Please not that this Chapter has now been replaced by Department of Bible and Spiritual Affairs Ch. 9.
DARKNESS OF SPIRIT IS NOT OF THE LORD
AND WILL MEET HIS SWORD:
UNCOMPREHENDING AND COMPREHENSIVELY STRICKEN
Let us consider Habakkuk 2:13-14, and with this, allied scriptures to show the lively loveliness of the Lord, who neither as dictator, disenables the liberties of man, nor supine, ignores them. Instead, showing all things over time, and dispossessing devilish dynamic of its pretence by allowing its actual ways to reveal themselves in our time, He acts in His own critical axis of action, and completes the lessons of the ages with the eventual rebukes to shame, and overthrow of shambles.
This theme of using history to educate powers and bodies of various celestial kinds is seen in Ephesians 3:7ff. (emphasis is added, to focus our point):
”Of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; and to bring to light what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hidden in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
”To the intent that now to the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by faith in Him.”
This theme is more generally apparent in such places as Habakkuk, and relative to the nations of the earth, in Ezekiel 37:28. The same theme is exposed in the book of Job, where trial of faith is made in the very light – or better, darkness, of the Satanic challenge, so abundantly met, that Job served God for reward!
This rendering of Habakkuk 2:13 will now become Number 49 in our list of Biblical Translation foci, and as such it appears below.
49) Habakkuk 2:13-14
"It is not of
the LORD of hosts that peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nothing,
for the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea."
Is this not just like Psalm 50:21-23! (Italics added for the point in view.)
"You sit and speak against your brother;
You slander your own mother’s son.
"These things you have done, and I kept silent;
You thought that I was altogether like you;
But I will rebuke you,
And set them in order before your eyes.
"Now consider this, you who forget God,
Lest I tear you in pieces,
And there be none to deliver:
Whoever offers praise glorifies Me;
And to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God."
No, God is not at all like this, His way is wholly contrary to the woeful and self-important contaminations of spirituality to be seen in the vapid ways of this cluttered world; and His zest and zeal is that people realise this, repent and seek Him, for both now within, and when He acts in power, for all to see most manifestly, there will come suddenly the vindication of His righteousness and the devastation of what opposes it. If now liberty allows folly, yet it divinity does not endorse it, merely letting it declare its heart.
If now in patience, He lets things show their inward realities, then in His time they will meet their full disclosure. In the interim, what massive delusion to imagine that it is OF HIM that these things happen. What preposterous impudence of vocal pollution, as if devastation had its voice, or a serpent could talk as well as crawl!
Did you imagine, in effect He is asking, that the liberty that allows abuse of truth and righteousness meant that the Lord neither knew nor cared, or rather that He endorsed it, because this is what HE IS LIKE! So far is this from being the case, that it is as urgent as seeking an operation on melanoma, to remedy such misconception. It is precisely thus that comes the message in Habakkuk. Let us then see! IT IS NOT OF THE LORD that all this festering horror of human invention, this imagination of the evil heart of man so proceeds, any more that at the time of the flood (Genesis 6:1-6). It is repugnant to Him, and He deals with it at times and places of His choosing; eventually in such a way that the whole earth will resound with the realities now so misused, and so blasphemously touted!
Meanwhile, let us see some translations of the passage in Habakkuk which concerns us.
"Is not this from the LORD of hosts:
peoples toil for the flames,
and nations grow weary for nought!
14 But the earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the LORD’S glory
as water covers the sea."
"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."
"Consider, it is not from the LORD of hosts that people exert themselves
for what goes up in smoke, and that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea."
REVIEW OF THE REVELATION
AND PROTESTATION OF THE LORD IN HABAKKUK
TEXT AND CONTEXT
These are opposite preliminaries to the statement of faith, that "the earth will be filled with theknowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."
One would think it would not be too exceedingly difficult to choose between these two translations, which actually are working from a text which simply says "not from the Lord of hosts that ..."
Does it mean, "It is not ..." or "Is it not ?"
