Then the Lord replied, ‘Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay. “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright – but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness -” ‘ (Hab. 2: 2-4).

God’s reply to Habakkuk’s dilemma was not only for him and for his time but also for us and for all time. Perhaps the prophet was expecting something more precise than the answer God gave him. But what could be more specific than the eternal principle He uttered?

When God speaks, He need not give long explanations. A few words are sufficient to awaken the heart to a world of meaning. But God does not often communicate with words. He speaks by impressions that are difficult to express in words but convey to the heart everything one needs to know. How many times God has spoken to me a wordless message with a world of meaning!

Before His revelation came an instruction: Wait for it and when it comes, write it down. This message is not only for you; it is also for the whole world, and especially for those who fall into the same category as the godless Babylonians. This message is not only for now; it will also finally happen at the end of time; when the books are opened and the time for judgment comes.

This is God’s answer for the “why do you do nothing?” question when the wicked seem to prosper and the godly suffer. There is an answer but it is not for now. This is the difficult part for us because we demand justice, and we want it now. We are forced to view each situation from God’s perspective. No, He is not indifferent. No, He has not forgotten us. He has a different timetable for a different reason from our “I want you to do something now” mentality.

In this prophecy, God divides the whole world into two categories: Those who are “puffed up” and those who are “righteous”. What does it mean to be puffed up? It means to be full of “wind”. The Hebrew word ruach can be translated “wind” or “spirit”. Jesus compared the Holy Spirit – pneuma, the Greek equivalent – to the wind in John 3. When ruach is used of God, it means “spirit”. When it is used of man, it refers to his pride. A proud person is full of “hot air” or wind.

The Babylonians were a proud people. They relied on themselves for their accomplishments. They had no time or place for God. Their greatest king, Nebuchadnezzar, epitomised the attitude of the nation. He forgot his dream and the warning that came with it (Dan. 4: 4; 24-27; 28-37) and went insane. For seven years he lived like an animal until he came to his senses and acknowledged that, after all, he was not God!

But the prophecy was even more personal than that. In a nutshell, every single person will have to face God and give an account of his life. This is not about nations. This is about individuals. God is inescapable and in the white light of His holiness, every heart will be exposed. This is about every person’s eternal destiny. This is about who will live and who will die.

The righteous person, by comparison, will not only navigate this life by his trust in God but will also enter the next and continue to live forever through the everlasting life God gives to those who trust in Him. God reckons those righteous who rely on Him for the forgiveness that takes care of their sin, and the grace that provides help for their weakness. They are filled with God’s Spirit, not the hot air of their own self-sufficiency.

Each Babylonian soldier who took part in the campaigns to capture and destroy nations would have to account for his actions and his motives. Each person who ever lives and who has ever lived with stand before God and give an account of his life. On the Day of Judgment, the books will be opened.

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from His presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and the books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  . . . Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 11-12; 15).

God’s response goes way beyond the Babylonian issue. God’s answer to Habakkuk embraces His rule over the whole world. He will come, and He will judge the earth in righteousness. All those who have not entrusted themselves to His mercy will perish. No contest!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Luella Campbell

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