Habakkuk 2:1-5 (ESV)
I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint. And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.” “Moreover, wine[wealth] is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.”
We have heard this phrase many times, “...But the righteous shall live by his faith.” The question is, what does this have to do with Advent? If you look at the context, the prophet Habakkuk was questioning the Lord about how He could allow evil nations such as the Assyrians to punish Israel. The Lord had answered once already and His answer here included this key phrase.
Israel and Judah were undergoing a purification, and it was painful. The Lord used evil nations to capture and disperse His people. So they were awaiting the coming of the Messiah, They were waiting on being rescued from the pagans.
Still, there was quite a few years to go before Israel would be restored–close to 200–but God would use one nation to punish another, and one of the prophets was told that when Cyrus of Persia came to power (Persia conquered the Chaldeans(Babylonians), who had conquered the Assyrians), there would be 70 years and then Israel/Judah would be restored.
So this book of prophecy is written in expectation. The prophet[Israel] had to wait upon the Lord for eventual restoration and justice. But Israel needed to learn humility and be restored to righteousness.
How many times do we question God’s lessons? What does God have to do to get through to us? We have the complete Bible. We know how it all will end. We have the merciful answer in Jesus, yet we are stubborn, and fail to care for others, and gather for ourselves treasures in this world. So take a lesson from Israel. Learn from Habakkuk. Trust God with faith that He knows and cares for us, and all our needs. Take some time to ponder the mercy Jesus offers. Let it become real to you.
by Virgil Stripes
Photo: Stones numbered and stored (possibly in preparation for rebuilding the Temple) in Jerusalem.