The context must determine it, both local and overall, but one thing is sure: the writer was led to write in this way, so that the reader is EXPECTED to see which it is, and not only so, but to see it emphatically, for as written, the statement IS emphatic!
There is a close parallel in Isaiah 11 which depicts the rule of the returned Messiah in power and majesty, and the emphasis just preceding it in 11:9 is the protective prevention of the Lord on earth, so that "they will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain", the dual aspects of the destruction of unrighteousness and the nurture of what is good and righteous, being prominent.
In this case, where we have "for" following, it also precedes the words, "the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." In other words, in view of the dual presence, as the Messiah, seed of David on the human side, and protection and power, the earth will be so blessed.
Here then we see the expression of just this theme in positive terms, so that BECAUSE the Lord is present in this unveiling of His intents, THEREFORE the earth will AT THAT PREDICTED TIME be so filled with this knowledge of His glory. Indeed, in that day there will be "a Root of Jesse," the context proceeds, "who will stand as a banner for the people: for the Gentiles will seek Him and His resting place will be glorious."
Thus in harmony and application of this knowledge of His glory is His call to the people, and His comfort for them when they come, in words of course close to those of Christ as seen in Matthew 11:27-28.
The suffering to start and the glory to come was a theme of Christ as shown in Luke 24, where He deems it obvious and conceives that they ought to have known of this sequence in His Messianic ministry.
This glory to follow then is expressive of the heart of God, and it is unfolded in the ultimate with safety, comfort and protection in the midst of majesty: such is the message of Isaiah in the parallel.
It is of some interest here that, in Habakkuk 2, there is the addition of the words "of the glory" before "of the Lord". However, in Isaiah the emphasis is on this closeness, which though glorious, is preserved from being lost to the reader in any sense of a glory which might deflect from the reality of the personal; whereas in Habakkuk, where the vision is more general, the glory of it all is added in emphasis.
His 'glory' moreover suggests a sense of unfolding from the very heart and source.
What however IS this heart and source in this case ? Is it not that God is, after all, zealous for this provision of kindness, love and charity, comfort and relief to man, if only he will return to Him and receive Him, so that WHEN He comes it is precisely this which is presented, which always was in heart! (CF. Ezekiel 33:11).
Turning now back to Habakkuk 2:13, what does one encounter ? There is to be found in the preceding verses an emphasis on the oppression, injustice and evil bases in which the city is appallingly operative, and on the woe to those who engage in constructive enterprises where murder and oppression are but tools of the trade. We see by contrast the huge transformation that is to come in 2:14.
Thus, the message is that despite the blundering, cluntering, obstructive presence of traitors to truth who vainly and in pride build and operate, the actual ruler and sovereign of the earth is not at all like this; for it is not of His heart and mission that such things should be.
While, then, there is in the contemporary scene such pillage and pollution, such oppression and intrusive passion of wickedness that it seems almost as if this is the story of things: yet far from true is such an impression. Indeed, the Lord is affirming, it is NOT OF THE LORD that such negative gnashing, gashing works of evil occur, and as testimony of this supervening fact is this: that the unfolding of things will reveal that the earth will be filled, not just able to discern in measure, but filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord.
It will not have to content itself with some abstraction, some implication or impression; but on the contrary, it will be covered with the reality which lack of faith hid from the eyes of the sad or sceptical (cf. SMR pp. 257ff.). KNOWLEDGE to the contrary of the sad effronteries of self-exalting flesh, oppressing flesh: this will be not merely available, but overpoweringly obvious. What had been hidden, will be shouted from the house-tops!
More: this filling will not be merely some royal tour, as if part of a program so that when it passes, the evil continues. Far from such superficiality will be this glorious reign, this expression and manifestation of the glorious Lord. In fact, this knowledge of His goodness and truth, to the contrary of the knowledge of impious transgression in high places now so conspicuous in the earth, it will be this one which suffuses the whole earth.
