Habakkuk 2:1 (NLT2) 1 I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost. There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint.
On verse 1: You will find that in both chapters 1 and 2 of Habakkuk, there is an ongoing dialogue that takes place between Habakkuk and God.
In chapter 1, Habakkuk voices his complaint about why God allows injustice and evil to continue (v1-4), and God gives His answer (v5-11). Habakkuk then voices a second complaint about how God could use wicked people to accomplish His purposes (v12-17). Now in Chapter 2, Habakkuk decides to wait for God’s answer to his second complaint (2:1), and God will answer in verses 2 to 20.
What can we learn from this? Let your prayer life not be a one way monologue to God, but a two way dialogue with God. Don’t just talk to God. Like Habakkuk, wait for God to speak and take the time to listen for Him. It’s in the waiting and the listening that life changing things happen.
Habakkuk 2:2 (NIV) 2 Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
On verse 2: The Lord not only answers Habakkuk’s second complaint, the Lord also tells Habakkuk to write down what He tells Habakkuk so that Habakkuk can forward to it to others (v2). What can we learn from this? There is value in writing down what God is teaching you and saying to you.
First, writing down what you hear helps you retain what you hear. They say you forgot 90% of what you hear in 72 hours, unless you do something specific to recall it.
Second, writing it down clarifies your thoughts. As the old adage goes, “Thoughts disentangle themselves as they pass through the lips and the fingertips”. In other words, you might think you know something, but it’s not until you try to express what you know in your own words that you see how much you really know and how clearly you know it. They say that if you want to become a broader person, read a lot of books and listen to a lot of talks, but if you want to become a deeper and more exact person, write.
Third, when you write down what God is teaching you, it is then much easier to share it with others.
For all these reasons I encourage you to take notes during the sermon on Sundays, bring your notes with you to share in small group and keep a prayer journal. You will become a more thoughtful, deeper person when you do and you will remember more easily the words God has spoken to you.
Habakkuk 2:3 (NIV) 3 For 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.
On verse 3: In other words, when God says something will happen, it will happen. Though it may take time, at the appointed time what God says will come to pass.
Habakkuk 2:4-5 (NIV) 4 “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright– but the righteous will live by his faith– 5 indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
On verses 4-5: Here God describes the Babylonians that He is using to execute judgment for Him. Referring to the Babylonians as one man, the Lord describes the Babylonians as “puffed up” with pride (v4). He says their desires “are not upright” (v4), that they are addicted and enslaved to wine (v5), that they are “arrogant and never at rest” (v5), “greedy as the grave” (v5) and like death never satisfied, constantly wanting to conquer more and more nations (v5).
Clearly God was not using the Babylonians because He was a fan of their character. He is using the Babylonians in spite of their character. What can we learn from this? When God decides to use or bless someone of questionable character, realize that God knows what He is doing. God is not blind to that person’s weaknesses or flaws. Rather, God is fully aware of that person’s character and God has chosen to use that person anyway because He has a greater story to tell that we ourselves cannot imagine. In the end He will make sure that His justice and grace prevail.
Habakkuk 2:6-17 (NIV) 6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, “‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’ 7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim. 8 Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them. 9 “Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! 10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. 11 The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it. 12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! 13 Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. 15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. 16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. 17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them. 18 “Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. 19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it. 20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”
On verses 6-20: In these verses God speaks 5 woes, or curses, on the Babylonians:
First, God says that the Babylonians, who plundered many nations, will themselves be plundered (v8).
Second, God curses the Babylonians for building their kingdom through unjust gain (v9) and plotting other peoples’ ruin (v10-11).
Third, God curses the Babylonians for shedding much blood and engaging in much crime (v12, v17). God promises that whereas Babylon had become a city of bloodshed and crime (v12), God would make sure that unlike the Babylonian empire the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, just as the waters cover the sea (v14). God also says that He would make sure that all the Babylonians’ hard labor to build their kingdom would only be fuel for the fire of their own destruction (v13).
Fourth, God curses the Babylonians for using wine to intoxicate and take advantage of others. Just as they exposed and disgraced others, the Babylonians would themselves be exposed and disgraced (v16).
Fifth, God curses the Babylonians for their idolatry. For unlike idols that cannot speak (v18) and that have no breath (v19), the Lord is alive in His holy temple and is the One we should truly stand in awe of and be silent before (v20)
These five woes are proof that in using the Babylonians for His own purposes, God did not turn a blind eye to their sins. Far from it, God would hold the Babylonians accountable for the various ways in which they had sinned against Him.
What can we learn from this? God will always make sure that justice is served in the end. So when someone with questionable character or with a history of hurting others is seemingly being used or blessed by God, remember that there is more to the story than that. God will also hold that person accountable no matter what.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your powerful Word, through which You show me that I was made not for a relationship where I do all the talking, but where I listen to You too. Since Your Word spoken to my heart is precious, may I keep good records of what You say to me. Thank You that You know what You are doing when You choose to use or bless someone whose character I question, for You are good and just and will always ensure that in the end Your grace and justice prevail. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!