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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Habakkuk 2

Smith's WritingsSmith's Writings

Verses 1-20

Habakkuk 2

( Hab_2:1 ). Having closed his appeal to the LORD, the prophet takes his stand upon his watch-tower to look and hear what God will do and say. He acts in accord with the exhortation that tells us to watch and pray ( Luk_21:36 ; Eph_6:18 ). He does not watch merely to see what men will do, and thus be guided by sight; he watches to see what God will say, and thus walk by faith.

In verses 2 to 20 of chapter 2, we have the LORD'S answer to the prophet's appeal; an answer that is full of comfort for God's people at all times of trial. The LORD'S words present a vision of the coming judgment upon the enemies of God's people. and of the blessing for which these judgments will prepare the way, when "The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea" (verse 14).

(V. 2). The prophet is instructed to write the vision with such plainness, that he that reads may be energised to run with patience the race that is set before us - to use our New Testament exhortation. This surely is the meaning of these words, and not, as often assumed, "that the runner may read, but rather that the reader may run" (W.K.).

(V. 3). Secondly, we are assured of the absolute certainty of the vision. There is an appointed time for the judgment of the wicked and the deliverance of God's people. For that time we may have to wait, but it will surely come and will not tarry a moment beyond the appointed time.

(V. 4). As ever, if God in mercy delays to exercise judgment the wicked make it an occasion to exalt themselves and pursue their own lusts; even so we are warned that in these last days, there will be " scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?" ( 2Pe_3:3-4 ). In contrast to the wicked, the godly will find in this delay an occasion for the exercise of faith, for, "The just shall live by his faith" - a passage quoted by the apostle in the Epistle to the Hebrews to encourage believers to run with faith and patience, seeing that it is but " a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry " ( Heb_10:36-38 : Heb_12:1 ). The people of God, whether in the prophet's day or our own day are thus exhorted to run with spiritual energy; to wait with patience; and to live by faith.

(V. 5). Following these exhortations to the believer, the LORD formally pronounces judgment, in five woes, that would come upon the enemies of His people (verses 5 to 19). We are first told of the outstanding evils that lead to these governmental dealings of God. Intoxicated by his own vanity and pride, this restless enemy is not content to remain in his own country. His unsatisfied craving for power over others leads him to act with hellish desire to bring all nations under his control.

(V. 6-8). The oppression and injustice of this nation cries aloud to God for judgment. As the LORD had used the Chaldeans to chastise His people, and the nations, so now He uses the nations to judge the Chaldeans. For it is the nations who are used to take up a taunting proverb against these oppressors, and pronounce these woes upon them.

The first woe is called forth by the rapacity which leads the enemy to increase his possessions by seizing lands that are not his, in spite of "pledges" (N. Tr.) which he does not keep. Such wickedness unites the nations in a sudden rising against him, by which he is worried and vexed, and finally becomes a spoil to those that he has spoiled with bloodshed and violence.

(Vv. 9-11). The second woe is called forth by the covetousness (N. Tr.) which leads him to rob others to establish his own house, in the effort to set "his nest on high." He would thus seek to be supreme over the nations and make himself secure from attack. To reach this end he does not hesitate to stoop to the "cutting off many people." Nations may be crushed and millions slain if thereby he can gratify his lust for power. But he has to learn that all this ruthless wickedness will turn to his own shame. The very stones and beams of the houses that he has ruined will be a witness against him and cry out for his judgment.

(Vv. 12-14). The third woe, pronounced against this nation that has sought to establish itself in power on a foundation of bloodshed and iniquity, tells us that these men will come under the fire of judgment against which they will weary themselves in vain (N. Tr.). The universal power over the nations is reserved for the LORD. "For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea."

(Vv. 15-17). A fourth woe is called forth by a vision of the corruption, followed by violence, that marks the activities of the enemy. With deceit and cunning they deceive the nations into a helpless condition, and thus prepare the way for attacking them with violence, in order to seek their own glory. In the end they will be filled with shame instead of glory, when made to drink of the cup of judgment from the hand of the LORD. They would be overwhelmed by the violence they had shewn to others.

(Vv. 18, 19). The final woe on this wicked nation is called forth by its greatest sin - a sin directly against God. The idolatry, and the teacher of lies, which lead men to trust in a false god, and thus deny the true God, would bring overwhelming judgment upon this wicked nation.

(V. 20). The judgment that overtakes this wicked nation establishes the great and blessed fact that, in spite of all the failure of God's people and the increasing wickedness of the world, "The LORD is in His holy temple." In His presence every mouth that is opened in rebellion to blaspheme His holy Name will at last be stopped. In the face then of the coming judgment upon the wicked, "Let all the earth keep silence before Him."

In the LORD'S answer to the prophet's appeal, we are thus assured that, in God's appointed time, He will deal in judgment with all the evil of the world. There may be a waiting time, which calls for the exercise of faith, but faith is sustained by the assurance that whatever takes place among men, the LORD is in His holy temple, the unfailing resource of His people.

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Habakkuk 2". "Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hsw/habakkuk-2.html. 1832.
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