The awareness of the glory of the Lord, the knowledge of it, the realisation of its sanctity and sovereignty will be so great that the earth will not be able to lack it in any groove, under any rock, in any pasture or in any valley! The FILLING of the earth with the knowledge of this glory of the Lord will thus be impregnable in power and pervasive in coverage, so that it will resemble a natural event of which we are so very aware. What event then is this ? It is the waters of the sea.
In what way do the waters cover the sea ? Do we find that there is an inadequacy ? or do the proud waves surge and pound, so that they need the restraint of the Lord lest they should proceed too far and move onto the earth and inundate it (Jeremiah 5:22). A perpetual decree, we there read, stops the ocean from proceeding too far in its raging torrential powers. The ocean is indeed both deep and strong, a vast concourse of waters and currents, a huge display of aqueous wonder, now calm, now storming, now surging; and it is in just such a way AS the waters COVER the sea, that the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will COVER or FILL the earth.
There will be no barrier here, but on the contrary, this is like water in the domain of the sea, where its coverage is its VERY ESSENCE!
It is, then, in this way, despite the contemporary wickedness which is to receive its come-uppance in various ways (cf. Ezekiel 29:17ff., Jeremiah 25), and terminally in the day of the Lord (cf. Habakkuk 3:4ff.), that the Lord will unfold, will disclose, will unveil and exhibit, manifest and exuberantly declare His glory over all the earth, so that it is KNOWN in the earth!
That then is the meaning of Habakkuk 2:13-14, and not the precise opposite. What would that show ? That this horrible musty, measly and pathological, this impure and conceitedly grasping of bloody hands on earth, this invasion the social scene with its fiscal improprieties and inequitable grabbing is OF THE LORD. It is OF HIM that this ravage is in place! That question rendering of Habakkuk 2:13, Is it not of the Lord ... ? would have this message. Let us consider it further...
It is just what He is ordaining, and as witness of this, it is then - on such a model of interpretation, horrible as it is - to be assumed that the ground for such a belief, such an inundation with evil as occurs so often, is this, that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
That would be a perfect contradiction, and thus enables us to see that the thing is emphatic, and the ellipsis, "not of the Lord" rather than "it is not of the Lord" is perfectly safe in its dramatic mode; for the alternative option in reading it is, if not ridiculous, at least perspicuously in collision with the context, both here and in the case of Isaiah where it applies, at the outcome phase when the Lord is actually present.
Even though, and of course, the Lord does indeed determine that in view of His creation of human liberty and its nestling place for the exhibition and reception of love (and thus of the opposite, which liberty enables), there is scope for such evils, these are not the ground for the ensuing statement that the world will be filled with what is the actual reality of the nature and heart of God, in His time of disclosure and judgment.
The context in Habakkuk 2 proceeds to indicate the force of judgment to come on those who, despite the actual lovingkindness and equity of the Lord, and the judgment to come when all is to be revealed, continue in their hoodlum ways. These, or people such as these, we learn "are filled with shame instead of glory" (2:16), and "the cup of the Lord's right hand" is to be "turned against" such people! (cf. Jeremiah 25).
How vain, Habakkuk 2 continues, to look to fabricated, to made gods; for it is the actual one who is considering and will act.
In this way, the message of the contradiction between man's ways and those of God is simply and clearly continued from before to after the 2:14 statement on the filling of the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, which in the midst of these moral and ethical censures, is to come as Habakkuk 3 shows, in implacable and illimitable measure, when all the intervening rebukes done, and the allowances for liberty over, He acts manifestly to invest the earth in its ways, with His own.
Then will be rest and sufficiency, if now there is test and there is exposure of what man is; for as man shows his hand now, so God will show His hand then; and even in the interim, His heart is against these marauders of morals, these spiritual idolaters and people of grasping injustice with whom He deals as empires or persons, from time to time, yet not so much as to collapse the liberty of man, nor so little as to leave him complacent or merely co-operating for gain! It is indeed that latter case that the book of Job so painstakingly exposes! (cf. SMR pp. 95ff.).
