Habakkuk 1:1-2:20 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Lord Answers Habakkuk Complaints
Comments for Study 1

Habakkuk 1:1-2:20
Memory Verse: 2:4

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I. Title (1:1)

>1. What is an oracle?

* Habakkuk 1:1 "The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received."

* "oracle" -Oracles are communications from God. The term refers both to divine responses to a question asked of God and to pronouncements made by God without His being asked. In one sense, oracles were prophecies since they often referred to the future; but oracles sometimes dealt with decisions to be made in the present. Usually, in the Bible the communication was from Yahweh, the God of Israel. In times of idol worship, however, Israelites did seek a word or pronouncement from false gods (Hos. 4:12). Many of Israel's neighbors sought oracles from their gods. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

* Concordance study shows the following meaning and use of oracle.” Sometimes oracle refers to the whole of a prophetic book (Mal. 1:1 NRSV) or a major portion of one (Hab. 1:1 NRSV). In Isaiah, several smaller prophecies of judgment or punishment are called an oracle (13:1 NRSV; 14:28 NRSV). The NRSV also entitles Zechariah 9 and 12 “An Oracle.” Specific sayings about God's judgment on Joram (2 Kings 9:25 NRSV) and Joash (2 Chron. 24:27 NRSV) are also called oracles. Other examples, although the word oracle is not used, include Elijah's word to Ahab (1 Kings 21:17-19) and Elisha's word to Jehoram (2 Kings 3:13-20). On the basis of these kinds of usages, many Bible students understand oracles to be divine words of punishment or judgment. However, Balaam's oracle (Num. 24:3-9) is a blessing. Also references to Ahithophel'’s counsel (2 Sam. 16:23) and to oracles in Jerusalem which were pleasing but false (Lam. 2:14) show us that prophetic pronouncements were not always negative. (Holman Bible Dictionary)

>Who received this one?

* "Habakkuk" -Not much is known about Habakkuk. Habakkuk ministry was during the worst and best time of Judah. Josiah (640-609 B.C.) was the best king of Judah. However, Josiah's grandfather Manasseh (695-642 B.C.) was the most evil king of Judah. Josiah's father, Amon (642-640 B.C.) was also an evil king. Josiah's sons and grandson were also evil kings. Habakkuk lived during all these kings. See introduction for more information.

* "the prophet" -Habakkuk was one of the few persons who began his book this way. A prophet was is messenger between God and people. Enoch, the first to be called a prophet was one before the flood. (Genesis 5:18-24; Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 1:14-15) The Patriarchs, Moses, and Joshua were prophets as were others before Israel entered the promised land. By the time of Samuel a school of prophets had begun in Israel for the Lord God had chosen Israel to be a blessing to all the other nations. Israel could have relay God's messages that came through the prophets to other nations. Only a few prophets had their dreams, oracles, and visions written down and passed down to us, ending up in the Bible. Some of the duties of a prophet can be seen in today's ministers, pasters, Bible teachers, and evangelists.

* "received" -Peter wrote, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21) Thus the Holy Spirit that moved the prophets of the Old Testament now dwells within all believers of Jesus. Jesus taught, "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:25-26) This does not mean that every believer today is a prophet for the Spirit gives different gifts to different people. (Romans 12:4-8)

II. The First Complaint and Answer (1:2-11)

>2. What was Habakkuk's complaint? (2)

* Habakkuk 1:2 "How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save?"

* "How long... you do not listen?" -We do not know how long Habakkuk prayed about deliverance from a violent king and nation, perhaps one year or even sixty years. Habakkuk was not afraid ask questions to the Lord his God. These age old questions many have ask God, "Why don't you answer my questions?" "Why must live not knowing?" "My loved one is sick; why don't you answer my prayer to heal them?" "I tithe and am without a job; why don't you give me employment?" "I serve you and am persecuted; why don't you deliver me from my enemies?" "The evil violent people are overpowering those who call on your name; why don't you act in justice on your people's behalf?" The last is the prayer topic of Habakkuk.

* "cry out to you" -Habakkuk's prayer was earnest, from the heart.

