Habakkuk 2:2-8

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 1, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Then the Lord replied: ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 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.
‘See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness — 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.
‘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?” Will not your creditors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their prey. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.’” (Habakkuk 2:2-8)

If you’ve been following our writings on the book of Habakkuk, by now you’re perhaps seeing a pattern. Habakkuk laments to God, then God responds, then Habakkuk laments again, and now in today’s passage, God is responding again. Just before this passage, in Habakkuk 2:1, Habakkuk said, “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” Clearly, Habakkuk was familiar with this pattern too, as he was watching and waiting for God’s response.

The command from God to write down this revelation, in verse 2, is significant. In our society today, nearly everything is recorded in a written manner, whether handwritten or typed on a computer or cell phone. Back in Habakkuk’s day a few hundred years before Christ, however, the means to write something down was scarce. He couldn’t just grab the nearest pen and notepad (or cell phone) like we do today. It was a strongly oral culture back then, with important stories or information being passed down through the spoken word and remembered through re-telling. So God telling Habakkuk to write this down means it will have true, lasting relevance and should be preserved for many future generations. It is likely because of this command from God that we even have the book of Habakkuk today.

In verse 3, we see that this revelation will happen at an appointed time. The phrase “it speaks of the end” likely refers to the end of the Babylonian oppression that was coming, which the people must wait for the appointed time. The end would come, but not until God says it’s time. We are in a similar position today, waiting for Jesus to come again. We have assurance that He will come again, but we are waiting for the appointed time that no one but the Father knows. Until then, just as the people of Judah would have to live under the Babylonians’ rule, we need to remain in this sinful world.

Verses 4-5 explain some of the negative characteristics of the Babylonians, but it’s important to note the contrasting phrase in verse 4: “but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness.” Even in the midst of all the evil that the Babylonians were going to bring, there would still be righteous people who would be faithful to God’s ways. The same is true today. It is only through God’s power and faithfulness that we can continue to live righteous lives in the face of the evil of our society.

Starting in verse 6, we see a new section of the book of Habakkuk. This is the first of five “woe”s - five sets of verses that explain the crime and pronounce the judgment on it. We’ll take a look at the rest of these over the next couple weeks. These judgments are directed toward the various crimes of the Babylonians, but they’re used as an object lesson for the people of Israel, and us as well.

The first woe, in verses 6b-8, tells us that the crimes committed by the Babylonians are piling up stolen goods, making themselves wealthy by extortion, and plundering many nations. The judgment and punishment are handed out according to the crimes. Because they pild up stolen goods, the people they have stolen from will come after them. Because they extorted people to make themselves wealthy, people will extort them. Because they plundered many nations, they too will get plundered. They have shed blood and killed people, so they too will be killed.

The phrase “What goes around, comes around” comes to mind here, as well as the idea that you will reap what you sow. This is God’s natural law, and it is how the world works. If you commit a crime, you can expect to face the negative consequences, whether those be simply punishment, or having that same crime committed against you.

So what is God telling the people of Israel through Habakkuk here? Israel has become violent and unjust, so they will be judged. God will use the Babylonians’ violent nature to judge Israel, but then the Babylonians too will be punished for their wrongdoing. But although God will vindicate His people, that doesn’t mean they can escape their punishment, and Israel should not be tempted to seek revenge.

The same thing applies to our lives. When we experience negative consequences of our actions, we may be tempted to get mad at whoever carries out that consequence. But that is God’s job, not ours. If we are following Him with our lives, we can rest in His guarantee that He will take care of each person as He sees fit. Revenge is the Lord’s (Deuteronomy 32:35), not ours, for we will always reap what we sow.

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