Book of Habakkuk Chapter
Two Commentary by
Audio Sermon 2/6/11 – Habakkuk 2
Listen To God
In Verse 1, the writer, Habakkuk, gives advice to himself that is useful to us all. He said, “I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.” We are to be watchful in prayer, understanding that it is not only you who are speaking – He is answering! Though we tend to be blind and deaf to God, we must keep watch, for He does respond to our prayers. God would now answer. The reason so few “hear” God, by the way, is that we’re afraid we might be “reproved” by Him. And indeed the Holy Spirit does “convict the world of sin” (John 16:8).
“Then the Lord answered me and said, ‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run” (Verse 2). Habakkuk had parchment or clay and writing instruments with him, and at the Lord’s command he began to write. What are we to “run” from, we might wonder? Reading through this chapter, we find we are to run from drunkenness, pride, neglecting our families, from fleecing others out of their money and possessions, from coveting, lying and idolatry.
In Verse 3, Habakkuk wrote, “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.” Soon judgment would come, and the Lord was now stating in detail why it would happen.
Suddenly in Verse 4, the prophet recorded some of the most important words in Scripture: “Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith.” Do you see it? Pride and faith are opposites. The one excludes the other. If you can write beautifully, create works of art, make money; if you are good looking, an effective leader, an outstanding athlete, and more – It’s God’s gift. What you have is to be used for the benefit of others as the Lord leads. It’s senseless to be proud. Have faith in God, honor Him, confess your pride, ask Him how to use what you have. Then do it.
In Verse 5 we find the words: “…wine betrays the haughty man, so that he does not stay at home. He enlarges his appetite like Sheol, and he is like death, never satisfied. He also gathers to himself all nations and collects to himself all peoples.” Have you ever thought it strange that there is so much substance abuse in the world? If it isn’t wine it’s an opiate or some other drug. And there is destructive behavior, including gambling, sex outside of marriage and more. In Verse 6, we find that such persons, including those who steal from others, will soon be revealed as fools. “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his - For how long - and makes himself rich with loans?’”
And suddenly, in Verse 7, we see the truth that God will repossess what you have if you misuse it, for it was never yours to begin with. “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.” God will reach through other people and take it all away. He obviously loves you or He would not have given you life in the first place, so look up from your pride and trust in the Lord today.
Everyone in Judah at that time knew that the Babylonians perfectly fit the words of Verse 8 - “Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you – Because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.” But what they didn’t see was that Judah was no different. God continues in Verse 9 - “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high, to be delivered from the hand of calamity!” Stop putting personal gain first in your life and place the Lord at the top of your priorities. Only He can forgive you, rescue you, make you safe, and cause your life to matter.
The Lord is uttering words that apply to Babylonia, to Judah, to your nation and mine, to our families, to you and me. Deep inside, are you ashamed? Have you done things, planned things that you know are shameful? The Lord knows. He said in Verse 10, “You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off many peoples; so you are sinning against yourself.” Ultimately what we do to others will be done to us. That's why it is important to trust in Jesus, who paid the price for our sins. As the Lord continues in Verse 11, the very fabric of this world cries out that we are to be honest and fair in our dealings with people - “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework. Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!” (Verses 11-12).
Outwardly life’s demands have changed through the centuries. In Verse 13, we see that one of the needs of that time and place was to obtain fire to warm homes and cook food. The Lord who provides everything said, “Is it not indeed from the Lord of hosts that peoples toil for fire,” but He continued with a statement that applies to all times and places – “nations grow weary for nothing.” And so do individuals.
Have you heard about Jesus Christ? He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” as John the Apostle observed in Revelation 19:16. And if you don’t know Him personally, you can. In Verse 14, we find that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” And that’s true. The written Word of God is found all over the world, in many languages and versions. The earth IS filled with knowledge of Him, and you can know Him personally.
Here’s a bad habit in humanity – People not only use substances and activities in order to shut out the Lord from their lives, but they also drag others down with them. It’s observed in Verse 15 - “Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!” People everywhere commit embarrassing sins while taking substances into themselves that reduce inhibitions. He said about them in Verse 16, “You will be filled with disgrace rather than honor. Now you yourself drink and expose your own nakedness. The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter disgrace will come upon your glory.” You may have kept it hidden, but God will reveal who and what you are.
The area called Lebanon had been destroyed by Chaldean armies. Lebanon’s defeat had been so overwhelming, so complete, that everyone in the region knew about it. Civilization broke down and wild beasts threatened the survivors. God said in Verse 17, “For the violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and the devastation of its beasts by which you terrified them, because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.” Habakkuk was shocked as he wrote those words from the Lord. Everything, everyone he knew and loved. Jerusalem, the Temple, all would be destroyed like Lebanon. Unthinkable! And yet God said it would happen.
Amazingly, after all the miracles God had done for this people; after all the benefits given to them, Judah had become a nation of idolaters. They preferred their own ways to faith in Almighty God. Verses 18-19 state, “What profit is the idol when its maker has carved it, or an image, a teacher of falsehood? For its maker trusts in his own handiwork when he fashions speechless idols. Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, 'Awake!' To a mute stone, 'Arise!' And that is your teacher? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all inside it.” What “idols” are in YOUR life? Who or what do you look to today?
“But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him" (Verse 20). The Lord cries out, “Be still and know that I am God,” as you can see in places like Psalm 46:10. Look to the Lord, listen to His Word and place your faith in Him. You'll be glad you did.
Lord, I did not listen because I was afraid. Thank You, Father, for giving me the Son of God. Forgive my unbelief. I trust in You, Lord. Fill me with Your Spirit. In Jesus Name. Amen.