“Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, ‘The righteous man shall live by faith.’” Galatians 3:11
Three times in the New Testament the above noted Old Testament passage is alluded to, in Romans 1:17, here in Galatians, and the third time in Hebrews 10:37-38.
Here, the apostle Paul is moved by the Holy Spirit to cite a spiritual principle that the Great God had demonstrated through faithful Old Testament men and women, and then had been given to His prophet Habakkuk to convey by way of reminder to his Israelite brethren. Belief, trust, and reliance upon Yahweh and His plans are what constitute the “righteous man” in the eyes of the LORD even when it seems His plan is difficult to understand. The quote by Paul is found in our Bibles in the second chapter of Habakkuk verse four: “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” Paul, in his letters to the Roman church and those in Galatia who are particularly of Jewish descent, is driving home the point that Habakkuk makes to the Israelites of his day. Trust God’s plan and go with what He reveals is His plan! Hear what the prophet said in the context preceding the statement cited by Paul: “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved. Then the LORD answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.’ ” (Hab. 2:1-2) When you read the context of chapter one, you see Habakkuk was confused somewhat in the LORD’s plans as revealed to him in using the Babylonians to “judge” and “correct” (Hab. 1:12) the violence, iniquity, destruction and wickedness he sees all around him. Yet, God does intend to use them and tells Habakkuk, “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days–You would not believe if you were told.” (Hab. 1:5) So, Habakkuk stationed himself, took God’s reply and reproof, then recorded it for the benefit of the generations of God’s people to come. The Jews of Paul’s day had a continuing problem of letting go of that which they understood, their privileged position as “God’s people” and the law. Paul reminds them that those who are justified and righteous in the sight of God are those who trust and humble themselves to God’s plan as revealed in His written word. This now includes all those of the nations who would humble themselves to His will and operate in this manner before God. God’s intentions in removing the law and bringing in the Gentiles were clearly revealed in the Old Testament through the fathers and the prophets. Those who rejected the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ were the proud ones, their souls were definitely not right within them. Yet, it is apparent that anyone who would convert to Christ and yet seek to cling to any vestiges of the Old Testament law system as a means of righteousness or justification before God would be deemed a “proud one” posing eternal negative ramifications for “his soul.” There is yet another aspect brought forward by this inspired utterance of Habakkuk referenced by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews. It has to do with remaining faithful to the will and promises of God even in the face of persecution, oppression, and unwarranted confiscation of earthly goods by worldly powers. Just as Habakkuk was promised by the LORD that the Chaldeans would be judged for their injustices and cruelty, (who are used as a type of all others who rob and oppress for their master, the head of the house of the evil) because they had “looted many nations”, so the recipients of the Hebrew letter were to understand God would judge those who would persecute, oppress, and rob them. The same goes for us. Our responsibility, like them, is to remain faithful and understand the value of our better and lasting reward which cannot be taken, only forfeited if we choose to shrink back. Habakkuk was also moved to record this for our benefit: “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal, and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.” We’ve got God’s guarantee that what He has said will happen. Be patient, remember your purpose and goal while He executes the final phase of His plan. It will not fail! Amen.