Living by Faith When the World is Falling Apart (Habakkuk Sermon 3 of 9)
April 14, 2002 | Andy Davis
Faith, Walk by Faith
I. Luther and Habakkuk: A Word to the Terrified
I'd like to ask all of you, if you would, to take your Bibles and turn to Habakkuk Chapter 2. We are continuing to look in our study in Habakkuk, and we come to a most magnificent chapter. A chapter which proclaims that God is the God of all the earth. I'd like to welcome our international guests, we're grateful that you're here. Grateful also for our youth that enjoyed their Disciple Now weekend and are here with us as well. We praise God for you both, and we're grateful that the word of God is sufficient for all.
Almost 500 years ago, a German youth was on his way back home, to see his parents, he was in college and he was caught in the middle of a terrible thunder and lightning storm. Of course, it was Martin Luther. And Luther, being a child of his time was superstitious, he believed there was a demon behind every bush ready to grab him by the hair and drag him to hell, and he was afraid. He lived in fear all the time, as many people in the Middle Ages did because he didn't understand the gospel and he didn't understand God. And he was afraid, he was terrified, and as he lay in the mud looking for a refuge from the lightning he cried out a prayer of deliverance, and in that prayer he promised that he would become a monk.
Well, he got through the lightning storm. And when you make a promise like that you keep it. And so he entered a monastery and there he began a career in which he sought to erase his sin and to somehow absolve the wrath of God against him, because of sin, simply by doing good works, by many prayers, by confession of sin to his priest, by labors and efforts, by fasting, by sleeping on a stone floor in the middle of a German winter, without a blanket. He said, "If anyone could ever have been, have been justified, been accepted righteous before God by monkery, it would have been me." But it couldn't be done because there was never an enough, no matter how much he tried there was always more his conscience continually accused him. Even in his good works, he felt they were tainted by bad and he didn't know what to do. And in the middle of it all, the word of God stood and testified to the way out.
He read in Romans 1:16-17, it says there, "I'm not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, for in the gospel the righteousness from God is revealed, the righteousness that is from faith to faith just as it is written, the 'righteous will live by faith.'" The righteous will live by faith. Now Luther, when he first read that and heard it in his pilgrimage and as he was struggling over his sin, in the sense of the wrath of God, he thought that he zeroed in on the word righteous and he said, the righteous man will receive the gift of faith, and therefore, be saved. So what you had to do is get righteous enough, to receive the gift of faith as the saints of old had and so he tried to work on it, and work on it.
And then eventually he saw that it was not a righteousness from God by which He judges us in Romans 1-16, but rather the gift of God's righteousness that he gives us simply as a gift, the gift of righteousness. The ability to stand before God, blameless, holy and unafraid because of a gift of salvation given through the blood of Jesus Christ and that faith was just simply a passive reception of a gift that God wanted to give and the whole world changed for him as he turned it around, he saw that faith was that by which God made us righteous as a gift.
II. Habakkuk’s Anguished Wait Rewarded
500 years ago... And he read something that had been written 2000 years before that. Because a terrified prophet looked at his own people, Habakkuk I'm referring to now, and he saw problems with his people. He saw sinful men who were trying to exploit his people, Jewish men, businessmen and others rulers and leaders and judges and it was all the corrupt system to bilk the poor and plunder them, and to make themselves wealthy by extortion and greed. And he was frustrated and he said, "How long Oh Lord, must I call to you for help, but you don't listen and cry out to you 'violence,' but you don't save. Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?" And so, he's grieved as he looks at the situation, and he says, "God, you're silent. Where are you?" And so the silence of God bothered him greatly. Sinners in Judah breaking the covenant, and God seemed to be silent, he seemed to condone it by his silence, or he seemed to be powerless... There seemed to be nothing he could do.
And so, God spoke to Habakkuk. He's not silent, He's patient. That's true, but He's not silent. And He said, "Habakkuk, I'm going to do something about the problem in Jerusalem. I'm going to bring the Babylonians. "I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They're a feared and dreaded people. They're a law to themselves and promote their own honor." "They're coming to destroy. They're coming to crush Jerusalem, they're coming to evict you from the Promised Land."
Well, Habakkuk is terrified all the more. Babylonians are coming. How can a holy God use a sinful, idolatrous, wicked people to judge his own chosen people? Oh, we have problems. God, it's true, I admit it, I just prayed about it, but it's not that bad. Why would you bring an idolatrous people in to destroy your own people? That doesn't make sense, "your eyes are too pure to look on evil, you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?" I don't get it, I don't understand what you're doing God.
