Summary so far
Ch. 1 (questioning, listening, disputing)
We left him (Hab 2:1) watching and waiting.
1. God speaks again
V2 – Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
This word is to be preserved, published and proclaimed
God reveals his word progressively – within Habakkuk; the OT, from OT to NT.
Bud/flower, shadow/substance, foundation/building, promise/fulfilment.
The later revelation completes the earlier. It complements it, never contradicting or seeking to correct it.
Completed in Christ – Heb 1:1 – ‘In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.’ In Jesus Christ the end has come. The countdown has begun.
Is your Bible complete?
Even the Devil can quote it to his own advantage: ‘It is written…it is also written’ Mt 4:6f
Acts 20:27 – ‘The whole counsel of God’
Only a complete Bible will make a complete Christian.
2. God promises that the world will finally be put to rights
Habakkuk has been contemplating the dire situation in his own nation, and the prospect of something worse to come.
The promise here is in the form of taunt song (see v6), not unlike those heard on football terraces. But here the weak taunt the strong; the captives the captors.
Five woes target
- those who make themselves rich through extortion, v6-8,
- those who use unscrupulous means to build their empires, 9-11,
- those who construct cities and towns on the proceeds of violent crime, 12-14,
- those whose idea of fun is alcohol-fuelled sexual license, 15-17,
- those who make, and those who worship, idols, v18f.
(Includes environmental destruction, v17)
These are all manifestations of human pride (v4a); of self-glorification.
But no: this proud world will finally be put to rights, v14 ‘The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.’
Does that seem impossible? So it must have seemed to Habakkuk.
But God has been continuing to work his purpose out.
Jn 1:14 – ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’
Recall that the first miracle of Moses in Egypt was the turning of water into blood, whereas that of Jesus was the turning of water into wine (and ‘thus revealed his glory’).
Our glory is in Christ Jesus. Our delight is to proclaim him, and thus hasten the day when the world will finally be put to rights.
3. Meanwhile, the righteous will live by his faith
Just 3 words in the original: ‘the righteous/by faith/shall live’.
It’s about having a right relationship with God, steadfastly clinging to God, and drawing our vitality from God.
It’s quoted 3 times in the NT:-
- Rom 1:17 – righteousness: the gospel reveals a righteousness that is not our own, but from God.
- Gal 3:11 – faith: we are saved by faith, and not by doing the works of the law.
- Heb 10:38 – life: of persevering until we receive what God has promised.
Conclusion: why not now?
Why doesn’t God put the world to rights now? Why do the righteous have to keep on living by faith (and not by sight)?
2:3 – “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.”
2 Peter 3:8f ‘The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.’
I don’t suppose it ever occurred to Habakkuk to ask, ‘Is there any hope for the Babylonians?’ But look ahead:-
Dan 1:1 – records the invasion of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon. The Israelites were carried off into exile. Some of the most able were given important jobs in Nebuchadnezzar’s court, and they became chief among the wise men of Babylon. But they remained righteous before the Lord, resolved to live by faith in him. In due course, Babylon was itself conquered, by the Persians, and a remnant of the Israelites returned to their own land. The rest would have stayed. 400 years later a baby was born far away in Bethlehem in Judea. Among the first to come and worship him as King was a group of wise men from the east, from the very area where Babylon had once proudly stood. God had maintained a witness to himself there all that time.
Habakkuk has taken us on a journey from frustration to faith, from worry to worship, from sighing to singing. He has taught us the vital necessity of patiently trusting in God. Best of all, he has pointed us to Christ, the living Word, from whose face shines the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, and in whom all the promises of God are ‘yes’. ‘And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God’ (2 Cor 1:20).