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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Smith :: A Faith to Cling To

Don Smith :: Habakkuk 2:2-20

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A Faith to Cling To…A Call to Rejoice in the God of Our Salvation

Part Five: “The Glory of the LORD” – Habakkuk 2:2-20

God Is Glorious

  • He inhabits unapproachable light, dwelling in inestimable eternal splendor and majesty.
  • His glory, however, is displayed in an infinite number of ways.
  • The cosmos clearly declares His glory in clusters of distant brilliant swirling galaxies.
  • His glorious fingerprints are on all animate and inanimate creation.
  • He created human image-bearers with glory…for His glory.
  • His glory is manifested in time and space, sometimes in visible as well as invisible ways; in revealing as well as in concealing His power; in majestic grandeur as well as in humble submission and in salvation as well as in righteous judgment.
  • But the greatest manifestation of His glory was veiled in human flesh.
  • Jesus Christ is the glory of the triune Godhead.
  • To see Him is to see the glory of God.

Prophets Like Habakkuk Beheld His Pre-Incarnate Glory.

  • They were commanded to record their visions as a testimony to God’s glory and grace.
  • Habakkuk cried out for relief from the burden of watching Judah sink into a moral morass.
  • He pleaded for justice in an age of injustice, for safety in a day of violence.
  • The Lord of Glory heard his cry and commanded the prophet to:
Look among the nations and watch…Be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in your days which you would not believe if told you. (Hab 1:5)
  • God’s answer to the prophet’s cry for justice and safety would come in the form of a very unjust and violent people.
  • He would raise up the Chaldeans to be the rod of His chastisement on Judah.
  • They would invade the land bringing destruction and devastation.
  • Those in Judah who weren’t killed would be taken into Babylonian captivity.
  • The thought of this deeply troubled the prophet.
  • Habakkuk was perplexed why God would use those less righteous than Judah to be His means of judgment.
  • Having been told by God to “Look and watch!” the prophet prayed and looked out at the world around him for God’s answers to his prayers like a watchman looking out of a high tower.
  • He was deeply burdened by God’s announcement of imminent judgment.
  • The burden he bore became his constant motivation to pray.
  • By faith he believed God would send forth the Christ through Judah’s seed to redeem His people just as God had promised from the days of Adam.
  • Therefore, he believed his Lord, the Covenant-Keeping God, would preserve a remnant of Judah’s seed.
  • He prayed for the coming of Christ and His kingdom even though Judah would be taken into captivity.
  • This message and vision from God is recorded in Habakkuk 2:2-20
  • It can be divided into three movements, each an answer of hope not just for Habakkuk but for the church living at the beginning of the 21st century.

The Glory of the Lord Is Revealed in God’s Word – Habakkuk 2:2-3

1. The Lord’s instruction to “write” or “inscribe” the vision on tablets was like that given to other prophets even the Apostle John as he beheld the Revelation of Christ.

  • It was to ensure there would be an everlasting testimony to God’s glory.
  • It recorded with accuracy the historical events but also came with divine authority.
  • The vision given to Habakkuk continues to be read with hope through out the ages.
  • The Lord also commanded that the vision be “made plain or clear” on tablets.
  • His command demonstrated that the Scriptures were of divine origin…God breathed.
  • The authenticity of God’s Word came from God Himself.
  • Men were not deciding which books of the Bible they thought deserved to be included in the Scriptures.
  • Instead, from the days of Moses, Joshua, David and the prophets the tablets and parchments of God’s Word was authenticated by God Himself and placed in the Ark of the Covenant or in the Temple.
  • When we read Scriptures like this, they should reassure us that the Bible we hold in our hands is the inerrant, inspired Word of God, divinely preserved by God Himself.

2. He also intended for His Word to be obeyed and heralded until the end of days.

  • That is what He meant by saying, “so that he may run who reads it.” (Rom 1:16; 10:14-15)
  • The Scriptures were to be clearly understood so that the messenger may take it and proclaim it with authority to others.
  • With this sense of urgency and authority Paul claimed in Romans 1:16, “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.”
  • God has chosen to bring about the salvation of sinners through the preaching of God’s Word and the regenerating power of His Holy Spirit.
  • Salvation can only be accomplished by God’s power not man’s.
  • Paul in Romans 10:14-15 further affirms the power of the preached Word. He asks,
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
  • Before reformation and revival come, there must be a clear and unashamed proclamation of God’s Word heralding Christ and explaining the necessity and glory of the cross.
  • That is why the Lord commanded Habakkuk to make the vision clear on tablets alongside all the other Old Testament Scriptures preserved in the temple until the day of Christ.

