Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk 2
by Pastor David Groendyk

I believe Habakkuk is one of the most underrated books of the Old Testament. It’s very similar to Job in that it is a conversation between a believer and God, primarily with the believer asking God “why” in relation to a very difficult trial. So far in this book, the conversation has gone something like this:

  • Habakkuk’s first complaint: “Why are you letting Judah do so much evil?” (1:2–4)
  • God’s first answer: “Don’t worry, I am sending Babylon to punish and destroy them.” (1:5–11)
  • Habakkuk’s second complaint: “How could you let an even more wicked nation like Babylon destroy your people?” (1:12–2:1)

Chapter 2 is God’s second answer. What do God’s people do when they don’t understand why God is doing what he’s doing? First, God tells Habakkuk that the righteous must live by faith (v. 4). Although Judah will have to live in uncertainty as to when exactly Babylon will come (v. 3), and although when Babylon does come it will be brutal (v. 5), the righteous will live if they continue to have faith in God with humility. The puffed up soul in verse 4 represents Babylon, but it also represents what God’s people should not be as they wait on the Lord. Whatever trial or whatever confusion the people of Judah will experience in coming days, they must trust that what God is doing is right, and they must remain faithful to him through it. The New Testament quotes verse 4 in a few places. Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11 use this verse to teach that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But Hebrews 10:38–39 uses this verse to teach that it is by faith that we remain faithful to God and continue to persevere through trials without shrinking back. “Living by faith” encompasses the whole of the Christian life, both the first time we put our trust in Christ and are transferred from eternal death to eternal life and the way we continue to live faithfully according to God’s Word by obeying him. The faith that Habakkuk describes is one that trusts God’s promises for salvation at the beginning of the Christian life and trusts God’s promises for preservation and help all the way through your life. As Christians, we never stop living lives of faith in God, and that should give us all the confidence in the world in him.

The second part of God’s answer to Habakkuk is that Babylon will pay for their evil (vv. 6–20). Although God is using Babylon as an instrument to punish Judah, that doesn’t mean Babylon gets a free pass. The cup of God’s wrath will pass around to Babylon, and they will be made to drink and endure the punishment they deserve (vv. 15–16). Their plundering and bloodshed and oppression will come back to haunt them. Eventually, as Scripture records, Babylon as a nation does fall. But the bigger principle is that all of the enemies of God and his people will one day meet their end. They won’t be allowed to torment God’s people forever. Eventually, everyone will see and know the glory of the Lord, whether they see him as a savior or as an avenger. Verses 14 and 20 are tremendous promises for God’s people. How do those promises strengthen Christians to endurance and patience in the midst of confusing or hard times? Why do you think God commands the earth to be silent before his presence (v. 20)?