Habakkuk Chapter 2: Write the Vision

Sep 24th, 2009 | By | Category: Habakkuk, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Habakkuk Chapter 2: Write the Vision

Hab. 2:1 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.

Notice the words “watch” and “tower.” Isaiah 21:1-12 mentions a watchtower, Habakkuk Chapter 2 is the same interpretation but with a different perspective.

Q: In what sense was the Watchman “reproved” or ”argued with” (KJV margin) “concerning my complaint” (RSV)?

A: He had a questioning mind, but he could see existing conditions and hence wrote on “the permission of evil”—the result of his sober reflections on the subject. In wondering why God permits evil, the Pastor became philosophical and wrote down reasons. The primary reason is to give opportunity for the Church to be developed. Opposition from the world enables them to prove their love and loyalty for God. The permission of evil develops primarily the Church but also the world. In future ages when the world looks back, many will remember living the bulk of their lives under oppression from a clique of power. Those who get life will reflect on their former experience—physical or mental pain, oppression, poverty, etc.—and feel it was a valuable experience. That short time measured against eternity will be looked upon as a needed experience. Some with hard trials in the present life will be more appreciative of the Kingdom than those who lived in relative ease and luxury. God sees the ministry of evil as necessary; otherwise, He would not have permitted it. The Pastor gave constructive reasoning on the subject, but first, he had to have the puzzlement of mind to try to rationalize conditions. In fact, he abandoned Christianity (a Presbyterian influence) at one time and studied religions of the Orient, but they did not have the answer, so he studied the Bible. He then realized the Bible did not teach the church creeds. It will be comforting to the Great Company to have an understanding of the permission of evil during the anarchy. This understanding will increase their faith in God.

Q: Then do verses 1-3 indicate that the Great Company who come out of Babylon when it falls will get some instruction, some realization, that there was a dispensational messenger?

A: Yes, and that can occur quickly, in an hour or two, to those in the right frame of mind. They will quickly understand the philosophy of the permission of evil.

Hab. 2:2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

The words “write” and “tables” (charts) are significant. In other words, “Write and make a chart, a visual aid.” The Chart of the Ages indicates trouble where the lower portion of the pyramid separates, showing the fall of the old order, Christendom.

Hab. 2:3 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.

The Revised Standard is good: “For still the vision awaits its time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.” Verse 3 indicates disappointment at first. The instruction “Though it [the vision] tarry [i.e., seems to tarry], wait for it” is directed to the Great Company class left behind. The disappointment of 1914 is hinted at here. The 1914 part of the vision was not seen with clarity, for although the vision seemed to tarry, it really does not. The vision, or chart, enables one to run with instruction and wisdom.

Comment: Isaiah 21:12 says, “If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.”

Reply: When the events anticipated did not materialize in 1914, one of two things happened. Either a person abandoned the matter, or he reinvestigated, as suggested in Isaiah 21:12. And that text continues to be important for us today.

Verse 3 suggests that after the initial disappointment, there will come a time in history when events transpiring on the earth will be so convincing that all of the consecrated will then see things are really coming to pass. For example, for those who are here when Gog starts to invade Israel, there will be no question that the event is occurring. Some of the Great Company will be here at that time. The vision will then “speak” in events, proving the age is ending.

Hab. 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

The first part of verse 4 is connected with verse 5 and thus will be discussed with that verse.

Now consider just the last part of this verse: “But the just shall live by his faith.” What an outstanding expression here in Habakkuk! The Reformation Movement was predicated upon the statement “The just shall live by faith”—and not by ceremonial works and acts, which do not bring purification and justification. Since the term “the just” embraces all consecrated believers, the Great Company is included in this context. The consecrated are imperfect in the flesh but are justified through Christ, for the merit of his sacrifice justifies them.

What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives one definition: “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We cannot see faith, but faith is very tangible. The heart is involved, and faith is a practical factor to the Christian because it has changed his life. It is real, and it is solid! The power that made and ordered the universe is real. From things that are seen, the unseen becomes a reality through faith. All can see the sun, for example, but faith goes beyond the sun to see a wise, intelligent Creator. Tenderness can be seen in the Creator by studying nature, as, for instance, in the delicateness and the variety of flowers. This encourages natural faith. Faith is also described as the exercise of the mind with respect to God and His promises.

What does faith mean in a practical way? We have already considered faith from our standpoint, and now we will consider faith from God’s standpoint. We say that God is faithful.

“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). “Faith” can mean steadfastness, loyalty. God has made certain promises. When He has promised something, He is faithful. If we abide by His instruction, He will perform it. The problem is on our end. We will get the crown if faithful unto death, so from our standpoint, “faith” can mean trust in God.

