Doubts & Dialogue / Habakkuk / Devotional # 2

We all care about justice. Male and female, just and unjust, wicked and evil. Everybody.

If someone you knew was unjustly arrested, how would you feel? If someone you know was prosecuted for a crime that they didn’t commit, how would you respond? If a child in your family was secretly taken advantage of, what would you do? I can answer for you. You’d do something. You’d want justice.

In Habakkuk 2, we see God after pronouncing that he would judge the sin and unjust ways of the Israelites through Babylon, saying that he’d now judge Babylon. It seems like a lose-lose situation. A catch 22. Habakkuk cries out to God earlier in the discourse and God responds. He follows up with God about his response, and now Babylon is in for it as well. Habakkuk (the book), while small in its package yet potent in power, shows us quite a few things.

First, that God’s justice is impartial. He is fair. He is righteous. He is holy. His holiness doesn’t permit him to passively look at sin, evil, and injustice. Babylon is a nation known for building cities with bloodshed (Hab. 2:12), taking what’s not theirs (2:6), making idols that lead to neglect of their maker (2:19-20), and creating wealth deceitfully, leaving others poor (2:9). Sound familiar? The narrative shows us two things. As sure as God’s nature doesn’t change, the collective nature of humanity doesn’t either. They have always been as they are now.

What’s the solution? Will the earth end in obliteration? Will God destroy every living thing because of the unjust ways of both nations? Will the same fate overtake we who have corrupted others in some way, form, or fashion? Unpopular opinion: if he did, it’s important to see that God would still be God. He would still be good. And he would still be just.

However, in Habakkuk 2—particularly verse 4—God leaves a gospel nugget for us. He says, “the righteous one will live by his faith…”. Faith in who? Faith in what? Faith in faith? No. Faith in Someone. Faith in God. Faith in Jesus. We see in the intertextual nature of scripture that this verse is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament (Rom. 1:17, Gal. 3:11, Heb. 10:38). While not solely remaining a NT concept, this provides a commentary for interpreting and applying in light of where we are in redemptive history.

All people at all times have been and will be saved by Jesus if they place their faith in him. How? Jesus takes God’s justice. The beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus takes a road trip to earth, not for vacation, but for our vindication. He comes to earth and, in one final cosmic altering act, takes the weight of oppression and the fate of the oppressor. He provides solidarity now for those who are presently suffering and hope for those who have an unjust past.

Christ, in all his fullness, embraces anyone who comes by faith. This enables us to be honest about what we see in the present, and yet still be hopeful about the promises of God in the future. God has promised that we have been, are being, and will be saved because of Christ’s work on the cross. Habakkuk believed it. Not because he saw it, but because God said it. Today, the formula is the same for us.

Prayer: Lord, it seems like what we see up close makes you seem so far away. We pray that we have eyes of faith that illuminate your promises to us and for us amidst the chaos of the world. We thank you that Jesus, our great high priest, has experienced everything under the sun so that we can have life in the Son. In Christ’s name. Amen.

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