* "Violence" -Most people around Habakkuk in Judah and Jerusalem were violent. King Manasseh sacrificed his son to an idol and spilled much innocent blood. (2 Kings 21:1-16; 2 Chronicles 33:1-13) King Jehoiakim was ambitious, cruel and corrupt. (2 Kings 23:36-37; 2 Chronicles 36:2-8) Habakkuk is going to give us details of the corruption.

* "you do not save" -Like many of God's people when hardships and trouble come we pray expecting an immediate answer. Often God does not answer right away, nothing changes. Jesus taught, "Have faith in God, I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins." (Mark 11:22-26)

* Luke 18:7-8 Jesus taught, "And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?"

>What was common in Judah? (2)

* Habakkuk 1:3 "Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds."

* "make me look at injustice" -God's justice is in doubt because it continued though Habakkuk asks God to remove it.

* "Why do you tolerate wrong?" -God's justice and righteousness is called into question. Job also asked this question. (Job 6:28-30)

* Habakkuk gives a list four kinds of injustice that he is forced to see. Israel and Judah were suppose to be God's chosen people. Most rejected their God and destruction, violence, strife, and conflict grew and grew. Habakkuk cried for relief and deliverance, but things did not change. Psalm 37:7-11 states, "Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret--it leads only to evil. For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace." Waiting is hard.

>What had he been praying about? (3)

* Habakkuk 1:4 "Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted."

* "law is paralyzed" -Wealthy landlords controlled the courts. At first they skirted the laws. Then when they got away with that they bent to laws. When the got away with that they broke to laws. They got away with that and moved to either ignore the laws or change them until what was wrong was right and what was right was wrong.

* "law" -The law was given to (and should) protect the innocent and the vulnerable; the weak and the helpless. The sinful nature preys on any it can until laws stop it. When laws no longer protect the "little person" then the law has become corrupt. The law that the Lord gave at Mount Sinai was full of edicts meant to protect people from people.

* "justice is perverted" -From what I see in the news and read in the news papers it seems that today is the same all around the world. Injustice is the way of the world.

* "wicked hem in the righteous" -Just who is wicked and who is righteous is going to be debated in this book.

* Asking, "Why does the righteous seem to be oppressed by the wicked?" is common. Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets all experienced injustice at the hands of the wicked. I have had wicked people try to hem me in several times in my life. Slowly through these the Lord taught me as he is going to teach Habakkuk. The answer is bitter and sweet.

>3. Was what the Lord going to do for certain? (5)

* Habakkuk 1:5 "Look at the nations and watch-- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."

* Verses 5-11 is the Lord's answer. The Lord did answer, but not in the way that Habakkuk expected and wanted. Habakkuk expected an oracle of salvation. Instead he received an oracle of judgement. When the judgement would come, all would experience it; not just who Habakkuk thought should receive it. The Lord did not ignore Habakkuk prayer. He would answer it, only after he readjusted Habakkuk's thinking and understanding.

* "Look at the nations" -The answer to the injustice in Judah was going to come from the nations.

* "that you would not believe" -The people of Judah, righteous and unrighteous did not think that the Lord God would ever end Judah as a nation. They believed that David would always have a descendant on the throne in Judah.

* "in your days" -Days here means his lifetime. Habakkuk is going to see his prayer answered in a way he never thought possible.

* "even if you were told" -He was told and was shocked to here what the Lord was going to do.

>What was the Lord's shocking reply? (6)

* Habakkuk 1:6 "I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own."

* "I am raising up" -The Lord himself is making it possible for Babylon to attack Judah and the rest of the Middle East. The Lord is in control; though we may be like Habakkuk and wonder, "Why?"

Darius the Persian King

* "Babylonians" -Assyria had been the world power that took sinful Israel into captivity. The Sythians, Medes, and the Persians joined forces and defeated the Assyrians in 626 B.C. and in 612-605 B.C. Collectively they were known as the Chaldeans and the Babylonians because that city acted as their capital. The Babylonians would end up controlling all the the Middle East when it defeated Egypt in 609 B.C. Judah which would fall four years later. The Lord was saying all that Habakkuk knew was about to change. Babylon was going to be used to punish Judah by defeating it and taking it into captivity.

* "seize dwelling places" -Habakkuk 2:6-8

* The Babylonians were "ruthless and impetuous people"; well known by all as such.

>What kind of people were the Babylonians?

