Habakkuk: “We shall not die.”
Yahweh: “The righteous shall live by his faith.”
—Habakkuk 1:12; 2:4
Habakkuk laments. God responds. Yet, God’s response seems to rattle Habakkuk more than settle him. He is flabbergasted how God can use the more wicked Babylonians for reproof such that the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he.
But before Habakkuk launches into his second lament expressing his greater confusion, he takes comfort in recalling who God is. He reasons, “Are you not from everlasting? We shall not die.” How does God’s being from everlasting result in the conclusion that they shall not die? God is from everlasting, and what he does is from everlasting (2 Kings 19:25; Isaiah 46:9–10). Also, God is from everlasting, therefore, what He does is everlasting. He makes a covenant with Abraham that is an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:7). This covenant is from everlasting, and is everlasting. When Habakkuk cries out “my God, my Holy One” he is speaking the language of covenant, just as when a husband says “my wife.” In this line of reasoning Habakkuk also addresses God as “the LORD,” or YHWH, and this is not inconsequential. YHWH is the covenant name of God, given by Him to His people for them to remember Him by throughout all their generations (Exodus 3:15). Habakkuk sees God as holy, righteous, good, and faithful. He calls Him his Rock (cf. Psalm 62:6–7). Habakkuk comes before God, on the basis of God. In the midst of confusion, Habakkuk finds comfort in who God is, and yet, it is who God is that is the reason for his confusion. His theology and his reality don’t seem to jibe.
When God answers Habakkuk a second time, he explains how he will judge the Babylonians but that is all. He makes no explicit promises of salvation, discloses nothing of His plan to make it right in the end, offers no explanation of how everything will work out, and states not how He can be righteous in all of this. God simply contrast the proud man, with the man who lives by faith. The man of faith, lives, and he lives by his faith. By implication, and as it is spelled out in the rest of chapter 2 concerning the Babylonians, the proud man dies. With this, God is calling for Habakkuk to go deeper into what Habakkuk has already expressed he believes about God—that He is the everlasting, holy God of covenant, and that He is a sure and steady Rock of salvation.
In the midst of unbelievable injustice, tragedy, and suffering, you don’t need to understand the situation; you need to believe in who God has revealed Himself to be. We don’t need situation specific answers; we need to lean into the revelation of who God is, what He has done, and what He promises to do.