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Habakkuk 2

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 22, 2014


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it address the person who is: Empty, lonely, guilty, or afraid to die?  Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

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We think the best guess of when Habakkuk wrote his book is somewhere around 606 BC.

It was written after the fall of the northern kingdom, and only the southern kingdom of Judah is left.

It is during the early part of King Jehoiakim’s reign, a time when the nation of Judah wasn’t walking very close to God.

It was written just prior to the Babylonians taking over the world.

The Babylonians will be part of the focus of Habakkuk’s concern.

Habakkuk is all about tough questions.  Last week we looked at…

Why is God silent sometimes?

Why do evil people get away with things?

Why would God punish Judah with a nation more wicked than themselves?

There are going to be times in life when things just don’t make sense.

Things can be going terribly wrong, and we don’t understand what is happening.

2:1-5 Getting God’s Answer

:1 I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected.

:1 I will stand my watch

:1 my watchmishmereth – guard, charge, function, obligation, service, watch

Habakkuk is painting a picture of himself being a watchman standing on the city wall, watching for the advance of the enemy.

When Isaiah was prophesying the fall of Babylon, he also used the picture of a watchman in a tower waiting for the news:
(Isaiah 21:5–9 NKJV) —5 Prepare the table, Set a watchman in the tower, Eat and drink. Arise, you princes, Anoint the shield! 6 For thus has the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman, Let him declare what he sees.” 7 And he saw a chariot with a pair of horsemen, A chariot of donkeys, and a chariot of camels, And he listened earnestly with great care. 8 Then he cried, “A lion, my Lord! I stand continually on the watchtower in the daytime; I have sat at my post every night. 9 And look, here comes a chariot of men with a pair of horsemen!” Then he answered and said, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen! And all the carved images of her gods He has broken to the ground.”

:1 and watch to see

:1 and watchtsaphah – to look out or about, spy, keep watch, observe, watch


Waiting for the answer

The book began with the question,
(Habakkuk 1:2 NKJV) O Lord, how long shall I cry, And You will not hear?
It’s hard when it seems like God is not answering our questions.
Habakkuk handles God’s silence by waiting.
He’s going to go up on the city wall and wait for God’s answer.
David wrote,
(Psalm 40:1–2 NKJV) —1 I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps.
We don’t know what to do with silence.
Don’t turn on the TV.  Don’t check out Facebook.  Be silent and wait for God.

:1 when I am corrected

:1 when I am correctedtowkechah – rebuke, correction, reproof, punishment, chastisement


Staying teachable

Habakkuk is expecting that when God answers, that he, Habakkuk, will be corrected by God.
When you come to church on Sunday morning, are you “teachable”?
If God had something to say that might offend you, would you listen to it?
I have to admit that sometimes when someone comes up to me and corrects something that I’ve said or done, I get a little defensive.  My feelings get hurt.
I have to work at not being defensive.
Solomon wrote:
(Pr 9:8 NLT) So don’t bother correcting mockers; they will only hate you. But correct the wise, and they will love you.
In J. Oswald Sanders’ Book, Spiritual Leadership (pg.120), he writes:
Samuel Brengle was a man known for his sense of holiness.  He knew what it was like to be criticized.  Once, instead of rushing to defend himself, he replied:

“From my heart I thank you for your rebuke. I think I deserved it. Will you, my friend, remember me in prayer?”

When another critic attacked his spiritual life, Brengle replied:

“I thank you for your criticism of my life. It set me to self-examination and heart-searching and prayer, which always leads me into a deeper sense of my utter dependence on Jesus for holiness of heart, and into sweeter fellowship with Him.”

How do you handle it when someone corrects you?

:2 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.

:2 make it plainba’ar – to make plain, distinct

:2 That he may run who reads it

The Hebrew here is a bit unclear.  It has been translated in various ways.

(Habakkuk 2:2 LEB) Then Yahweh answered me and said, “Write the vision and make it plain on the tablet so that it might be read quickly.
(Habakkuk 2:2 The Message) Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run.
(Habakkuk 2:2 NIV) …make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.

(Habakkuk 2:2 NLT) …“Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.

Since Habakkuk is describing himself as a watchman on the wall, looking for the advance of the enemy, he’s asked to write out what God shows him to he can hand the message to a runner who will then deliver the message to those who need to hear it.