"You've made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler." It's the survival of the fittest, a law of the jungle there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason within Jerusalem within the Jews there, the survival of the fittest, whoever's strong, and as a position of power they can use it to exploit, and they were. And then along come the Babylonians and they have a military genius. They have a power to conquer and they conquer. It doesn't seem to be that there's even a God running this. We're like a bunch of fish, the bigger fish eat the little fish. What are you doing? I don't understand and so I'm going to stand at my post. I'm going to stand here and I'm going to wait, Habakkuk 2:1, and I'm going to wait to see what you will say to me and what answer I can give to this.
And so, that's where we left him last week, he's been waiting all week. We want to find out what the answer is, God. What is the answer? How can a holy God, work through sinful ebbs and flows of history to accomplish his purpose? Habakkuk 2 is one of the greatest chapters in the Old Testament to answer that question.
III. Living by Faith
God gives Habakkuk his answer. Big picture, it's this, the Babylonians are going to be judged, too, in their turn. We call it what goes around comes around. They're going to get it too, and then the people that judge them, they're going to get it too, and it's going to keep on going and going. Nation will rise against nation they're going to be building empires and they're going to be crumbling back down into the dust and through it all. I'm going to be building an empire that will last forever. For the Lord Almighty has determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, the nations exhaust themselves for nothing for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. That's what's going on, big picture.
But what about the individual? Just like Abraham said at Sodom and Gomorrah, "Oh God, will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked, are we all going to die? Is there a way that we can survive this? How can we live through it all?" And Habakkuk 2:4 gives the answer, "The righteous will live by faith." And that answer rung throughout all time. It's the way all righteous people have gone to heaven. From righteous Abel until the last saved person at the end of history, the righteous will live by faith. That is his answer. Big picture, I'm ruling over the nations, they rise and fall. I orchestrate it all, for my glory. In the end I'm building a kingdom that will never end, it's a kingdom of glory that's going to reach the ends of the earth and individual people will enter that kingdom, by faith. That's Habakkuk 2. That's the answer that he waited for it.
Faith Starts with the Word
Well, let's look at it in detail. He begins in verse 2, and I love this, so powerful. "Then the Lord replied." Why is that significant? Well, at the end of the chapter, He's going to talk about nations that worship idols. What's the whole problem with idols? They have mouths, but they cannot speak. They have eyes but they cannot see. They can't do anything they're made of stone and they're covered with gold and silver. There's no breath in them. They can't speak, they can't give guidance, they can't do anything, they're silent. But the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the nation be silent before Him. Because I'm about to speak. You see, when God speaks, we listen. We should. And so the Lord replied, he said I've got something to say. I'm not silent.
And so he gives him a revelation. Now, as we live by faith, the whole thing begins with the word of God, doesn't it? That's where faith starts. It starts with the word of God, it starts with a revelation from God. It doesn't start with us, we don't invent or drum up or scrape together faith. Faith is a response to God's word. God speaks, we believe. And so it's all got to start here. It's all got to start with a revelation and so it does, verses 2-3, "Then the Lord replied, 'Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets, so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers, wait it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Revelation is coming.
Quote, Francis Schaeffer, "God is there and He is not silent." He is there and he speaks. Habakkuk's first problem was God's silence, right? God, you're silent, nothing's going on, you're not responding, you're not doing anything, right? Well, God's silence turned around, God wasn't silent for good. And so the Babylonians are coming and now he needs to interpret history for us. What do you mean by bringing the Babylonians? And so He's going to give us an explanation. He speaks and He says, "Write it down, write down the revelation." What is God's motive in speaking through the prophets? First and foremost, His motive is His own glory. He wants the nations to see Him as a glorious God. He is concerned about His reputation. He's concerned that people will think you've made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures with no ruler. There is a ruler. I rule over my Earth and I want you to know it. And so He speaks for His own glory, so that the nations may know He is in charge. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. He sits enthroned above the circle of the Earth, and the people are like, nothing, they're like grasshoppers before Him. He wants us to know that, for His own glory, He speaks.
