Jehovah Will Not Delay
“Even if [the vision] should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.”—HABAKKUK 2:3.
1. What determination has been shown by Jehovah’s people, and what has this moved them to do?
“AT MY guard post I will keep standing.” That was the resolve of God’s prophet Habakkuk. (Habakkuk 2:1) Jehovah’s people of the 20th century have shown that same determination. Hence, they have responded zealously to this call sounded at a landmark convention in September 1922: “This is the day of all days. Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.”
2. When restored to vibrant activity after World War I, what could anointed Christians declare?
2 After World War I, Jehovah restored the faithful anointed remnant to a state of vibrant activity. Like Habakkuk, each of them could then declare: “I will keep myself stationed upon the bulwark; and I shall keep watch, to see what he will speak by me.” The Hebrew words for “watch” and “guard” are repeated in many prophecies.
“It Will Not Be Late”
3. Why must we keep on the watch?
3 As Jehovah’s Witnesses sound God’s warning today, they must be ever alert to heed the concluding words of Jesus’ great prophecy: “Keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cockcrowing or early in the morning; in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:35-37) Like Habakkuk, and in harmony with Jesus’ words, we must keep on the watch!
4. How does our situation parallel that of Habakkuk in about 628 B.C.E.?
4 Habakkuk may have completed writing his book about 628 B.C.E., even before Babylon became the dominant world power. For many years Jehovah’s judgment on apostate Jerusalem had been sounded forth. Yet, there was no clear indication as to when that judgment would be executed. Who would have believed that it was only some 21 years away and that Babylon would be Jehovah’s executioner? Similarly today, we do not know ‘the day and the hour’ set for this system’s end, but Jesus has forewarned us: “Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.”—Matthew 24:36, 44.
5. What is especially encouraging about God’s words recorded at Habakkuk 2:2, 3?
5 For good reason, Jehovah gave Habakkuk this rousing commission: “Write down the vision, and set it out plainly upon tablets, in order that the one reading aloud from it may do so fluently. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:2, 3) Today, wickedness and violence run rampant throughout the earth, indicating that we stand at the very brink of “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” (Joel 2:31) Encouraging, indeed, are Jehovah’s own words of assurance: “It will not be late”!
6. How may we survive the coming day of executional judgment?
6 How, then, may we survive the coming day of executional judgment? Jehovah answers by drawing this contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous: “Look! His soul has been swelled up; it has not been upright within him. But as for the righteous one, by his faithfulness he will keep living.” (Habakkuk 2:4) Proud and greedy rulers and peoples have stained the pages of modern history with the blood of millions of innocent victims, notably in two world wars and in ethnic bloodbaths. In contrast, the peace-loving anointed servants of God have endured in faithfulness. They are “the righteous nation that is keeping faithful conduct.” This nation, along with its companions, the “other sheep,” follow the admonition: “Trust in Jehovah, you people, for all times, for in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of times indefinite.”—Isaiah 26:2-4; John 10:16.
7. In keeping with Paul’s use of Habakkuk 2:4, what must we do?
7 Writing to Hebrew Christians, the apostle Paul quoted Habakkuk 2:4 when telling Jehovah’s people: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. For yet ‘a very little while,’ and ‘he who is coming will arrive and will not delay.’ ‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’” (Hebrews 10:36-38) Our day is no time for slacking the hand or for getting ensnared by the materialistic, pleasure-crazed ways of Satan’s world. What must we do until the “very little while” runs out? Like Paul, we of Jehovah’s holy nation must ‘stretch forward to the things ahead, pursuing down toward the goal’ of everlasting life. (Philippians 3:13, 14) And like Jesus, we must ‘endure for the joy that is set before us.’—Hebrews 12:2.
8. Who is the “man” of Habakkuk 2:5, and why will he meet with no success?
8 Habakkuk 2:5 describes “an able-bodied man” who, in contrast with Jehovah’s servants, fails to reach his goal, even though he “made his soul spacious just like Sheol.” Who is this man who “cannot be satisfied”? With voracity like that of Babylon of Habakkuk’s time, this composite “man,” made up of political powers—whether Fascist, Nazi, Communist, or even so-called democratic—fights wars in order to expand his lands. He also fills Sheol, the grave, with innocent souls. But this treacherous composite “man” of Satan’s world, drunk with his own self-assured importance, meets with no success in “gathering to himself all the nations and collecting together to himself all the peoples.” Only Jehovah God can unite all mankind, and he will accomplish this through the Messianic Kingdom.—Matthew 6:9, 10.