:2 Write the vision

God is asking Habakkuk to …


Take notes

This elderly couple was having trouble with forgetfulness, so they went to their doctor. He said, “Why don’t you try writing down everything so you’ll remember.” So one evening, Grandma asked Grandpa if he’d like some ice cream. “Sure, that’s sounds good, but you’d better write it down.” “No,” Grandma said. “I can remember that. Would you like chocolate syrup on top?” “Yes, but you’d better write it down.” “I can remember that. How about some nuts on top, too?” “OK, but I think you’d really better write it all down.” “No, I can remember.” So she went into the kitchen and she was in there a long time. Finally, Grandpa went in and asked her what was taking so long. “I made you bacon and eggs,” Grandma said. “I told you to write it down!” Grandpa said. “I wanted toast, too!”
A recent study showed that students in class who took notes by writing with a pen and paper scored higher than those who took notes on their laptops.
Those using laptops often just wrote everything a professor said, word for word.
Those who took notes by hand couldn’t write everything down, so they were forced to think about what the professor was saying and summarize the content.
Even when they told those who were using laptops not to write everything down verbatim, but to summarize, they still didn’t score as well as those took notes by hand.  They found that those with laptops who were warned not to summarize still wrote large portions down verbatim.
I know that when you came to church this morning, you weren’t particularly expecting to sit in on something akin to a college class.
Yet my goal is to teach you God’s Word the best I can each week.

The reason I do a PowerPoint presentation with my teaching is because I’ve learned that some of us are visual learners, and we learn more when we “see” something than when we just “hear” something.

I would like to challenge some of you to go one step further.

Learn to take notes.  Write on the back of the bulletin.

If you tried to jot down just a few notes on Sunday morning, I think you will be surprised at how much more you will retain, and how much more God can be speaking to you throughout the week.

:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

:3 it will surely come

When God promises something, it will happen.

These promises about the coming of Babylon and the eventual destruction of Babylon will surely come to pass.


Counting on God’s Word

One of the tests of the genuineness of prophecy has to do with fulfillment.
(Deuteronomy 18:21–22 NKJV) —21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How shall we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?’—22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.

:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

:4 the proud … the just

proudaphal – (Pual) to swell

God contrasts two kinds of people:  the proud and the just

God will spend most of the time in this chapter talking about “the proud”, the Babylonians.
We’ll come back and talk about the “just” at the end.

:5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, He is a proud man, And he does not stay at home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, He gathers to himself all nations And heaps up for himself all peoples.

:5 he does not stay at home

God is now going back to talk about the “proud” Babylonians.

They don’t “stay at home”, instead they go out and conquer other nations.

2:6-20 Five Woes

There is some structure to this next section.  There are five “woes” being pronounced (v. 6, 9, 12, 15, 19).  If you scan through the section you will see the word “woe” five times.  Each “woe” has three verses connected to it.

2:6-8 Woe #1

:6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him, And a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases What is not his—how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?

:7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.

:8 Because you have plundered many nations, All the remnant of the people shall plunder you, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

:6 Woe to him who increases what is not his

Woe: Theft

The Babylonians would be guilty of taking what did not belong to them.
One day all the people that Babylon had plundered will turn and plunder them.

2:9-11 Woe #2

:9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, That he may set his nest on high, That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

:10 You give shameful counsel to your house, Cutting off many peoples, And sin against your soul.

:11 For the stone will cry out from the wall, And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

:9 Woe to him who covets evil gain

(Habakkuk 2:9 NLT) “What sorrow awaits you who build big houses with money gained dishonestly! You believe your wealth will buy security, putting your family’s nest beyond the reach of danger.

It’s as if a person’s own house is crying out against its inhabitant.

Woe:  Shameful Home

Their own house will cry out against them.
Some people do wicked things, thinking that it’s the best thing they can do for their family.  They are oh so wrong.

2:12-14 Woe #3

:12 “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, Who establishes a city by iniquity!

:13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts That the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain?

(Habakkuk 2:13 NLT) Has not the Lord of Heaven’s Armies promised that the wealth of nations will turn to ashes? They work so hard, but all in vain!

:14 For the earth will be filled With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.

:14 the earth will be filled

This is what will happen when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom on earth.

This specific prophecy is found in at least four other places, including:
(Numbers 14:21 NKJV) but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord
(Psalm 72:19 NKJV) And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen.
(Isaiah 6:3 NKJV) And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”
(Isaiah 11:9 NKJV) They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea.

There is only one kingdom that will one day fill the whole earth – God’s kingdom.

:12 Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed

Woe: Cheating kingdom builder

Our kingdoms (like Babylon) will one day burn.  God’s kingdom will last.
Only God’s kingdom is worth building.

2:15-17 Woe #4

:15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness!

:16 You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also—drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the Lord’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory.

:17 For the violence done to Lebanon will cover you, And the plunder of beasts which made them afraid, Because of men’s blood And the violence of the land and the city, And of all who dwell in it.

:15 Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor

Woe: Manipulation

Babylon manipulated their enemies and got people “drunk” on their promises to them.
In the end, Babylon would be the one exposed.
Be careful about people who try to manipulate you.
Ultimately this leads to ruined lives, like people exposing themselves in their drunkenness.

