The Book of Habakkuk - "Searchlights from the Word" by G. Campbell Morgan.
O Lord, how long shall I cry, and Thou wilt not hear
This prophecy deals with the problems created by faith; and with the Divine answers to the questions which express those problems. These opening words reveal the first problem. Habakkuk lived in an age when the outlook on circumstances seemed to contradict his faith in the righteous government of God. The times were characterized by violence, iniquity, perverseness, spoiling, strife, contention. All the ways of justice were perverted. God was apparently doing nothing; and, in spite of the troubled cry of His servant, remained silent. Let it at once be observed that the value of this book is that it reveals a man who, in the presence of this problem, stated it to God, rather than made it the occasion of unbelief. The problem was created by his faith, and his faith acted in declaring it to God. By such action he made it possible for God, in communion with him, to give him an explanation. That was a great gain. Let it at once be granted that the first answer did not satisfy Habakkuk. Indeed, it created a new problem more bewildering than the first. The Divine declaration was that God was not inactive. He was employing the Chaldeans, the avowed and bitter enemies of His people, to carry out His purposes. This, to the mind of this man of faith, was more bewildering and inexplicable than that God should be inactive and silent. A further unveiling followed, to which we shall come. So far, we see that faith may have its problem; that when it has to face it, it should do so in communion; and that therein it may find that its reading of circumstances is wrong, in that God is indeed acting when He seems to be in-different. The method of His action may create a new problem, but it is something to be assured of the fact of it.
And the Lord answered me.
Here we reach the central word of this prophecy, the great revealing word of perpetual and persistent application. When Jehovah revealed to His servant the fact that He was employing the Chaldeans, Habakkuk was filled almost with consternation, as the last part of the preceding chapter reveals (12-17). But faith again triumphed, in that he stated his difficulty, and betook him to his watch tower to wait further Divine communication. To that action Jehovah responded. This is the meaning of this statement "And Jehovah answered me." The answer consisted in the declaration of a principle by which all men and movements in all ages may be tested. It is stated in the form of a double contrast; on the one hand between the proud or puffed up, and the just; and on the other, between the results. The result in the case of the just is that he lives by his faith. The result in the case of the puffed-up is not stated; but that Habukkuk at once understood, is evident by his following description of the doom of such. The immediate value of the word was that Habakkuk learned that God's employment of the Chaldeans did not mean the permanent power of this evil people. While, for the moment their power would be employed to discipline the people of God for their pride; in the end their own pride would bring about their doom. The government of God is always true to this principle. He overrules the ways of men, compelling them to contribute to His purposes. The wrath of man He ever makes to praise Him, and then He restrains it. Faith is the principle of life, pride the passion which issues in death. To this, there is no exception; from its working there is no escape.
O Lord, revive Thy work in the midst of the years.
Habukkuk 3. 2
This is the prayer of faith resulting from the experiences of communion. The real idea of it is not that which is generally associated with it. It is not a cry to renew an activity which has ceased, but to maintain an activity which has not ceased. We might render with complete accuracy "O Jehovah, keep alive Thy work in the midst of the years." Observe how this completes the process. Faith, looking out upon circumstances, was perplexed that God was not working; and declared its problem to Him. To this He replied by the affirmation that He was at work; "I am working a work in your days." Then faith could not understand how God could do the work which He said He was doing; and again said so, and waited for a reply. To this Jehovah replied by revealing to His servant the principle of His government. Now faith had only one desire, and that was that God would keep alive His work. But let the change in Habakkuk's desire be observed. When it had seemed to him that God was doing nothing, he had desired an operation of punishment against violence and iniquity. Now that he had seen the wrath of God in its operation, he agreed, and prayed for its continuity; but he prayed also "In wrath remember mercy." And who shall doubt that this desire also was the result of his communion with God? In that communion, the soul of this man had been brought into a very real fellowship with God. The last notes of the book are those of triumphant faith.