* Habakkuk 1:7 "They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor."

* "a law to themselves" -They do whatever they seem right at the time.

* "promote their own honor" -What usually seems right to them is that their honor remains in tack.

* Today people who are like the Babylonians are seen by many as great men and women of society.

>4. When Babylon comes what will they bent on? (8-9)

* Habakkuk 1:8-9 "Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand."

Babylonian Soldiers on Horses

See carving of Babylonian soldiers on horses to the right.

* "Their horses are swifter than leopards" -The Babylonian army's speed was well known.

* "bent on violence" -The answer to Habakkuk's prayer about being freed from the violent among the people of Judah was more violence coming from Babylon. All in Judah, even the righteous according to Habakkuk would feel the violence of Babylon.

* "hordes" -The meaning for the Hebrew word is uncertain.

* "desert wind" -The dry hot desert wind came from the east for Israel just as Babylon would come from the east.

* "prisoners" -The prisoners will be sold as slaves.

>Who was their God? (10-11)

* Habakkuk 1:10-11 "They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on-- guilty men, whose own strength is their god."

* "they build earthen ramps" -The ramps went up to the city walls so the advancing army could enter the city.

* "swep past and go on" -The went from one city to another, winning every battle. No one and nothing stopped them.

* "guilty men, whose own strength is their god" -The men's ability to win wars made them believe they and their ability was god like. Pride was at the root of this belief.

Mede and Persian

See carving images to the right. A Mede wearing a round cap (left) and of a Chaldean wearing a headband (right). (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

>Was this the only time the Lord said Babylon would destroy Judah? (2 Chron. 32:31; and 2 Kings 20:16-19; Micah 4:10; Jer. 20:4-6)

* 2 Chronicles 32:31 "But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him (Hezekiah) about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land (185,000 Assyrian soldiers died at the Lord's hand and Hezekiah cured), God left him to test him (Hezekiah) and to know everything that was in his heart." See also 2 Kings 19:35-36, 20:1-21. The test was to see if he was proud. Hezekiah showed pride by showing all his riches to the Babylonian envoy. Below is Isaiah the prophets word to Hezekiah.

* 2 Kings 20:16-19 "Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, "Hear the word of the LORD: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Nothing will be left, says the LORD. And some of your descendants, your own flesh and blood, that will be born to you, will be taken away, and they will become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon." "The word of the LORD you have spoken is good," Hezekiah replied. For he thought, "Will there not be peace and security in my lifetime?"

* Micah and Isaiah were a generation before Habakkuk. Micah wrote, "Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion, like a woman in labor, for now you must leave the city to camp in the open field. You will go to Babylon; there you will be rescued. There the LORD will redeem you out of the hand of your enemies." (Micah 4:10)

* Jeremiah many prophecies were before and after Habakkuk questions and answers. He wrote, "For this is what the LORD says: 'I will make you a terror to yourself and to all your friends; with your own eyes you will see them fall by the sword of their enemies. I will hand all Judah over to the king of Babylon, who will carry them away to Babylon or put them to the sword. I will hand over to their enemies all the wealth of this city--all its products, all its valuables and all the treasures of the kings of Judah. They will take it away as plunder and carry it off to Babylon. And you, Pashhur, and all who live in your house will go into exile to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you have prophesied lies.'" (Jeremiah 20:4-6)

* The people of Judah heard over and over again that if they didn't repent they would be judged by the Lord through the Babylonians. The judgement took so long in coming that their hearts grew hard to the message. Their hearts also grew hard because of the desire to satisfy the sinful nature.

* Why was Habakkuk so shocked when he heard how justice would come? Perhaps he believed that somehow the righteous would be raptured before or during the Babylonian invasion.

>Why is the Lord's word to us sometimes shocking, even though we have read and studied the Bible?

