Where does the commonly used phase of anticipation “wait for it … (pause)…” come from? According to my research, though there is much debate, the answer is that it seems to have arisen from the movie … (wait for it) … “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” – coming toward the end of the film when the Merry Men are saving Robin from being hanged at Maid Marian’s wedding to the Sherriff of Rottingham.
Actually, I think it goes back to God Himself!!
As Chris Wiles and I met to discuss upcoming teaching series (as we do regularly), and at the time we settled upon this “Uncharted” series, it was because of the similarities of the times in which the prophets lived and ministered to the times and feelings we have today in our increasingly godless generation. We can all see the resemblance between then and now in terms of the rise of injustice and the scoffing at faith and trust in a transcendent God.
Both then and now, God’s people are in a sort of waiting pattern – living in times where it may not seem that God’s work is very evident. Rather, it looks like evil prospers and goes unnoticed by the loud silence of heaven. But the reality is much different. God is always at work, though it is most often not seen or very obvious.
We must wait, we must live by faith.
That was the answer for Habakkuk, that was the answer for first century Christians, and it is the answer for us today.
As we go to the second chapter of Habakkuk today, the first verse really would have really fit better as the last verse of the first chapter, as it is a continuation of the complaint of Habakkuk to the Lord … with God beginning His answer in verse two. And a first reading of this verse appears to smack of some attitude! …
2:1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
The picture is of a person on the city walls, watching out … expectant and waiting for an answer. And that is the main idea here – expectancy – not that he was saying something like, “I’ll bet God can’t give me a decent answer to my grand objections!” In fact, the wording might even be construed to include an attitude of readiness to be rebuked for a lack of understanding.
The Lord’s Answer
2 Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
This is an odd verse, even in the Hebrew – who is running and reading … the herald, or those receiving the message? In any event, we can say this: God is NOT stuttering!
3 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.
4 “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright—but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness
So there you have it in terms of a message to Habakkuk and to any who trust in God: Wait for God and live in faith and trust. God keeps good books; his accounting skills are impeccable. He will rule in justice at an appointed time … until then, live faithfully.
Most of the rest of the chapter is a pictorially descriptive statement of the bad character of the Babylonians and the certain judgment that is to befall them.
—5 indeed, wine betrays him <speaking of the enemy>; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, “‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’
7 Will not your creditors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble? Then you will become their prey.
8 Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
9 “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!
13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies!
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! The cup from the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
18 “Of what value is an idol carved by a craftsman? Or an image that teaches lies? For the one who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.”
20 The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
This last verse (20) you may have at some point heard used to speak of God being ready to receive worship. Actually, it is saying that God is at a point of preparing to execute judgment.
Notice the fantastic statement of verse 14 in the midst of that condemnation of Babylon (and any others opposed to God and truth). This speaks of an end time – a final end-all scenario of God’s truth and victory prevailing upon the earth and covering it fully … and then finally in the eternal state to come.
Until then … wait for it. This was the message given to those Jewish Christians addressed in Hebrews chapter 10 – remember that these were people who were being severely persecuted for their faith and who were living in perilous times…
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,“In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay.” 38 And, “But my righteous one will live by faith. And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.” 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
What does the writer to the Hebrews do here to encourage these believers … did you catch it? He quotes the little book of Habakkuk … chapter 2, verses 3 & 4.
Today friends, whatever peril or obstacle befalls, be strong, live in faith, be a person of trust … wait for it!