Habakkuk 2 – Call to Silence

Habakkuk 2 Bible with Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee

Today’s ChocolateEndangered Species Dark Chocolate with Hazelnut Toffee

Today’s PassageHabakkuk 2

Habakkuk spoke his piece in the first chapter, and now he’s content to listen; the majority of chapter two is God talking. Does he adequately answer Habakkuk’s concerns? We won’t get to see Habakkuk’s response until chapter three, but in the meantime, we can see for ourselves and make our own assessments.

Habakkuk prefaces God’s answer to him with an interesting remark. Imagining himself as a sentry on the ramparts keeping watch for God’s words, he says, “I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved” (1). The word “reproved” here is a form of the Hebrew verb תּוֹכֵחָה, towkechah, which Strong’s Concordance defines as “rebuke, correction, reproof, punishment, chastisement; argument, reproof.” The sense I get is that it has a disciplinary element and can refer to either moral or factual correction. I’m also picking up on some potential legal connotations. But most importantly, the word suggests that Habakkuk expects reproof. It’s not necessarily an admission of guilt, in my understanding, but it shows that he knows his own perspective comes up short, and God is in a position to supply what it’s lacking.

In a familiar prophetic style, God’s reply comprises a series of indictments of various sins and a promise of impeding judgment. He hits pride (4-5), economic ruthlessness (6-11), violence (12-14), and deceit and poison (15-17). You may recognize verse four as a favorite of Paul’s: “The righteous will live by faith” (Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11, Hebrews 10:38). I might conjecture that while God might intend this verse for the reprobates of Israel or the Chaldeans, it’s intended just as much for Habakkuk himself. The prophet knows he’s inadequate, but in the opening words of this vision of judgment, God encourages him to trust.

The vision closes out with a critique of idolatry. It’s a familiar theme for a Hebrew prophet; God’s words here seem cut from the same cloth as those in Isaiah 44 or Psalm 115. He asks: “And that is your teacher? …There is no breath at all inside it” (19). An idol is useless; as a created being fashioned by created beings, it’s two tiers removed from any position to instruct or correct. God, in contrast, sits at the top of the ontological pyramid: “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him” (20). Idols can’t speak.

God can certainly speak. He spoke the entire universe into being. And in the vision that he articulates here (which, interestingly enough, Habakkuk speaks to us, his readers), God suggests this is a time where we perhaps ought to swallow our pride, take a cue from the idols, and zip it before God.

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