Looking back before 2:14, we see the preliminaries to this exposure to come, when all will be wholly manifest in an inescapable fashion; for in 2:11 we find that in the midst of this plundering passion of iniquitous man, there is a future:
"for the stone will cry out from the wall and the beam from the timbers will answer it."
What is the nature of this architectural discourse then ? It is summed up in the next verse with the word "Woe!"
It then proceeds to tell us that all of this is NOT of the LORD, FOR the earth will be FILLED with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, and thus, as the theme is completed in Habakkuk, that what is now done in darkness, will perish in light. And why ? Because it is NOT of Him, and when His hand is fully revealed this will be an inescapable component of His majesty! ALL the earth will see what now is a moral declamation, and KNOW what is now a statement to faith.
HABAKKUK'S ZEAL FOR HOLINESS IN PRACTICE
AND THE ZEST OF THE LORD THAT MEETS IT
It is precisely in parallel, in theme, with the words of Christ seen in Matthew 23 where the then contemporary follies of Pharisees with their grasping natures and godless interiors (in the case of so many that it formed a declamation against them as for example in 23:23ff.) were met with this finale in 23:32-35:
"Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt.
"Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell ?
"Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes:
some of them you will kill and crucify,
and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues
and persecute from city to city, that on you may come
all the righteous blood shed on the earth,
from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah,
whom you murdered between the temple and the altar."
Thus the procedure is emphatically from infamous spiritual, religious and social pollution, through declamation to exposure of the suffering caused, and of the faithful testimony to the truth wrought and brought to the people from the Lord in the interim. It moves on then to the judgment to come which is to be manifest, not simpering but scalding: as it in fact was in that generation as foretold, when the massive retributive justice wrought through Titus and Vespasian on Jerusalem was unwound.
This requisition of judgment, this moral declivity, this vanity and pride, this fossicking for gain by using the blood of members of the human race for the elevation of others of it: it is OF THE LORD ? What infamy! It is so AGAINST the heart and mind of the Lord that the JUDGMENT WILL REVEAL THAT FACT in sombre, nay fatal fashion! The earth will be FILLED with the contrary testimony, and judgment will deal with the uncovered debits.
In Habakkuk 3, after the expression of this detestation and declamation and declaration to the contrary of all this seamy unspirituality of man on earth, the prophet is moved to ask the Lord to REVIVE HIS WORK in the midst of the years! It is then that there comes the revelation of the end of the whole matter, and if Habakkuk was written before 609 B.C., then in the interim there was massive revival as in Josiah in his renewal of the covenant with the people before the Lord (II Chronicles 34:29-33), and in the vast endeavours, royally approved, to have "all who were present in Israel" to act differently, and "diligently to serve the LORD their God." In any case, the revival assuredly came in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah (cf. Nehemiah 9!).
Fittingly, the prophet ends with that famous exhortation, that even if almost all negatives of production and prosperity be lost, yet "I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation" (Habakkuk 3:17ff.).
In other words, let the evils be what they will, and let us suffer if we must in the midst of such scalding and polluted porridge of defiled princes and peoples, yet this fracas and bravura, it is not of the Lord. Instead of being impressed with its dreadful dynamics and unhallowed means, we should REJOICE NOW in the LORD, not the prince of this world who has nothing in Christ (John 14:30 as later put by the Lord Himself.)
It is in this wonderful LORD that one is to rejoice, for it is He whose ways are sure, whose mercy is lively, whose axioms are actual and whose glory is immutable. In its time, it will be made manifest; and in the meantime, we believe by faith that
"it is not of the LORD of hosts
that people toil for the flames and nations grow weary for nothing."
No, for "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea."
THIS is the final testimony of truth, its disclosure in power; and it WILL be made, and we WILL honour and praise and even rejoice in Him while we await the final dénouement of power, and exhibition of that reality which IS glorious, being in and through and of the LORD!
