The Lord Has the Final Word
Habakkuk 2:1-5 “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”
Ephesians 6:12-13 “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.”
Habakkuk has wrestled with God to his fullest ability. He has carried the heavy burden to the Lord and the Lord has increased his burden. He is overwhelmed by the weight of the revelation, the reality that God has shown him. Habakkuk now knows that God never stands idle and that God is never ever complacent concerning injustice or sin. He also realizes that God’s purposes extend far beyond generations. Habakkuk’s God is a God of long patience in His purposes. Knowing the end from the beginning certainly helps God to have patience. Habakkuk realizes that God is not reactionary, but rather very proactive to bring about the purposes of His glory. God is a God who only acts in the fullness of time. His ways are perfect. Our impatience and our pleading for a speedy response do not move God to act imprudently. I also think that Habakkuk is now aware that the issues are in the realm of the heavens first and the realization of the earth only follows after. Truly, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. Our battle is not even in the realm of politics or resolutions, our battle is with principalities and powers in heavenly places. While waiting for God to move, wisdom dictates that we put on armor and take up weapons that are effective in spiritual warfare. Another realization is that while we see and cry out for God to correct the injustices of the world, He first desires us to repent and come to a realization of our own limited understanding. Today, the church is viewed by Western civilization as an institution that tends to strike out at sin without having dealt with the sin that is within its own heart. There certainly is a day when the world will no longer repent no matter how much pressure God exerts upon it, Revelation 9:20; 16:9-11. But in the present time, very possibly the world has a point when it accuses the church of self-righteousness. Perhaps what should be taking place today is, that rather than pointing the finger at sinners, the church should be giving itself to brokenness and repentance. Is it possible that the reason the world is not hearing and repenting is that the church has not heard and has not repented? Are we, just maybe, truly the hypocrites that we are accused of being? “I will take my stand at my watch post and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3 “And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. The vision still awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” When God finally speaks to Habakkuk, the opening remarks immediately put us on edge. It doesn’t sound good and it doesn’t sound as if it will be getting any better any time soon. There seems to be a lot of waiting mentioned in this opening statement, and yet when it happens it will happen very quickly. God has set an appointed time and that time will not be rushed. I am fairly certain that in all of our lives God has appointed times. He is a God who works with purpose in our lives that is often hidden from us and yet He acts in our lives and on our lives with detailed intentionality. At times that can be very painful. At times that means life only comes through death; the death of plans and dreams and sometimes even the death of those we love, but God’s purposes for our lives are always good and He sees from an eternal perspective. I have cried out and pleaded with God to change circumstances and situations and often not received any response that I could discern. I have thought that there could never be a reason that what God had allowed would ever prove to be good and that I could never recover from the hurt. But God is a redeemer and if we don’t allow bitterness to enter our soul and if we somehow contend to believe that “though He slays me, yet will I trust Him”; God always proves Himself trustworthy. Always.
The rest of these verses in God’s opening statement set up the declaration that God is prepared to make concerning the Chaldeans, His instrument of justice. God begins by describing them as ruthless, selfish, and greedy people. God is not only aware of the enemies of our soul; he knows their hearts of evil. And God takes it personally. The one who touches you touches the apple of His eye. Saul was persecuting the Christians in Acts and God knocks him to the ground and makes it very clear that He takes the assault on His people personally. “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting Me…” You are never alone when the enemy of your soul attacks.
I remember a story I heard many years ago when I was traveling in Turkey. There was a man from Iran who was a Christian. He had not always been a good man; in fact, he spent time in prison for breaking the law. While he was in prison there was a father and his two sons who were there also, but were in the prison because they were Christians. He said that every day all of the prisoners would be led out to this open area and then the father and his sons would be led out and each one would be laid on their stomach on a wooden bench and a guard would beat them with a whip and then lead them back into their cells. The story continues that at one point the father was so weak and in so much pain that he told his sons that he was going to renounce his faith the next day. The sons implored him not to but he had reached the end of his strength. When the guards marched them out to the bench the next day, the sons were expecting their father to renounce his faith, but when it came to his turn to be beaten, to their surprise, he walked up to the bench and laid down. As the guards were beating him, they became extremely angry because the man was not reacting to the beatings. When they were returned to their cells, the sons asked their father what had happened and he told them that when it came to his turn, he saw Jesus and the Lord asked him to take one more beating for him. The father said that as he laid down on the bench, the Lord laid down on top of him and as they were beating him, he was not feeling a thing.
The story spread through the prison and many prisoners were deeply moved because they had all witnessed this man not responding in pain to the beatings. This man from Iran who was then living in Turkey had converted to Christianity as had many prisoners. He told me this story and I believe that what he told me was true. Jesus took our punishment and our sorrows and our disease of sin. Isaiah 53:4-5 “Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds, we are healed.” Does God always keep us safe from pain? Certainly not, but what we endure for Him is never ignored by Him and He always is with us in our suffering.
In the following verses of Habakkuk 2, there are 5 Woes pronounced over the Chaldeans. I won’t go into each of them, but I just want to point out that in the Bible it is never good when the Lord pronounces Woes over our lives. We always want to live in a place where that never happens. The Woes of the Lord are never good and they always come to pass. It may take a while for them to be fulfilled, but just as the Lord is faithful to His faithful ones, He is faithful to His Woeful ones.
There are two more verses I think are significant to our study in chapter 2. First, verse 14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Moses and Isaiah and Malachi all say similar things, that God is determined to fill the earth with an awareness of His glory. I supposed we could include Paul’s declaration in Philippians 2 also. Numbers 14:21 “But truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD”. Isaiah 11:9 “They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Malachi 1:11 “For from the rising of the sun to its setting, my name will be great among the nations, and in every place, incense will be offered to my name and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.” Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” God’s purposes are for the whole earth and are eternal. God has not left us alone and God has not abandoned His promises. As it says in Habakkuk 2:3, even if it seems slow, wait for it.
I just want to conclude with this thought and it is the final thought that God states as He finishes His dialogue with Habakkuk. Habakkuk 2:20 “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.” When all is said and done, God is willing, sometimes, to hold a conversation with us and help us understand what it is He is doing, but not usually. And ultimately, He is God and answers to no man. When He states that He is in His holy temple, He is declaring that He is King, He is Lord, and that He alone sits on the throne to rule all of creation. No one can challenge the purposes of God and in the end that will be evident and His glory will fill all of His creation and everyone will know it!!!
In our next blog, we will see how Habakkuk responds to the Lord and what our response to Him should also be. Blessings!