We return to The book of Habakkuk, and find connections between Habakkuk and another minor prophet, Obadiah, as well as one of Paul’s most important letters, The Book of Romans. We wrap up Habakkuk with a look at Christ’s death as the final sacrifice and the call for us to respond by choosing a life of righteousness.
Christ’s sacrifice is the final sacrifice
Verse 26. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Now I’m going to blitz through this real quick, but I think it’s important, and it’s a reminder for many of you.
Hebrews 5:1. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.
What kind of sacrifice is that? Temple sacrifice.
Verse 3. Because of this he is required as for the people, so also for himself, to offer sacrifices for sins.
What kind of sacrifice is that? Temple.
We’re going over to 7:26. For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;
who does not need daily, as those high priests—
What did those high priests do daily? Sacrifice. What kind of sacrifice? Temple sacrifice. He doesn’t need to do that, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this new high priest He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
What sacrifice is that? Jesus. The cross. And how many times did he do that? Once. How many times was the temple sacrifice done? Every day.
Hebrews 8:3 For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices—
What kind of sacrifice is that? Temple sacrifice.
9:9. It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—
What kind of sacrifice is that? Temple sacrifice. When does that happen? Daily. What does it not do? It does not cleanse the conscience. Is it a bad thing to do, sacrifice for a Jew? No. It’s fine. Acts 15 showed that.
In Acts 15, he said Jews are going to keep doing Jewish stuff; the Gentiles shouldn’t. You don’t need to become Jewish. You keep being Gentile. We’re going to keep doing this Jewish stuff. But the root that we both have is the same, of faith. That’s the root. That’s where we have a commonality.
So these Jewish guys were still doing the Jewish stuff, as Paul did his whole life.
9:23. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.
What was the better sacrifice? Jesus. Yeah, the cross. What did it take the place of? The daily temple sacrifices.
Verse 26. He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
Verse 28. Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.
10:1. For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect.
Which sacrifice is he talking about, year by year? The temple sacrifice. They don’t make you perfect. They don’t make you complete. They’re just a reminder. They’re just an external reminder. The key is to get your conscience cleared.
Verse 3. But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year.
The sacrifice reminds you of sin. It doesn’t take care of the sin. That has to happen inside. Therefore, what we need to do is approach the throne of grace to have our consciences cleansed.
And that’s the context for 10:26. For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
We’re talking about the temple sacrifice. It’s the daily thing. That doesn’t take care of sin. It reminds of sin.
What takes care of sin is coming before the throne of grace to find help in time of need, to have our hearts cleansed from our conscience. That’s what this whole passage is about.
But if we want to sin willfully, which is a matter of pride, here’s what we get:
Verse 27. but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.
This is Habakkuk.
Judgment for destruction versus judgment for refinement
Israel and Babylon both got the same thing. They got fiery indignation. The Babylonians were consumed. The Israelites were refined. The same judgment. And it stems from the same thing, the root of pride, disobedience.
Verse 28. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
It doesn’t matter whether they’re a foreigner or whether they’re a natural-born Israelite.
Don’t insult the Spirit by despising Christ’s sacrifice
Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified—because these are all believers—a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
Here we are. Jesus has taken all our sins on the cross, and we look at that and say thanks for doing that, but I’m going to go do what I want to do anyway. I appreciate your taking care of all my sins. Now I’m just going to go follow my way.
So I’m not going to give any particular value to that that you did for me, Jesus. I’m just going to count it as a common thing, and I’m going to do whatever I want to do.
And the Spirit’s yearning earnestly and striving. Galatians says the Spirit lusts for our partnership, just like the flesh is lusting.
And the Spirit is leading us, and we say, “Yeah, I’m not interested in that. I don’t care what you have to say.”
It’s insulting to the Spirit. It’s much worse than a capital punishment offense because we really know better.
For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”—but I’ll also restore.
