In Habakkuk 1:12-17, God’s answer to Habakkuk’s questions poses an even more vexing question:
can a righteous God use the wicked to punish those who are more righteous than they? Habakkuk’s question in verse 17 had to do with divine justice.
Habakkuk was puzzled, not only by the degeneration of his own people but also by the certainty that his country would be judged by another nation, one worse. The prophet was well aware of Judah’s sins but, by any standards, his people, particularly the righteous among them, were not as wicked as the pagan Babylonians.
Read Habakkuk 2:2-4. What hope is presented there?
Habakkuk 2:2-4 is one of the most important passages in the Bible. Habakkuk 2 Verse 4, in particular, expresses the essence of the gospel, the foundation of the verse that arguably started the Protestant Reformation. Through faith in Jesus Christ we receive God’s righteousness; we are credited with the righteousness of God Himself. His righteousness becomes ours. It is what is known asjustification by faith.
In the midst of all this turmoil and questions about evil, justice, and salvation, Habakkuk 2:4 presents a sharp contrast between the faithful and the proud. The conduct of each group determines its fate: the arrogant will fail while the righteous will live by faith. The original Hebrew word for faith (‘emuna) is best rendered as “faithfulness,” “constancy,” and “dependability.” While the one who lives by faith is not saved by his works, his works show that he lives by faith. His faith is revealed in his works and thus that person is promised life eternal.