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2. The Lord's Answer
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. 2And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. 3For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. 4Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
5Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: 6Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay! 7Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them? 8Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
9Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil! 10Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul. 11For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
12Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! 13Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? 14For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
15Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! 16Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Lord’S right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory. 17For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
18What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? 19Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. 20But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
The Prophet briefly teaches us here, that so remarkable would be God’s judgement on the Babylonians that his name would thereby be celebrated through the whole world. But there is in this verse an implied contrast; for God appeared not in his own glory when the Jews were led away into exile; the temple being demolished and the whole city destroyed; and also when the whole easterly region was exposed to rapine and plunder. When therefore the Babylonians were, after the Assyrians, swallowing up all their neighbors, the glory of God did not then shine, nor was it conspicuous in the world. The Jews themselves had become mute; for their miseries had, as it were, stupefied them; their mouths were at least closed, so that they could not from the heart bless God, while he was so severely afflicting them. And then, in that manifold confusion of all things, the profane thought that all things here take place fortuitously, and that there is no divine providence. God then was at that time hid: hence the Prophet says, Filled shall be the earth with the knowledge of God; that is, God will again become known, when by stretching forth his hand he will execute vengeance on the Babylonians; then will the Jews, as well as other nations, acknowledge that the world is governed by God’s providence, as it had been once created by him.
We now understand the Prophet’s meaning, and why he says, that the earth would be filled with the knowledge of God’s glory; for the glory of God previously disappeared from the world, with regard to the perceptions of men; but it shone forth again, when God himself had erected his tribunal by overthrowing Babylon, and thereby proved that there is no power among men which he cannot control. We have the same sentence in
The idea is nearly the same, though not the words. The verse in Isaiah is literally this—
For fill the earth shall the knowledge of Jehovah,
Like the waters spreading over the sea.
The verb rendered “cover” here and in Isaiah is, [כסה], which means first to spread, and in the second place to cover, as the effect of spreading. It is followed here by [על], over, and by [ל], over, in Isaiah; and so spreading must be the idea included in the verb. The comparison in Isaiah is between knowledge and waters, and the earth and the sea. Hence the common version does not properly present the comparison. The verb [מלא], is used in a passive and active sense. See Genesis 6:13, and Genesis 1:22; 24:16. This verse may be rendered in Welsh word for word, without changing the order in one instance:—
Canys henwa y ddaear wybodaeth o Jehova,
Vel y dyvroedd dros y more yn ymdaenu.
“The knowledge of Jeohovah,” [דעה את-יהוה], is not an instance of a genitive case by juxtaposition, which is common both in Hebrew and in Welsh; for [את] here must be a preposition, “from,” for it is sometimes used for [מאת]. It is a knowledge that was to come from Jehovah, and not a knowledge of Jehovah.—Ed. The Prophet there speaks indeed of the kingdom of Christ; for when Christ was openly made known to the world, the knowledge of God’s glory at the same time filled the earth; for God then appeared in his own living image. But yet our Prophet uses a proper language, when he says that the earth shall then be filled with the knowledge of God’s glory, when he should execute vengeance on the Babylonians. Hence incorrectly have some applied this to the preaching of the gospel, as though Habakkuk made a transition from the ruin of Babylon to the general judgement: this is a strained exposition. It is indeed a well-known mode of speaking, and often occurs in the Psalms, that the power, grace, and truth of God are made known through the world, when he delivers his people and restrains the ungodly. The same mode the Prophet now adopts; and he compares this fullness of knowledge to the waters of the sea, because the sea, as we know, is so deep, that there is no measuring of its waters. So Habakkuk intimates, that the glory of God would be so much known that it would not only fill the world, but in a manner overflow it: as the waters of the sea by their vast quantity cover the deep, so the glory of God would fill heaven and earth, so as to have no limits. If, at the same time, there be a wish to extend this sentence to the coming of Christ, I do not object: for we know that the grace of redemption flowed in a perpetual stream until Christ appeared in the world. But the Prophet, I have no doubt, sets forth here the greatness of God’s power in the destruction of Babylon. 4040 There is no reason to doubt but that this is the meaning of the sentence here: and it is a striking instance of the variety of meaning which belongs to similar expressions, when differently connected. The glory of God is manifested by judgments as well as by mercies. In Isaiah it is “the knowledge of or from Jehovah;” here the expression is, “the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah.” By “the knowledge of Jehovah” is to be understood the revelation made by the gospel. But by “the knowledge of his glory” is meant evidently the display of his power in destroying Babylon, as power is often signified by glory.—Ed.