Here is good advice for the person who must live through severe troubles. He cannot even hope to live by his money, strength or intelligence. He cannot depend on his family, his friends or his importance. Such things do not protect a person even when life is easy. They certainly cannot help a person whose life is hard.
The advice comes from God himself, in Habakkuk 2:4. A person must live by faith in God. In other words, the person must constantly trust God.
There are two different ideas here, which the author of Hebrews combines. The person must be faithful; and the person must have faith. ‘Faithful’ means that the person must constantly remain loyal to God. That is what the Book of Habakkuk emphasises (see Habakkuk 3:17-18). ‘Faith’ means that a person must trust God. That is the word that the ancient Greek Bible translation (called the Septuagint) uses in this passage.
Those facts teach us something about the nature of faith. Faith in God is not just a thought that lasts for a moment. It is an attitude that lasts for the rest of our lives. It is a decision to be constantly loyal to God, whatever our troubles may be. In every situation, we will trust him. There are many examples of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. And every example is of someone who was faithful to God. We cannot have faith unless we are loyal to God. The person with faith constantly does what God wants him to do.
The second line of Hebrews 10:38 is the Septuagint’s translation of the beginning of Habakkuk 2:4. To us, it may not seem a good translation. But the author of Hebrews was advising people who would live through terrible troubles. He was not trying to prove how much he knew. So he did not argue about the translation. Such arguments can cause people to lose confidence in the Bible.
The Septuagint’s statement in that line is correct. A person should not turn back from God. People must not allow unbelief to rule their lives. The author of Hebrews has often warned about that (Hebrews 6:4-8; Hebrews 10:29-31). And he gave an example of it in Hebrews 3:7-19. Such actions make God angry; they certainly do not please him.
Next part: Opposite reactions to God (Hebrews 10:39)
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© 2014, Keith Simons.