The Just Shall Live By Faith

Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry. ‘Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.’ ”  Habakkuk 2:2-4

This prophetic book takes its name from its author whose name means “one who embraces,” prophesied to Judah in the last quarter of the seventh century B.C. concerning the impending invasion by the Chaldeans. By the end of this prophecy, this name becomes appropriate as the prophet clings to God regardless of his confusion about God’s plans for His people. His contemporaries of Habakkuk’s day were Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zephaniah. The fact that so little is mentioned in the introduction of who Habakkuk was, suggests that he was a well known prophet of his day. So with that said, let us examine a little further.

The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw. The Prophet’s Question: O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; There is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; Therefore perverse judgment proceeds (Hab. 1:1-4). Habakkuk’s bitter lament came at a time reflecting the time period shortly after the death of Josiah (609 B.C.), days in which this godly king’s reforms (2 Kings 23) were quickly overturned by his successor, Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 22:13-19). Habakkuk prophesied during the final days of the Assyrian empire and the beginning of Babylonia’s world rulership under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar. The Egyptian king Necho, traveling through Judah in 609 B.C. to assist the fleeing Assyrian king, was opposed by King Josiah at Megiddo (2 Chronicles 35:20-24). Josiah was killed in the ensuing battle, leaving his throne to a succession of 3 sons and a grandson. Earlier during his rule, King Josiah as a result of discovering the Book of the Law in the temple (622 B.C.), had instituted significant spiritual reforms in Judah (2 Kings 22-23), abolishing many of the idolatrous practices of his father Amon (2 Kings 21:20-22), and grandfather Manasseh (2 Kings 21:11-13). Upon his Josiah’s death, however, the nation quickly reverted back to her evil idolatrous ways (Jeremiah 22:13-19), causing Habakkuk to question God’s silence and apparent lack of punitive action to purge His covenant people.

When any government’s enacting laws interfere and contradict God’s laws you will find a nation that will not be able to rest. There will be an abundant of violence, and corruption in government affairs. Does it surprise anyone today, that our elected officials, from the White House, to the State’s Capital’s, that there is an abundance of confusion as to know which direction the use of state and government aid should go to first? We have such an incredible need in so many places, right here in our own country, yet, we see how foolish we spend our tax dollars. How much waste is being spent on legal matters, that would not have to ever be spent on, “if only I would have gotten away with it!” The Bible tells us: Better is a little with righteousness, than vast revenues without justice (Proverbs 16:8). And of course, who could forget learning in Sunday school class, Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people (Proverbs 14:34). It’s during these times in which evil seems to be increasing and being unpunished, that is parallel the way which we are living in, like the time of Habakkuk, in which we too should be crying out to the Lord.

Now the Lord’s reply is very interesting. “Look among the nations and watch—Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you.” In response to Habakkuk’s perplexity and pleading, God broke His silence. Informing him that He was not indifferent to Judah’s sin; but rather than revival, He was sending the “terrible and dreadful judgment” in using her enemies as His instrument of judgment. Yet, it would not last; Their self-sufficiency and self-absorbed ways planted the seeds for their own destruction, as they too were judged for their idolatry and blasphemy before the sovereign Lord. We know today, the answer of God, We are not without knowledge of God’s answer to the nation living in sin. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:16-17).

And so we see in our text, The response of the vision: To the watching prophet comes the response of the vision with three elements being distinguished. First, the moral judgment of the Lord upon the evils practiced by Israel. Secondly, The future purpose of God: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14), By the coming of the Lord in glory, this revelation awaits its fulfillment. A parallel passage shared by Isaiah 11:9-12; God has promised that the whole earth would recognize His glory at the establishment of His millennial kingdom. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wonderous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and amen (Psalm 72:18-19). It is then, after the return of Lord, that this vision is fulfilled given to Habakkuk, that the knowledge of the glory, etc. shall fill the whole earth.

Beloved friend, The third element of the vision given to Habakkuk, “The just shall live by faith.” This great evangelical word is applied to Jews and Gentiles in Romans 1:17, Paul writes it to the Gentiles in Galatians 3:11-14; and to the Hebrews especially in Hebrews 10:38. This appeal of life to faith alone, makes possible not only the salvation of the Gentiles, but also the existence of a believing remnant in Israel while the nation, even though now in blindness and unbelief (Romans 11:1) will eventually establish the priesthood and rebuild their temple in their offerings to the Lord, but will be unable to keep the ordinances of the Law, due to the coming of the Anti-Christ. The Good News: In contrast to the proud, the just will be truly preserved through his/her faithfulness to God. And this is the core of God’s message to and through Habakkuk. Both the aspect of justification by faith, as noted by Paul’s usage in Romans 1:17 and Galatian 3:11, as well as the aspect of sanctification by faith, as employed by the writer of Hebrews (10:38) reflect the essence of Habakkuk; no conflict exists. For both goes beyond the act of faith to include the continuity of faith. Faith is not a one time act, but a way of life. The true believer declared righteous by God, will persevere in faith as a pattern of his life. Prayer: Help me Lord, to be steadfast in my faith and to be forever devoted to Your work. Bless me in abundance and help me to use it to Your greater glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

May the Lord bless your walk with Him today!


