All Roads Lead To Jesus - Habakkuk

Habakkuk – Jesus Crushes Injustice
Reading: Habakkuk 1

There is a verse in Habakkuk that many Christians have found to be very hopeful in desperate situations. I have heard pastors use this verse to launch a new ministry or a new building campaign. I have heard this verse used in counseling books to encourage people to press on. It was probably crocheted in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s and put onto coffee mugs in the ‘90’s and punched in as a status in the 2010’s. It says,

“Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”

What hope-filled words! These may have been especially promising words to the first hearers in Judah as they had witnessed the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians. And now, those same Assyrians had threatened their kingdom on several occasions. The hearts of the people of Judah must have leaped out of their chests when they heard Habakkuk speak for the Lord. God was going to do a great work that would astound everyone. It’s no wonder that preachers have used these words to inspire congregations to give more time, talent, and treasure toward ministry objectives. It is no wonder that counselors have sought to bring hurting people out of the depths of grief with these hopeful words.

The problem is that God didn’t stop with these words. In the very next stanza, God describes that unbelievable work when he says,

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own. They are dreaded and fearsome; their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.”

Yikes. That wasn’t the message the people of Judah were hoping for. The astounding work of God caused great grief for His people. The prophecies of Habakkuk went on to describe exactly what God was going to do with these Chaldeans. In short, it wasn’t good for Judah’s immediate future. God was not launching a new ministry campaign or trying to convince hurting people that a brighter day was in their future. God was promising to keep his covenant and to discipline his people for their sin. God was acting against Judah because God is a God of justice. The God of justice would crush injustice.

The reason this news was so shocking was that Babylon, the Chaldeans, weren’t exactly a righteous people. In our mythos, the good guys are supposed to take out the bad guys. The problem with this Chaldean scenario is that the Chaldeans weren’t good guys. God was going to use some pretty bad people to get good things done. How is that just?

One of the first questions on the minds of the Judeans must have been, “What about punishing the evil of Babylon?”

As Habakkuk continued to prophesy, he asked the same question. He argued with God about his methods of discipline. Each time Habakkuk complained against God, God answered righteously. Habakkuk asked God how he could use evil traitors to discipline his people. God graciously answered that the Chaldeans would not escape judgment. They would be the tools of God to discipline his own people, but in the end, his people would be restored, and the Chaldeans would be wiped from the face of the earth. And this is exactly what happened. Judah was captured and exiled by Babylon in 576. B.C. Some 70 years later they returned to Judah and reestablished their people in their land and under a renewed covenant with God.

In Habakkuk God is a just God that crushes injustice and unrighteousness. Those who would be God’s people according to Habakkuk are those who are just and live by faith.

The words of Habakkuk show us that Jesus would be the one who would crush injustice. God used an even more shocking event to bring about justice. God allowed his own son to be unjustly condemned and executed on a cross that he did not deserve. God the Son allowed himself to become the sin of all of God’s chosen people so that all of God’s chosen people could become the righteousness of God. Shockingly, Jesus agreed to and allowed these unjust things so that we might by faith be made just before God. God used the shocking news and judgment of the Cross to reconcile his people just as he had used the Chaldeans to restore his people so many centuries before Jesus.

In Reformed theology, we love the concept of justification by faith. What this simply means is that because Jesus became our sin, and because we have been given the gift of faith by grace, that we are united to the work of Jesus Christ and as a result, we are made righteous in the sight of God. Our sinful self was nailed with Jesus to the Cross and buried with Christ in the grave. We are now able to please God only through the awesome work of Christ. This doctrine frees us from shame and guilt as we know there is nothing more that we can do to make God love us more. There is nothing that we can do to make God love us less. God loves us first and he loves us unconditionally because of what Jesus has done for us and in us.

But there is more to understanding how Jesus plans to crush injustice. God is not only concerned with our salvation. He desires for us to be just people. In fact, because we, a once formerly unjust person, have been made just by God’s gracious love for us, should desire justice in this world even more than the next person who doesn’t know Jesus.

Jesus came to establish a Kingdom that would eradicate injustice. His people are ambassadors of that kingdom. Those people that have been made just by faith through the work of Christ should be the same people on the front line of the fight against injustice wherever it may be. Our salvation must not be disconnected from our actions. Our salvation is of earthly good. We are to fight for the things God loves until Jesus returns to end all of the fights.

There are so many instances of injustice in this world. It is unjust when human life is snuffed out whether in the womb or in the streets. It is unjust when crimes are tried, and sentences carried out on a street corner without any due process. It is unjust when a public servant is killed while doing their job properly and justly to serve and protect. It is unjust for peaceful protestors to be abused when their rights are protected by law. It is unjust when the property of bystanders is destroyed for the sake of a cause. It is unjust to be oppressed because of the color of your skin.

We are unjust when we do not join in the fight against injustice wherever it might exist. We are unjust when we need others to agree with us or say things exactly as we want them to be said. We are unjust when we are caught up in a tribe rather than The Kingdom. We are unjust when we misrepresent another person made in the image of God.

There is no cause and no side that is completely just. Only Jesus is perfectly just which is why Jesus and the pursuit of his glory and his Kingdom is our only hope for this world.

Those who have been justified by faith will look for ways to seek justice in the world in which they live. Those who have been justified by faith know what it is like to be truly free before God. This is the greatest freedom of all. This great freedom must trickle down into our fight for justice in this world.

Our faith in Christ has made us just before God. We must allow this standing before God to become the impetus for each of us to look for ways to fight against injustice in this world. Our faith in Jesus is not just for the hereafter. Our faith in Jesus must also be for the here and now as we are the representation of what God intends to bring to this earth when Jesus comes again.

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