On Sunday mornings we are in a series on the prophetic book of Habakkuk. This short three chapter book gives us a beautiful picture of how the prophet Habakkuk wrestles with his own cultural situation, crying out to God about the issues of violence and oppression by the very people who were supposed to be serving God. But, as is often the case in life, God's answer is not what Habakkuk was hoping to hear. So the book is something of a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. It can be outlined this way:
Habakkuk’s First Complaint to the Lord: The Covenant People have departed from their Covenant Life and Responsibility (1.1-4)
God’s First Response to Habakkuk: The Lord will send the Babylonian Army as Judgment (1.5-11)
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint to the Lord: Why the wicked Babylonians? (1.12-2.1)
God’s Second Response to Habakkuk: Life for the Faithful, but “Woe” for the Wicked (2.2-20)
Habakkuk’s Prayer of Faith in Response to this Vision (Chapter 3)
As you can see, the first two chapters are a back and forth dialogue between the prophet and God. The benefit of that dialogue is that we get to see the personal struggle of one of God's prophets, a struggle that is first of all with the lack of faithfulness with God's people (1:1-4), but then secondly, a struggle that is with God's ways in the world (1:12-2:1).
The heart of the book comes in chapter 2 verse 4: “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith." This is the message of the gospel: the righteous shall live by faith. When we get to the New Testament, this verse becomes the theme verse of Paul's epistle to the Romans: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:16-17).
This message in Habakkuk 2:4 is the message from God that transforms
Habakkuk. By the time we get to the end of the Habakkuk's prophecy, he is now resting in the Lord. "God the Lord is my strength," says Habakkuk in 3:19. Over the next few weeks, we will try to understand some of Habakkuk's message, and what it means for us.