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the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

The Church Pulpit CommentaryChurch Pulpit Commentary

Verse 1


‘I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what He will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.’

Habakkuk 2:1

I. The prophet Habakkuk defines for us what the position of that man’s mind must be who would catch the deep, still messages of which everything is full—what it is to be waiting for heavenly signs.—(1) There must be an individuality and solitude; you must be, and feel, alone with God. (2) You must be found in your own proper duty, whatever it be, and in that duty faithful. (3) You must carry on your watch at a high level of thought. (4) In the watch, and on the tower, you must be patient. (5) There must be a confident anticipation that something is coming, that God is going to speak, and that God will speak.

II. There are some occasions on which we should especially wait, and when we may so calculate with an entire confidence on the speaking of God that those passages of life ought to be singled out.—(1) One is, after prayer. How many answers have been missed, simply because we did not follow our petitions with a heavenward eye, and with the calm waitings of expectant faith! Remember, when you pray, go at once from the footstool to the tower. (2) Another time, when we should watch well to see what God will say unto us, is just before we are entering upon any important duty, or work done for God, or undertaking any enterprise. (3) Afflictions are the seasons for very earnest listenings. Depend upon it, whenever a cloud rolls over you, there is a voice in that cloud.

III. Whatever else there may be in the voice, long listened for, when it comes there will certainly be three things.—God will comfort you; God will stimulate you; God will reprove you. He will comfort you that you are His child. He will stimulate you to do a child’s work. And He will reprove you, because it is a child’s portion at a faithful Father’s hand.

—Rev. Jas. Vaughan.


‘The prophet steadies himself, he will be quiet, he will watch and see what God will say to him in his distress ( Habakkuk 2:1). The answer comes, the wicked man, though apparently prosperous, is really a ruined man, but the righteous shall live by faith ( Habakkuk 2:2-5). Then suddenly the scene changes: Habakkuk becomes the spokesman for those nations that had suffered from the scourge of invading Chaldæans; in their name he pronounces five several woes upon them, ending with the solemn and restful words: “The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” These woes were aimed at the characteristic sins of the Chaldæan, his cruel spoliation, his proud building of Babel-like palaces, his founding of cities filled with tyrannical misrule, his drunkenness, and his idolatry ( Habakkuk 2:6-20).’

Verse 3


‘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.’

Habakkuk 2:3

I. The whole of the Old Testament was a ‘waiting’ for our dispensation.—The whole of the New is ‘waiting’ for another.

The Flood, the promised son to Abraham, the Exodus, the Law, the Holy Land, the return from captivity, the Messiah, the Holy Ghost, the destruction of Jerusalem, the restoration of the Jews, the Second Advent of our Lord were all ‘waited’ for.

David speaks of his ‘waiting’ for God more than twenty-five times. Isaiah is full of the same thought. And every child of God could have much to tell of it.

The reason is evident. It exercises faith. It humbles the soul. It enhances the blessing. It glorifies God. Therefore God ‘waits,’ and therefore we must ‘tarry His leisure.’ Habakkuk prophesied just before Cyrus; and ‘the vision’ probably went on to the destruction of the Babylon of the New Testament; and to this it is likely that the direction about ‘waiting’ chiefly pointed.

We will think of ‘the vision’ with which we have now to do. And we understand by the word ‘vision’ something which we do not yet fully see, but which God will show us. And concerning all such things, which God has promised to reveal, you will notice that the time is fixed, though we do not know it: that, at the end, it will declare itself quite plainly, and that we shall not be disappointed. Therefore we must ‘wait’ ever so long, with patient confidence that it will not exceed its own ‘appointed’ limit—it will not lag; ‘it will not tarry.’ ‘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.’

It is a familiar thought to us all to ‘wait’ for the Advent of Jesus Christ. The whole Church stands always in the attitude of expectation for the return of her Lord. But very few think of ‘waiting’ for the Advent of the Spirit.

The Coming of the Spirit is the Coming of Christ. What else could He mean when He said, ‘I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you’? Therefore there are Advents of the Holy Spirit; and they are Advents to be looked and ‘waited’ for.

The Spirit—when He comes—is always ‘a vision.’ He always shows something. He clears the eye. He makes something that was dark, plain and visible to the mind; so that the words of Habakkuk have a literal application to the Holy Ghost. ‘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.’

II. Like, then, the apostles, and in accordance with the season of the Church, we all have our interval preceding Pentecostal gifts.—And there are few lessons which it is more important for us to learn than this—to ‘wait’ for the Holy Ghost.

It is strange and beautiful how the Holy Spirit is pleased to light up passages of Scripture and truth just as and when He chooses. All in order and degree, but each separately, and, as it seems to us, arbitrarily. What you have to do is to ‘watch at Wisdom’s gates, waiting at the posts of her doors.’ You are not allowed to see it yet; but you will presently. ‘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.’

Or you have long asked God for something which you know that it must be God’s will to give to you—for it is distinctly promised. You have pressed it again and again with all the faith you can put into your petition. And it has never come. You cannot see a token that you are heard. Nevertheless, you are certain that it is a promise. It is a spiritual thing. It is one of the covenanted promises.

Why, then, is there no answer? The ‘set time’ is not yet come. And God is answering your prayer as Christ answered the Syro-Phœnician—by giving you patience to hold on, and exercising the patience that He has given. It is coming quickly, though it is not quick to come. Therefore, ‘though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.’

III. Take the lesson. The power for duty follows duty.—At what an interval we cannot say; but there is never a duty without a power for the duty.

You have the call. Be much in prayer and expectation for the gift for the call.

The period between is not lost space; but do not go till you have good reason to believe that you have secured the necessary endowment. It will come; and you will know it. You may not see it now; but, as surely as the apostles saw it, you shall see it.

IV. How shall we ‘wait’? Just as the apostles did.—In holy places and ancient ordinances; in unity among ourselves; loving and praying; ‘with one accord’; grasping the promises with submitted will, in the joy of confidence; knowing the God of our future, though the future of our God be hidden; in the simplicities of faith, and with loving views of Jesus.

No promised ‘vision’ is very far off to those who wait like that.

It is one of the paradoxes of our faith. The time is determined in God’s foreknowing mind, and the hour will strike right as it is set; nevertheless, our faith can put on the hands of the dial.

Therefore, ‘wait’ with a still mind—for you ‘wait’ for God; but ‘wait’ with importunate prayer, for God ‘waits’ for you.

Rev. Jas. Vaughan.

Bibliographical Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cpc/habakkuk-2.html. 1876.
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