I will stand in my watch tower.
I will be alert as I observe all that goes on round about me.
I will seek the solitude, the quiet of my tower to be alone with my God, to watch, to pray, and . . . to wait for His answer.
That was the intent of the prophet Habakkuk, as he informs us in the second chapter of his prophecy. Do you care to join him there?
Ominous times the people of God were experiencing. Judah, the only remaining evidence of God’s church upon the earth, had fallen into deep and grievous sins. The prophet counts these sins off on his finger tips in mournful lamentation: iniquity, perverseness, spoiling, violence, strife, contention. It sounds as if he were speaking of the days of Noah before the flood. It even sounds like the evils reported in our daily papers concerning this “Christian” nation.
A faithful remnant still cried to God, but there came no promise of any reform that would bring improvement in the sad state of affairs. Still worse, the Lord spoke of that mighty power, Babylon, that was sweeping as a mighty whirlwind across the land, leaving death and devastation in its trail. Judah would fall victim to this power also because of all her abominations that cried to heaven for just judgment.
Yes, the faithful remnant knew that ultimately also this great world power must crumble in the dust before the mighty Hand of the Most High. After all, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth, and what mere creature of the dust can vaunt himself before HIM, and live?
But in the meantime, what will happen to the faithful remnant and their children? Wouldst Thou, O Mighty God destroy Thy church, Thy covenant people along with the wicked? “Art not Thou from everlasting, O Lord, my Holy One?” “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil.”
It is the same familiar complaint that arises so often from the lips of God’s saints throughout the ages:
I asked in fear and bitterness,
Will God forsake me in distress?
Shall I His promise faithless find?
Has God forgotten to be kind?
Has He in anger hopelessly
Removed His love and grace from me?
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” Hab. 2:1.
Speak, Lord! Hear my complaint and answer me. Yes, reprove me according to all my doubts and unbelief.
The answer was not long in coming.
It was a message, simple, yet pregnant with meaning:The just man shall live by his faith!
Life! Life in the midst of devastation, judgment, death! Survival under the righteous judgments of the living God!
A promise of God to the just man. For the promise is so very personal: The just man shall live. He shall live by his faith.
While the wicked perish forever in their sins in torments of remorse and grinding of teeth, there is one who can be assured of life. The just man will certainly not perish with the unjust. God is from everlasting, purer of eyes than that he should do evil.
But who is that just one? I?
Habakkuk must have felt as I do, and likely as you do. Before God’s holy law no man is justified; and then certainly not I.
Therefore the Lord gave him a vision. From the watch tower the prophet looked far out into the hazy future. He saw a Babe born of a virgin; the wonder of wonders. He saw the shadow of a cross upon a lonely hill. And beyond that, a tomb that had been rent open and the Lord of Glory standing as the Just One before God to receive the kingdom, power and glory from the Father, even forever.
And he felt himself one with Him; one by the mystical yet divinely established bond of living faith. One with Christ in His death, one with Him in His resurrection, one with Him in His righteousness, one with Him in His LIFE.
And he understood the word of the Lord: The just man shall live.
He shall live by his faith.
Go, tell it on the mountains. Let the runners read and carry the message far and wide over hill and dale to the ends of the earth.
The Lord gave the Word. Great was the company of preachers. For it is the same Word of the Lord that always finds the response of faith in the hearts of the believers of all ages.
Although your sins be as scarlet, he that confesses and forsakes his sins finds mercy.
Let those who hear it take courage, even in the grimmest hours of history.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines. . . . Although the days come when father finds no work and mother has no food for the children. . . . Although we lose homes and are imprisoned for Christ’s sake,—it can happen, you know. . . .
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
As humanly impossible as that may seem, the Word of the Lord still says that the just man shall live by his faith.
Now. And afterwards the crown.