Habakkuk Bible Study Commentary: The Book of Habakkuk - Then & Now
Habakkuk Chapter 2: The Five Woes Against Society
by I Gordon
 ↩ H.A Ironside speaks about the importance of 'waiting on God' and its difficulty for the human heart writing:
'There is nothing harder for man to do than to wait on God. The restlessness and activity of the flesh will not brook delay, but counts time spent in waiting and watching as so much time lost. It is blessedly otherwise with Habakkuk. As no reply is at once given to his eager, anxious questionings, he takes the attitude of the patient learner who remains silent till the Master is ready to make known His mind.'
 ↩ A couple of verses on the importance of waiting upon the Lord. The first tells us that we should take courage as we wait for the Lord's goodness to be seen. The second tells us that the Lord Himself waits for us to wait upon Him!
Psalms 27:13 -14 I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.
Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; And therefore He will be exalted, that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for Him.
I have recently been reading a little book by Andrew Murray on the topic called, strangely enough, 'Waiting upon God'. It is a helpful wee book so look out for it at that second-hand Christian bookstore that you visit regularly.
 ↩ This obviously applies on a personal level as well as concerning the prophetic revelations given in the Bible. Are you awaiting the fulfilment of a personal promise that God has given you? Then be assured that all things in God have a perfect time to be revealed so though it lingers, wait patiently for it!
 ↩ Gaebelin notes: ' That end is the end of the times of the Gentiles, which began with the rising of the Babylonians, and the first great king, Nebuchadnezzar, the golden head in the prophetic image of Daniel 2. When the end of the times of the Gentiles comes, the world-power then, final Babylon as revealed in the last book of the Bible, will be judged and the Lord will be manifested in all His glory. The prophet's business is, as well as that of every believer, to wait for it and not be disturbed if there is delay, for the assurance is given that it will surely come and not tarry. And here faith can rest.'
 ↩ This verse was so important that it is quoted three times in the New Testament! The Believers Bible commentary states: The three parts of the verse - the just - shall live - by faith, go well with the emphases of the three contexts where they appear: Rom 1:17 emphasizes "the just"; Gal 3:11 emphasizes "faith"; Heb 10:38 emphasizes "shall live."
David Guzik notes the following about the importance of the Hab 2:4 in the life of the great reformer, Martin Luther: 'When Luther recovered he went on to Rome and did the tourist things that all the pilgrims did. One day he came to the church of Saint John's Lateran, where there is a staircase said to be from Pilate's judgment hall. It was the custom of pilgrims to climb this staircase, but never on their feet - they painfully climbed a step at a time on their knees, saying prayers and kissing the steps where is was thought the blood of Jesus fell. Luther came to this place and starting doing just as all the pilgrims, because the pope promised an indulgence to all who climbed the steps on their knees and said the prayers. As he did this, Luther remembered the words from Habakkuk: The just will live by his faith. It is said that when he remembered this he stopped, stood up, walked down and went straight home to Germany. Some say the Reformation began on those stairs.
"Before those words broke upon my mind I hated God and was angry with him because, not content with frightening us sinners by the law and by the miseries of life, he still further increased our torture by the gospel. But when, by the Spirit of God, I understood those words - 'The just shall live by faith!' 'The just shall live by faith!' - then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very Paradise of God." (Luther, cited in Boice)'
 ↩ Probably don't have space to dwell on it greatly, but it is interesting to study the times of Habakkuk and the corruption and unjust gain that was going on within Judah at that time. The coming judgement of Judah was just. Have a read (please!) of Jer 22:13-19. It contains another 'woe' - this time against Jehoiakim, the king of Judah where God says similar things against him that he does against Babylon here in Habakkuk. Specifically God says ' But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.' And as we shall see, these things are happening big time in our day as well and are a cause of the many protests occurring around the world.
 ↩ For example, last year (2011) saw the overthrow of Gadaffi in Libya by Nato. Though a ruthless dictator who deserved what he got, on what basis was that nation attacked? Amongst the many wicked nations why single Libya out for military strikes? Were they worse than what is happening with the genocide in Sudan for example? Of course not. Far from it! Many have pointed out that Libya had great reserves of gold (144 tonnes was reported) as well as the all important 'black gold' - oil. Others have reported that Libya was trying to trade their oil in a currency other than the US dollar. Republican candidate Ron Paul had the following on his website: 'Iran came under attack in 1953 when it's elected leader wanted to trade oil in something other than dollars. Saddam Hussein came under our attack at the exact time he wanted to stop trading oil in dollars. And now Gaddafi wants to stop trading oil in dollars and look what happened to him.'
What the world power did in their way in 600 BC is what the world power does in 2011 in its way. Different means, same desire and result. About 20 years ago Larry Norman wrote a song called 'Step into the madness' that had the following lyrics that apply just as equally to today. Nothing has changed.
'Bankers and controllers make deals on foreign shores. And the CIA ships heroin to finance their secret wars.
They sell the madmen weapons then send soldiers to their land. And in the name of God we battle for all the oil under the sand.
This is America, land of the free. Everyone gets justice and liberty, if you got the money.'
 ↩ Remember Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Daniel chapter 4? He saw a tree (which was him!) that reached right into the heavens. It was tall and strong and could be seen from the ends of the earth... until the announcement came to 'cut it down'. A year later, 'as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, "Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty? The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, "This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar: Your royal authority has been taken from you... " ( Dan 4:29-30 ). And of course Daniel 5 has the fall of Babylon (while they party thinking they are safe and secure!) to the Medes and Persians. Both of these are examples of the pride and self sufficient smugness that led to them reaping what they had sowed just as it was mentioned in Habakkuk.
 ↩ And really, without God all of our work is in vain and all is meaningless as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes. People try to keep themselves busy and try to keep themselves entertained but behind it all lays an inward sense that we must have been made for something greater. Speaking of this C.S Lewis wrote: ' If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. '
 ↩ The 5 woes that we are looking at speak of corruption, exploitation, violence, unjust gain and work done in vain. In contrast to all of this read the following prophecy of how things will be when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom. I will highlight a few things that stand in contrast to the troubling conditions we have been reading about.
Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more . Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days , or an old man who does not live out his years; he who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere youth; he who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the works of their hands. They will not toil in vain or bear children doomed to misfortune ; for they will be a people blessed by the LORD, they and their descendants with them. Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain ," says the LORD. ( Isaiah 65:17-25 )