In this Habakkuk setting of the Great Company class, faith is essential. Conditions will deteriorate to where there is no human possibility of help to restore order. Faith will be greatly tested under this condition and be very, very vital. Any of the potential Great Company who lose faith will lose life, for loss of faith means loss of justification—and the Great Company class are overcomers.

Comment: The just shall get life by their fullness of faith. To be overcomers, they must get that degree of faith.

Reply: They have to exercise and maintain faith in order to get life.

Matthew 24:12 says of the Dark Ages, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Those whose love waxes cold reap a destiny of Second Death, of extinction, for love becoming cold means forsaking the way. They get disenchanted because iniquity abounds in either the Church or the world. If faith crumbles, nothing is left. The anchor within the veil is gone (Heb. 6:19).

Therefore, verse 4 is dispensational advice to the Great Company. When these conditions exist, it will be absolutely necessary for them to hang on to their consecration vows in order to just get life. If faithful overcomers, the Great Company will live in the spirit realm by, or because of, their faith.

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:38,39). This text applies to both the Little Flock and the Great Company, although primarily to the Little Flock. Habakkuk 2:4 gives the same warning but particularly to the Great Company class at the end of the age. To get life, one must be faithful.

Hab. 2:5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:

Verse 5 and the beginning of verse 4 begin to describe a class whose soul is “lifted up” and “not upright in him.” “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him…. Yea also, … he is a proud man, … who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people.” This class is proud and has a desire that cannot be satisfied. Moreover, it gathers all nations unto itself; that is, this arrogant class is oppressing others. The Lord’s Great Army will particularly direct their wrath against this class, which does violence against land, city, and populace (see verses 6-8). The man of sin system also “transgresseth by wine”; that is, it uses false doctrine.

The third chapter of Habakkuk is a prayer of the prophet.

Verses 1-16 tell how God will act mightily and be Judge. The mountains and the rivers, the sun and the moon, etc., will be affected. Verses 17-19, which describe the attitude of the Great Company class, take place in fulfillment before verses 1-16, for the earlier verses tell of God’s wrath in delivering Israel out of Jacob’s Trouble. Therefore, one segment of the chapter (verses 1-16) describes the very end of the age when God will stand up and make His control apparent, but the end of the chapter (verses 17-19) is an appendage describing the Great Company’s earlier experience. Chapter 2 similarly covers different time periods.

Verses 1-3 refer to the divine plan and its being made understandable to God’s people, particularly through a wise servant. In fact, the plan was explained so clearly that a chart was made of it. The watchman in the tower, Bro. Russell, was instructed so that he could make the vision plain. That has happened, and the watchman has departed the scene. Hence verses 1 and 2 have already been fulfilled but not verse 3. The vision does not tarry, even though it seems to.

Then verse 4 starts a series of verses about someone or some class whose soul is lifted up and who has an insatiable desire and gathers all nations. Verse 4 through the end of the chapter happens sometime after 1916. (Note: The fulfillment of these verses was still future as of 1992, the year of this verse-by-verse study of the Book of Habakkuk.) In the near future, Babylon will fall, and great trouble, anarchy, will follow. Then God will stand up and save Israel.

Mystic Babylon, or Papacy, has heaped the wealth of the nations to itself. Verse 6 mentions “thick clay.” The term is a reminder of the clay feet (mixed with iron) of the image in Daniel 2:33. Mystic Babylon has enriched itself at the expense of others, sucking the lifeblood and the riches of the nations. Instead of having the spiritual hope of being with Jesus as its motivating force, the false system has desired riches.

After Babylon falls, there will be more trouble and turmoil, for the Lord’s Great Army will create all kinds of violence in the earth. The turbulent conditions will lead the Great Company to question what is happening. Their very survival depends on their holding on to their faith.

Generally speaking, the Great Company will be here to see both events: the fall of Babylon and the anarchy.

Both Papacy and the Lord’s Great Army are guilty of pride. In regard to the latter, when terrorists wreak havoc and nothing deters them, they will worship the very instruments and weapons of their violence. The religious systems, especially Papacy, have oppressed the people and accumulated and accumulated, and subsequently the Lord’s Great Army will do the same but in an overtly violent manner. The Lord’s Great Army will cause a lot of destruction in Europe and then, as “Gog,” go down to Israel (Ezek. 38:14-16).

Habakkuk Chapter 3 picks up sequentially with God’s intervention on behalf of Israel. Verses 17-19 are purposely out of place to show that the Great Company will find themselves in the interim, that is, before God actually starts to deliver Israel. The very life of the Great Company depends on maintaining their faith and trust in God—and in maintaining their integrity for God.

