We go on to Habakkuk 2:1-4
Habakkuk knew that G-d was displeased with His people. He also knew that judgement was coming upon them. Habakkuk was, however, not at peace with this. He was not confused by what G-d had said, but he was confused as to why G-d had said it. He was hoping (as was so frequently the case with the prophets) that this travesty (hardship and suffering) would not fall on his people. He also knew, however, that G-d is righteous, and His ways are right and proper. As this chapter opens, we see Habakkuk standing before G-d wanting clarification – wanting to better understand the vision that he had received. He knows that G-d raised up the Babylonians to act as an instrument of punishment [not because they were a righteous people (in fact, they were very unrighteous)]. This was confusing to Habakkuk – why would G-d pick an unrighteous people to punish a disobedient people? From our perspective we would assume that righteous people would be chosen to punish the disobedient people.
v1: Watch: This is a word for ‘guarding’.
- Stand my watch: Most commentators see this as a place where the prophet would go to pray – a place where he would communicate with G-d. Habakkuk was wanting, and waiting for, a response from G-d.
- Set myself: Positioned himself. This word speaks of stability.
- Rampart/Fortress (מָצ֑וֹר): Usually this refers to a ramp that was erected to overcome the city walls when a city was put under siege. Most of the Rabbinical commentators say that this Babylonian siege had not taken place yet so no ramp would have been in place. For this reason, the commentators say that this word should be understood as a fortress – referring perhaps to the mighty and glorious walls that were around Jerusalem.
- Watch to see what He will say: We could also translate this: “I will expect”. It is a word of expectation and anticipation. Habakkukwas expecting G-d to speak to him and give him clarification concerning the vision of severe judgment that he had seen upon his people.
- Reproved: Argument (תּוֹכַחְתִּֽי): Many translate this word as ‘reproach’. It is a word of contention and could simply be referring to Habakkuk’s argument or contention with G-d. He was not happy about what G-d had said was coming, about what he had seen and heard. He was wanting to know if this catastrophe could somehow be avoided. His desire was for the wonderful, forgiving nature of G-d to be extended, once more, so that the vision would not become a reality.
v2: The L-rd answered: Habakkuk got a response. G-d answered him, but it was not the answer that Habakkuk wanted to hear.
- Write the vision: G-d did not respond to and answer Habakkuk’s contention or argument. He did not explain Himself to Habakkuk. G-d made it very clear to Habakkuk that what he had seen in his vision was going to happen.
- Make it plain: In other words – make it easy to read. Clarify it.
- Tablets (הַלֻּח֑וֹת): This is the same word used for the tablets that the law was written on. Some scholars have suggested that this could be hinting to the fact that the people were going to receive this punishment because they had not followed the laws written on the tablets of the law. Most scholars see this word as having to do with something that had a greater permanence than something written on a scroll or parchment. G-d wanted Habakkuk to write on tablets, as what was going to happen had long-term consequences. G-d wanted the 70-year Babylonian captivity and exile to be something that the people would remember – in the same way that they were called to remember the Torah (the law). This exile left a large scar upon the people – not only physically but also emotionally. Babylon carries a great deal of significance in its meaning. Students of prophecy know that Babylon is held up as a picture regarding the judgement that is going to take place in the last days.
- He (that) may run: This is referring to him that was going to read this prophecy even as he was running. When a person is running (moving up and down) it is harder to focus. That is part of the reason why Habakkuk’s vision needed to be presented in a clear or enunciated fashion.
v3: The vision is yet: This vision was designated for a future, appointed time. G-d had set aside, marked out, a day on which this was going to take place. It was going to become a reality.
- Appointed time (מּוֹעֵ֔ד): These appointed times refer to the festivals of the L-rd. The L-rd entrusted these festivals to Israel, so that they would share them with the world.
- It will speak – will be breathed (יָפֵ֥חַ): This is a word of great significance and is not frequently used in the Scripture. It is the same word used in Genesis 2:7. When G-d formed man He breathed life into him. Most translators translate this word as ‘to speak’. When we speak we breathe.
- Breathed to the end (“at the end it will speak”): It has a designated outcome.G-d breathing on it (His Word) will make it a reality.
- Will not lie….Will not be false: It will never be thought of as something that is untrue. G-d only speaks reality. Over and over He confirmed to Habakkuk that it was going to happen.
- Come (בֹ֥א): This word is repeated twice so can be translated ‘utterly come’ or ‘surely come’.
- It will not tarry…It will not be late: This punishment was going to come at exactly the right time – the time designated by G-d.
v 4: The proud: The Babylonians were not a nation moved by righteousness. Their foundation was one of self-exaltation. They focussed on themselves rather than on the only True G-d.
- His soul is not upright (straight): The outcome of pride is moral and spiritual decay. The Babylonians had a spiritual problem. Everything about them was wicked. They were idolaters, took advantage of people and their kingdom was based on injustice without pity/mercy.
- The just…the righteous one: In Scripture,G-d frequently contrasts good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong. Here we see a contrast between those who are righteous and those who are full of pride. When we are proud, we place ourselves in a position whereby we cannot demonstrate righteousness. Righteousness is brought about through humility, submission and obedience.
- Faith: The word ‘faith’ in Hebrew (אֱמוּנָה) has the same root as the word ‘truth’(אֶמֶת).Faith is always rooted in truth. A righteous person applies truth to his life and behaves according to what he considers and knows to be true – ie The Word of G-d.