteous Will Live by His Faith
Habakkuk was astounded by God’s decision to resolve Judah’s lawlessness with a Babylonian invasion. Having earlier vented his sarcastic prayer, he was in fact waiting for God’s disapproval over his oppositional opinion, but to Habakkuk’s credit, he was willing to keep a watch over his nation and to listen to Yahweh’s explanation (2:1). To reach this point of letting God be God, Habakkuk’s had to be prepared to put aside his anger and impatience resulting from his personal experiences of violence and injustice in Judah, and attempt to grasp God’s perspective, whatever that was! What followed was a rare interaction as God hardly ever justify His reasons or plans to humans. But here, He lucidly informed Habakkuk that Babylon would certainly be judged for her atrocities, as national justice and equity are important to Him as He is still Lord over all creation (2:2-20).
The normal human response to unrelenting inequity and lawlessness is to either remain silent and let things be, or clandestinely or openly push back. The Scriptures give us a different view when we perceive that God is at work: Job patiently waited through God’s trial, and even at its conclusion, the real purpose was not disclosed to him (Job 23:10); Paul counted it a privilege to be undergoing tribulations, knowing that persevering through it produces character and hope (Rom 5:3-5); and James reminded us that we do not predetermine our own future as it is in God’s ever competent hands (Jam 4:13-17).
Once God had deconstructed the basis of His intentions over Babylon’s arrogance and oppression, Habakkuk again went into prayer. On this occasion, however, his tone was remarkably devoid of insinuations against God’s plan, but focused vulnerably on Yahweh’s status and power (3:1-19). To wait patiently for God’s solution is a mark of humility, a purposeful surrendering which is a rare human quality in today’s fast track world where we are goaded to achieve a decent outcome. Listening to God spell out His judgments overwhelmed Habakkuk’s own self-centred concerns and priorities; a realization that God’s purpose went far beyond what the human mind or eye can ever comprehend or see, as God’s righteousness ensures that He will be unquestionably fair in all His decisions (2:20). Our humanness incessantly informs us that those who relate to us are there to serve us, and this mindset is unconsciously applied towards God; sadly, we almost always take God for granted until we find ourselves in a fix! Our most poignant spiritual lessons are usually learnt at the lowest points in our life, and at this point, Habakkuk knew that God will walk with him through his trials even though the fig trees, the vines, the olive trees and the fields produce no fruit, and fields are devoid of sheep and cattle. Some major decisions in our life, at times are best deferred, as we wait on God’s timing. As God’s wisdom and faithfulness began to sink in, Habakkuk’s final refrain was like a flash of light piercing into his darkness: instead of looking at the dismal circumstances in his own nation and bothering about the Babylonians, it was safe to trust God for Judah’s eventual redemption. The reality of simply trusting in Yahweh resulted in an outpouring of joyfulness – which nothing in his circumstances could replicate or detract from it. ‘Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places’ (3:17-19). It is indeed safe to trust in Yahweh.