But He also speaks for the good of His people. Doesn't He? His people that they may be encouraged and that they may know what to do. So that they will know the path of escape, the way of life. And so He speaks and He commands Habakkuk to write it down. Now, God speaks before the event even takes place this proves God's foreknowledge. First of all, I'm bringing the Babylonians. He spoke before that happened and then I'm going to destroy the Babylonian, 70 years plus later, that happened. God speaks before anything occurs. He speaks before there's light. He speaks and then there's light. The word always comes first. He speaks, Let there be light, and then the existence of reality occurs. And so also this, He speaks and history occurs, That's the way it works. And so, He declares the Babylonians are coming, and they come. The Babylonians will be destroyed and they're destroyed, but He wants you to know that He sees it all ahead of time, and that He rules.
The night before Jesus was crucified, the disciples are about to go through a terrible trial, they're about to see Jesus hanging dead on a cross, And He tells them everything. He tells him about persecution. He tells him all the things they're going to go through and then he says this in John 13, "I'm telling you now, before it happens, so that when it happens, you will believe that I am." I am what? "I am God. I see the end from the beginning." And so, predictive prophecy, the Bible, the word of God, is proof positive that there is a God ruling over heaven and earth because only God could know the end from the beginning, and He declares it and He tells his prophets, write it down on a tablet, scrape it into a tablet, and then make sure it gets copied and copied. So, that people at First Baptist Church, Durham, North Carolina 26 centuries later, can read it.
The eternal Word of God… "Heaven, and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." so write it down, make it plain. So the word for future generations. And He says, "Make it plain, make it clear what I'm going to do." You know the true prophet and the true pastor have the same job. Make the word of God plain. Make it clear so people can understand. God speaks and it happens and make it plain, so that everyone knows what I'm doing. Write it down, the message is eternal and it's there. Now, why does he want it written down? Well, because he's about to tell us in a moment how you're going to survive the Babylonians coming. How will you survive the Babylonians? Far greater question, how will you survive Judgment Day. How will you survive the final day of the Lord, of which this small little day of the Lord is just a dress rehearsal. How are you going to survive Judgment Day?
Well, the righteous will live by faith. Well, where does faith come from? Faith comes from hearing the word and so He's got to give the words so that there can be faith. He's got to speak so that we can believe. The start of personal salvation, it begins with the word of God. And so He says write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets. Well, the revelation awaits an appointed time. It speaks of the end and will not prove false. So He's not... That message isn't for Habakkuk's own generation alone, it speaks of the end of what? The end of the world. It speaks of all of these things. You never knew that Habakkuk 2 contained all this, did you? Habakkuk 2 of all places? Yes, it's in there. It speaks of the end and it will not prove false. Everything's been measured out. There is a time and a place for everything, and it's going to come at the appointed day, not a day soon or a day late, it's going to come at the appointed time.
Faith Transforms the Heart
Secondly, faith transforms the heart. Faith alone justifies. You, want to know how you're going to survive judgment day, how can you as a sinner stand before such a holy God, his eyes are too pure to look on evil, He can't even tolerate he won't look at it. How can sinful people like us survive such a gaze from a holy God? How are we going to survive? How can we be put into a right relationship with God? Well, it's always been the same, by faith alone. Not by fastings and prayers and sleeping on stone floors in the middle of German winters, that's not it. Not by bunches of religious activity, not at all. But by simple faith. You hear a promise from God, you hear the word and you believe and you're justified. Just like Abram who looked at the stars. God called him out said, "Look at the stars Abraham. So shall your offspring be? Abraham heard the promise, he believed in God and it was credited him as righteousness. He's declared not guilty at that moment, he's right. Faith transforms the heart.
But faith does more than that. It gives perspective. Look at verse four, in the NIV it begins with the word see. It could also say behold, look, gaze. Look at what? "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright." Look at the wicked man. Now, what we're going to have before us in this text is basically two ways; you can live by faith or you can die by pride. Those are the two choices you have. Live by faith, die by pride those are the two choices that are laid before you today. You can live by faith or you can die by pride. And so we're going to look at the proud man, but we're also going to look at the one who lives by faith, and so look at him. See his desires are not upright. His soul isn't right within him, something's going wrong within this wicked man, his desires are not upright but the righteous will live by his faith.
So faith gives insight we can have true insight into the wicked Jews who are exploiting the poor in Jerusalem. We can see them for what they really are, we can understand who they are. We can also see the marauding Babylonians as they really are, Who are they? They are covetous, greedy people who never have enough. Look what He says, down here in verse 5, "indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is a greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations, and takes captive all the peoples." He's a greedy conqueror. He's arrogant. And so faith gives us perspective, we see Him properly.
