KEY THOT: Habakkuk complains about the wicked in Judah whose violence and destruction seem to escape God's notice. Justice is corrupted and yet the wicked suffer no consequence: “the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted” (1:4). But God reveals to Habakkuk that justice is soon coming soon in the form of the swift and ruthless invading Babylonian hordes. This revelation shocks Habakkuk. How could God use an evil nation to discipline his people Judah? And God’s reply to his complaint is to tell him to wait for His vision and to record it for generations to read. When it came it says that the Babylonians themselves will be destroyed after God has used them as his instrument of justice for Judah. But God gives Habakkuk this assurance: “the righteous shall live by faith” (2:4). In other words, in the midst of divine discipline and destruction wrought by the Babylonian hordes, the righteous will live because of his faith. The righteous will not be swept away with the wicked—he will survive divine judgment.
This expression “the righteous shall live by faith” is quoted by Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 in the context of God’s justification of sinners by grace not law. Even the writer to the Hebrews quotes this verse to explain why God will not destroy those who live by faith in Hebrews 10:38. This principle of being justified and saved by faith and experiencing life instead of death is therefore not new, but is actually a principle found in the OT Scriptures. The Lutherans would like to call this principle “Law and Gospel”. I would say it in NT terminology as "Grace in the Law" and and "Law in Grace". Grace is not just a NT principle though its full revelation would have to await the coming of Jesus Christ to die for our sins to turn away God's wrath from us.
In the midst of wickedness and iniquity, violence and destruction, we are spared from divine wrath and live because we believe Jesus Christ has took God's judgment upon himself. That is our only hope of deliverance from divine judgment and our only certainty: everything else that is not of faith is sin and will be destroyed by fire when Jesus returns again as Lord of lords and King of kings.
Father God, we thank You that in the midst moral and spiritual contradiction and confusion in our generation, You have made us righteous by our faith in Jesus Christ and nothing else. Amen.