By Tony Pearce
Light for the Last Days Ministries
Are You not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked 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? (Habakkuk 1:12-13)
Why doesn’t God stop all the trouble in the world? God has purer eyes than to behold evil; surely, He can’t use evil people to chastise good people; that goes against God’s whole character. He’s got to be on the side of the good against the evil.
Yes! That is right. Well, yes, but also no. There’s a time when God will allow the wicked to chastise the good for His purposes, to bring them to Himself, and He says, you have appointed them for judgment . . . You have marked them for correction, which is true.
But He says we shall not die, which is also true. God is going to bring them through this.
There’s a kind of idea that, somehow, God shouldn’t allow this to happen because, as Habakkuk says, God is too pure to behold evil, surely He can’t use the bad guys against the good guys.
Actually, that’s not necessarily the case. Otherwise, how do we explain evil people coming to power throughout the Earth?
There has always been this battle between God and evil, God and Satan; and God allows Satan a certain amount of freedom to act. God is going to have His way ultimately in bringing Satan down, but in the meantime, we have to live in a world in which evil often triumphs over the good; and we have to learn how to live with it.
But the prophet asks, how can God hold His tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he? Surely this is against Your will, surely, you’ve got to do something to save us. You can’t let the wicked devour the righteous; you can’t favor a wicked pagan people over your covenant people, over Israel.
And so, Habakkuk says he’ll see what God has to say. In chapter 2 verse 1, he then says:
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.
Habakkuk admits: Okay, maybe I do need a bit of correction on this. Maybe I’ll just see what God has to say. And he recognized he may have gotten it wrong. He says he’ll wait and see what God has to say about it. He’ll wait and see how God will use these events. He asks Him what will be His answer.
There are times also, when we need to ask ourselves and ask God: Have we got it right on everything?
I need to do that myself, and we need to be humble and recognize that there may be things which God actually wants to correct in us on how we view things. And we need to recognize that we don’t have everything sorted out ourselves. Even if, like me, you’ve studied the Bible for 50 years and you think you’ve got it all figured out.
Maybe there are things which we need to see that God may want to change in us. And God continually wants to change things in us. He wants us to understand Him truly.
Habakkuk wanted to see how God would answer when he was corrected. He wanted to see what God was going to say to him and how God would use these events.
Now, he’s asking Him and we see what He will answer. As I said, we need to be ready for God to correct us, to make us see what is true and what is not true.
In verses 2 to 4, in chapter 2, the Lord answers:
And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
God says to Habakkuk: write down the vision; make it clear so people can read it and understand it. Put it on a billboard if you like so people can walk by and see what it is, what it has to say . . . so they can see what’s going to come and act in response to it. God says this is going to come for the appointed time. It will surely come. He says: whether you want like it or not, this is going to happen.
And there are things which we don’t like, and we think we can stop from happening. But, actually, they’re going to happen whether we like it or not.
There are two main responses here: that of the proud, and that of the just.
It says the soul of the proud is not upright in him, but the just shall live by his faith.
This tells us there are two ways in which we’re going to respond to the Word of the Lord:
1. The proud refuse the Word of the Lord; they refuse to repent of their sins and to believe in the Lord.
- They refuse to see the signs; they refuse to heed the prophetic word.
- They carry on without God.
- They say we’ve got it all figured out, we’ll trust in our own righteousness.
- We can work it out, we’re clever people we know what to do and we can work it out without God.
Basically, the spirit of the world today is that we can work it out without God.
- We don’t need God; ‘we don’t need Him telling us that we need to repent and believe the Gospel.
- We don’t need Him telling us that Jesus is coming again: that’s all a load of baloney!
- We’re going to sort it out.
- We’re strong; we know what to do.
And God says that the proud are actually going to be brought down because they don’t sort it out, and the vision will happen.
What will happen is going to happen, and God has written about it in his Word. Therefore, if it’s written in the Word of God, it’s going to happen whether we like it or not.
2. Then He says: the just shall live by faith. Those who do repent (acknowledge their sinfulness and turn toward God) and believe will and have a true faith in God; they will live.
They may suffer outwardly, but they will have the life of God in them which will enable them to come through the trials and tribulations with faith and victory.
And when you go to the Book of Daniel, you see there that you have people who had faith, who were justified, who believed in God, and who, in the Babylonian situation, had the victory.
They demonstrated also that their faith was going to stand and that they were to stand against all of the forces which were coming against them.
God says to those who have faith today that:
- If you have Me in you, you have the Holy Spirit within you.
- You have the God who made the Heavens and the Earth within you.
- You have Jesus who died on the cross and rose from the dead within you.
- You have the Holy Spirit within you.
- You have the power of God within you and greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.
Therefore, if you have any sense, if you have any understanding of the situation which we’re in this present day—always in this world because we’re always facing trouble and death—if you have any sense, you’re going to believe the Gospel and believe in Jesus and have the Holy Spirit within you.
The just shall live by faith, of course, is a verse which is quoted three times in the New Testament. The most famous one is in Romans chapter 1 verses 16-17 where it says:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
There is a way in which every person on the face of the Earth can be justified with God: By having faith in God through Jesus the Messiah who makes us justified with God. Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead to give us eternal life; and He promises to keep all those who trust in Him through good and bad circumstances. So, whatever happens, trust in Him.
In our time, we can see that although there is Tribulation coming, there is a hope in Jesus the Messiah.
We can tell people about this hope in Jesus; we can tell people there is a way out of the crisis which is coming on the Earth.
In Salvation we have the promise of God to keep us.
Revelation chapter 3 verses 10-11 says:
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
A promise is there, of God, to keep you from the hour of trial which will come upon the whole world. That hour of trial does seem to represent the Tribulation time which is coming to test those who dwell on the Earth. It says, I’m coming quickly.
Jesus promises He is going to come again, to come again to save those who believe in Him. Therefore, we should hold fast what we have that no one may take our crown.
There is this issue: Does it mean “I will keep you from the hour of trial”? I will take you out of the world before the hour of trial begins? The issue of the pre-Tribulation Rapture view? Or does it mean I will keep you in the hour of trial, I’ll keep you through the hour of trial?
Personally, I favor the pre-Tribulation view. But, as it hasn’t happened yet, I should warn you that if it doesn’t happen this way and we end up going through the Tribulation, either way, we have to have Jesus in our lives. And He’s the One who’s going to keep us and help us through this time.
He’s the only help and so, write it down and read it, and believe it! And know that the just shall live by faith.
(Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.)
Tony Pearce is the director of a ministry in the U.K. called Light for the Last Days. There are two ministry websites you may wish to visit: http://www.lightforthelastdays.co.uk and http://messiahfactor.com, both of which have many articles, book extracts, and much valuable information. Also, his Light for the Last Days website is available in several different languages. You may e-mail Tony at firstname.lastname@example.org.