“… the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)
The prophet Habakkuk lived in one of the most difficult times in Hebrew history; a time when watchtowers were manned with soldiers listening for the dreadful sounds of the Babylonian army. As the Babylonians were about to conquer God’s people, God gave Habakkuk a prophetic message.
This little prophet witnessed the terrible ways the great prophet Jeremiah was treated when he preached his message. As a simple choir director Habakkuk could only imagine how he would be treated if he assumed the role of a prophet.
He therefore came up with a clever literary form. He proclaimed that he was going to build a spiritual watchtower and ask God all the difficult questions that were on their hearts at that time. Questions like, “Why will you use a people more sinful than we are to chasten us?”
He told them that when he heard from God he would tell them what God said in answer to these and other questions. His literary form was like a talk show in which he was the host and God was the Guest being interviewed.
God’s answer was that the wickedness of the Babylonians would be their undoing, but the just would live by their faith. Originally this meant faith in the prophecy of Jeremiah that they would return from the Babylonian captivity. By application these seven words, which are quoted three times in the New Testament, were also used to inspire the Reformation.
People say God does not speak today as God did then. The truth is we do not listen for God as Habakkuk did.
Do you have a spiritual watchtower? Do you listen for God and expect to hear from God?
Dick Woodward, 30 March 2012