In other words, the message does NOT concern what liberty, divinely created, in measure allows, but what majesty is like and how it will be shown ultimately with an exuberance of wonder and a coverage of glory which will inform even the most reluctant, and confront the most currently powerful polluters of the name of the Lord, whose judgment is sure, and whose end is not to be desired.
The living flame of divine delight in the interim in the hearts of the believers is that testimony which, at the personal level, allies itself with the past expressions of the power and fulfilments of the words of the Lord, so that the present sufferings are not worthy to be compared with the "glory that is to be revealed to us", as Paul declares in Romans 8:18, the earth awaiting in the interim the revelation of the children of God! (Romans 8:19).
Such is the uniform scriptural deposition of this glory of God in the midst of the shame of man, and the entire answer which is to be made of things now covered, in the light then! Through misuse of human liberty, the glory of the Lord now casts its shadow into the depths; but through the manifestation of His power in its time, the glory will allow no depths, being present and suffusing all, bathed in light, contrary to all the configurations of blight, for then "they will not hurt not destroy in all My holy mountain", instead of pursuing their vain and reckless endeavours, which are not of the Lord (Habakkuk 2:11-13)
Finally, let us realise that the thrust of the entire book of Habakkuk is the prophet’s concern at men netting men, as if they were fish for conquest and abuse, and he INITIALLY puts it to the LORD that this is an agonising thing (Habakkuk 1:1ff.), and that he seeks a revelation and an answer of how this can be so when the LORD is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity (2:12ff.). He then explicitly awaits the ANSWER (2:1ff.).
In answer, quite directly, in word as in power, the Lord indicates that it is NOT OF THE LORD that such follies are suffered to exist, and that He will in His own eventually drastic fashion, in light irresistible, complete the Ages in their interdiction and judgment in a manner not merely absolute, but conjoined with His own coming in power for the wonder of His reign, as
“Thou doest march out for the
deliverance of Thy people”
This become clear, the prophet continues regardless of the results or current tribulation, trial and test, to rejoice in this God of mercy and truth, justice and lovingkindess, whatever the current disposition of the chaff as it is blown by the winds, until the time appointed comes (cf. Psalm 1-2).
Vast are the enterprises of God, celestial in disposition as in power, He acts with depth, bringing now temporary judgments, slight or profound, now vast enclaves of history to their fruition, as in one season; but through it all, He is the same, and His will, word and way proceeds. It is not as in a see-saw, but as in a road to a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. It has a beginning in creation, a continuation in man’s fall, a culmination in the revelation of the nature of evil and of God, and a consummation in glory in which the earth WILL be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
On the way, not one jot or tittle of the word of God, the Bible, will be lost, but ALL will be fulfilled, to the nethermost particle, to the uttermost part (Matthew 5:17-20), and those who teach and do the things He commands are in concert with Him, and delighting in His word (Psalm 119), they find His face most beautiful (II Corinthians 3:19) and their citizenship in the kingdom of heaven (Philippians 3:20) one which means not only current delight in the Lord (cf. Psalm 37), but eventual transformation of the very matrix of personal form by the power of Him who is able to subdue all things to His power (Philippians 3:21).
Yet He does not act intemperately, but conclusively in the end, and with enterprise, imagination and resolution in the midst of the days. After all, the day is His, and He created it, and when it ends, it is His to judge with light.
As to the place where His commonwealth is centered, it neither shimmers nor glimmers with light, but is filled with it, as should the heart now of His servants (Luke 11:35ff.):
"Take heed therefore that the light which is in you be not darkness. If your whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle gives you light."
It is not a city for indolence, nor yet impotence; but it is one where one is happy to suffer in the fulfilment of His truth, for the glory of His name as He unfolds His word into history, the way someone at a Cricket Match may unfold his umbrella, shake it a little, and then open it in order to complete the session.
As to shaking, this comes when the time comes for it! (cf. Hebrews 12:25, Haggai 2:6, II Peter 3, Matthew 23:35, Revelation 20:1-3).