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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Living with Waiting | Habakkuk Series

This is part three of our study series on Habakkuk. What does the Bible tell us about this prophet and his relationship with the Lord and what that might tell us about ours? Each study includes a short reflection for personal or use with others.

“I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
Then the LORD replied:
‘Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk 2:1-3

Habakkuk’s first prayer of complaint asked God why he was not dealing with Israel’s problems. The answer came that God was raising up the Babylonians to bring judgment. Habakkuk’s response was a cry of shock and dismay that God was working through such a wicked and unrighteous nation. So, once again he waited for a word from the Lord. God’s answer, in effect, was ‘wait and see’.

There is a revelation, and it will prove to be true. The vision of the world ‘filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (2:14) will be fulfilled in the end, but it ‘awaits an appointed time’ (2:3). Although ‘it will certainly come and will not delay’, we are to ‘wait for it’.

But what kind of waiting does the Lord require? Some have seen human life as one of endurance in a ‘vale of tears’. Others have mainly spoken of the need to spread the gospel and evangelise. Stll others are tempted to shrink within a ‘spiritual’ world, shutting out the world of violence and injustice, poverty and luxury, while waiting for Christ’s return.

That revelation of the appointed time, the vision described by Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 65:17-25, for example) and New Testament visionaries (Revelation 21:1-8), is the end goal of God’s work and an inspiration for our life now. It’s a biblical vision that includes a beautiful city of justice and joy, jewels glittering in the sunshine, trees and fields that clap their hands, a joyous banquet, songs of glorious rejoicing, loving recognition of old friends and, above all, the Lord at the centre. God alone will bring it about. But at the same time as we wait for its fulfilment, we are called to bring some of the wonder and the glory of that vision of the future into today, working for human flourishing, for environmental care, for justice for the poor, for more parties.

So we seek to show something of the glory of his rule and reign in our own small worlds while we wait. We ‘write down the revelation and make it plain’ (2:2), we speak and witness, and above all we demonstrate the love and mercy, grace and forgiveness of the Lord in every way we can.

That’s how we wait.

For Further Reflection

  • God gave Habakkuk a promise about a ‘revelation’ that would ‘not prove false’ (2:2-3). Can you think of some examples of how, in your own experience, God’s word has provided a perspective and comfort that has not been available anywhere else?
  • How can we help each other be realistic about the challenges of being a Christian in the world whilst at the same time strengthening each other’s confidence in the certainties of our faith?


Margaret Killingray