Habakkuk is God’s prophet in a tough place. God has decided to dispense judgment on His people Judah. His judgment would be a Chaldean invasion destroying Judah as Habakkuk knew it. Habakkuk responded to this revelation from God with a reality check, and a question. How can God do this? How can He judge Judah using people who are worse than Judah was? Habakkuk fell into a pit that we often fall into. He somehow thought God graded on a curve. God’s standard is absolute not relative.
The whole of Habakkuk chapter two is God’s answer to Habakkuk’s question. It is three towers of spiritual reality in a sea of judgment punctuated by five woes. The reason I label them towers of truth is because of Proverbs 18:10 “The name of the LORD is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe.” Last time we looked at the first tower of truth, “the just shall live by faith.” This tower assures Habakkuk that God knows who the proud evil ones are and that His justified ones will live according to their faith. Today we will look closely at the second tower of truth in the midst of judgment. “Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:13–14). The earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD. What does that mean?
The first thing that this means is that while the judgment looks like the true and living God of Judah is defeated, He is actually not powerless or defeated at all. This tower of refuge and strength is given to Habakkuk after three woes have already been pronounced on the conquerors. Instead of continuing to command judgment the LORD pauses to give and oasis of strength for those righteous ones who are living by faith in the midst of the hostility. This is to remind Habakkuk and us that Yahweh, the ever faithful covenant keeping God of Judah is not defeated, indifferent, or inactive. He is victorious, aware, and involved in all that is happening in Habakkuk’s life.
While the Chaldeans are evil to the core and they will credit the victory to their idols and make the true and living God look powerless, the fact is, the LORD is in control and is actually making this happen. “Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire, And nations weary themselves in vain?” All the things the Chaldeans are doing are temporary and the bill will come due. Maybe Habakkuk cannot see God behind the curtain, but all that is taking place is in His will and is under His control.
We can almost hear Habakkuk say, “Wonderful, God, I believe this is true, but where is it going, when will it end?” That is where verse 14 comes in. Here is how it will all end. This is how you can understand the goal of all that the LORD of Judah is doing, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea.” God’s glory shall still reign supreme on planet earth. Mark it down in your book, it will happen. God has not given up His throne. He has not lost control of His creation. He will still rule over all of planet earth and someday all will acknowledge Him.
Second, these verses tell us that the LORD’s glory will be seen. It will probably surprise you (It did surprise me) to realize how often this statement is repeated in the Bible. Let us just graze in this meadow of spiritual truth and sit down and chew this cud a little.
Let us consider first a contemporary of Habakkuk’s Isaiah the prophet. Isaiah wrote: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, The leopard shall lie down with the young goat, The calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; Their young ones shall lie down together; And the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play by the cobra’s hole, and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6–9). Here is the very same phrase used in the context of the Millennium. Clearly the point is that all will see who God is and what He has done in His eternal plan. God will win in the end and He will be glorified as God alone.
Isaiah also records the words of the seraphim in Isaiah 6:3 “And one [seraph] cried to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!’” God not only will be in control of all things in the future, He is in control now. We can rest in His control. All that God is doing today will result in His glory being seen.
The LORD underlines distinctly and unequivocally for Moses and for us that God’s ultimate goals cannot be frustrated by humankind’s sin. Remember the first time that the Children of Israel came to the edge of the Promised Land in Kadesh Barnea? Because of a lack of faith, Israel flatly refused to enter? First, God threatened to destroy Israel, which they richly deserved. Instead, the LORD pardoned them of their sin, but still enacted judgment on them. The important point, which God makes crystal clear, is that Israel’s disobedience did not frustrate His plan. “Then the Lord said: ‘I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord’” (Numbers 14:20-21).
Another place that we read of this promise is in the end of Psalm 72. The Psalm closes with the Psalmist’s prayers for God’s glory. Could this prayer be like the Lord ’s Prayer? “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We read Psalm 72:“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, Who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen. The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended” (Psalm 72:18–20).
A natural question that occurs to us is, “When will this happen on planet earth?” We are given a glimpse at this glorification in Philippians 2:5-11, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That day will come as surely as God lives. Do we believe it?
What are we doing to prepare for that day? Are we purifying ourselves as He is pure? Are we seeking to walk in close fellowship with Him? Are we sharing this reality with others. Do we hold on to it and draw strength from it in the difficult times in our lives?