2229.) Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk 2   (NIV)

I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

Habakkuk retires to his watchtower to wait for the Lord’s answer. He knew he needed to have some time alone to get God’s perspective. 

“They who watch for the providence of God will never lack the providence of God to watch for.”

The Lord’s Answer

Then the Lord replied:

“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.

Habakkuk is a prophet of comfort who is to strengthen and support the people, to prevent them from despairing of the coming of Christ, however strangely things may go. This is why he uses every device that can serve to keep strong in their hearts the faith in the promised Christ. He says:  It is indeed true that because of the people’s sins the lands shall be destroyed by the king of Babylon. But Christ and his kingdom shall not fail to come on that account. On the contrary, the destroyer, the king of Babylon, shall have little good out of his conquest, for he too shall perish. For it is God’s nature and work to help when there is need and to come in the midst of the proper season.

–Martin Luther

In order to accomplish exploits for God, you have to keep on believing and not give up. I dedicate this verse to all believers who are trusting the Lord for a particular thing that seems to have been delayed: “The vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3)

–Christine Darg

“See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—

In Hebrew, the important part of the verse has only three words: “the justified man,” “by his faith,” and “will live.” Every word in Habakkuk 2:4 is important, and the Lord quotes it three times in the New Testament just to bring out the fullness of the meaning

  • Romans 1:17 is the commentary on the justified man – “The just shall live by faith”
  • Hebrews 10:38 is the commentary on faith – “The just shall live by faith” 
  • Galatians 3:11 is the commentary on the Christian life – “The just shall live by faith” 

Before his bold declaration of the truth of the gospel, Martin Luther was an Augustinian monk. As a monk he went on a pilgrimage to Rome and as he crossed the Alps he fell deathly ill.  As he lay sick he felt great turmoil, both physical and spiritual, and a verse that had previously touched him came to mind: The just will live by his faith, from Habakkuk 2:4. When Luther recovered he went on to Rome and did the tourist things that all the pilgrims did. One day he came to the church of Saint John’s Lateran, where there is a staircase (pictured above) said to be from Pilate’s judgment hall. It was the custom of pilgrims to climb this staircase, but never on their feet — they painfully climbed a step at a time on their knees, saying prayers and kissing the steps where is was thought the blood of Jesus fell. Luther came to this place and starting doing just as all the pilgrims, because the pope promised an indulgence to all who climbed the steps on their knees and said the prayers. As he did this, Luther remembered the words from Habakkuk: The just will live by his faith. It is said that when he remembered this he stopped, stood up, walked down and went straight home to Germany. Some say the Reformation began on those stairs.

Luther wrote, “Before those words broke upon my mind I hated God and was angry with him because, not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life, he still further increased our torture by the gospel. But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words — ‘The just shall live by faith!’ ‘The just shall live by faith!’ — then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God.”

–David Guzik

indeed, wine betrays him;
he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples.

Now five woes directed at the king of Babylon and similarly sinful people — aggressors (vs. 6-8), the greedy (vs. 9-11), the violent (vs. 12-14), the drunk (vs. 15-17), and the idolater (vs. 18-19).

“Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,

“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
How long must this go on?’
Will not your creditors suddenly arise?
Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their prey.
Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed human blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain,
setting his nest on high
to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.

12 Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
and establishes a town by injustice!
13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined
that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.

15 Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed!
The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you,
and disgrace will cover your glory.
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
and your destruction of animals will terrify you.
For you have shed human blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.”

Through it all, the point is proven.  Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God would judge a sinful nation (Judah) by an even more sinful nation (Babylon).  Yet God reminds Habakkuk of His own wisdom and strength, and of His ultimate triumph over the wicked.  God knew that Babylon was filled with the proud, the greedy, the violent, the drunk, and the idolater — and the LORD knew how to deal with them all.

–David Guzik

20 The Lord is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.

I remember this verse from my earliest childhood. We went to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Williams, Iowa, pop. 500 or so. As Daddy parked the car at church on Sunday morning, Mother would lead the family (three daughters and one son) in saying this verse.  The Lord is in his holy temple.  Let all the earth keep silence before him. We kids knew what we should do next:   quietly get out of the car and walk into church, quietly sit through the service on hard wooden pews (we were not allowed even to chew gum), and quietly return to the car. It was a good plan.

And it is not my parents’ fault that it was so seldom truly successful!

(The picture above is of a different St. Paul’s — Cathedral, Melbourne, Australia.)

_________________________

Music:

“The vision is yet for the appointed time;
It hastens toward the goal and will not fail.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
For it will certainly come,
it will not be late.” 

We can trust the Lord to fulfill his promises!  “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” by Selah.  Click  HERE.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
live by faith.   http://gavinortlund.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/habakkuk-picture.jpg
verse 3.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/habakkuk2verse3a.jpg
stairs of St. John Lateran.   http://www.romaviva.com/San-Giovanni-in-Laterano/scala-santa.jpg
Woe.   http://damancd.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/110224-woe.jpg
St. Paul’s Cathedral.   http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3239/3082509607_7f0f068c11.jpg

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