Habakkuk 2 [cntrl/click to read chapter 2]
This chapter could be titled the “woe” chapter of Habakkuk. Four times he writes woe as a word of warning. Chapter 2 centers around the unusual…God justifies his own judgment(s). Why would God need to justify anything? Let’s consider the “what” and “why” in chapter 2.
Charles Spurgeon stated this regarding the task assigned to Habakkuk:
“Chaldeans, who were treading down the people, were themselves far greater sinners (then were the Assyrians), — that, certainly, in the matter of oppression and bloodthirstiness, they were a far more guilty people than those whom they came to punish.” [Chas. Spurgeon Library of Messages]
Spurgeon summarizes the dilemma facing Habakkuk. Not only were the very evil Chaldeans going to overrun the evil Assyrians, but soon after capture, enslave, and mistreat the people of the Kingdom of Judah. Habakkuk understood the quest against Nineveh for they were a very dangerous people. But the brutal Chaldeans were also going to invade and conquer Judah. Habakkuk questioned his vision.
Habakkuk 2:1 Mystified by his vision, Habakkuk gives us an example of the correct way to “wait on the Lord.” Be in expectant. There are those today who sit in church contributing little to nothing to the worship service or gaining any spiritual growth. For years s/he has sat in her or his pew claiming to be waiting on the lord for guidance. They miss the entire point of Habakkuk. He is not just waiting. He is also expecting and watching for the coming guidance and reproof of God. We see this in the opening sentence. He is standing his watch.
Habakkuk 2:2 Here is his part of waiting on the Lord. He was actively seeking. God tells him, make good note of what I am about to reveal to you. You can’t share it with others until you yourself have it in hand. This is why we have the Book of Habakkuk. “That he may run who reads it”. This does not mean to run from, but to run to God’s instructions. So often misread are these few words at the close of verse 2. Verse 3 explains this well.
Habakkuk 2:3 There is an appointed time for everything. The Book of Ecclesiastes 3 is all about this; a time for everything. Habakkuk is not told to stand still. He is told to move forward in his mission to the Tribe of Judah and the Assyrians. Write out your vision, Habakkuk, in plain language. He is told what will happen and to make it plain and understandable to the people. He is waiting but not for the vision. He is watching for the fulfillment of his vision. He will live to see the very thing for which he is commissioned of God to foretell. We know this because Habakkuk is told to personally wait for it will surely come.”
JIV NOTE: Habakkuk is only mentioned in his own book. He is not mentioned anywhere else in the rest of the Bible. However, in the deuterocanonical additions to the Book of Daniel, he is mentioned in Bel and the Dragon. Habakkuk is held in high esteem not only by Christians but within Judaism and Islam.
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him; but the righteous shall live by his faith.” Puffed up means proud of self. One can imagine this person feeling if not stating “Oh how religious I am. Listen to the sound of the coins of gold as I drop them into the offering.” One might ask this same person, “you give moneys but why is it you only sit in your pew week after week?” In a very real sense this is symbolic of the person whose testimony only goes back to accepting Christ as Savior. It is as if nothing has happened since. This attitude is reflective of Judah and Nineveh.
Habakkuk 2:4b makes this verse pointed. “BUT the righteous shall live by his faith.” This is not static Christianity. Rev. David Guzik regards pride:
There may be as much pride inside a beggar’s rags as in a prince’s robe; and a harlot may be as proud as (may be) a model of chastity. Pride is a strange creature; it never objects to its lodgings. [emphasis mine)
There is a connection with this pride and the soon-to-invade Chaldean-Babylonians. Look at the pride of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel had to deal with this pride of Nebuchadnezzar just as did his prototype Habakkuk with the people and leaders in Judah. Assyria was falling. So did the Kingdom of Judah 5 to 8 years later.
Habakkuk 2:5 is not about Judah or Assyria as much as it is about the Babylonians. He does not stay at home means the Babylonians will conquer other nations… unto himself. He will gather under his tree (recall the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 4:1-37) all peoples by captivity.
Habakkuk 2:6 We are now in a part of Habakkuk where two proverbial sayings apply.
- That which goes around comes around
- The Pied Piper will be paid
Verse 6 declares this to be a proverb but against who? Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon! It will also be a riddle to him. This is the calling of Daniel when he continually interprets different dreams for Nebuchadnezzar. God is explaining to Habakkuk the consequences of Assyria being replaced by a nastier Babylon. A nation Habakkuk calls into question as an evil Assyria being destroyed by an even more evil people (Babylonians). We related this in the previous narrative commentary by saying ‘God might bring judgement upon America by bringing to power socialism.’ How can this be thought thinks Habakkuk?
Habakkuk gives verse 6b/7a an unusual twist by saying: (6b) to him who loads himself with many pledges’? (7a) Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? This metaphor exemplifies the indebtedness of one who owes too much to pay back his debt. This is not necessarily monetarily speaking but of good or evil done to others. One today might say or hear, I will get you for that! When God declares that vengeance is his it does not always mean direct intervention. He uses others to carry out his vengeance on the evil ones of this world. In End Time tribulation God will use evil to destroy the evil ones before he finally steps in and directly intervenes at his second coming.
Ahamoment: Who owns America’s huge debt?
