Habakkuk Chapter Two

 

Read Habakkuk 2:1-4 – Waiting For God’s Answer

 

v.1I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.”

 

            As we had noted in the first chapter, Habakkuk has complained to God about the iniquity of Judah and then complained to God that he planned to punish them using a nation that was even more wicked than Judah.  He has set these complaints before God and now sits back to watch and see how God will respond.  He is like David

 

Psalms 5:3  My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”

 

David would raise his voice to God in prayer and then wait for God to answer, knowing that that God would answer.  Habakkuk also knows that God will answer and in fact, Habakkuk knows that God will reprove him.  Do we do that?  That is what this part of Habakkuk chapter 2 is all about; the prophet’s faith in God.

 

v.2And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.”

 

            God does answer Habakkuk.  He is instructed to write, to make that writing plain, upon tables or tablets that anyone who reads may be warned to flee the wrath of God.  This is the same kind of instruction that God had given Moses concerning His covenant with Israel:

 

Deuteronomy 37:8And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.”

 

God wanted no mistake, no opportunity for misunderstanding, no excuse for mankind to not know his requirements.  We find that same instruction given to another writer with whom we are familiar:

 

Revelation 1:19Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;”

 

God has never left mankind ignorant of his requirements by not providing him instruction.  God has abandoned people to the results of their folly but his instruction has always been there if they had sought to find it.

 

v.3For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

 

            This “VISION” is for a time that has been appointed but has not yet come.  Habakkuk is somewhat like Daniel when a vision came to him at the side of a great river.  He was instructed that his vision was for a time yet to come:

 

Daniel 10:14Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.”

 

We see the same thing again in Daniel’s prophecy found in Chapter 11.  The purpose is to bolster their faith, to reassure them that God will indeed bring about that which he promises, good or bad.  We have similar assurances in the New Testament, one of which is found in Hebrews 10.  Just a couple of the verses:

 

Hebrews 10:22-23 “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  23Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)”

 

Hebrews 10:37For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.”

 

If we but wait in faith, the promises of God will be fulfilled, He will come, His word is sure.

 

v.4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”

 

            Then the prophet is told something that we are probably familiar with but our familiarity comes from the New Testament.  “THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY HIS FAITH”.  It was first taught by John the Baptizer to his disciples:

 

John 3:36 “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

 

The Apostle Paul teaches us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the source of faith that saves and then quotes these same words from Habakkuk.

 

Romans 1:16-17For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.  17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”

 

This phrase is repeated twice more in the New Testament, first in Galatians 3:11 where Paul uses it to show that the Mosaic Law has been replaced by the rule of faith and then in Hebrews 10:38.

 

Read Habakkuk 2:5-8 – God Will Judge Chaldea

 

v.5Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:”

 

            Now God turns to the issues that Habakkuk had raised with him and addresses them specifically.  Chaldea, the nation that would destroy Jerusalem was indeed as bad as or worse than Judah.  They are characterized by drunkenness and riotous living.  They are proud, fierce, arrogant people because of their success in war.  Their desires, never sated, never fulfilled, just continue to grow and grow.  The wisdom of God has already been make known to man through the Wise Man:

 

Proverbs 27:20Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”

 

The iniquity of man will never end because hell and destruction are never full and the eyes of man are never satisfied.  In another reference God names four things that will never have enough so long as the earth stands.

 

Proverbs 30:16The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.”

 

v.6Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!”

 

            Those who abuse mankind, those who increase their wealth at the expense of others, increasing that “WHICH IS NOT HIS” but rather had been acquired by deceit, theft or some other immoral means will be spoken against. All these, all men who are not as bad will “TAKE A PARABLE AGAINST HIM” will “TAUNT” him with proverbs or wise sayings that depicts his sin and folly.  His pride will become his punishment because others will despise him, hold him in contempt and he will know that.  And God’s destruction will be brought upon them as well.

 

v.7Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?”

 

            The Chaldeans that were just as guilty as Habakkuk has written that they were, who will destroy Judah, will likewise be destroyed themselves by war.  There will be those who will “RISE UP SUDDENLY’; Chaldea ruled Babylon only about 68 years.  When that time is passed, a very short time in terms of the patience of God, they will be bitten, they will be vexed and they will become booty for others just has they have made Assyria and Judah booty when they were destroyed.

