Habakkuk Two

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Habakkuk 2:1 I 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.

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

run that readeth it. This common saying carried two implications. First, it was to be written so large and clear that even a person hurrying by could not fail to understand. Second, it was so urgent that the reader would hasten to spread the word to others. Both should, of course, characterize our witness for God, just as it does His Word.

Habakkuk 2:3 For 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.

will not tarry. The fulfillment of God's promises (or warnings) may seem to tarry by our reckoning. But God has an “appointed time” for their accomplishment, and we can be sure it will come on time, for He does not lie! In the New Testament, this truth which Habakkuk applied to the coming Chaldean invasion is quoted in reference to the promised return of Christ (see Hebrews 10:36-37). To us who long for His return, it may seem that He is “tarrying.” But we need rather to be patient, to “occupy” until He comes (Luke 19:13), and be ready.

Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

live by his faith. This great truth, which under Martin Luther became the watchword of the Reformation, is quoted three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). All three emphasized that those who are “justified” (that is, declared and made righteous in the sight of a holy God) are justified, not by the works of the law, but by faith in the Word of God and His provision for their justification through the substitutionary death and resurrection of Christ for their sins.

Habakkuk 2:5 Yea 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:

proud man. This statement probably was fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar in particular (note Daniel 4:30), as well as by the Chaldeans in general. In contrast to those who “live by their faith” in God's Word (Habakkuk 2:4), his “soul [was] lifted up” in pride, and therefore was “not upright in him.” He would come to his end at God's time.

hell. “Hell” is sheol, the place of departed human souls, to which more are added daily. Nebuchadnezzar's insatiable pride and ambition are thus compared picturesquely to hell itself.

Habakkuk 2:6 Shall 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!

Habakkuk 2:7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?

Habakkuk 2:8 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.

Habakkuk 2:9 Woe 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!

Habakkuk 2:10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.

Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

Habakkuk 2:12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

Habakkuk 2:13 Behold, 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?

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

earth shall be filled. Despite the Nebuchadnezzars of the world (and the Napoleons and Hitlers and other would-be world rulers), God will establish His own kingdom on earth at His appointed time (Habakkuk 2:3). Habakkuk here repeats the promise of Isaiah 11:9.

Habakkuk 2:15 Woe 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!

giveth his neighbor drink. This abrupt insertion almost seems out of place following the glorious promise of the preceding verse. It may have a spiritual application as a warning against the export of Babylonian false religion. But it also serves as a needed reminder to Israel (and to all people) of the judgment awaiting those who seduce others into sin, whether by strong drink or other means.

Habakkuk 2:16 Thou 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.

Habakkuk 2:17 For 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.

Habakkuk 2:18 What 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?

Habakkuk 2:19 Woe 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.

no breath at all. A woe is pronounced against those who induce others to sin (Habakkuk 2:15), and another here against those who seek knowledge and life from wood and stone. These are mere created materials, embellished a bit by men, but possess neither life nor knowledge, and so cannot impart such information to others. Man's heart is corrupt, and so he seeks to escape his Creator; nevertheless, he must somehow seek knowledge and life beyond himself, and so tries to worship and serve the creation rather than the Creator! (Romans 1:25). This sinful ignorance is no less characteristic of modern humanistic evolutionists than it was of the ancient pantheistic evolutionists, and God has pronounced woe on all who turn to such lies.

Habakkuk 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

his holy temple. This can only refer to God's heavenly temple (Isaiah 6:1), since the earthly temple built by Solomon was about to be destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Chronicles 36:19).

keep silence. Men should stand in mute humility at the very thought of the omnipotent, omniscient God. Instead they, like the pagan Babylonians and the apostate Jews, presume to disobey Him, to find substitutes for Him, to rail against Him, or more often simply to ignore Him in their own clamorous pursuit of wealth and pleasure. Soon may come the proclamation: “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord God: for the day of the Lord is at hand” (Zephaniah 1:7).