3. The Lord also commanded the vision be preserved because it was appointed for a time of fulfillment at the end of days - Habakkuk 2:3

  • It is a vision that found partial fulfillment in Judah’s destruction and return from captivity.
  • It found fulfillment in Christ yet awaits final fulfillment when He returns in glory to judge the world. (Heb 10:35-37)
  • Habakkuk 2:3 is quoted in Hebrews 10:35-37 exhorting God’s people to cling to their faith until the end of days as they await Christ’s return.
  • The author of Hebrews interpreted Habakkuk’s vision to be one pointing to Christ.
  • In essence the Lord was saying His prophetic Word “gasps and pants” towards the fulfillment of Christ ’s incarnation as well as this promise of His coming at the end of days
  • This means God’s promises are not only true and reliable but God Himself longs for the day these things shall be complete.
  • The Scriptures then are completely reliable and trustworthy…because God cannot lie therefore His Word can never lie. (Num 23:19)
  • His prophetic Word therefore is sure to be fulfilled (2 Pet 3:3-4, 8-9)
  • That’s the confidence Habakkuk needed as well as all preachers and their congregations need to have living in the “terminal generation.”
  • When all else fails, the Word of God prevails.
  • The Apostle Peter warned that in the end of days, scoffers will come walking in their own sinful passions questioning Christ’s promise to return for His church. (2 Peter 3:2-5)
  • They will argue that since Christ hasn’t come during this time, He isn’t coming.
  • Peter however, in 2 Peter 3:9 gives us the reason for God’s delay,
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
  • Every day we live before Christ’s return is a day of grace.
  • It is a time to live for His glory and proclaim the Gospel without compromise.
  • When the last of God’s chosen people have repented and been saved, the end shall certainly come.
  • We know not, who that last person will be nor the last hour when He comes, but He is surely coming.

We live in days not unlike Habakkuk.

  • We are to set ourselves apart to pray by faith believing God answers our prayers.
  • We are to pray for the burdens He lays on our hearts.
  • We must be convinced of the reliability and authority of God’s Word if we are to live confidently in uncertain days.
  • We are to live each day as if Christ were coming to judge the earth.

The Glory of the Lord Is Revealed in His Justice – Habakkuk 2:4-19

1. His glory is revealed in justifying sinners – Habakkuk 2:4 (Rom 1:17)

  • The Lord clearly contrasted, in Habakkuk 2:4, those who shall perish and those who shall be saved.
  • He warned that the desires of the proud self-reliant sinner are not right with God.
  • The unrighteous are not condemned only because they do evil but because they do not even desire God.
  • It is a heart problem—the heart is desperately wicked and filled with insanity.
  • The unrepentant shall perish because they reject the truth of God’s glory revealed to them in nature, in their conscience, in God’s Word and in God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
  • The question is: “How can someone become just or made right in the sight of a holy God?”
  • There is only one way, a way revealed long before Habakkuk and still revealed today
  • The Lord says, “The just shall live by his faith.”
  • Put another way “the justified shall receive the gift of life by his faith.”
  • By this the Lord proclaimed salvation comes through faith alone in Christ alone.
  • There is no other name among men by which one can be saved than “Jesus Christ.”
  • Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17, “For in it [the Gospel, the righteousness of God] is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “the just shall live by faith.” And then he wrote the rest of Romans to explain what that means.
  • Even faith is not a work of man, it is God’s work that regenerates sinners by the power of His Holy Spirit.
  • The contrast couldn’t be any clearer…the unjust live under the dictates of their evil desires while the just are saved by faith alone in Christ’s finished work on the cross.

The ripple effect of this verse upon history is unrivaled.