First, the Great Company will weep and gnash their teeth. Then they will have relative restoration of faith and zeal. Revelation 19:6-9 shows that a strengthening voice will come from heaven, saying that the Bride “hath made herself ready.” In other words, the Great Company class will be informed that the Church is complete. The words of verse 9, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb,” will encourage the Great Company— that is, after the disappointing revelation that the Bride is complete makes them mourn and question their own standing with God. Habakkuk 3:18 ties in: “Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”

Papacy’s desire to accumulate is aptly compared to hell, which is never satisfied. “He … enlargeth his desire as hell.” Just as more and more people can always die, so Papacy tries to accumulate more and more wealth and goods. The tomb can swallow all humanity and still be hungry for more.

Hab. 2:6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

Verse 6 is a reference to Papacy, which has mingled itself with the seed of man, as shown in the mixed clay-iron toes of the image of Daniel 2:33. Clay is imitation stone (picturing an imitation kingdom) in contrast to the real stone (The Christ) that smites the image.

Verses 5-19 describe the drama of trouble that will occur when Babylon falls and Michael stands up. The “taunting proverb” will be spoken by the people who rise up against Papacy.

However, when the condition merges into the Lord’s Great Army, the picture will change, for the people will not taunt the Lord’s Great Army.

First, the people and the discontents will oppose Papacy. Then the Lord’s Great Army will take over. From the fall of Papacy until the time God saves the Holy Remnant will be one period of trial and trouble. During this time, the Great Company will find themselves. The vision will become plain to the Great Company left behind when they actually see Babylon fall—at least it will become plain at that time to those with a present-truth background.

For “one hour,” mystic Babylon will again manifest Inquisition power (Rev. 17:12). The persecution will awaken the masses, who have believed the propaganda that the Inquisition was greatly exaggerated. Persecution, despotic power, and animosity will be manifested by Papacy and evangelical Protestantism. These actions will expose the hypocrisy of the systems, which have professed to be so loving. The masses will then react. Those who chafe under the hour of power will SUDDENLY ACT, and when they EXPLODE, Babylon will fall. In essence, the people will be so fed up at that point that they will act and not fear for their lives.

Later, when the governments fall and there are no police or fire departments, the red hand of anarchy will be seen as the Lord’s Great Army coming into being. The sequence, which is shown in 1 Kings 19:11,12, is wind, earthquake, and then fire (anarchy). The “earthquake” is the breaking of the present status quo. After the earthquake occurs, absolute terrorism and anarchy will shortly follow: raping, looting, killing, etc., with no restrictions. The majority of the people are meek. When Babylon (the religious systems, especially Papacy) starts to fall, the people will taunt it, but they will not taunt the Lord’s Great Army.

If the faith of the Great Company holds up in these troublous conditions, the Lord’s spirit will enter their lives—almost like Elijah’s having the mantle—but too late to be of the Little Flock.

They will eventually get oil in their vessels, as shown by the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). Meanwhile, the world will be in real turmoil and drunkenness, reeling back and forth with no moral leadership.

Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!” Notice that verse 6 contains a “woe.” In this chapter, there are five “woes”—all indictments against Papacy (verses 6, 9, 12, 15, and 19).

Hab. 2:7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?

“Shall they not rise up suddenly?” Verse 7 refers to the fall of Babylon. In the type of Belshazzar’s feast in Daniel Chapter 5, those in Babylon (Papacy in the antitype) were feeling confident and drinking wine. Suddenly the waters were diverted, and the army of Cyrus quickly entered under the gates. The smiting of the image will also be sudden (Dan. 2:34,35). In other words, these two events—the fall of Babylon and the smiting of the image—are one and the same act. When the stone smites the feet of the image, the clay and the iron will be gone. Then, after a period of time, the stone will grow and grow and grow to fill the whole earth.

The Book of Habakkuk describes the turmoil that will occur after the Church has gone home. Elisha will know the Church is complete when the mantle of Elijah falls down, and the proof is that he was reluctant to search for Elijah’s body. There are tremors before the great earthquake, before the great Time of Trouble, and we see these tremors today (Matt. 24:21; Dan. 12:1). They are evidences of the condition of unrest.

“Thou shalt be for booties unto them.” The Lord’s Great Army will loot everything valuable.

The Vatican and the churches with their gold crucifixes, silver chalices, etc., will be stolen and destroyed. This system, which enriched itself at the expense of the people, will itself become a spoil.

Money will become worthless, for anarchy will be so disruptive that there will be nothing to buy. There will be no buying or selling, no planting or reaping. Why would one plant to have another loot the produce? When the people realize that money will become worthless, some will make last-minute attempts to buy advantages of mercy—but to no avail.

Comment: The first objective will be to get material goods. Next will come the looting of food— for survival.

Hab. 2:8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

Verse 8 tells of the judgment against Papacy.

