Updated: Sep 3
In our Christian world, there is a focus on blessing, good times and God coming through and bringing victory. We very quickly revert to reading things out of context in the Bible and we twist what we read to make us happy. As the world currently appears to have gone crazy, it is essential that we understand God's perspective and spend time reading God's Word in context, exploring how God views people, situations and sin. As we understand God's true perspective we can then learn how to live as a righteous generation by faith even when things are falling apart around us. To help us understand how to do this, the book Habakkuk is a great place to start! From understanding Habakkuk's approach, we will then look at how God is calling us to seek Him for a vision, to write it down and release this vision for others. While we wait for the vision to happen, we live by faith.
Habakkuk is not an easy book to read if you desire to live an easy life where you are blessed and looked after by God. Habakkuk is not a prophet that brought accusations to Israel or even spoke to the people on God's behalf. Instead, this book is an account of Habakkuk's personal struggle trying to believe God is good when there is so much evil and tragedy in the world.
Before we can hear from God, we must go to a quiet place and still ourselves so we can both hear Him and be open to hearing what He has to say, even if it is something we do not like. (ie: the rampart) We would like to think that God will only tell us things we want to hear OR say encouraging words. Often, though, God does not always say that good things will happen straight away. He will not give us a pat on the back as we would expect, but we are corrected or rebuked for our thinking or actions. God sees things from His eternal perspective. We need to be ready to speak back to God in the right way. God also needs us to be patient, to have faith and trust Him, no matter what we see or experience.
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. Habakkuk 2:1
It is important here to take a small diversion from Habakkuk. Something that is important to understand is that God wants us to talk to Him about what is happening in our world. We are not slaves or servants but part of God's eternal family. In Exodus 33 we read:
11 So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. Exodus 33:11
This conversation with God was really significant. The Israelites had sinned badly and God was so angry He said:
2 And I will send My Angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanite and the Amorite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite. Exodus 33:2
The significant thing here is that God was planning to send an Angel with them and not go Himself. Moses replied to this by saying:
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. Exodus 33:2
Moses not only spoke with God, he was able to change what God was going to do through this conversation. This meant staying in God's presence in the desert and not entering the Promised Land with an Angel and not without God. God wanted to have a two-way conversation with Moses and the destiny of the Israelites was changed in this conversation.
It is of note that not only did Moses have a two-way conversation with God, but this interaction also led to a deeper encounter with God. After this Moses asks to see God's glory. God replies and says:
19 Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” Exodus 33:19
Some people, when they read this they believe that God is fixed in what He will do and we cannot change His mind. I love a quote from Marston and Forster where they explain this passage:
The whole context of these words, then, is not one of some despotic puppeteer, who predetermines everything and applies “might is right” principles. It is of a loving personal God, interacting with and answering the prayer of a person in faith-relationship with him, but reminding the person that God knows best how and to whom to distribute blessing (Marston and Forster, God’s Strategy in Human History, 60).
Now we understand God's desire for a relationship and that he wants a two-way conversation with us about what He is going to do we can understand Habakkuk better. In Habakkuk, the writer asks God two questions and through a lament style of communicating with God lodges a complaint, draws God's attention to the suffering and injustice he sees in the world and demands that God does something. As we see what is happening in the world now, are you able to come into God's presence and ask Him what His perspective is on the evil you see happening in the world? Does He really care and does He have a plan for this evil? What is His plan for you during this evil and what are you to do today to start preparing yourself and the world around you for the vision to happen?
The issue that Habakkuk had was that the Torah had been neglected which brought about injustice and violence. Habakkuk called God to do something about this. God's response was that he was going to bring the Babylon army to devour Israel because of their evil. To Habakkuk, this was not right to have someone eviler come in and punish Israel. God told Habakkuk to write down what he sees and hears on a tablet. This vision was not for now, but for an appointed time. It will appear to be slow in coming (from man's perspective)..... but it will come... eventually! While waiting for the vision to happen, the righteous will live by faith. God for a time uses corrupt nations like Babylon but does not endorse what they do. All nations and people are accountable to His justice. All evil people will be judged and fall eventually. This cycle of evil that we see in the Babylonian culture is a cycle all nations go through. The defeat of evil is a future exodus. God will crush the head of the evil house and save His people and the anointed one. God promises to defeat evil, bring justice to all and rescue the oppressed.
With this understanding of the context of the book of Habakkuk, we can view what is written in a different way. In verse 3 we read:
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. Habakkuk 2-3 NKJV
Sometimes we want a great outcome straight away. God does not always do things instantly, but there are often tough things we need to get through before the prophecy is fulfilled. God often gives us something to encourage us; to let us know that things will get better. We then live or walk in faith through the hard times knowing the tough times are just for a season. The vision will come and will happen. It is for an appointed time and we must wait for this time.
With the hope given by God, Habakkuk is able to finish the book by praising God, even if the world is falling apart. He can trust and joy in the covenant promises of God. The righteous can only live by faith, even when our lives are dark and chaotic. The righteous can trust that God loves the world more than we do and realize God will one day soon deal with the evil we see around us.
With an understanding of the context, it is easier to understand what Habakkuk is saying. Starting in Chapter 2, verse 2, we read:
2 Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 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. Habakkuk 2-3 NKJV
In the Living Translation we read:
2 Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. 3 This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed. 4 “Look at the proud! They trust in themselves, and their lives are crooked. But the righteous will live by their faithfulness to God. Habakkuk 2:2-4 NLT
When you get a vision from God writing it down in a simple form where people can quickly read and understand it is essential. It must be able to be carried to others, read quickly or some say to be read on the run.
What we must understand from Habakkuk's writing is that God allows and uses the things we see as 'bad' to achieve His plans and purposes for us and His creation. What we see as chaotic and out of control is actually God working through these times to bring about His plans and purposes.
Finally, as we live and experience the hard or difficult times, we are called to live by faith as Habakkuk did. Though the .............. is not ..................., yet I will joy in my Heavenly Father! (eg: Though the children are not showing me honour..... yet will I joy in You, my Heavenly Father!) I am sure you can fill in the blanks. As we work towards the vision, live with the joy in God He is calling you even when what you see
Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. Habakkuk 4:17-10 NKJV
To ensure you are able to live in these tough times you are encouraged to:
Set time aside regularly to hear God's voice. Ask Him for the vision He has for you and His creation and talk to Him about it. He loves hearing about what you think about these things.
Allow God to correct you and know what to say back.
Write down what He tells you in a simple fashion. Share it with others as He leads.
Understand that sometimes / often, the vision does not happen straight away. God has work to do in our lives and prepare the world for what He is going to do. We must be prepared to go through really tough times before the blessing or vision is realised in our life.
Learn what it means to live by faith, especially through the hard times. This is not done by looking at the blessings or things that are going wrong BUT by acknowledging God is our strength and rejoicing in Him constantly. Choose to say "Yet will I rejoice in the Lord!"
Remember.. And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. Romans 8:28 AMP
Do what God is calling you to do today to ensure the vision will happen. Trust it will happen at the appointed times.
God Loves It When You Argue With Him - https://redeeminggod.com/argue-with-god-exodus-33_19/
Habakkuk Overview – The Bible Project - Bible Project - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPMaRqGJPUU
Bible Gateway - https://www.biblegateway.com/