  • It was recorded in Habakkuk’s day and spread out like ripples on a pond to Paul’s day, to Luther’s day and still is spreading out today throughout the world.
  • Listen to Luther’s comments on Habakkuk 2:4
If anyone is to be righteous and live, he must believe God’s promise. There is no other way. On the other hand, the ungodly dies of his unbelief. Thus this applies also here [now directing his comments to those justified by faith in Christ]. If you wish to abide and be preserved, you must believe this inscription on the tablet, which says that the Christ will come with His kingdom. You dare not be confused by the fact that matters appear far differently externally, since you are being troubled. For such is the way of God ’s Word, that it projects matters that are absurd and profounder than all the senses and reason can comprehend and experience can perceive. You behold and perceive the ruin of our kingdom; therefore you must soar above your perception by means of your faith and be persuaded even in the midst of ruin that your kingdom will come and will be gloriously established. Here we see the prophets preached and stressed faith in the Christ as much as we do in the New Testament; here we see that Habakkuk is so bold as to condemn all other works and attribute life exclusively to faith. For he states plainly enough that the unbeliever will succeed in nothing. Let the unrighteous pray and wear himself and work himself to death. His works already stand condemned as counting for nothing at all; nor will they help him. And the believer shall live by faith without works.
  • The Gospel declares sinners are saved by faith in Christ; they are saved from God’s righteous wrath against sin and are saved for God’s holy and eternal purposes.
  • The Gospel reveals the glory of God’s mercy and grace.

2. God’s glory, however, is also revealed in His righteous judgment of sin – Hab 2:5-19

  • As indicated earlier, the Apostle Paul directly quoted Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1:17.
  • It is not inconsequential that both Habakkuk and Paul then go on to describe God’s wrath.
  • I believe Romans 1:18-32 is Paul’s commentary on Habakkuk 2:5-19.
  • It explains in more detail the reasons and consequences of sin mentioned in Habakkuk.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man…and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
  • If you continue reading Romans one God’s wrath is further revealed in giving over a people to their vain thinking, self-absorbed passions and sinful practices.
  • The ultimate state of human depravity is a culture that glories in its shame.
  • This is exactly what Habakkuk 2:16 and Romans 1:31 say.

The Lord in Habakkuk 2:16 also described His wrath as “the cup of the Lord’s right hand.” (Psa 75:8)

  • In his vision, God is seen with the cup of wrath in His right hand against all the wicked on the earth ready to be poured out.
  • The contents were like blood red wine.
  • The unjust shall drain and drink it down to their utter destruction.
  • In this way the righteous demands of a Holy God shall be satisfied.
  • The cup of His wrath, however, finds prophetic fulfillment in Christ.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, He took the Passover cup, and gave thanks, and then gave it to His disciples saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Mat 26:27-29)
  • In saying this Jesus knew, it would be His blood shed for the remission of sins.
  • That is why Jesus later in the night fell on His face in prayer asking, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup [the cup of wrath in His right hand] pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
  • After pleading with the Father three times, Jesus was resigned to His Father’s will, “If this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” (Mat 26:39-42)
  • The glory of the cross is revealed in the Father’s just wrath being poured out on His beloved righteous Son so sinners could be declared righteous and have Christ’s righteousness accounted to them.
  • This is the appointed day the Scriptures were referring to with great anticipation.
  • The book of Revelation tells us a day is coming, however, when the cup of wrath shall be poured out again on the earth.
  • This time it will not be poured out on Christ but upon all who are guilty of disbelief.
  • The earth will tremble and shake. It will melt like wax in the fire.
  • It will be a terrible day. (Rev 17:4-6)
  • The only thing that presently keeps unregenerate sinners from being consumed by the inferno of God’s wrath is His unfathomable grace. Judgment day, however, is coming.

Habakkuk’s vision contains five pronouncements of Woe not only against the Chaldeans but all unbelieving sinners.