Hab. 2:9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!

“That he may set his nest on high.” Papacy has set itself up like a god. Babylon built walls—big, thick, and high—for security. The same contagious spirit of self-preservation will take place after Babylon’s fall because the people with weapons will try to protect themselves. Not only has money affected the character of the rich, but the love of money has affected the poor as well. Yearning for money can cause problems. Those who are aggressive by nature, and not humble, will be aggressive in regard to the Lord’s Great Army.

Hab. 2:10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.

Hab. 2:11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

The papal institution itself—the walls, beams, etc.—is crying out for judgment. And so is the aggressive individual who participates in the Lord’s Great Army. Each person is likened to a house ready for judgment. Babylon as a religious system and Babylon as the aggressor, the invading army, are to have judgment because the same spirit is in both but under different circumstances.

Hab. 2:12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

Hab. 2:13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?

Verses 12 and 13 show the trouble coming down to the level of the people who are laboring “in the very fire” of anarchy. Self-preservation is a powerful force, and few will maintain a sense of reason in this confusion. The people will “weary themselves” for nothing. When the food supply is depleted, many will feel, “What can be done?” and they will resign themselves to starvation, not wanting to use guns on others and do violence. To this class, Zephaniah 2:3 applies: “Seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’S anger.”

Hab. 2:14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

The condition of worldwide turmoil and confusion will be replaced by order and peace and truth. To have such a comforting promise inserted here shows that the Great Company will be strengthened as Scriptures come to mind—just as the Little Flock is strengthened earlier. God will bolster the faith of the Great Company with Scriptures as they try to hold fast.

The thought is of the “seabed,” which is a depression. “The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the seabed.” Basically, mankind is humble and sheeplike, but a large element will take advantage of the anarchy. In the anarchistic leveling of society, people will become like beasts with animal instincts. The veneer of civilization will be taken off to expose men as sinners. All the nastiness in man will come out, for there will be no restraints. After the people are brought down to this base level, that condition will be replaced, and they will be covered with a knowledge of God’s glory and a Kingdom of peace. The extremity will become the moment of God’s opportunity to rescue mankind, for all else will have failed.

Hab. 2:15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

Spiritually speaking, this verse refers to Papacy’s wine of false doctrine, but in the anarchy, this verse will be literal. Some will force the humble to drink wine and get drunk so that they can taunt them.

Hab. 2:16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.

“Let thy foreskin be uncovered.” From a spiritual standpoint, this verse also applies to Papacy, the man of sin. The Lord’s language is strong. Just as an uncircumcised male can have an odor unless he is fastidious, so the system will be revealed for its rottenness, stink, and corruption. In the anarchy, the people, too, will be exposed for what they are. Rottenness will be manifest— and the need for redemption and cleansing will be seen by all.

As a religious system, Babylon will have to drink the cup of retribution. Papacy will have to swallow its boasts and blasphemous claims. Later Babylon, under the symbol of Sheshach, will also have to drink the cup of retribution, for Gog and Magog will have to drink the cup of God’s fury when He delivers the Holy Remnant (Jer. 25:26). Hence there will be two different cups, both for “Babylon,” at two different time periods—one cup for Babylon ecclesiastical and the other cup for Babylon as the aggressive Assyrian, Chaldean, Gog, etc. The principle is that what the anarchists do will be measured back to them.

Hab. 2:17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

As in verse 8, retribution is being described. When King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem in 606 BC, the forests of Lebanon were cut down to provide material for besieging with ramps, battering rams, and wooden towers. Large cedar trees were used. Trees, beasts, and property all suffered injustice. (Similarly, it is criminal to cut down giant sequoias for man’s greed.)

In the antitype, uncontrolled desires of the Lord’s Great Army will bring cruelty to beasts and land, as well as people. There will be no respect for anything. Senseless looting and burning will prevail. The worldwide situation will need correction.

Hab. 2:18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

Hab. 2:19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

There is no profit to any image made by man to be worshipped. Dumb idols cannot speak or hear whether they are composed of stone, wood, or metal. The dumbness is also true of statues of the Virgin Mary, for inanimate objects cannot see, hear, speak, feel, or move.

Hab. 2:20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

When God reveals Himself in Jacob’s Trouble with wrath and fury, then the whole world will know Him and know He is in control. God has permitted evil especially for the development of the Church. When the Church is complete, God will show the distinction between the dumb idols and Himself (and the reason He hid Himself and did not manifest His anger sooner). God has had long patience for the “precious fruit of the earth,” for the development of the consecrated (James 5:7).

Comment: Silence is contrasted with speaking. Now people do all the speaking and their idols are dumb, but when God speaks, the people will be silent. They will hearken to God when He manifests POWER.

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