Last One Standing
The righteous will not live by being righteous; the righteous will live by faith.
I'll tell you the best news you will ever hear: "The righteous shall live by faith!" So why doesn't hearing that evoke the response of other good news we hear: "We won!" "The tests were clear!" "I got the job!" "He's home!" "The righteous shall live by faith!" It just doesn't work the same way. In fact, you might hear that and think it is more of an observation, like: good people go through their lives believing in God, the way sensible people go through life taking care of their money. But it isn't like that at all.
Sometimes a statement carries a mystery and you don't realize all that you're hearing. Like, "The Eagle has landed." That's what the commander said when Apollo 11 touched down on the moon. That was pretty amazing news. The righteous will live by faith is like that, only better!
That statement appears almost as a surprise in the little Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk the prophet who lived about 600 years before Christ is pounding on God's door, complaining that God needs to stop the violence and injustice of his own people in Jerusalem and Judah. To Habakkuk's shock, God says, "I'll stop it alright! I'll bring down the Babylonians to stop it!" Habakkuk replies, "You can't do that! They're far worse than the Jews." God tells Habakkuk, "I know what I'm doing. Babylon is wicked to the core but I'm going to use them nonetheless."
In Habakkuk two God describes just how bad Babylon is, and in the middle of that he slips in this one line, almost like a parenthesis. Look at chapter two verses four and five. There were faithful Jews in Jerusalem, surrounded by a nation that had gone renegade against God, but faithful or not, the Babylonians were coming. Yet God held out this promise—not only to ...
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Lee Eclov is pastor of Village Church of Lincolnshire in Lake Forest, Illinois and author of Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers). Eclov also leads a gathering of pastors for mutual support and learning called Pastors' Gatherings. To find out more about these Gatherings visit his site www.leeeclov.com.