The First of Five Dramatic Woes
9, 10. (a) What does Jehovah proceed to announce through Habakkuk? (b) Regarding unrighteous gain, what is the situation today?
9 Through his prophet Habakkuk, Jehovah proceeds to announce a series of five woes, judgments that must be carried out in preparing the earth for habitation by God’s faithful worshipers. Such righthearted ones ‘lift up a proverbial saying’ that Jehovah presents. We read at Habakkuk 2:6: “Woe to him who is multiplying what is not his own—O how long!—and who is making debt heavy against himself!”
10 Here the emphasis is on unrighteous gain. In the world around us, the rich grow richer, and the poor grow poorer. Drug dealers and swindlers amass great fortunes, while many of the common people starve. One fourth of the world’s population is said to live below the poverty line. Living conditions are appalling in many countries. Those who yearn for righteousness on earth exclaim: “O how long” these iniquities have been multiplying! Yet, the end is at hand! Indeed, the vision “will not be late.”
11. What does Habakkuk say about the shedding of human blood, and why can we say that there is great bloodguilt on earth today?
11 The prophet tells the wicked one: “Because you yourself despoiled many nations, all the remaining ones of the peoples will despoil you, because of the shedding of blood of mankind and the violence to the earth, the town and all those dwelling in it.” (Habakkuk 2:8) What bloodguilt we find on the earth today! Jesus plainly stated: “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52) Yet, in the 20th century alone, bloodguilty nations and ethnic groups have been responsible for the slaughter of more than a hundred million humans. Woe to those sharing in these bloodbaths!
The Second Woe
12. What is the second woe recorded by Habakkuk, and how can we be sure that dishonest riches will be of no avail?
12 The second woe, recorded at Habakkuk 2:9-11, falls on “the one that is making evil gain for his house, in order to set his nest on the height, so as to be delivered from the grasp of what is calamitous!” Dishonest gain will be of no avail, as the psalmist makes clear: “Do not be afraid because some man gains riches, because the glory of his house increases, for at his death he cannot take along anything at all; his glory will not go down along with him himself.” (Psalm 49:16, 17) Noteworthy, then, is Paul’s wise advice: “Give orders to those who are rich in the present system of things not to be high-minded, and to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God, who furnishes us all things richly for our enjoyment.”—1 Timothy 6:17.
13. Why should we continue to sound God’s warning?
13 How important it is that God’s judgment messages be sounded forth today! When the Pharisees objected to the crowds’ hailing Jesus as “the One coming as the King in Jehovah’s name,” he said: “I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:38-40) Likewise, if God’s people today were to fail in exposing the wickedness that exists in this world, ‘out of the wall a stone itself would cry out plaintively.’ (Habakkuk 2:11) So let us courageously continue to sound God’s warning!
The Third Woe and the Issue of Bloodguilt
14. The world’s religions have been responsible for what bloodguilt?
14 The third woe announced through Habakkuk takes up the issue of bloodguilt. Says Habakkuk 2:12: “Woe to the one that is building a city by bloodshed, and that has solidly established a town by unrighteousness!” In this system of things, unrighteousness and bloodshed often accompany each other. Notably, the world’s religions have been responsible for the most heinous bloodbaths of history. We have only to mention the Crusades, which pitted so-called Christians against Muslims; the Catholic Inquisition in Spain and Latin America; Europe’s Thirty Years’ War between Protestants and Catholics; and the bloodiest of them all, the two world wars of our century, both of which started in the realm of Christendom.
15. (a) With church support or consent, what do the nations continue to do? (b) Can the United Nations bring an end to the arming of this world?