Declarations of Love “A Gift Exchange”

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:27-30

On Valentines Day, The world is declaring their love for one another, and men are busy about giving a gift to their sweethearts. The Bible has a lot to say about love, doesn’t it? I was realizing this thought earlier this week, God’s gift of love, A Gift exchange that has an eternal inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you (1Peter 1:4). Let us take a closer look. First, let us take notice of Jesus invitation. Come to Me— Jesus had just rebuked these cities that at that time were considered to be renowned in their decadence, for their failure to repent, for their failure to recognize that He was their Messiah. And here He goes from rebuking these cities, to praying to His Father, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes (Matthew 11:25). Jesus is saying, I thank You Father, that the great people of the earth, those great people from Capernaum, and Bethsaida, You have hid truth from them. But here are these babes, simple ordinary  people that You have chosen instead to reveal Your truth to them, Your love to them. All through Scripture, Old Testament and New Testament, God has chosen such ordinary men, common people by revealing Himself first, to do extraordinary things.

All things have been delivered to Me by My Father—This is very critical to our understanding of salvation that is found in no One else, what  Jesus Christ has been given by His Father. There are a lot of people who say, I know God, who thought they knew God the Father, but they had the wrong concepts of God. There are a lot of people today who think they know God, but by their fleshly ways, they have twisted the Word of God, and have a messed up concept of who God is. Jesus said, no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him(v.27). All through man’s history he has made false attempts at what he believes who God is. Then Jesus makes this broad invitation: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest— Jesus is equating the restlessness in man with its godlessness. He is saying to them, “You will never really know what rest is, until you come to know God.” And by coming unto Jesus, we find our rest for our souls, but also Jesus will make known the Father to us as well. So profound! We’re being invited by Jesus Christ, God the Father’s only Begotten Son, to come to Him as we are, weary of life, beset by our sins, heavy laden with guilt and shame. And in exchange for all of our past sinful life, He will bring forth in us a new life. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have past away; behold all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17) In Christ—These two words comprise a brief but most profound statement of the inexhaustible significance of the new believer’s redemption, which includes : the believer’s security in Christ, who bore in His body God’s judgment against sin; the believer’s future assurance for all eternity that we will be in His presence, acceptance in Him whom God the Father is well pleased. And for the believer’s participation in the divine nature of Christ, the everlasting Word (2 Peter 1:4). All of this significant change occurs by our first coming to Christ, accepting His invitation and offer of eternal life. The very first consciousness that person has when they have come to Jesus Christ, is that they now possess a very deep and personal peace inside. This beautiful peace from God enables us to finally have that rest from the inside, that I am no longer fighting against God, I am no longer running away from His calling. I can now rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ on my behalf.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me—The yoke is what a farmer would place on his ox, a wooden yoke that harnessed a team of oxen to plow their fields with. What Jesus is saying, “Let Me have the reigns of your life, and I will guide you to that work I have for you,” that is because the Lord has a purpose and plan for each one of you. Paul the apostle writing to the Philippians said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:12) Jesus Christ has apprehended every one of us, who are born again. And if He has not, you are not His. He apprehended you for a specific purpose and plan that He has for your life. The Lord has a work for each one us to do for Him. And we find in the enfolding of His plan, it is a walk of faith. He chooses often not to reveal it all to you, so that you may trust Him in all things. The Lord does not waste anything. He uses everyone of our mistakes we’ve made in our lives for His sovereign glory. And when we have come to that place of surrender, that place of completely yielded to Him, we begin to perceive His plan for our lives to fulfill for His glory, and the kingdom of God.

Beloved friend, Have you surrendered your life to Christ? Do you have that unwavering peace in all circumstances of your life? Because then we can go on unto the third thing Jesus offers us; Learn from Me. Then we will begin to learn of the Father. Learning of Jesus will enable us to learn the truth of God. You will learn that He is a God of love, a God of compassion, a God of deep concern for you and your everyday lives. And friend, believe this: If we don’t teach our children to follow after Jesus Christ, the world will teach them not to. We don’t have to look too far to see this is already occurring. On this special day of love, reassess your love life with the Lord. Is He truly the first and greatest passion in your life? Pour out your heart to Jesus, and let Him know how much you love Him, and for His for love you, A gift exchange that is eternally rewarded.

