Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
The church of God in this world is the church militant. Her picture in the Word of God as well as her actual appearance in all the ages is of a warring camp. The struggle is the most furious and the most uncompromising of all wars and struggles that exist.
In Psalm 44, Israel is in wicked hands, crying to God in her agony, being killed all the day long and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Yet in this struggle, the church has only one weapon—faith—and that weapon is enough, for it is God-given faith that overcomes the world. The just shall live by faith, for through it we have life eternal—here and now, and forever. This truth is upon every page in Scripture, which should inspire us to fight the battle of faith.
As far as Habakkuk is concerned, we know next to nothing of the person himself, other than that he prophesied of the Babylonian captivity. He lived in the days of great apostasy, and cries to God for help and salvation. God answers him and reveals to him the great captivity. The prophet then becomes afraid and calls upon God for mercy. The announcement of judgment upon Israel is the cause of this struggle, but in it he is the victor, for the victory is of faith.
The struggle in connection with the nation of Israel is that Israel is the peculiar possession of God. The prophet speaks of her as “Thy people” and “Thy anointed.” As such, she is a picture of the eternally elect church, beloved from everlasting to everlasting, the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, the temple of God in which He will dwell forever in the new paradise. God loves His people, as is evident from, where spiritual Israel is foreknown in the foreknowledge of divine love and destined to be glorified forever.
Scriptural history bears that out. In that love God called Adam out of the place of concealment to tell him the message of eternal love. That love drew Noah and his family out of the company of the wicked into the ark. That love called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees. The same can be said about God as He thundered and lightened round about Sinai, giving His beloved nation the law of God and leading them to the typical land of rest, the picture of glory and peace.
In the fullness of time that love of God was revealed toward His people in the giving of His Son. Never before and never since have we seen the love of God as in those days. In Christ Jesus we see God and His people united in a bond that can never be dissolved, as seen in His name, Immanuel. This truth must be seen to appreciate the struggle of this prophet. His trouble and anxiety are because of the tension between his knowledge of the coming judgment and his knowledge of the love of God for His people.
But this nation that God loves is very sinful, as is evident from chapter 1:1-4. This prophecy is a burden for Israel. The situation is so terrible that the prophet calls upon God for help in the midst of this situation. This can be explained in that the wicked always compass the righteous. There are those born in the church but who never essentially belong to it. There are also the true members of the church who love God but who often do that which is contrary to God’s will.
These elements were present in Israel at this time. However, we know that there is always a remnant according to God’s gracious election. If the remnant were not there, we could not speak of the struggle of the ages. God heard this prayer of Habakkuk and tells him what He is going to do. Nebuchadnezzar will come and take them captive for seventy years. The beloved people of God will be in chains while the holy temple and the holy city of God are destroyed.
Thus the prophet struggles. God is too pure of eyes than to behold evil or to look on iniquity. God is the absolute virtuous one, that is, He hates the evil and loves only the good. How then can He give success to the evil Nebuchadnezzar? How can He take His own beloved Israel and hand her over into the wicked and cruel hands of the devilish hosts of the Chaldeans? In this is also the struggle of the church of all ages: the people of God are in the cruel hands of the wicked while God seems to remain silent.
This is also a prophecy of Christ’s trial. Habakkuk cries, “Why dost Thou look on the man that is a betrayer and holdest Thy tongue when Nebuchadnezzar devoureth Israel which is more righteous than he?” This cry is fulfilled in Christ’s cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This too is our struggle. God loves us and we love God. Yet we are delivered into the hands of the wicked, hated and persecuted.
In this struggle we need weapons, for we are weak. What we need is the weapon of faith, which is the operation of the almighty life of God’s love. When that love-life is operative in us, we cleave to that which we have of God, that is, His Word and promises. Faith is the living bond that unites us with God through Jesus Christ our Lord. It connects us to the central dynamo of God’s almighty power, which is none other than Christ. When we appeal to that dynamo, it is never in vain.
Faith is a perfect knowledge that knows all things, chief of which is the wonder-working God in Christ Jesus the Lord. Yet more, faith is an absolute trust and reliance, the virtue whereby we act now as though the promised scene is already come to pass. God is the Rock whose work is already done. Having this faith, we are strong through God’s strength. It matters not that we are small. Look at Noah and his family in the ark and the small army of Gideon.
There was victory for Habakkuk, for faith operated in him. He saw Nebuchadnezzar in his true light. He saw Israel in bondage and understood the vision. He saw the silent God and was satisfied, for he knew and trusted. He grew still. Listen to him. “O Lord, Thou hast ordained them from all eternity for judgment.” He will correct His servant Israel who will then be the better for it.
Concerning Nebuchadnezzar he says, “His soul is not upright in him.” When one appears before God as not upright, then the only end for him is eternal damnation. He devoured one who was more righteous than he, proof of utmost wickedness. This was later fulfilled in Christ when wicked men killed Him.
Habakkuk had the victory by faith. He says in verse 12, “We shall not die. Art thou not from everlasting, O Lord my God, mine Holy One?” Nebuchadnezzar had cursed and destroyed him that was more righteous than himself. “O wicked Chaldean, you cannot harm him for I have beheld the Unchangeable One. He shall always fulfill His promises: I am afraid no more.”
Habakkuk is now in heaven with all the rest of the prophets. We are yet in the struggle. Therefore, have faith and exercise it! It is God’s gift to you and to me. Faith is the only weapon by which you can quench all the fiery darts of hell. You lived, you live today, and you shall live forever by your faith. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (). For “the just shall live by his faith.”