Lansdowne Bible Study and Prayer – 28 April 2020 – Habakkuk 2

Habbakuk has a special place in my heart. He was the first Old Testament prophet I studied as a fairly new Christian and he, like me, seems to struggle with the way God does things.

The Bible Study video continues the “at home” midweek Bible Studies during Covid-19 lockdown. There is a written summary and suggested prayer points below.

Some thoughts on Habakkuk 2

Habakkuk is helpful to us because, like many of us, he struggles with the purposes of God. In Chapter 1, he complains about the situation in Israel but God’s answer is that the nation of Babylon would invade and be an instrument of God’s discipline for His people. Habbakuk is not happy and, in 2:1, demands an answer.

The rest of Chapter 2 is God’s gracious response.

I) His purposes will be fulfilled in His time (v2-3)

His timing is not ours. It appears to delay but, in the purposes of God there is no delay. When the time of fulfilment comes, it will be quick.

II) God reveals the heart (v4)

The work that He is doing through the Babylonians is exposing the heart. The Babylonians are proud and not upright – but the people of God, even in the middle of this trouble, will live by faith.

Salvation by faith alone is the way this verse is quoted in the NT. But in this context it is saying that the righteous (those who are saved by faith) are also those who trust the Lord and His faithfulness even when, like Habakkuk, they don’t really get what He is doing.

The trouble reveals whether we are people of faith. Do I only trust God when things go well? Or do I trust Him even when it is hard? It is the latter that is the sign that we are truly one of the “righteous” (that is, the saved) that are living by faith.

It also challenges those who do not believe to ask themselves – will I carry on in pride and unbelief or will I turn and believe?

III) Sin is addictive (v5)

He is continuing His warning to those in the first part of v4 – the proud and those without an upright heart. Sin is addictive, like being addicted to alcohol. It is as greedy as the grave, it never satisfies.

Having declared this truth, God now speaks about the Babylonians and their sinful behaviour – and that it will come to an end.

IV) While God has a purpose even in bad things happening, they ultimately do not triumph (v6-20)

Actually the greatest enemy is not the virus, it is sin. God speaks about the sins of the Babylonians. Although they are God’s instruments in dealing with His people, they made their own choices to sin. So God exposes their sin and pronounces five “woes”. These sins are specific to the Babylonians, but they also exist in our society.

  • v6: Woe to those who exploit and enslave others through debt.
  • v9: Woe to those who pursue illicit gain from others in order to make themselves secure.
  • v12: Woe to those who build their empire on the blood of others.
  • v15: Woe to those who bring shame and humiliation on others by leading them into sin.
  • v18-19: Woe to those who trust in idols.

There isn’t time to go through all these in detail. The principle with each sin is that it is turned back on the sinner. Each one has consequences. God is not mocked. He is a God of justice.

This is a comfort in that, when we see these things in our world today (which we do), they will not triumph. Evil comes to an end.

While the virus is not itself sin, and it is not necessarily the direct consequence of a particular sin in the world, it is a call to stop and examine ourselves.

It is an opportunity for everyone to reflect, think about their lives, think about their relationship with God and to repent of their sin and to call upon Him. And also for us. We may not be like the Babylonians, but these desires can be found in our own hearts: desire to be in control, to make ourselves secure, to expose others’ sin, to trust things and not the Lord.

This may not be the way that we would choose the Lord to awaken us, but He is wiser than we are.

So we have the dual challenge – to the church: are you living by faith?

To the world around – are you going to change?

V) Whatever happen, God rules

v14: In the midst of these woes, the Lord declares His purpose for the world around – it is for the advance of the knowledge of His glory. He is still, through this crisis, working His purpose out for His glory to be made known throughout the earth.

v20: God is in His holy temple. All that is going on in this world, all the plans of man, all the work of the enemy and demons, nothing removes Him from His throne in heaven. In the end the world does not have the answer – but the Lord does and the Lord rules.

In this book – Habbakuk thought that God should do things his way. The Babylonians thought they could ignore God and run round the world enslaving and stealing for an empire for their fame and glory. To both believer and sinner God says: “The Lord is in his holy temple, let all the earth be quiet.” Trust the Lord and follow His ways.

The book concludes with Habbakuk response – 3:16-18.

Ideas for prayer

1) Yet I will rejoice

Bring to Him your concerns and questions about Covid-19 and pray that He would strengthen your faith.

2) The righteous shall live by faith

Local church

Pray for your local church to grow strong in the truth and obedience and for the Lord’s blessing upon the preaching of the word each week.

National church

That the Lord would revive His church. Pray that He would use this, not only for our church, but for churches around the nation.

Church around the world

Pray for the faith of God’s people around the world, especially areas where the church is persecuted.

3) The Lord to turn our nation around

In Habakkuk 2, God speaks about the sins of the Babylonians. We are a nation that is far from the Lord. Let’s bring our nation to Him, let’s plead with Him about the sins of the nation and pray for a great awakening and many conversions.

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