Habakkuk 2:7 In short, others who hold a grudge as creditors will unite against a debtor. They will be his or her demise in a united front. The Medes and Persian-Caledonians did this to Assyria. The Babylonians then did this to the Medes. Alexander the Great did this to the Persians. These are but a few examples of how unpaid or perceived debt is redeemed be it financial or otherwise.
Habakkuk 2:8 underscores the above. Some call this a blood-debt. Some call it “getting even.” There is no end to this cycle of retrieving what one assumes to be a debt to be repaid. When one accumulates too many creditors (suppressed nations and kingdoms), they unite. Once that is settled, the tendency is creditors to think inwardly to settle the score with a previous ally. This is how the world will end. Son against father, daughter against mother, personal groups (kingdoms) against other groups (kingdoms), nation against nation, race against race, have-nots against those that have, neighbor against neighbor. We can easily see this is already being fulfilled. Those in the U.S.A. and other countries are now taught and instructed to report on his or her neighbor for even the smallest of infractions.
Habakkuk 2:9 This is the first of four ’woe’ verses in chapter 2 (v9, v12, v15, & v19). The Hebrew for woe (hoh’ee) is the prolonged version of ho and o’-ee. It is an adamant or unwavering attention-getter. One might experience this type of (hoh’ee) WOE if driving down a street. Unexpectantly a police car pulls in behind one with flashing lights and siren. It is time to (hoh’ee) pay attention. Habakkuk is told by God in his vision to pay particular attention. Very simply put, some will do evil to protect him or herself (family) from other evil or pending disaster. This too will be a defining moment during the Tribulation.
Habakkuk 2:10 This verse is what Matthew 24:7 means. Households during the second half of the Tribulation will fortress themselves by any means possible. They take what they can “…cutting off many people bringing sin against his or her own soul.” Habakkuk 2:10 belongs with verses 11 and 12. Three verses but one statement. We might akin or parallel this to Numbers 32:23… “one’s deeds will find them out.”
Joseph Benson Commentary identifies this woe as inclusive of and applicable to all covetous, unjust, and oppressive methods used to raise a fortune. Each of these is a possession idol.
Habakkuk 2:12-14 is essentially one woe. Habakkuk ventures prophetically into the far future. Verse 14 reads: “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, (just) As the waters cover the sea.” Knowledge does not mean acceptance. Isaiah 11:9 says the same thing. This is a reference to the Holy Mountains of Jesus i.e., the New Jerusalem of the Millennial age. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my Holy Mountain. Habakkuk is seldom given credit for this assurance of a Millennial Kingdom, but the wording is obvious. Woe to him or her who tries to do otherwise.
Habakkuk 2:15 points out not only the lewdness of mankind but the process through which his/her scheming mind works. This verse points out something else. Get someone drunk so s/he can be seen for what s/he is. Drunkenness weakens the immune system of thinking.
Reminder: Habakkuk is not only speaking to and of the Kingdom of Judah but to the end of mankind going without God’s judgement. What he is saying identifies man today. In short, get another person talking so what s/he says gives naked insight into that person, group, contract, on sale item, etc. We call it the fine print. King Hezekiah was guilty of this. His pride made him drunk and his lips “sunk his ship.”
Habakkuk 2:16 is another imagery or metaphor. Judah, which is one tribe within the chosen people of God, is supposed to be that light on the hillside. A light that others can see and emulate. Sadly, they were not a shining light. Therefore, the pending judgment Habakkuk states about Nineveh will also fall upon Judah. We KNOW this by what Habakkuk says in the second half of this verse. “The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.” Judah did not have long to wait. The invasion and captivity by the Babylonians began in 607 B.C., just five years after the fall of Assyria.
It was King Hezekiah who showed off the wealth of his Judean Kingdom. [See Isaiah 39:2]. Hezekiah was king of Judah when Nebuchadnezzar invaded, conquered, then began deporting the people from their homeland. Of course, he took the wealth that Hezekiah had boasted about and put on display. His vanity was to impress the previous Babylonian emissaries visitors claiming to be Babylonian ambassadors. His nakedness was exposed.
Habakkuk 2:17 mentions Lebanon. “For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you.” How does Lebanon fit into this prophecy? Much of the temple was built with the great cedars of Lebanon; the very Temple that Nebuchadnezzar razed. The people within the Kingdom of Judah will be redeemed after 70 years of Babylonian captivity due, in part, to Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the temple In Jerusalem. Lebanon cedar was the core of the temple structure. It was later rebuilt using Babylonian/Persian money. It was not destroyed again until 72 A.D. This time by the Romans 400 years later.
Habakkuk 2:18 is obvious. It means just what it says. Why does man build for himself idols then worship them? This is a great discussion in its application to what man does today, but not here. Essentially, what a person devotes his or her life to is their god.
Habakkuk 2:19 is the sarcasm regarding verse 18. Oh wood wake up? Hey stone. Don’t just sit there.
Habakkuk 2:20 is the contrast with other items of idolatry. God is for real and permanent. He is in his Temple and will be glorified. It is as inevitable as were the prophecies of Habakkuk.
JIV Note: Verse 20 tells us that the Temple, including during the Millennial Reign is God’s Temple. The New Testament tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that to the Christian our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
“Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?“
The Temple in Jerusalem is the abode of God. The true believer is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Keep this distinction in mind as we progress through our narrative commentary or as one reviews previous articles.
Rev. Dr. Jstark