"Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.Habakkuk 2:4(NASB)
How often we stand perplexed that God does not punish the wicked but seems to allow them to be acquitted of their wrongdoing and even rewarded for their evil works, and Habakkuk was faced with the same dilemma.
He was a man of God who was justifiably grieved by the sins of the kingdom of Judah. Rather than honouring the Lord with their heart and soul and mind and strength, he witnessed nothing but iniquity and sin. Judah had become a violent nation, and Habakkuk complained that God's chosen people had become a people of strife and contention, where the law was ignored and justice perverted.
God reassured His servant that Judah's disobedience and rebellion would not go unpunished. He astonished His prophet by revealing how He would punish His errant people. The Lord told Habakkuk that He was going to raise up a fierce and impetuous people to bring judgement on Judah. The Chaldeans were a dreaded nation who were feared by the surrounding people. They were a law unto themselves and were altogether wicked. Punishment would be swift and violent. Judah would be helpless before this formidable foe.
He likened the swiftness of the Chaldean horses to leopards and their warriors to eagles, who would swoop down to devour their prey. Although Habakkuk knew that God's people were ripe for judgement, he was astonished and shocked to discover the magnitude of the punishment awaiting them. Habakkuk's initial indignation against Judah's ungodliness turned to concern for God's people.
So troubled was Habakkuk by this knowledge, that he determined to stand guard on the rampart and keep watch to see if the Lord would provide some hope for His people. God did not leave His servant in any doubt that He would carry out a national chastening, but also gave him some reassurance, "Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; BUT the righteous will live by his faith."
Habakkuk was given a truth that has stood the test of time - a principle that was rediscovered in Paul's epistle to the Romans during the Reformation, and one that has blessed centuries of God's people - we are not only credited with righteousness by faith in God's Word, but we are to LIVE our life by faith, "for the righteous will live by his faith."
Those who are not credited with righteousness because of their lack of trust in the Almighty, are living in spiritual darkness because their soul is not right within themselves, for they are not trusting God's Word. Those who are proud and self-important, foster pride in their heart. They rely on their own inner strength, power, talent, and wisdom. These are ungodly fools who deny their Creator. They are not credited with righteousness because they have not believed the truth. HOWEVER, the righteous one will live by his faith, which may be better translated 'the justified-by-faith one - SHALL LIVE'. The one who is justified in the eyes of God, will live.
Unlike Church-age believers, not all Old Testament saints were indwelled by the Holy Spirit, nevertheless everyone who believed God's Word, both before and after the Cross, is credited with righteousness. Those declared righteous by faith WILL live, while those who are not justified by faith will not live - they shall surly experience the wrath of God.
Although the guiding principle of justification can be traced through every book of the Bible, it was to Habakkuk that the unchangeable truth of justification was given - the just shall live by faith. The man or woman who is justified by faith WILL LIVE.
Eternal life is a free gift to ALL who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and once we have been covered in Christ's righteousness we are called to LIVE the rest of our life BY FAITH. But we are also blessed to realise that the justified man or woman will live eternally - because he or she have trusted in the Word of God - our Saviour Jesus Christ.
May we KNOW in the inner recesses of our heart and mind that, "a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through faith in Christ Jesus." May we have that assurance that eternal life is already ours, because we have been justified by faith, and having been justified, by faith, may we LIVE by faith - as we trust in Him to supply all our needs - day by day.
Praise God that WE, who have believed in Christ Jesus, are justified by faith in Christ. How thankful that we are not justified by our own good works or legalistic practices carried out in our own strength, since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
Thank You, Father, for the witness of Habakkuk who first shared the wonderful truth that the justified man and woman will live, because of their faith. Thank You for those who have continued to teach this truth down through the centuries, like the apostle Paul and those in the Reformation. How I thank You, heavenly Father, that because I am justified by faith, I will live eternally with the Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that having been justified as Your free and forever gift of grace, I may live every day of my life by faith, by trusting in You and not relying on my own strength or abilities. May my life be honouring to You and a testimony of Your goodness and grace to those with whom I come in contact. This I ask in Jesus' precious name, AMEN.