15 One of the most wicked features of the second world war was the Nazi Holocaust, which engulfed millions of Jews and other innocents in Europe. Only recently has the Roman Catholic hierarchy in France confessed that it failed to oppose the sending of hundreds of thousands of victims to Nazi death chambers. Yet, the nations continue to prepare to shed blood, with church support or consent. Speaking about the Russian Orthodox Church, Time magazine (international edition) recently stated: “The revived church also wields critical influence in an area once unthinkable: the Russian war machine. . . . Blessings of jet-fighters and barracks have become almost routine. In November, in Moscow’s Danilovsky Monastery, the seat of the Russian Patriarchate, the church went so far as to consecrate Russia’s nuclear arsenal.” Can the United Nations put a stop to rearming this world with demonic instruments of war? Hardly! According to The Guardian newspaper of London, England, a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize commented: “What is truly unsettling is that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are the world’s five major arms suppliers.”
16. What will Jehovah do with respect to warmongering nations?
16 Will Jehovah execute judgment on warmongering nations? Habakkuk 2:13 states: “Look! Is it not from Jehovah of armies that peoples will toil on only for the fire, and that national groups will tire themselves out merely for nothing?” “Jehovah of armies”! Yes, Jehovah has heavenly angelic armies, which he will use in bringing warlike peoples and nations to nothing!
17. To what extent will the knowledge of Jehovah fill the earth after the execution of his judgment upon violent national groups?
17 What will follow Jehovah’s execution of judgment on those violent national groups? Habakkuk 2:14 provides the answer: “The earth will be filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.” What a grand prospect! At Armageddon, Jehovah’s sovereignty will be forever vindicated. (Revelation 16:16) He assures us that he will ‘glorify the very place of his feet,’ this earth on which we live. (Isaiah 60:13) All mankind will be educated in God’s way of life, so that knowledge of Jehovah’s glorious purposes will fill the earth even as the oceans fill the sea basins.
The Fourth and Fifth Woes
18. What is the fourth woe announced through Habakkuk, and how is it reflected in the moral state of the world today?
18 The fourth woe is described at Habakkuk 2:15 in these words: “Woe to the one giving his companions something to drink, attaching to it your rage and anger, in order to make them drunk, for the purpose of looking upon their parts of shame.” This suggests the dissolute, wayward state of the modern world. Its immorality, supported even by permissive religious bodies, has descended to new lows. Plagues, such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, are on the rampage earth wide. Instead of reflecting “the glory of Jehovah,” the me-first generation of today plummets further into depravity and toward the execution of God’s judgment. “Satiated with dishonor instead of glory,” this delinquent world is about to drink from the bowl of Jehovah’s rage, which represents his will toward it. ‘There will be disgrace upon its glory.’—Habakkuk 2:16.
19. A prelude to the fifth woe announced by Habakkuk relates to what, and why do such words have significance in today’s world?
19 A prelude to the fifth woe sternly warns against the worship of carved images. Jehovah has the prophet pronounce these powerful words: “Woe to the one saying to the piece of wood: ‘O do awake!’ to a dumb stone: ‘O wake up! It itself will give instruction’! Look! It is sheathed in gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.” (Habakkuk 2:19) To this day, both Christendom and so-called heathendom bow to their crucifixes, Madonnas, icons, and other likenesses of man and beast. None of these can awake to save their worshipers when Jehovah comes to execute judgment. Their overlays of gold and silver pale into dead meaninglessness in comparison to the magnificence of the eternal God, Jehovah, and the glories of his living creations. May we extol his peerless name forever!
20. In what temple arrangement are we privileged to serve joyfully?
20 Yes, our God, Jehovah, is worthy of all praise. With a feeling of deep reverence for him, let us heed that stern warning against idolatry. But listen! Jehovah is still speaking: “Jehovah is in his holy temple. Keep silence before him, all the earth!” (Habakkuk 2:20) The prophet doubtless had Jerusalem’s temple in mind. However, we today are privileged to worship in a far grander spiritual temple arrangement, where our Lord Jesus Christ is installed as High Priest. Here, in the earthly courtyard of that temple, we meet, serve, and pray, rendering to Jehovah the honor that is due his glorious name. And what joy we have in rendering heartfelt worship to our loving heavenly Father!
Do You Recall?
• How do you view Jehovah’s words: “It will not be late”?
• What is the present-day significance of the woes announced through Habakkuk?
• Why should we continue to sound Jehovah’s warning?
• In the courtyard of what temple are we privileged to serve?
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Like Habakkuk, God’s present-day servants know that Jehovah will not delay
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Do you appreciate the privilege of worshiping Jehovah in the courtyard of his spiritual temple?
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U.S. Army photo