* The Lord's word is sometimes shocking because our thinking is not the same as God's thinking. We believe we understand what he says, but we do know because we filter out what he says and make it say what we want it to say. The disciples did this on more than one occasion. For example when the Lord told them to be on thier guard for the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees they thought he was talking to them about food. (Matthew 16:6-12) Another time was when he talked about when he would rise from the dead and they were confused. (Mark 9:10) The disciples were shocked when Jesus was arrested, crucified and died even though he told them many times starting months before they went to Jerusalem that these things would happen. Then when he rose from the dead they didn't believe he did so. (Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11, 37-39)

* When the seven years of tribulation begins many people are going to be surprised, even those who go to a church, study the Bible and write and sell many books. Christians alive during this time are going to be like Habakkuk; very shocked even though the Bible is very clear about that time. (Luke 13:22-28, 17:22-37; Matthew 24:15-28; Mark 15:20-23)

III. The Second Complaint and Answer (1:12-2:20)

>5. From verse 12 what can be learned about the relationship between Habakkuk and the Lord?

* Habakkuk 1:12 "O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish."

* "LORD" -YHWH in Hebrew, the covenant name of the Lord Jesus. (Exodus 6:2-8) It is referred to as the Tetragrammaton. The vowels have been removed because the Jews believed that his name was to holy to write out or pronounce. The closest English spelling by adding vowels is Yahweh though old English translations have Jehovah. No one really can know since all the old Hebrew and Greek texts found never had vowels in YHWH.

* "everlasting" -The Hebrew word is "qedmah" which has been translated in other places in many ways beside everlasting including; east, old, eastward, ancient, east side, before, east part, ancient time, afore-time, and eternal. Psalm 90:2 states, "Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God." John 1:1-3, 14 states about Jesus, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made... The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." Any person or group who denies that Jesus is the Creator Lord from everlasting to everlasting denies the truth, no truth is in them.

* "My" -Habakkuk had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus.

* "God" -Elohim in Hebrew, the first word used for God to appear in the Bible. Genesis 1:1 states, "In the beginning God..." Elohim is a singular/plural word. The "im" is used at the ending of a Hebrew word to make it plural much like "es" and "s" are used in English. Yet the usage in sentences are always singular.

* "Holy One" -Qadosh in Hebrew. When this word is used as a nown it is translated as a reference to God (in eminence) or sometimes meaning a saint.

* "Rock" -Sur or Tsur in Hebrew. David referred to the Lord in some of his Psalms as his rock. (2 Samuel 22:2-3, 47; Psalm 18:2, 46, 19:14, etc.) Peter referred to Jesus as the Stone. "As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him... Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone, and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message--which is also what they were destined for." (1 Peter 2:4, 7-8)

>What did he find hard to believe?

* "we will not die" -Habakkuk equated Judah being a nation within God's eternal promises to their ancestors; including Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. They believed that if they died as a nation then the covenant made at Mount Sinai would be broken, not realizing they were the ones who continually broke the covenant. Judah and Israel had assumed that all who were physical descendants were of God. However, John pointed out, "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God." (John 1:11-13) And Paul wrote, "It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring." (Romans 9:6-8)

* "you have appointed them to execute judgment" -"Them" refers to the Babylonians. Habakkuk despised them so much he could not say their name even though he accepted that the Lord was going to use them as God's agent of judgement. (Isaiah 7:18-20; 44:28-45:1)

* "you have ordained them to punish" -Ordained means "to select as for office and duty" just as kings, prophets, and high priests and the whole nation of Israel were selected by God for his purposes. In this case a Gentile nation who didn't even recognize the Lord as God was selected to bring judgement on Judah, God's chosen people who called on his name to be a blessing to the Gentiles. Since Judah refused their calling to live and then bring the Lord's word of good news and way of righteousness to the Gentiles the Lord was going to used the Gentiles to bring God's word and way of judgment to Judah; a reversal of roles.

* The Lord Jesus came to save us by grace alone. He forgave our sins not because of who we are or what we've done, but by grace through faith alone. After he forgives thus establishing a love relationship with us he wants us to return that love by living by faith and obedience. He does not need anything, but he does want something -a love relationship with us. Jesus said, "If you love me you will obey my commands." If we refuse this are we any different than Israel? They were freed by grace just as us. They were lead to Sinai to establish a covenant of love and respect just as we have entered the new covenant by the blood of Jesus. Shouldn't we continue in a love relationship? If we don't should we be surprised if he disciplines us too? Hebrews 12:4-11 states, "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

>What did he know about God and yet was confused about? (13)

* Habakkuk 1:13 "Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?"

* "Your eyes are too pure" -A poetic way of saying God is Holy, Holy, Holy. (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8)

* "you cannot tolerate wrong" -God wanted Israel to be holy.