Faith also makes us humble. We begin to recognize there is no one righteous enough to stand before those holy eyes. Habakkuk can't do it. Jeremiah can't do it. Common men and women can't do it. You can't stand before God holy, you have too much sin. We have all broken God's laws. We're sinners, and so we cannot stand before such a holy God, we can't survive. And so faith makes you humble. Hebrews 10:31 says, "It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." It is faith that makes you look inward and say, I can't survive, I'm not righteous, I need a savior, I need a savior. And so faith makes you humble. Faith also makes you obedient to the word. In effect it goes like this, "Pay attention because I'm going to give you some instructions that will save your life and if you obey them, you will live and if you do not obey them, you will not live. It's really that simple. Follow Me. Obey me, and you will live." And so, faith immediately connects to obedience. We'll see that more in a moment.
Faith Survives the Test
Faith also survives the test. There's going to be a test. Look back again for a moment at verse 3, "For the revelation awaits an appointed time. It speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers. Wait for it, it will certainly come and will not delay." Spurgeon spoke of this test. These things don't happen right away, do they? They take time. How long have Gentiles been in charge of Jerusalem? From the time of Habakkuk until when? Until today's newspaper, right? You got to be patient. God's timing is not our timing. And if Habakkuk was waiting for Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem, he's going to be waiting an awfully long time. And so why this test? Why does God put us through a test of patience? Why doesn't it come right away?
Spurgeon answered this question: "This tarrying of truth becomes a testing of the people. Because that gospel which we are to tell does not bring forth all it's fruit at once to those who hear us. Why then? What then? This is the winnowing fan, this is the sieve. This is the way by which God discerns between the righteous and the wicked. As for the wicked man, he says, I do not see any present good coming out of religion. Look at that poor, miserable, sighing, groaning, poverty-stricken Christian over there. What good has it ever done for him? I do not believe it."
And so he arrogantly judges the word rather than standing under it. But a Christian man, a holy man, a just man, a justified man, talks like this, "Yes. If God has spoken anything, it is true. If God has said that, it will be fulfilled. I will wait. Troubles may multiply, cares may come like a deluge, but I will wait. I am sure that God is true. I will wait and watch for the unfolding of his purposes. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. I will never give up reliance on him." Charles Spurgeon.
And so God sends us a test to see if we will wait on him. In the case of the Jews of Habakkuk's time, the test is when is Babylon finally going to fall? It's going to be 70 years they have to wait. Finally it'll fall, but in the end they have to wait. And so Habakkuk, by faith, has to learn to wait. Look over at Habakkuk 3:16. Habakkuk models this perfectly for us at the end. God is promising all these wonderful things for us, but in the meantime it's looking pretty horrible. What do you think Jerusalem's going to look like when the Babylonians get finished with it? It's going to be a smoldering, burning mess. What is the promised land going to look like? Fruitful? No. Fruitless. Everything gone.
And so Habakkuk says, "Okay." This is his version of, "Though he slay me yet will I trust in him." Habakkuk 3:16. "I heard, and my heart pounded. My lips quivered at the sound. Decay crept in my bones and my legs trembled." That's what happens when you get bad news, right? Terrible. "Yet, I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us." Do you see that? I'm going to wait. It's going to come. Babylon's going to get their day. And then he goes on: "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no crops in the field, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior. The sovereign Lord makes my feet like the feet of a deer. He enables me to go on the heights.
So Habakkuk says, the daily newspaper's not going to look very good for the next 70 years. It's going to be tough. Yet I will trust in God. And in the end God is my strength, and he's going to bring me to heaven. And so faith survives the test, but more than that faith survives the judgment. The Babylonians are coming to judge. Habakkuk 1:12. Look again there at 1:12. "Oh Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my holy one, we will not die. Oh Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment. Oh rock, you have ordained them to punish." Destruction's going to be total in Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36 talks about it, "He brought up against them the King of the Babylonians, who killed their young men with the sword in the sanctuary, and spared neither young man nor young woman, old or aged. God handed all of them over to Nebuchadnezzar. He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small. And the treasures of the Lord's temple, and the treasures of the King and his officials. They set fire to God's temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem. They burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there." That's what it was going to look like. The world is crumbling. The world is falling down and nothing will be left. So where is your place of refuge? Where are you going to stand when the world falls down all around you?