Look, think about these former days. You lost your possessions and were glad. And now remember Habakkuk. This is the same message that the prophets gave. It’s the same message that Jeremiah gave. Just turn and do the Sabbath, and your hearts will start to turn back to God, and I’ll relent. Just honor your treaty with Babylon, and I’ll give you more time, and I’ll relent. Just start doing justice. Just stop the violence. Start worshipping me in truth, not hiding behind closed doors to worship the sun. And I’ll restore.
But they wouldn’t listen. So the Chaldeans came, and they washed over. Joel describes it like locusts eating the field.
And in Jeremiah, he says I’m doing this for your own good. I’ve got something real special in store for you, a blessing and a hope.
Well that is God’s view of this pestilence, half a million people dying, massive destruction, temple getting knocked down, the wall getting knocked down. Because the wages of sin is death; and this fiery indignation which consumes the adversaries still comes on the people of God for their restoration because they won’t come to him in faith. Instead they’re following the roots of pride.
Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans
The book of Romans is basically the same thing. Let’s look at Romans real quick. It’s the same point. In the book of Romans, the theme verse is Habakkuk 2:4.
Romans 1:16. Now, this book is to, again, a group of believers. These are Gentile believers whose faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. The whole book is to them. He does talk to “O man” here in chapter 2, so he changed his audiences in that particular instance. But the book itself is to these Gentile believers whose faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.
And he says in verse 16, For I am not ashamed of the good news of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
For in it, the gospel, the good news, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith—It starts with faith, and every day it has faith. —as it is written, “The righteous or the just shall live by faith.” The righteous shall live by faith. That’s Habakkuk 2:4.
Paul defends his gospel
And then he goes, in the very next verse, For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.
Now why is he saying that? He’s saying that because the reason he wrote this book is that his gospel was being criticized as being loosey-goosey, you can do whatever you want to. He actually is criticized to say, “You should do evil that good may come.” And Paul calls this slander. You’re slandering my gospel. This is coming from the Jews.
If you had the charge to be the apostle to the Gentiles, the apostle to the world of non-Jews, and now some Jews were coming to the center of the earth, which is Rome, and telling these Christians whose faith is spoken of throughout the whole world that Paul’s gospel is ridiculous because he teaches that you ought to sin because it does God a favor because Paul teaches where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. So then you should sin more because then grace will abound all the more, and God looks even better—that’s Paul’s gospel.
And Paul says that’s slander! I do teach that where sin abounds grace abounds all the more. I do teach that. He actually says that phrase in this book. But what you have to understand is it’s not that we have to do righteous deeds in order to be saved.
Abraham was saved before circumcision. Abraham was saved before the law. He was saved just because he believed. It’s a matter of faith.
But what you have to understand is unrighteousness brings negative consequences, notwithstanding. It’s a matter of cause/effect. It’s a matter of fruit. It’s a matter of reward. What do you want the reward of your life to be?
He says here in verse 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, just like happened in Habakkuk.
You’ve got the elect nation of Israel, and they are going the way of injustice. They’re going the way of lawlessness. They’re going the way of violence. And God comes in and uses judgment to eradicate that.
If we want lust and death, God will let us have it
Then look at this progression in 18:24. He says, Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies—this is the wrath of God. People want lust. God says you can have it.
who exchanged the truth of God for the lie—
Verse 26. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. It’s the second “gave them up.”
And then finally, God gave them over to a debased mind—
There’s this progression of wrath of God, when we want to follow the pride of our heart, when we want to follow the way of sin, God will hold us back, and hold us back, and hold us back; and finally he’ll say you can have the lust of your flesh.
And then we follow that lust, and he holds us back, gives us a chance to repent; and then he says you can have the addiction to that lust, these vile passions.
And then he holds us back, gives us a chance to repent; and we if we insist, he finally says I’ll give you over to debased mind. You can’t even you can’t even know what’s true anymore.
It’s the wrath of God. And it comes on unrighteousness notwithstanding whether someone is elect or not. That’s Paul’s point. That’s the main point of Romans.
He repeats this same thing in chapter 6 when he says, can you go back into death once having been delivered from it? Yes, you can. Does that make any sense? Can you go back into slavery having been delivered from it? Yes. Does that make any sense? Can you go back into condemnation having been delivered from it? Yes. Does that make any sense?
