The One Who Makes Us Right With God - The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament

The One Who Makes Us Right with God

Unlike some of the other prophets, Habakkuk didn’t call people to repentance. When he began to prophesy, it was too late for that. Instead, he predicted the destruction of Judah. But even though destruction was surely coming for the nation, Habakkuk held out hope for those who would hold fast their confidence in God.

“Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked,” Habakkuk said, before drawing a contrast with the righteous people, “but the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God” (Habakkuk 2:4). The prophet was saying that no matter what happened, the righteous would put all of their hope in God—and he would save them.

Habakkuk didn’t clarify how righteousness and faith are related or how sinful, faithless people will become righteous, faithful people. But Habakkuk’s words do become clear when Paul speaks in the New Testament about justification by faith. In his letters to the Romans and Galatians, Paul made it clear that the righteousness God requires is the perfect righteousness of Christ, which he gives to us as a gift. We could never work up this righteousness on our own. But where we are faithless, he is faithful. He imputes his own perfect righteousness to us when we recognize our need for it and turn toward him to receive it.

Habakkuk couldn’t see exactly how God was going to make sinful men and women righteous. He couldn’t see how God would preserve his holy hatred for sin and yet offer his merciful forgiveness to sinners. God didn’t reveal that much to Habakkuk, but he did reveal it to Paul who wrote,

God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. (Romans 3:24-26)

Provider of my righteousness, how could I ever hope to stand before a holy God and expect anything less than judgment? It’s only because of what you’ve done and what you’ve given to me—your own perfect righteousness. I simply can’t work it up on my own, so I gladly and gratefully receive it from you.

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