* "Why..." -A classic statement of the problem of evil within the context of Israel's faith: Why does evil appear to flourish unchecked by a just and holy God? (NIV Study Bible)

* "the wicked" -In Habakkuk's first question/prayer to God, Habakkuk called those in Israel wicked/evil who hem in the righteous of Israel. Now in his second question/prayer he calls all the Babylonians wicked who swallow up all of Judah, who is more righteous than all and any in Babylon. Habakkuk could not understand how the Holy God would allow this to happen.

* Habakkuk's first objection and now the second objection if followed through would lead to a complete cleansing of the world of all the unfaithful as the Lord God had done with the flood. But, the Lord said he would not destroy the world with water any more. However, prophets before Habakkuk had revealed that the Lord would rid the world of the wicked through fire, drought, and an army that were like locusts. (Joel 1:4, 2:1-11, 3:14-16) Was that what Habakkuk was stating he wanted the Lord to do?

>Is he the only one who has these kind of questions? (Ecc. 3:14-17, 7:15-18; Acts 1:6)

* Ecclesiastes 3:14-17 "I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account. And I saw something else under the sun: In the place of judgment--wickedness was there, in the place of justice--wickedness was there. I thought in my heart, "God will bring to judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time for every deed."

* Ecclesiastes 7:15-18 "In this meaningless life of mine I have seen both of these: a righteous man perishing in his righteousness, and a wicked man living long in his wickedness. Do not be over-righteous, neither be over-wise-- why destroy yourself? Do not be over-wicked, and do not be a fool-- why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all [extremes]."

* Acts 1:6 "So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

* I have to admit when I am persecuted, insulted, laughed at, threatened with physical violence, evil people setting traps for me, and once someone tried to take my life I too wonder the same thing Habakkuk did.

>6. What conclusion did Habakkuk have? (14-15)

* Habakkuk 1:14-15 "You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad."

* "like fish... sea creatures that have no ruler" -They go and do what ever they want like creations who have no ruler, sinful men who fell from the leadership role when Adam sinned. The Babylonians and all mankind seem to obey no law and do whatever each person sees as right. No one is held accountable for their actions in Habakkuk's understanding. They prey and hunt one another like animals.

* "pulls all of them up with hooks" -Both the Assyrians and the Babylonians treated captured nations like fish, moving them out of their lands and resettling them in a foreign nation. The belief was that people would not fight or rebel for nationalistic reasons if deported. Stalin used this tactic too. Mesopotamian reliefs portray, in symbolic fashion, conquering rulers capturing the enemy in fish nets.

* "so he rejoices and is glad" -The wicked are glad of this evil act.

>What question did he have? (16-17)

* Habakkuk 1:16-17 "Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?"

* "by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food" -The Assyrians and the Babylonians sold those they captured into slavery. The money from these sells made them wealthy. The Romans and others did the same thing. Without profit from a class of slaves and peasants the few rich in the history of the world would not be able to indulged themselves in luxury.

* Habakkuk's statement and question basically is this, "How long will the wicked prosper at the expense of others?"

>What was Habakkuk going to do till he got an answer? (2:1)

* Habakkuk 2:1 "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."

* Habakkuk knew that he was complaining and questioning God. He would wait for an answer. He would stand on the wall towers (ramparts) in Jerusalem like a guard waiting for a reply until he got an answer. He was secure in his relationship with the Lord.

* "what answer I am to give" -Not only is Habakkuk awaiting God's answer, but he wants to see how he and those he tells God's answer will react to God's answer.

* We are not told how long Habakkuk waited.

>7. What did the Lord say about the revelation he was about to give? (2-3)

* Habakkuk 2:2-3 "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."

* "revelation" -Revelation is "hazon" in Hebrew and refers specifically to a prophets vision. The KJV always translates it as "vision". Hazon has in it the meaning of sight, dream and oracle. The Hebrew word in 1:1 is "massa" which the NIV translated as "oracle" and the KJV as "burden". (1 Chronicles 17:15; Proverbs 29:18; Isaiah 1:1)

* "so that a herald may run with it" -Messengers bringing the good news must run fast. The literal meaning is "so that he who hears it may run." The KJV translates it this way.

