Habakkuk 2:4 – The Righteous Live by Faith


Habakkuk 2:4


The wicked live by dominating acquisition and self-assertion; the righteous live by faith in God’s commitment to deliverance from such domination.


Present experience appears to offer life only through domination and acquisition. That path appears to have no bounds; the alternative seems only to be suffering domination. Habakkuk cannot understand God’s toleration of the status quo that centers on such domination. Even worse, it appears that God is sanctioning some of the domination (in Habakkuk’s case, the Babylonians). God’s response is to assert that there is a future beyond the present reality of domination. There is an appointed time for the end of domination and for the deliverance of the dominated. What is one to do when that end seems to tarry? It is in the context of this question and condition that the assertion is made that “the righteous live by faith.” That conviction is underscored with depictions of the self-destruction of the oppressive dominators (2:5-19) and of God’s direct action (3:3-15). To live by faith is further described by rejoicing and exultation in God (3:18). The book of Habakkuk, through Habakkuk’s dialogue with God, promises life to the righteous sufferers without minimizing the suffering endured in the wait for the promised life free of domination and oppression.