 

v.8  Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”

 

            Because Chaldea or Babylon has made spoil of so many nations, those that remain will rise up and spoil them in the same way.  There is an old adage that those who live by the sword will die by the sword.  Obviously this saying, as are many others, is grounded in scripture.  One of the woe’s that Isaiah writes about in his chapter about those who would be enemies of the kingdom of God he says:

 

Woe to thee that spoilest, and thou wast not spoiled; and dealest treacherously, and they dealt not treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.” Isaiah 33:1

 

Read Habakkuk 2:9-20 – Four Woe’s of Chaldea

 

v.9Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!”

 

            God continues with those things that will bring woe upon Chaldea and are the same things which will bring woe upon anyone who practices them.  The first is covetousness.  The ASV reads “WOE TO HIM THAT GETTETH AN EVIL GAIN FOR HIS HOUSE”, the one who feeds his covetousness through evil.  Jeremiah wrote:

 

Jeremiah 22:13 “Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by injustice; that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not his hire;”

 

And it doesn’t really matter what this gain is used to accomplish.  In this verse the prophets talks about setting “HIS NEST ON HIGH” as one who lives in a palace or mansion, gated and guarded to protect him from the evil of others just like him.  It doesn’t matter how high they think they are, how safe from the evils of this world, God will bring them down:

 

Obadiah 1:4Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.”

 

v.10-11Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.  11For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.”

 

            The man or nation who does this brings shame upon his house.  They have cut “OFF MANY PEOPLE”, gotten their gain at the expense of others, whether by war or other evil means.  They have sinned against their souls and their souls will spend eternity separated from the God that gave them existence.  The very stones, beams and timbers will cry out against the evil that brought them into use.

 

v.12  Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!”

 

            This is verse with which we should be familiar because we have used it to illustrate this same thought in our studies of other prophets.  God pronounces woe to them that build a “TOWN WITH BLOOD”, through war and bloodshed or a city “BY INIQUITY”, by other evil means at the expense of other people.  It was one of the charges brought against the rulers and princes of Judah:

 

Micah 3:10They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity.”

 

And Nahum against Nineveh:

 

Nahum 3:1Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;”

 

v.13-14Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?  14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

 

            It is the will of God, that those who practice these sins will “LABOUR IN THE VERY FIRE”, the fires of hell.  They will be a people “THAT WILL WEARY THEMSELVES FOR VERY VANITY”, all of their work, all of their effort will have been vain because all of their gain will be taken, their houses, temples and palaces will be destroyed and finally their souls will be in a devil’s hell for eternity.

            But in the face of all of this destruction, all of this evil, the day will come that was prophesied by Zechariah:

 

Zechariah 14:8-9And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.  9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.

 

The day when the word of God will cover the world like the water of the sea and:

 

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.” Psalm 22:27

 

v.15Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”

 

            Here God addresses the shame brought about by the result of drunkenness.  As we should remember from our study of Genesis this was what brought about God’s curse against Canaan, the son of Ham:

 

Genesis 9:22And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.”

 

Apparently Ham scorned or made fun of his father rather than trying to protect him from himself as his two brothers did and suffered God’s wrath.

 

v.16-17Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.  17For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”

 

            This is similar to one of the curses that God spoke against Babylon or Chaldea by Jeremiah:

 

Jeremiah 51:57And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.”

 

It is difficult for a city or nation to defend itself if it’s princes, it’s rulers, the men that it turns to seeking wisdom are in their cups, besotted, falling down drunk.  They will indeed sleep a perpetual sleep, they will be dead, destroyed just as Lebanon was stripped of her glory, contaminated with men’s blood to the extent that even the wild beasts fled.  Chaldea will suffer the same fate for the same reasons.

 

v.18What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?”

 

            Now God turns his attention to the foolishness of worshipping gods made by the hands of men from wood, stone or precious metal; the doom that will visit those who depend upon a graven image for their well being.  From the beginning of time God has ruled and continues to rule the universe in which we exist.  Another prophet writes:

 

Isaiah 44:6Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.”

 

He called them “DUMB IDOLS”, images that could not speak, images for which men devised doctrines or teachings that were lies from their own minds.  Yet people placed their trust in them, just as they place their trust in false doctrines and teachings today.

 

v.19-20Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.  20But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”

 

            Oh, the foolishness of men that would say to a piece of wood, wake up or to a piece of stone, rise up and teach.  There is no breath in these manmade gods; they have no life, no power, they can do nothing.  But God, on the other hand:

 

The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” Psalms 11:4

 

William L. Schwegler, Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, Louisiana; May 21, 2009