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For six days in a row, the Israelites failed to take the city of Jericho. Put yourselves in their shoes. The army of God marched around the city each day, and at the end of the day, Jericho seemed to win the day. Perhaps one reason why they were instructed to keep silent was to stop the grumbling! We cannot assume they all shared Joshua’s faith.
Jericho is an Old Testament type, both of Babylon and of Mystery Babylon today. When we see much evil in the world, it is perhaps normal to complain that evil appears to be never ending and that the promises of God continue to fail. Such times test our faith, because faith is believing that God is able to fulfill His promises (Romans 4:21), even if the promises are not fulfilled in our own lifetime.
2 Peter 3:3, 4 says,
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts [fleshly desires, or way of thinking], 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
The apostle reminds us in 2 Peter 3:8, 9,
8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
To remind us that God thinks in terms of a thousand years is not much comfort to those who need deliverance during evil days. Yet we must learn to think as God thinks and to conform our minds to the mind of Christ. It is helpful to understand timing as well, for we see that we are now at the end of six days of Adamic history. We are coming up on the Great Sabbath Millennium, something which the first-century church understood but which was subsequently lost as Greek culture began to dominate church thinking.
Habakkuk was a prophet who is dated traditionally about 625 B.C. If that is correct, he was a witness to Josiah’s Great Passover (623 B.C.) that was held on the 16th Jubilee from Israel’s Jordan crossing. The story is told in 2 Chronicles 35.
Habakkuk lived in the evil times preceding the Babylonian captivity, for God told him, “Behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans” (Habakkuk 1:6). The Chaldeans were the ruling class of Babylon, which would soon overthrow Nineveh (612 B.C.) and later Jerusalem. After Josiah was killed while fighting the Egyptians (2 Chronicles 35:23, 24), the kings of Judah were ungodly, setting the stage for the Babylonian captivity.
The prophet saw the evil in Jerusalem’s government and knew that divine judgment was soon to follow. He knew the promise of God, but he also saw that promise slipping away before his eyes. A new round of judgment was coming, and he probably had no idea how long that judgment would last. So we read in Habakkuk 1:1-4,
1 The oracle which Habakkuk the prophet saw. 2 “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear? I cry out to You, “Violence!” Yet You do not save. 3 Why do You make me see iniquity and cause me to look on wickedness? Yes, destruction and violence are before me; strife exists and contention arises. 4 Therefore the law is ignored and justice is never upheld, for the wicked surround the righteous; therefore justice comes out perverted.”
The prophet did not expect the people to repent on their own. He appealed to God’s New Covenant promise to turn the hearts of the people (Deuteronomy 29:12, 13). Yet year after year passed, and conditions only got worse as the judgment of God drew near. The word of the Lord about raising up the Chaldeans only discouraged the prophet further.
The initial response from God is seen in Habakkuk 1:5,
5 “Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days—you would not believe it if you were told.”
God required the prophet to observe the international scene and to know what was going on in the world at large. In fact, it would take supernatural insight to know what God was doing, because a casual look would only reveal more bad news. Only by knowing God’s mind, plan, and purpose could the prophet see with the eyes of faith and thereby receive comfort that the promises of God were not failing.
God did not hide the fact that He was raising up the Chaldeans to bring judgment upon the sinful nation of Judah and Jerusalem. In fact, God described them graphically, saying in Habakkuk 1:6, 9, 10,
6 “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs… 9 All of them come for violence… They collect captives like sand. 10 They mock at kings, and rulers are a laughing matter to them. They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it.”
The key is in understanding that the Chaldeans did not raise themselves up to conquer Jerusalem. God Himself raised up the Chaldeans. The sovereignty of God is the first lesson in faith, because it shows that His enemies are not out of His control. No matter how bad things appear to be, the evil conquerors do not act according to their own free will—even if they think they do!