No! Heavens, no, it doesn’t make any sense. I’m not teaching in the gospel that we ought to sin! Heaven forbid! I’m teaching that we should do righteousness. But here’s the thing: It’s not the righteousness of the law. They tried that. It didn’t work. It’s the righteousness of faith.
You know what’s right on the inside. It’s a matter of cleansing the heart, it’s not a matter of following the rules. You know what’s right, so do it.
In Romans, he says the reasonable thing to do is make your life a living sacrifice and renew your mind.
In Hebrews, he says the reasonable thing to do is go before this throne of grace and find help in time of need and have your heart purified.
Whatever it is you have in sin, put that before the cross. Put that at the feet of the high priest. Don’t rely on some kind of religious service. Don’t rely on some kind of sacrifice, some date, temple worship, devotional studies, church attendance, mission trip. All those things are great. That’s not the core issue. The core issue is the heart.
And the core issue, core decision in the heart is am I going to follow pride, my way; or am I going to believe that God’s way is best?
Let’s look at Obadiah real quick. Go back to the Habakkuk area. Obadiah.
The vision of Obadiah.
Thus says the Lord God concerning Edom—
This is about this same time period, but it’s actually written to Edom.
(We have heard a report from the Lord,
And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying,
“Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle”):
“Behold, I will make you small among the nations, Edom;
You shall be greatly despised.
The pride of your heart has deceived you,
And here’s what they did.1:10.
“For violence against your brother Jacob,
Shame shall cover you,
And you shall be cut off forever.
Verse 12. “But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother
In the day of his captivity;
Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Nor should you have spoken proudly
In the day of distress.
Even though God brought in this catastrophe on Israel, he expected Edom to actually come in and help the refugees. And instead, they participated in the plunder.
So he says to Edom, verse 3 there, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock—Does anybody know what city he’s talking about here? The city in the clefts of the rock? Edom? Modern Petra. Yeah. This is the city of Petra. You ought to look it up on the internet.
It’s this massive city built in this canyon. It was considered impregnable at the time. But it didn’t stay impregnable because God says because of your pride, you’re going to be knocked down. Because when Israel went through their difficult time, you gloated over it; and you said in your pride, we’re better than they are.
This is not only injustice, violence, lawlessness, it’s also lack of mercy. It’s also looking down on others.
Well Habakkuk ends, and we’ll end the way Habakkuk ends.
3:17. Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Habakkuk has gotten this horribly distressing message about what’s going to happen, and he says, you know, it may be really bad. But no matter how bad it is, I’m going to trust in the Lord. Which is consistent with “the righteous shall live by faith.”
And here’s how we can do this on a daily basis: Instead of looking to some kind of daily sacrifice where we say, well, because I do quiet time or because I give a certain amount of money or whatever you fill in the blank with, I am therefore righteous before God.
What we can do is look at that and say, “No matter what the circumstance that’s come into my life, am I accepting that as what is in my best interest?” Am I looking at hardship and saying, “Well, that must have been just what I needed”? Am I looking—even when I bring it on myself—and saying, “Well, I needed that negative feedback because I’m being an idiot. I need to change”?
Or do we say, “God, even though I brought this hardship on myself, you should have bailed me out”? Or are we saying, “God, you should not bring this difficulty on me. It’s not fair”?
Well the righteous shall live by faith, and the key faith is, do we believe that what God has for us is really in our best interest?
He told the nation of Israel, look, I’m going to bring this catastrophe; it’s in your best interest.
He told Habakkuk, look, I’m going to bring this catastrophe; it’s in your best interest.
And the core thing he’s trying to make happen all the way through is, will you trust me? Will you walk by faith? Will you live by faith?
the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness. And usually the wrath is to give us over to what we wanted.
We saw in Ezekiel 16 that God said, you know what I’m going to do to you, Israel? I’m going to give you over to these lovers, these other nations, and let them take care of you instead of me, Babylon being one.
Be careful for what you want; you may get it.
But the fruit of righteousness is life. So “choose life” is the basic point.