  • The first woe is revealed against all proud intoxicated sinners – Habakkuk 2:5-8
  • Alcohol and substance abuse cause a huge increase in wickedness across the land.
  • Their desires are as insatiable as hell waiting to be filled with the wicked.
  • Creditors they enslaved through unbearable debt and taxes will come back to bite them.
  • The nations they devoured with violence shall someday rise up against them.
  • It is a great mistake to envy the wicked.
  • The second woe is revealed against all coveters of evil gain – Habakkuk 2:9-11
  • Their attempt to live above all others as well as to secure their future will only bring disaster.
  • The stones and lumber they use to build their lavish cities and homes will cry out against them in the day of judgment.
  • The third woe is revealed against all workers of iniquity – Habakkuk 2:12-14
  • Those cities that pride themselves as “sin city” and shamelessly advertise, “What is done here, stays here” shall be swept away in a firestorm of God’s wrath.
  • This people only feed the fires of hell.
  • The fourth woe His is revealed against all who glory in their shame – Habakkuk 2:15-17
  • The Lord pronounces His wrath on those who encourage others to drink with them, for the purpose of getting them drunk so they can take sexual advantage of others.
  • They glory in their shame and know not how or why they should blush.
  • The fifth woe is revealed against all glory-robbing idolaters – Habakkuk 2:18-19
  • Idolatry is worshipping the works of our hands whether they be dumb lifeless totem poles or dumb lifeless treasures.
  • These idols will be of no value when judgment comes.
  • There we have God’s vision of His wrath on sin and sinners.
  • With this message of doom, however, comes bright radiant hope in Christ.

We Are Told the Glory of the Lord Is Revealed in His Holy Temple – Habakkuk 2:20

1. Even though all the earth in Habakkuk’s day seemed to be shrouded in death and destruction, someday it would be filled with the knowledge of the Lord’s glory – Habakkuk 2:14

  • This knowledge is more than just hearing about Christ, but intimate knowledge of Him.
  • “This Gospel shall be preached to all the world,” said Jesus, “then the end shall come.”
  • Not one of His words will pass away but be fully realized. (Mat 24:13-14, 35, 45)
  • Therefore, we are called by Christ to be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour we do not know.
  • This was the hope promised Habakkuk and every child of God.
  • It will all be worth while, when we see Christ.
  • The Lord’s final words in this message also offer hope in all ages.

2. The heavenly holy temple is pictured filled with the Lord’s glory – Habakkuk 2:20

  • He is seated on the throne of grace and glory, ruling and reigning over the nations.
  • Rather than fuss and complain about our lot in life, we are called to keep silent before Him. (Isa 6:1-3; Jhn 1:14)
  • The Lord exhorts us in Psalm 46:10-11,
Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.

God Is Glorious

  • His glory, especially His Son’s glory, has been recorded in the Scriptures for all to read.
  • It is intended to give us faith and confidence in the end of days.
  • His glory is revealed in the Gospel of Christ.
  • The just shall receive life and salvation through faith alone in Christ alone.
  • His glory will also be revealed in His righteous judgment of sin.
  • On judgment day no one will dare question God’s right and power to judge the wicked.
  • His glory in heaven is beyond our full comprehension.
  • He inhabits unapproachable light, dwelling in inestimable eternal splendor and majesty.
  • The just, however, are invited to come boldly before His throne of grace to receive grace and mercy in time of need.
  • This is the vision God gave Habakkuk.
  • It is a vision the church must recapture if it is to live as God intended until the day of Christ’s return.
  • Are we ready for the coming of Christ?
  • May we pray to live by faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s power and grace until we see Him!

Questions for Further Discussion and Discovery

  1. Why must the church at the end of the age recapture its faith in God’s authoritative Word, the Bible?
  2. What does the church look like when it doesn’t have the Scriptures as the measure of faith and practice?
  3. Why must God by His sovereign grace liberate the will from captivity to its wicked desire?
  4. Why is the Gospel such good news to Habakkuk, as well as to us that “the just shall live by his faith”? What does life look like if this weren’t true?
  5. What is the relationship between the cup of God’s wrath at His right hand and the cup of Christ? (Psa 75:8; Jer 25:15 and Mat 26:28, 39)
  6. If the Chaldeans were judged for their intoxication with wine what might our generation be guilty of?
  7. Why is covetousness a sin against God and His nature?
  8. The Chaldeans boasted rather than blushed in their shame. Do you think this same exchange is going on today? If so give examples!
  9. If idolatry is worshipping what we make, what kind of idols might we be worshipping today? What does worship of these things look like?
  10. Why must every generation have a vision of Christ seated in His holy temple?
  11. What difference should this make to our world view at the end of the age?
  12. In what ways can others pray that your faith increase?
Habakkuk 2:1-4 ← Prior Section
Habakkuk 3:1-7 Next Section →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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