This is the foundation of faith that must be laid in the prophet and in us as well. The solution is not to fight the enemy but to appeal to God. Why? Because the Chaldeans were raised up to bring judgment upon the evil in Jerusalem. Most of the time, we look at evil in the world and think that it is unjust. Indeed, the Chaldeans do perpetrate injustice upon their captives! But their injustice has a cause. Jerusalem had perpetrated injustice upon others, so God raised up the Chaldeans to show them how it feels to be the victims of injustice.
God deals with nations as well as individuals. Unfortunately, nations are composed of many individuals. The citizens of Judah had to pay for the sins of its leaders. Was this unjust? No, because God gives us the type of leaders we deserve. The majority of the Judahites themselves had cast aside God’s law. The prophet had complained that “the law is ignored” (Habakkuk 1:4). The people rejected the law of God, so God gave them leaders who reflected their own values.
Those lawless leaders then led the nation into captivity to the lawless Chaldeans. The only exceptions were those who were part of God’s remnant, those having God’s name sealed in their foreheads (Ezekiel 9:4).
God has the right to rule the world. Israel and Judah had agreed at the beginning to recognize their Redeemer as their only God and King. God was serious about this. The judgment of God has been severe and long. But God was not unjust in bringing injustice to the people. The judgment always fits the crime (Exodus 21:23-25). As they judged perversely, so also did God judge them by their own standard of measure.
The people wanted lawlessness that resulted in injustice; so God gave them the desire of their heart. This heart problem has persisted to this very day. The people (even Christians) have been deceived into thinking that the law of God is evil. I say the law of God is an expression of God’s nature and reveals the mind of Christ—as long as we view it by revelation. Most religious folks have interpreted the law according to the traditions of men, thereby applying it unrighteously.
If anyone thinks that the law of God is evil or unrighteous, the problem is not the law but in one’s understanding. We need to renew our minds and not expect God to renew His mind.
Babylon Judged at the Appointed Time
God told the prophet that He would judge Babylon, but only after He had used Babylon to judge Jerusalem. So the prophet acknowledged this, saying, “You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; and You, O Rock, have established them to correct” (Habakkuk 1:12). Even so, he questioned the holiness of God, wondering how a righteous God could “look with favor on those who deal treacherously… when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they” (Habakkuk 1:13).
God’s answer is recorded in Habakkuk 2:2, 3,
2 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.”
In other words, write it with big letters so a man can read it while running.
3 For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come; it will not delay.
It will not be delayed beyond the appointed time. The appointed time is in God’s hands—not under the control of Babylon. Times are appointed, or determined, in the divine court, not in the courts of Babylon, as men suppose. We know from studying Scripture that that appointed time of judgment upon Jerusalem was set at “seven times,” that is, 7 x 360 years.
This began with the fall of Jerusalem in 604 B.C. It might have ended in 1917 after 2,500 years—except that Jerusalem was independent for a complete century from 163-63 B.C. Jerusalem's judgment was interrupted for 100 years and only resumed in 63 B.C. Hence, Babylon’s divine right to rule actually ended, not in 1917 but in 2017.
If Babylon had then released the people when their time expired, they might have been able to keep all the wealth of the world that they had plundered from their conquests. But God hardened their hearts, as in the days of Pharaoh. Likewise, Jeremiah 50:33, 34 prophesies of Babylon,
33 Thus says the Lord of hosts, “The sons of Israel are oppressed, and the sons of Judah as well; and all who took them captive have held them fast, they have refused to let them go. 34 Their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is His name; He will vigorously plead their case so that He may bring rest to the earth, but turmoil to the inhabitants of Babylon.”
By not complying with the court’s “appointed time,” Babylon brought judgment upon itself after completing its mandate of bringing judgment to Israel, Judah, and “the earth” as a whole. I believe we are now in the time of tarrying (2017-2024), while God is rising up to be our strong “Redeemer.”
If we remain confident in the promises of God, as Abraham was (Romans 4:21), then we are among those who live by faith. Habakkuk 2:4 says, “the righteous will live by his faith.” The prophet was not speaking of a moment of faith for salvation but of a continuous life of faith. The Jerusalem Bible reads: “the upright man will live by his faithfulness.” Faithfulness is a life of continuous faith, faith that is tested in the crucible of time and proven to be solid.