* "awaits an appointed time" -The words that follow are not for Habakkuk, but for a future time.

* "it speaks of the end" -From Habakkuk's point of view the end here refers to the fall of Babylon by the Medo-Persian armies. However, more importantly as Revelation 14:8, 16:19, 17:5, and all of chapter 18 reveals, this is when Jesus comes again as judge and king and Babylon the Great falls.

* In the light of Habakkuk's questions regarding the fitness of using a violent, pagan instrument to punish God's people, Yahweh tells of the pending destruction of Babylon. He does this through a vision which includes five songs that taunt or deride the Chaldeans. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, David W. Baker)

* "though it linger, wait for it" -Jesus often told us the same thing in parables about his return; the nobleman who went to a far country, the servants given talents while thier master is away, the ten virgins, etc. The letters of the apostles also address the timing of Jesus' return. Many who call themselves Christians believe in imminence, that is, that Jesus can return at any time since his ascension. Is this in line with Jesus' parables? And what of claim that the gospel must be preached in the whole world before he came again? This did not happen until recent years. Below is a quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry in chapter 3 under the heading "Expectation and Imminence".

* If the second coming could not have been imminent for those originally commanded to watch at the time they were so commanded, then the commanded expectancy could not have implied imminence of the event looked for. It then becomes unnecessary for us to regard Jesus' coming as imminent, for we have received no further and no different exhortations. In other words, if a delay in the Parousia of at least several years was compatible with expectancy in apostolic times, a delay for the several years of the tribulation is compatible with expectancy in current times. Jesus clearly indicates to the early disciples that His coming will be delayed for some time. The express purpose of the parable concerning the nobleman who went to a "far country" is that the disciples should not think "the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately" (Luke 19: 11-27). "While the bridegroom was delaying" also intimates delay (Matt. 25:5). In the parable of the talents, Jesus likens His return to the lord who "after a long time" came back from a far country (Matt. 25:19).

Jesus bases the parable of the servants on the presupposition of a delay in His coming, for without the delay no interval would have provided opportunity for the servants to display their true colors (Luke 12:41-48; Matt. 24:45-51). And when Jesus has the wicked servant say, "My master will be a long time in coming," He tacitly admits that there will be a delay. As the wicked servant's eternal judgment "with the unbelievers (or hypocrites)" shows, the contrast in servants distinguishes true disciples, whose characteristic it is to watch, from false disciples, whose characteristic it is not to watch. The necessary delay made no difference to the expectant attitude of the true servant, but it revealed the falsity of the wicked servant. Jesus does not condemn recognition of delay, but the attitude which takes selfish advantage of the delay. Moreover, readiness denotes not so much tiptoe anticipation as faithful service day by day: "Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants to give them their rations at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes" (Luke's version).

We might suppose that the long period of delay required in the parables would be satisfied by "a few years." But a few years is all the delay post-tribulationism requires. Jesus could not have given in good faith the great commission with its worldwide extent -"all the nations" and "the remotest part of the earth" -without providing a considerable lapse of time in order that the "disciples might have opportunity to perform the task. The long-range missionary endeavors of Paul may not possess independent argumentative weight (Paul's journey to Rome was contingent on the Lord's will, Rom. 1:9, 10). Yet as the Lord's commission for him to go "far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22: 21) and to witness before "kings" (Acts 9:15) and as the promise in Jerusalem that he would "witness... at Rome" (Acts 23:11; cf. 27:24) link up with the great commission generally, they gain considerable weight.

It may be countered, with an appeal to Pau1's statement "the gospel... was proclaimed in all creation under heaven" (Col. 1:23), that "the extensive preaching of the gospel in the first century might . . . satisfy the program of preaching to the ends of the earth." However, Paul wrote his statement during his first Roman imprisonment, some thirty years after Jesus gave the great commission, an interval more than four times as long as the tribulation. And Paul had not fulfilled his intention of visiting Spain, where the Gospel had not yet been preached (Rom. 15:20, 24). Evidently he himself did not regard the great commission as fulfilled. Apparently, then, in Colossians 1:23 Paul is not affirming a fulfillment of the great commission, but is setting the universality of the Gospel (the good news is for all men, even though it has not reached all men) in opposition to the esotericism of the Colossian heresy.

