Prophet Habakkuk was called by God to prophecy to Judah during the final years of the nation’s destruction by the Babylonians in around 588 B.C. Maybe just like the present “New World Order or the “military industrial complex”, Babylon was proud of its military might, strategies, armies, and weapons.
With no regard for humanity, the armies brought home riches, plunder, prisoners and tribute from the nations they invaded and conquered. Like his contemporaries, his call for repentance and the impending disaster were messages the Jewish people did not want to hear. In the end Habakkuk asked God why he would use the wicked Babylonians to punish his people. This was part of his dialogue with the Lord:
O LORD, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear? Even cry out to You, “Violence!” And You will not save. Why do You show me iniquity, and cause me to see trouble? For plundering and violence are before me; there is strife, and contention arises. Therefore the law is powerless, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous; therefore perverse judgment proceeds. (Habakkuk 1: 1-4)
The Lord’s reply was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear. The Lord told him He was going to do something that he wouldn’t believe even if someone were told about it in advance.
Look among the nations and watch— Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, a bitter and hasty nation which marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves. Their horses also are swifter than leopards, And more fierce than evening wolves…….(Habakkuk 1:5-11)
Habakkuk was could not understand why God seemed to do nothing about the wickedness in his people. So he made second complaint because he wanted some judgment for his people in order to get their attention. But he did not want them to be destroyed.
In order to execute judgment, the Lord was going to use the wicked Chaldeans who trusted in themselves and this bothered Habakkuk. How could the most evil people be used to punish his people? He cried out to the Lord with a sense of desperation:
Are You not from everlasting, O LORD my God, my Holy One? We shall not die. O LORD, You have appointed them for judgment; O Rock, You have marked them for correction. You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours a person more righteous than he? Why do You make men like fish of the sea, Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?…….(Habakkuk 1:12-17)
So Habakkuk realized he had been rash to talk like this way to God. He decided to stand upon his post of observation and station himself on the watchtower and watch to see what the Lord will say within him.
Oh, I know, I have been rash to talk out plainly this way to God!] I will [in my thinking] stand upon my post of observation and station myself on the tower or fortress, and will watch to see what He will say within me and what answer I will make [as His mouthpiece] to the perplexities of my complaint against Him. (Habakkuk 2:1 AMP)
Remember that the questions were: (1) How long would You allow evil to prevail 1:2-3)? (2) Why would you use the wicked Chaldeans to destroy people who are more righteous than they (1:13)? Then the Lord in His timing answered him by saying:
Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2: 2-4 KJV)
The just shall live by his faith! What did the Lord mean by that? This Word is quoted three times in the New Testament: in Romans 1:17, in Galatians 3:11 and in Hebrews 10:38. This Word has produced a great impact upon the whole human race. Within three centuries it brought the great Caesar to his knees, the head of most powerful empire that the world had ever seen.
The Holy Spirit used the same Word in the heart and mind of Martin Luther, through the protestant reformation to change the course of history in Europe and the rest of the world. There is no doubt that, even today, this powerful Word once applied by faith contains within it the power to revolutionize the lives of individuals or the course of nations and empires.
Regardless of whether this Word is short and simple, it covers all aspects and areas of the human personality –the spiritual, the mental, and the physical. It also covers areas like breathing, thinking, speaking, eating, working and so on.
The Bible teaches that trying to be right with God by own efforts doesn’t work. Everything we do must be motivated and controlled by faith. Even eating food as Paul makes it clear in Romans 14: 23 must be done by faith…..For whatever does not originate and proceed from faith is sin [whatever is done without a conviction of its approval by God is sinful]. (Romans 14:23 AMP)
But I need to admit that this verse “The just shall live by his faith” doesn’t reflect my life at all. In fact I sometimes worry too much…. getting frustrated over prayers that have not been answered….. have self-pity…. impatience…. getting irritable… lack faith…. even despairing of life…. complain…you name it.
So like Paul admonishes us; I try to work out my faith with fear and trembling (self-distrust, with serious caution, tenderness of conscience, watchfulness against temptation, timidly shrinking from whatever might offend God and discredit the name of Christ). Not in my own strength, for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in me energizing and creating in me the power and desire, both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight. (See Philippians 2:12-12)
But here I have digressed a bit slightly!
The Lord in His mercy began to explain to the prophet that He understood and knew everything that was going on, the greed, persecution, deception, injustice, plunder, murder, immorality, cruelty and idolatry of the Chaldeans. The Lord assured Habakkuk that the Chaldeans will in due time be judged and that ultimately righteousness and justice will prevail for the people of God.
Because you king of Babylon have plundered many nations, all who are left of the people shall plunder you–because of men’s blood and for the violence done to the earth, to the city and all the people who live in each city…Woe to him who builds a town with blood and establishes a city by iniquity!……..But the time is coming when the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea…….(See Habakkuk 2: 6-20)
The Lord concluded His reply with the words:
But the Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth hush and keep silence before Him. (Habakkuk 2:20)
The Lord is on His throne, He is alive, powerful, sovereign, all knowing. He is God and beside Him there is no other. We have no right to question Him His motives and actions. Our responsibility is not to question Him but to trust Him.
