Please explain the passage in Habakkuk 1:5


Even though most scholars feel that the prophet Habakkuk ministered during the “death throes” of the ancient nation of Judah–just prior to their Babylonian captivity–nothing is known about the prophet, including his age or his family.

It is clear, however, that Habakkuk’s writings are not limited to the time of ancient Judah. Rather, the book of Habakkuk is a prophecy about our times today. For instance, we read in Habakkuk 2:1-3:

“I will stand my watch And set myself on the rampart, And watch to see what He will say to me, And what I will answer when I am corrected. Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But AT THE END it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.”

Another prophecy regarding God’s final wrath and the beginning of the Millennium can be found in Habakkuk 2:14-16:

“‘For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, As the waters cover the sea. Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, Pressing him to your bottle, Even to make him drunk, That you may look on his nakedness! You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also–drink! And be exposed as uncircumcised! The CUP OF THE LORD’s right hand will be turned against you, And utter shame will be on your glory!'”

For the end-time fulfillment of these prophecies, compare Isaiah 11:9 regarding the Millennium, and Revelation 17:1-6; 18:1-8; 14:8; regarding God’s final wrath on modern Babylon.

Another prophecy, describing the Second Coming of the Messiah to destroy those who destroy the earth and to fight those who are willing to fight Him (compare Revelation 11:18; 19:11-16, 19, 21), can be found in Habakkuk 3:3, 4, 6, 10, 12-13, 15-16:

“God came from Teman… His brightness was like the light… He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations… The mountains saw You and trembled… You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled [or threshed] the nations in anger. You went forth for the salvation of Your people… You walked through the sea with Your horses… When I heard, my body trembled… That I might rest [or be protected] in the day of trouble, When he [a military leader] comes up to the people, He will invade them with his troops…”

With this background, let us now focus on Habakkuk 1:5, which quotes the words of God, as follows:

“‘Look among the nations and watch–Be utterly astonished! For I will work a work in your days Which you would not believe, though it were told you.”

That this prophecy is not limited to the days of ancient Habakkuk, can be seen by the fact that Paul later quotes these words and applies them as a warning to the people in his time and age who would reject the gospel message. We read in Acts 13:32-41:

“‘And we declare to you glad tidings–that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He raised up Jesus… David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; but He whom God raised up saw no corruption. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses. BEWARE therefore, lest what has been spoken in the prophets COME UPON YOU: “Behold, you despisers, Marvel and perish! For I work a work in your days, A work which you will by no means believe, Though one were to declare it to you.'””

Paul quotes Habakkuk’s prophecy as a warning to the people of his time, indicating that the final fulfillment is still in the future. Indeed, this is true. We read in Matthew 24:14 that the gospel of the kingdom will again be preached in the end time–as it was preached at the time of the early apostles — just prior to the return of Jesus Christ (compare Mark 13:10; 16:15-16). It will be then that the prophecy of Habakkuk will find its ultimate fulfillment. In that context, we read in Habakkuk 3:2: “O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, REVIVE YOUR WORK in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember mercy.”

God also said through Habakkuk that His work–the end-time preaching of the gospel–would be powerful, but short. Romans 9:28 confirms this, saying: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the LORD will make a SHORT WORK upon the earth.”

People will be surprised when they see the revival of God’s work in its full dimensions. To His servants, God says today: Stand watch and make plain what you see!

But Paul quoted the passage in Romans 9:28 in connection with the end-time punishment and subsequent salvation of the children of Israel, compare verse 27: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, The remnant will be saved.”

And so, Habakkuk makes the same connection. When he speaks in Habakkuk 1:5 of the work that God would work in our days which “you would not believe, though it were told you,” he continues to describe, in symbolic terms, modern warfare and the destruction of the modern houses of Israel and Judah (Our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America,” explains in detail the identity of the modern descendants of the ancient houses of Israel and Judah). We read, beginning in Habakkuk 1:6:

“For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful… Their horses also are SWIFTER than LEOPARDS, And more fierce than evening wolves. Their chargers [literally, horsemen] charge ahead; Their cavalry comes from afar; They FLY as the EAGLE that hastens to eat. They all come for violence… They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings…”

Even though a partial fulfillment of this prophecy can be seen in ancient Judah’s captivity through the Babylonians, due to Judah’s transgressions (compare verse 4), Habakkuk’s prophecy of Babylonian warfare is clearly awaiting an end-time fulfillment, COINCIDING with the powerful, but short, revival of the preaching of the gospel. The Bible prophesies that modern Babylon will rise one last time in Europe as the seventh and very SHORT-lived resurrection of the ancient “Holy Roman Empire”–a combination of church and state, when the (religious) fallen woman will be once more riding the (political and military) beast (compare again Revelation 17, especially verses 10 and 12).

God will use modern Babylon in a literal SWIFT blitzkrieg to punish the modern houses of Israel and Judah for their transgressions (compare also Isaiah 29:13-14). But God will then punish modern Babylon (Habakkuk 2:8)–a system less righteous than modern Israel and Judah (compare Habakkuk 1:12-13). In ancient times, the Chaldeans were Babylon’s religious leaders, astrologers and magicians. John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says about the ancient Chaldeans:

“A people still of late mean and low, famous only for their soothsaying, divination, and judicial astrology; but now become a powerful and warlike people, rising up under the permission of Providence to universal monarchy, and who would quickly add Judea to the rest of their dominions…”

Isaiah 23:13 tells us that the ancient Assyrians founded the land of the Chaldeans. And it will be the modern Assyrians–mainly the German-speaking peoples–who will lead the final resurrection of the “Holy Roman Empire” (For instance, the German Otto the Great and the Austrian Charles V. were previous Emperors of the “Holy Roman Empire” or “the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.” Arguably this is also true for Charlemagne or Charles the Great, who was crowned as Emperor in the German city of Aachen and who is viewed [by the Germans] as a German and [by the French] as a French. In addition, the collaboration of Hitler and Mussolini with several popes constituted the sixth revival of the “Holy Roman Empire”).

We are seeing right now the beginning stages of this final revival in Europe (compare our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy”). God tells us that the end-time revival of His work–of the preaching of His gospel–will go hand in hand with it. In both cases, people will be astonished when they finally realize what is happening.

Looking at the signs of the time, we should understand that Christ’s return is near. How much more effort should we exert, then, to make sure that we are found worthy servants, doing the work of God.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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