People are going to be slaughtered without mercy, wholesale. And absolutely no escape will be possible. None. Amos talked about it. "I saw the Lord standing by the altar and he said, Strike the tops of the pillars so that the thresholds shake. Bring them down on the heads of all the people. Those who are left I will kill with the sword. Not one will get away. None will escape though, they dig down to the depths of the grave, from there my hand will take them. Though they climb up to the heavens, from there I will bring them down. Though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, there I will hunt them down and seize them. Though they hide from me at the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent to bite them. Though they are driven into exile by their enemies, there will I command the sword to slay them. I will fix my eyes upon them for evil and not for good." There's no escape.
Martin Luther's in the middle of a field, face down in the mud, surrounded by the thunder and lightning, nowhere to hide. That's an individual sinner on the day of judgment. They have nowhere to hide. What is the refuge place? Is there a place where we can hide? Is there a place we can be saved? Yes! His name is Jesus Christ. The righteous will live by faith. There's going to be survival. There is a way to make it through. By faith alone, who will survive? The righteous will live by faith.
Now, this means a lot of things. I've thought a lot about this expression. For the Jews at that time it meant survive the Babylonian invasion. Do you see that? And you think, "Why is that important?" Well I'll tell you why it's important. Do you know that Jesus Christ said to the Samaritan woman, "Salvation is from the Jews"?
Did you realize that? What if all the Jews had been slaughtered that day? None left. No remnant, nobody. Salvation is over, we have no savior, Jesus was never born. And so we've got to have a remnant. "A remnant," it says in Romans 11, "chosen by grace." A remnant of believers. The humble in the land, the poor in the land that were being exploited, they were among those that were left behind. They weren't killed. Jeremiah was allowed to survive. Faithful prophet in the bottom of a miry pit; he survived. Abimelech, who tried to protect him and spoke up for him at risk of his life, he survived. Jeremiah talks about him. Baruch, Jeremiah's secretary, he survived. Habakkuk survived. Ezekiel survived. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, they survived, and those that went with them. A remnant chosen by grace of those who lived by faith. And they kept the Jewish nation alive so that we could be saved, so that we could have a Jewish savior.
Simply by faith, each one of these survived. But there's also going to be some instructions. You see, the word of God comes and gives instructions. It's a remnant chosen by grace, but it's also restricted by disobedience. Because the invitation went out for everybody. It went out for everybody. Jeremiah said, "Open the gates and go out to the King of the Babylonians. Go out and you will live, you will survive. But pride begins to kick in. "No, we can take him." You remember what God did to the Assyrians a little while ago under King Hezekiah? Shut the gates, bar them, store up water, get the weapons ready, buttress the walls and let's fight. That's what pride said. Jeremiah says, "You'll lose. You will lose and you'll be slaughtered and the city will be destroyed." And so he gave them the word, but they didn't obey. And the city was destroyed. So the remnant was chosen by grace, but it was restricted by disobedience. The people did not follow what God said to them to do, and so they died by pride.
IV. Dying by Pride
And that's the second option set before us today. We can live by faith, by faith in Jesus Christ, trusting in him alone, or we can die by pride.
Look at verse 4. "See he is puffed up." That means he's arrogant. "His soul is lifted up among them. His desires are not upright, but the righteous will live by faith. Indeed, wine betrays him. He is arrogant and never at rest because he is as greedy as the grave, and like death is never satisfied. He gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples." See, pride starts with self. You look inward and your soul is lifted up. You start saying, "Hey, I can do better. I can have more. I've got some power, I've got some energy, some ability, and I'm going to start taking over things. I'm going to start moving out," and out it goes. Ultimately you're willing to lift up your soul, even to the point of Heaven itself. The King of Babylon is discussed in Isaiah 14, you said in your heart, "I will ascend to Heaven. I will raise my throne above the stars of God. I will sit enthroned on the Mount of Assembly on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds. I will make myself like the Most High." That's pride, isn't it? And God says, "You ascend up that high, I'm going to bring you down."
Pride also hardens the heart. It says his desires are not upright. Literally not righteous. He's got ambitions. The Babylonian comes to conquer, and therefore he's going to be judged. Pride hardens his heart so he can't listen to the word of God. Pride also builds an empire. Look at verse five again, "Indeed wine betrays him." We're going to talk more about that in the future. I don't think it's just a matter of drinking here. I think the fact is, when you drink too much you have elevated opinions of your own ability, right? Isn't that what they talk about in terms of alcohol-related car accidents? You think you can take that turn at that speed, and so you've got an elevated opinion of what you can do. And in the end the wine betrays you. It turns you in. It crushes you. And so in the same way, this wine of arrogance and of world conquest doubles back on you, and you're going to get conquered by another conqueror.