Of corroborative value is the personal history of Peter (John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14) . Jesus foretold that Peter, then middle-aged ("when you were younger ... "), would die at an infirm old age ("when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you ... "). If we try to save the imminence of the Parousia by saying that Peter could have been martyred at any time, we forget that his infirmity and old age were not imminent. And if we say that the prediction concerning Peter was not common knowledge among Christians until long after his death, we overlook the presence of other apostles on the occasion of the prediction. Furthermore, John writes of the incident in order to correct a misimpression which had arisen concerning his own death. The whole matter, then, must have received some publicity in the early Church.

To claim that these delays were "general in nature, without specific length;" merely avoids the issue. Whether general or specific, long or short, the delays were delays and, by being stated, rendered the second coming non-imminent to the apostolic Church. Moreover, the delays were not entirely general in nature. The specificity of the great commission ("in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth"), of the promise that Paul should bear witness at Rome, and of Peter's old age as a time of infirmity to the degree of inability to dress himself make the delays much more pointed than the doctrine of imminence can allow.

Again, to claim that "the delays had been fulfilled by the time the exhortations to watch were written" runs afoul of historical facts. At least those exhortations to watch in the epistles appeared in writing before the disciples could have fulfilled the great commission, before Paul had completed his extensive missionary efforts, and before Peter had reached old age, become infirm, and died. From the very beginning, even before the written exhortations, Christians knew that they were to watch through the oral ministry of Jesus and the apostles and prophets. In one of his earliest epistles Paul already commends believers for their watchfulness (1 Thess. 1:9, 10). The point remains that if watching could not have connoted imminence in the apostolic age, it need not connote imminence now.

But should we not think that all else was contingent upon the second coming, that an "only if Christ does not return beforehand" qualified every other expectation? Possibly, but only possibly, in connection with the personal circumstances of Peter and Paul. It is very hard to think, however, that an imminent return of Christ might have taken away sufficient opportunity to fulfill the great commission. Moreover, when imminence becomes the ruling principle by which all else was and is rendered contingent, even the events of the tribulation do not have to take place; they might "die on the vine" just as the great commission and the predictions concerning Paul and Peter would have done had Jesus returned beforehand.

* This ends the quote from "The Church and the Tribulation" by Robert H. Gundry.

>What two type of people was it about? (4-5)

* Habakkuk 2:4-5 "See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright-- but the righteous will live by his faith-- 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."

* The Lord reveals two people here; the proud and those who live by faith.

* "but the righteous will live by his faith" -Habakkuk and the rest of us should live by faith in this world though it not be easy. We should wait for our Lord to come and deal justly with Babylon; the world political, economic and religious systems. God people, those in his kingdom are in the midst of the kingdom of Satan, the kingdom of Babylon.

* "he" -Collectively the Babylonians who were proud and full of unrepentant sin. The description applies to many before and since that live the same way. In fact, the Lord's people including me was one of them, whom he rescued from that way of life. Referring to Jesus' second coming this is how the Antichrist will be.

* "puffed up... arrogant" -Pride marks a Babylonian. This reminds me of commercials for the World Wide Wrestlers, boxers, and some in other sports.

* "his desires are not upright" -Desires are not bad; however there are bad desires such as a Babylonian has.

* "wine betrays him" -Alcohol and drugs give a false sense of reality. I grew up in a culture where people began drinking beer at a young age. As a teenager I saw myself and my friends fast becoming alcoholics. In the early stages of getting drunk a person become numb, feels good about himself and can even lead to a false sense of invulnerability. This is then replace by melancholy and depression.

* "never at rest" -Cain was a restless wanderer so are all Babylonians. (Genesis 4:12-14) A restless wanderer never finds peace and rest though he keeps on trying to find it.

* "Because he is greedy" -The greedy can never find rest and satisfaction.

* "gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples." -Jesus taught, "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul." (Mark 8:36) A Babylonian does all that can be done to gaining and gaining, and though he gains all he desires he is never satisfied. So he tries to gain again. This could go on till he gains the whole world. Even if he did that he would not be satisfied. Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king who conquered Judah and all the Middle East eventually went mad, becoming like an animal until he recognized and accepted the God of Daniel. (Daniel 4:28-34) He was not the only excessive rich to grow mad; so did Howard Hughes. Howard was the richest man in the world. Once a reporter asked him, "How much is enough." Howard answered, "Just a little bit more."

