“Suspected chemical attack in Aleppo” the news headline reads. Further down the page, another headline claims, “Death toll in Baghdad bombing rises to 324.” Again, “Fears of starvation and disease after deadly Sudan floods.” The troubles, however, are not limited to far-off lands, but are right next door to our homes. The shooting deaths of young black men in recent months and the resulting wave of hurt, anger, and frustration have highlighted a deep crack in the porcelain veneer of American prosperity. Likewise, the tumultuous political season has heightened people’s fears of the future. No matter where one looks in the world, evil appears to be winning – threatening peace, families, and lives.
IF GOD TRULY IS RIGHTEOUS, AND JUST, AND POWERFUL, THEN HE MUST RESPOND.
The prophet Habakkuk wrote during an immensely troubled time in his nation. Facing violence and injustice at home, and threats of war and destruction abroad, he pleads his case before God. The unusual nature of the book – Habakkuk is the only prophet who speaks to God on behalf of Israel, rather than the other way around – emphasizes his unique message. “The law is paralyzed,” he claims, “and justice never goes forth.” The righteous are like fish trapped in the net of evil men. If God truly is righteous, and just, and powerful, then He must respond. Yet, only silence.
Where are You when justice is perverted?
Where are You when brutal men kill for their twisted fantasies?
Where are You when women and children starve?
And Where are You when war and violence tear the nations apart?
Have You been watching yet done nothing at all?
Habakkuk provides a strongly worded rebuke of God for His failure to establish justice and peace in the world. Rather than striking him down for his insolence, however, God responds with a simple but encouraging word. He is still at work. The day is coming when He will make all things right again. In the midst of the cacophony of noise and violence, His promise is but a whisper, but it speaks the truth.
Until that day, though, the righteous will live by faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)
FOR US, THIS IS AN UNWAVERING TRUST IN THE UNALTERABLE PROMISE OF OUR UNFAILING GOD. ANY TIME WE SAY “AMEN,” WE STATE OUR TRUST IN THE FIRMNESS OF GOD’S PROMISE.
Biblical faith is not a blind or reasonless faith. The word itself is derived from the word for “rock” or “stone.” Faith is therefore a belief in something solid, firm, and unmovable. In turn, those who have faith will themselves be strengthened and made firm as well. For us, this is an unwavering trust in the unalterable promise of our unfailing God. Any time we say “amen,” we state our trust in the firmness of God’s promise.
For Paul, faith and the gospel are inseparable. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul says he is unashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God to save all who believe. He then quotes Habakkuk 2:4, “For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed, beginning and ending in faith, just as it is written, “’The righteous will live by faith.‘” This is the same man who was thrown out of every house of worship he preached in, was beaten within an inch of his life multiple times, mocked, stoned, and left for dead. Paul endured the ultimate shame because of his proclamation of the gospel. Even so, he will live by faith.
There is no shame in the gospel, because the promise which God made in Habakkuk is realized in Jesus. Through him, God is working to restore all things and reconciling all things back to Himself. The cry of the prophet is answered by Christ himself. When Jesus returns, he will not return as a meek and suffering servant, but as a king who will remove ALL injustice, war, hate, and death. Until that day though, we must continue to live by faith.