Pride is never satisfied with what one has. Pride must move out, greedy, and conquer. Does a fire ever say, "That's enough wood. I've burned enough today. I'm satisfied." No, the fire keeps burning. As much wood you want to put on, it'll take it. And so also the greedy, covetous empire builder. He's going to build his empire until he is stopped. Ultimately he's trying to take over the world. He gathers to himself all the nations, and takes captive all the peoples. And in the end, pride provokes judgment. You want to build an empire that way? Peter drew his sword, and he said, "Jesus, I'm ready to build your empire. I'm ready to build your kingdom. Here's my sword. Off we go." He said, "Put your sword away. For all who draw the sword," will what? They'll "die by the sword. What goes around, comes around. That's how empires rise, and that's how they fall. My kingdom's different.
I have a different kind of kingdom. But ruthless conquerors eventually all get conquered ruthlessly. Look at verse seven and eight. "Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man's blood, you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them." And so this chapter is dotted with the word "woe". Look at verse 6: "woe." Look at verse 6: "woe." Look at verse 12: "woe." Look at verse 15: "woe." Look at verse 19: "woe." The word woe is the word of a prophet for coming judgment. Five times he speaks that word to the Babylonians and to empire builders like them. God destroys and judges pride.
Ultimately there are two kinds of kingdoms being built in this world at any given time. There's the human kingdom, the kingdom for human glory, and then there's God's kingdom, which will last forever. And in verses 12-13, he's covered those. "Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." If you're building your own empire, God says, "I will bring you down. But if you humbly, simply by faith, enter my Kingdom, you will live forever. You will survive."
V. Application - The Righteous Will Live by Faith.
Now what application can we take for this? I want to center in on the promise, the gospel promise. "The righteous will live by faith." The New Testament quotes this verse three times, and helps us to understand each word in it: Righteous. Who is righteous? No one is good but God alone. And yet there is a righteousness that comes by faith in Jesus Christ alone as a gift. And so the righteous person is righteous simply by faith in Christ, by simply receiving a gift. Jesus Christ lived a sinless, perfect life. He never sinned, never yielded to temptation. He went right to the cross and he died in your place that you might have eternal life. He died with the wrath and the punishment of God coming on him. He took your sin on himself, and he's willing to give you his righteousness so that you will survive Judgment Day. Who is righteous, then? The righteous are those righteous by faith.
Well what is faith? Well Hebrews talks about that. It's quoted in Hebrews 10. Hebrews 10 quotes this verse and says, "Do not throw away your confidence. It will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere, so that when you have done the will of God you will see what he has promised." So what is faith? It is a persevering confidence that God fulfills His promises. That's what it is. And so did Habakkuk have it? Yeah. He said, "I don't care what I see. It doesn't matter if the sheep are filled, or the pens are filled with sheep, or the olive crop is doing great. None of that matters. What matters is God has spoken, and he will fulfill it." Faith is a persevering confidence that God fulfills His promises, and it perseveres no matter what. That's what faith is. Spurgeon talking about faith said, "Why does God elevate this virtue and not love, not mercy, not kindness, not goodness?" Well, he said, "Look at a little suckling babe. A little baby nursing. You got his little feet, little hands, little eyes, his ears. All of that needful and perfect and in its proper place. But he's got that mouth. And through that mouth he receives everything he needs to live. Faith is the mouth of a suckling infant that derives from God, everything for life. That's what it is.
And so through faith, we live. We receive all that we need. Now what is life? "The righteous will live by faith." I'm saying it's three things. It's not in your outline, but I'm just saying.
Number one: It is a right relationship with God. Before we were in a right relationship with God, we were dead in our transgressions and sins. And so we are justified. We're at peace with God through faith. Right relationship with God. We're alive! Now we are alive spiritually. Righteous will come alive spiritually, by faith.
Number two: It is a daily, constant walk with God, through union with Jesus Christ. It's a way of hearing God's commands and obeying and following and being humble and submissive, and walking with him step-by-step... We don't begin with faith and then complete it with works, but it's a step-by-step union with God through Jesus Christ. That's live, number two.
Number one, you're brought into a right relationship with God. Number two, you step-by-step live as a branch on the vine. And his sap is falling through you and it produces good fruit. And then number three, you will live on Judgment Day. The destruction of Babylon is just a small picture. Noah's flood a small picture. Sodom and Gomorrah, a small picture. How will you survive God's holy eyes staring at you on Judgment Day? By faith. The righteous will survive Judgment Day by faith.