Habakkuk 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.
“I shall look to God, and I shall also look to myself. There shall be an expectation as I gaze upward to my Lord, and there shall also be an examination as I look within at my empty, guilty, good-for-nothing self.”
Habakkuk 2:2. And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that read it.
The prophets were accustomed to write their messages upon wax tablets, and the Lord bade Habakkuk thus write what he had seen. God would have both his law and his gospel plainly revealed to men, so that they might know and understand his will. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We use great plainness of speech;” and the Lord would have all his servants do likewise. It is not for us to bury the gospel under a mass of fine words, but to set it forth in the simplest and clearest possible language; for it is not the power of human words that God blesses, but the truth itself as it is applied to the heart by his Spirit.
Habakkuk 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.
Is that a contradiction,—“Though it tarry,…. it will not tarry” ? No; to us, it appears to tarry; but, in God’s way of reckoning, it does not really tarry. To our impatient spirits, it seems long in coming; but God knows that it will not be a moment beyond the appointed time.
Habakkuk 2:4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
This grand text was quoted by Paul when he wrote his Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews. It proves that Old Testament saints understood New Testament life. David and Abraham lived by faith, even as Paul and Peter and the other apostles did.
Habakkuk 2:5. Yea also, because he transgress by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlarge 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 was spoken of the Chaldeans, an ambitious nation so exceedingly greedy that it seemed as if the whole world would not be large enough to satisfy their voracious appetite. Their great kings enlarged their mouths like Gehenna, and they seemed as insatiable as the very maw of death itself.
They heaped up nation upon nation to make a huge empire for themselves.
Habakkuk 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!
That which is said of ambition may also be said of covetousness. What an idle task it is for a man to go on perpetually hoarding,— heaping together more than he can possibly enjoy himself, as if it were made for nobody but for one man, and he must needs grasp all the wealth of the world. There is scope enough for the loftiest ambition when you seek the nobler joys of grace; there is room for a sacred covetousness when you “covet earnestly the best gifts;” but, in every other respect, may these two things —ambition and covetousness — be ever thrust far from us!
Habakkuk 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?
So it happened to Chaldea that the nations, which they had spoiled, by-and-
by grew strong enough to take vengeance upon them, and to spoil them in their turn. Usually, when men do wrong, it comes home to them sooner or later. The chickens they hatch come home to roost; at night, at any rate, if not before. Towards the end of life, a man begins to gather the fruit of his doings; or if he does not reap it in this world, certainly he will in the world to come.
Habakkuk 2:8-9. 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. Woe to him that covet an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
He fancies, when he gets rich by oppressing others, that he will himself rise out of harm’s way. He says that he will make the main chance sure, He who has plenty of gold fancies that he will be able to preserve himself from sorrow; but this is what God has to say about that matter:
Habakkuk 2:10-11. Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people and hast sinned against thy soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
These Chaldeans were great builders, as we know by the vast ruins that still remain; and most of their buildings were erected by labour exacted from the people whom they oppressed. They received no wages for their work; so even today, from the ruins, the stone cries out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber answers it. Let all men know that, sooner or later, God will execute justice even upon the greatest nations. If they will be destroyers, they shall be destroyed. Their evil policy shall, by-and-by, sweep them away. “There is a something in the world,” says one, “that makes for righteousness.” Indeed there is, only it is more than a something; it is God himself who is ever working in all things towards the vindication of his own righteous and holy law.