>What does it mean to live by faith? (Rom. 1:16-17; Gal. 3:10-14; Heb. 11:1-2)

* Romans 1:16-17 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

* Galatians 3:10-14 "All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, "The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit."

* Hebrews 11:1-2 "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for."

* Living by faith is trusting in God in all things and all times; knowing he loves us and cares for us like a loving father and husband. When trouble comes our way we understand that he has a good purpose in it. When we go astray we accept his discipline. When happy days are experienced we thank him.

>8. The Lord pronounces five woes against those who do not live by faith. What is the first? (6-8)

* Habakkuk 2:6-8 "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 debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their victim. 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."

* This taunt falls into two halves of ten (Hebrew) lines each (6-14, 15-20), each half concluding with a significant theological statement (14, 20). Together these two statements set the five "woes" pronounced against Babylon in a larger frame of reference. (NIV Study Bible)

* The Babylonian greed for conquest is condemned.

>What is the second? (9-11)

* Habakkuk 2:9-11 "Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it."

* The second oracle condemns not only exploitation for personal gain, but also for national or dynastic aggrandizement; expansion of power, wealth, rank, or honor.

>And the third? (12-14)

* Habakkuk 2:12-14 "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."

* The third oracle condemns those who thrive on violence and crime and so promote it.

>What will happen when Babylon falls, especially when Jesus comes again? (14)

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

* "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD" -With the preaching of the gospel to the ends of earth being now fulfilled in my lifetime this is partly true. But is it true when most reject it? Surely this will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again and establishes his kingdom.

>9. How are things turned around according to the fourth woe? (15-18)

* Habakkuk 2:15-18 "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. 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. 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. "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."

* "till they are drunk" -Alcohol and drugs deprive a person of control of his or her body and mind. Above I wrote of the early stages of being drunk. As a person gets more and more drunk they lose control of their body and mind. They become very susceptible to suggestion and demonic influences. Many selfish men get women drunk in order to take advantage of them. They now have invented other drugs that work faster than beer, wine, and whiskey.

* "cup from the LORD's right hand" -The cup of wrath. Often in the Bible wrath is a cup to be drunk. Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives, "Take this cup from me," meaning the wrath he would undergo when he took on the sins of the world.

* "Lebanon" -Lebanon was known for its great trees.

* "destruction of animals" -Assyrian and Babylonian kings hunted animals for sport not food. Many reliefs reveal them doing this.

* "you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them" -Nothing was except from their using things, animals, and humans just so they could get a little more.

>What is the definition of an idol in verse 18 and how do people still make idols?

* "since a man has carved it" -Made from wood, stone, or metal into an image.

* "teaches lies" -People give a sence of religion by believing in something or someone who will give them what they want and let them do whatever they want. So religious leaders tell them what they want to hear rather than what the Lord God says. False prophets tell lies so they can get wealthy from people who want to sin.

* "his own creation" -In times past this would refer to idols, physical statues in the form of man, animals, or a combination of. However, the idea behind idols is still with us. People make their god out to what they want him to be. One doesn't need to bow down to a shrine or statue to commit idolatry.

* "cannot speak" -When trouble comes or when they want something they turn to God. Since idolaters reject the one and only true God they turn to what they invented only to find the Lord God will not answer them. If however they repent of idolatry the Lord Jesus will forgive their sins.

* Compare what you believe about God to what the Bible says. Prayerful Bible study will lead a person to Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you study the Bible daily?

>10. How does the Lord compare to an idol? (19-20)

* Habakkuk 2:19-20 "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. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him."

* "give guidance" -Jesus gives his people guidance through the Holy Spirit and his servants.

* "no breath in it" -When Jesus who is from everlasting to everlasting God became a man who took on our form and breathed as we do.

* "the Lord is in his holy temple" -From Solomon to Jesus' birth the temple was a building made of stone in Jerusalem. Now the Lord dwells with his people through the Holy Spirit so that we are his temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, 6:19 states, "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple... Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own."

>How does this revelation shed light on the life of faith?

* Trust and obey, for their is no better way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

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