2:18-20 Woe #5

:18 “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols?

:19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all.

:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

:19 Woe to him who says to wood

Woe:  False religion

Idols are stupid pieces of stone and wood.
Babylon pushed people to worship their gods.
Nebuchadnezzar built a huge idol and demanded that everyone bow before it.
There are false religions out in the world that demand that you follow them.
One of the worst is “humanism” which teaches that there is no “God”, and that man has to trust himself as he pulls himself up out of evolution’s goo.
On the other hand, the one and only true God, Yahweh, is in His holy temple in heaven.
He is for real.  Learn to be quiet before Him.

(Psalm 33:8 NKJV) Let all the earth fear the Lord; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.

:4 the just shall live by his faith

justtsaddiyq – just, lawful, righteous

This is the person who is right before God.
This is the word that makes up half of that mysterious person’s name, “Melchizedek”, which means “King of” (melchi) “righteousness” (zedek)
The nugget here is about how the person who is right with God “lives”

shall livechayah – to live, have life, remain alive, sustain life, live forever

There are two ideas buried in this phrase “shall live”

faithemuwnah – firmness, fidelity, steadfastness, steadiness


Eternal life

Living is the opposite of dying.
The ultimate in “living” is having eternal life.
How can a person become right before God find eternal life?  Through faith.
Paul wrote,

(Ephesians 2:8–9 NKJV) —8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

Our eternal salvation comes as a gift of God, as a free gift, as a result of “grace”.

We receive salvation through “faith”.

Paul quoted Habakkuk and related it to saving faith when he wrote,

(Romans 1:16–17 NKJV) —16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

He repeated this thought in Gal. 3:11.

(Galatians 3:11 NKJV) —11 But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for “the just shall live by faith.”

How does this work?

The Bible says that we are all sinners and our sin separates us from God.

The Bible says that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die on a cross in order to pay the price for our sins so we could come to know God.

He paid a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.

This is God’s grace to us.

If you will make a choice to put your life into Jesus’ hands, and believe that He died for your sins, you will receive eternal life.

Simply by believing.


Daily life

Habakkuk’s phrase goes beyond being saved through faith, it includes how we “remain alive” after we’ve come to believe in Jesus.
The writer to the Hebrews quotes Habakkuk, and his emphasis is on daily living, on enduring, on how we continue with the Lord.
(Hebrews 10:36–38 NKJV) —36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”

living by faith” is not just about making your entrance into salvation, it’s also about living your life afterwards by trusting in God.

The author of Hebrews defines faith like this:
(Hebrews 11:1 NKJV) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 NLT) Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

Faith is trusting in someone or something you don’t see.

After the author of Hebrews defines faith, he goes on to illustrate what faith looks like through the lives of the great men of old and how they lived by their faith.  For example…
(Hebrews 11:7–8 NKJV) —7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

Faith isn’t just sitting still doing nothing.  Faith is lived out and demonstrated by how we choose to live our lives.  Faith is demonstrated by the actions we take.

There are times when we simply can’t grasp what God is doing.
We don’t know for sure where God is leading or why things are happening.
The path ahead of us is unfamiliar like a walk in the forest, and we’re afraid of moving ahead because somebody might be playing a grand cosmic trick on us.

Video:  Water trap

We need to trust God and do what He says, even if we don’t see it or understand it.
Video:  Indiana Jones – Leap of Faith
When God’s Word says we ought to behave in a certain way, we need to learn to do it anyway.
Living by faith means I trust God, and I move forward, even if I don’t understand or don’t see.
Paul wrote,
(2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.

Walking “by sight” is trusting in what you see, trusting in your senses.  But sometimes we can’t “see”, and we have to trust and do what God says anyway.

Video:  Trust Fall

Walking by faith looks a lot like obedience.
For example, Paul wrote,

(Ephesians 4:28 NKJV) Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.

From time to time I hear a Christian businessman admit that they have to cheat a little bit to keep up with their competitors.

All their competitors cheat and there’s no way to survive without cheating the customers.

The righteous man living by his faith is the one learning to do what God says, even though he doesn’t see how it’s going to work out.

I trust Him and when He says “fall backward”, I do it.

Paul also wrote,

(1 Corinthians 7:2 NKJV) Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.

Our society is flooded with immorality.  There is temptation everywhere.

God’s desire is that a husband and wife spend ALL their sexual energy on each other.

I’m not just talking about having an actual, physical affair.

I’m talking about removing all other ways that you would exert sexual energy.  Focus all your desire on your spouse.

You might whisper to me secretly, “But my spouse can’t meet my needs”.  And I will reply to you, “You have to trust God in this and do it His way.”