May the Lord bless your walk with Him today!


The Pattern of Sound Words

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.     2Timothy 1:8-14

The Bible tells us “whatsoever we do in word or deed, we should do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Christian liberty, as well as the most common behavior, is to be conducted to the honor of God. Paul in his service was a servant of Jesus Christ. And as a servant of Jesus Christ, his life was totally committed to the cause of Jesus Christ. So whatever happened to him, he did not take it or look upon it personally but as unto the Lord and all for the Lord’s sake. We are right in the middle of his exhortation to Timothy, a younger man who needed the support from Paul to continue on in the faith, and shepherd the flock of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let’s take a look at what else the Lord would want us to take with us from this text. A holy calling—Holiness essentially defines the Christian’s new nature and should also mark his conduct. But you may say, “Well, that’s impossible for me to do.” I’d say to you, “You’re absolutely right!” It is impossible for us to conduct ourselves in all holiness and righteousness in our natural selves. But that’s the whole point of what Paul is saying to Timothy, Timothy, you’ve been called by God, not of your own goodness, or good works, but of His grace and purpose and as you join up with Him, your whole life is now to be turned over to God. All of your efforts and all of your works are to be generated from His Holy Spirit who dwells in you. And because God is holy, It is He who wants us to conduct ourselves now in holiness and righteousness which are from Him. This is such a stark contrast from what we were like before we were saved. The reason for practicing a holy manner of living is that Christians are joined with, and are now associating with a holy God and must treat Him and His Word with respect and reverence.

And so Paul was saying to Timothy, encouraging him, by reminding him of the grace God has called us, with this holy calling. But God did not call you because of your works, (our works) or because you were so deserving or worthy of it, but just to accomplish His purposes of love and of grace which was given to us in Christ before the world began. You see God has always loved us, but it is now made manifest (v.10) by the appearing of Jesus Christ—The Bible says: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the earth shows His handiwork. Day unto day they utter their speech (Psalm 19:1-2). We’ve been told that by the time Christian missionaries had reached certain tribes of people in the jungles of South America, primitive people who had literally no contact with the outside world, that by the time they were told of the love of God, through Jesus Christ, they responded that they already knew of God’s existence through their experiences with the natural resources and jungle life that was all around them. God spoke to them through nature. “Day unto day they utter their speech. Night unto night their voice goes forth. There isn’t a speech or language where their voice isn’t heard.” (Psalm 19-2-3) The message of a created world extends everywhere.

Who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel“Abolished” means “rendered inoperative.” Physical death obviously still exists, but it not longer carries with it a threat, nor can it be used by our enemy Satan against the child of God. It was until the message of the gospel in the New Testament could heard that God could chose to fully make known the truth of immortality and eternal life, Jesus said, “A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also (John 14:19). A reality only partially understood by Old Testament believers (Job 19:26). So when you hear that a professed Christian, make that a true believer in Christ dies, he does not die. Not like in the way of a non believer, we are told in the Scriptures written by Paul himself, “we know that when the earthly tent of our body is dissolved,” meaning when my body goes back to dust, decomposes and goes back to dust, “I have a building of God, not made with hands, that’s eternal in the heavens. . .For we know that, as long as we are living in these bodies, we are absent from the Lord; but we would choose rather to be absent from these bodies and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Because heaven by far is a better place than earth, Paul would rather have been there, with God. This sentiment is shared by members of the body of Christ.

I am not ashamed—Paul had no fear of persecution and of death from preaching the gospel in a hostile environment, many of us will never be called by God to do this either. Yet, we have so much fear of rejection by merely witnessing to our neighbors or family members etc. But because he was confident God had sealed his future glory and blessing. And thus he could say, For I know whom I have believed—“Know,” describes the certainty of Paul’s intimate saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, whom he had received from Him, His own special recognition and calling from the Lord Himself while on his way to Damascus to further persecute the believers and followers of the Way (Acts 9:1-6).  To summarize, Paul’s life and time had been surrendered, and be given over to the Lord. He lived with this unwavering commitment and confidence and boldness because of his willingness to believe in the power of Jesus Christ and of His faithfulness. And he patterned his life after what he had learned Christ do in his life. That is, be completely yielded to the Father’s will. We can’t get there without this same intimate relationship with the Lord ourselves.

Beloved friend, Let us remain steadfast in our staying close to the Lord. Let us pray and seek after the will of God for ourselves by studying His Word, and then applying it to our everyday lives. We will develop a pattern of sound words for ourselves that will be helpful and useful for those who are in your life. You will be a rich blessing of God’s love and faithfulness to those whom you love, and indeed be a blessing from God to them.

May the Lord bless your walk with Him today!