Habakkuk understood that the Lord was going to discipline his children “For the Lord disciplines those He loves “(Hebrews 12: 5-6), this was not what he wanted but he had to accept God’s will. In the end Habakkuk had to repent, humble himself, and pray for revival and mercy for his nation:
O Lord, I have heard the report of You and was afraid. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make [Yourself] known! In wrath [earnestly] remember love, pity, and mercy. (Habakkuk 3:1-2 AMP)
As the prophet was praying and begging for mercy for his nation. The Lord showed him a vision of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth to reign and rule over the nations which gave him hope. In the vision Habakkuk sees the Messiah coming in all His glory with “rays of light flash from His hands” where His awesome power is hidden. He comes in wrath, with pestilence marching before Him and plague following behind Him. When He stops the earth shakes and when He looks, the nations tremble. (See Habakkuk 3:3-15)
In this vision, the Lord is saying to the prophet, a day is coming in which He will judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31) and each one of us will receive what he deserves. Paul also says:
For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing]. (2 Corinthians 5:10 AMP)
The prophet Habakkuk trembled and waited quietly for the day of trouble and sure God would indeed pour out His judgment on Judah. (Habakkuk 3:16). Then Habakkuk praised the Lord for answering his questions.
He affirms that even if crop failure, death of animals, times of starvation and loss would devastate Judah, he will still rejoice and praise the Lord. Habakkuk feelings were not controlled by the events around him but by faith in God’s ability to give him strength and endurance.
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, And the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, And there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 KJV)
Habakkuk decides to submit himself and his nation to God’s will, believing that God will do is best for them. Habakkuk had asked God why evil people prosper and the righteous suffer. The Lord assured him that He is God and He will do what is right. And what happened?
The Chaldeans came and the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. The land was devastated, and the surviving Jews were taken into captivity. But many years later as we’ve already mentioned in one of the previous posts, King Belshazzar was having a party in a royal palace.
The Babylonians and their wives defiled the sacred Temple vessels by drinking wine from them. While they drank from them they praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
Suddenly they saw the fingers of a human hand writing on a wall of the king’s palace and it was the king himself who saw this and called astrologers, magicians, and wise men who claimed to interpret the future. However, none of them could tell the meaning of the Writing on the Wall. But then, the queen mother heard what was happening and called Daniel whom she said, had within him the spirit of the “holy gods.” Belshazzar was upset by the writing and asked Daniel to interpret the supernatural message. And this is the inscription that was written:
MENE, MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN.
This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEK: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25-28)
These words were in Aramaic language, the word mene is derived from mena, meaning “to number,” and is repeated to provide emphasis. This word declared that God had now limited or judged the days of the Babylonian Empire.
The word tekel is derived from tekal, “to weigh, “and declared that God had evaluated the pagan kingdom and found it to be wanting. The word peres means to “divide.” The word upharsin is the pural form of peres and provided increased emphasis.
The prophecy written on the wall made it clear that Babylon would be judged, divided, and given to the Media- Persians. How could all the wise men, the magicians and the astrologers unable to translate the four words considering the fact that Daniel’s education in languages was the same as theirs?
It was only revealed to the uncompromising man of God –who walked with the Lord through daily intimate fellowship. He was so committed and dedicated to Him that God could speak to him and through him.
Only such a man could tell what these words meant. Blessed are those who are to dare to be a Daniel! That very night that God delivered the written prophecy, the greatest empire in the ancient world ended, Belshazzar, the Babylonian king was killed.
Babylon was defeated in the conquest of the capital city by the Medo – Persian Empire, led King Cyrus of Persia and King Darius the Mede. The Lord kept His Word and now where is the mighty splendor of Babylon? It collapsed. And where are the Jewish people? They have been re-gathered to ancient homeland, waiting for the coming of Yeshua (Jesus Christ) their Messiah.
It is only the Lord that knows the incredible detail in which He will carry out His will, plan and purposes for our lives as individuals, families or nations. He just calls a righteous man or woman to live by faith not by sight.
Finally the book of Hebrews says:
For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God…….Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you May receive the promise: for yet a little while and He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:30-38 NKJV)
This judgment is for those who have rejected God’s grace and mercy through His Son Jesus Christ who died on the cross for our sins. For those who accept the Christ’s salvation and love there is no need to worry.
The Lord is sovereign and He will do as He promises. God never promises that His people will be immune to persecution and suffering at the hands of His enemies, as we’ve seen with Habakkuk. He only promises that they will not go through the wrath He will pour out in the Great Tribulation.
He says, He will never leave us nor forsake us; He will constantly encourage us and give us hope, courage and providing our basic needs. We need to meditate on these words from the book of Isaiah:
But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Savior: (Isaiah 43:1-4 KJV)