Waiting for God's Response
Updated: Jun 1
This Week's Scripture & Reflection: Habakkuk 2:1
Prior to this current age of instant messaging, people wrote, sent, and received written messages through various non-electronic channels, including carrier pigeons, floating bottles, the pony express, balloons, and telegrams, to name a few. And while these methods were very useful, they obviously did not achieve the same speed in delivery that the current electronic messaging system does. Furthermore, delivery and "read" receipts also did not exist during the pre-instant messaging era either. Waiting to receive a message can surely be tormenting, but waiting to see whether your intended recipient actually received your message can be even more tormenting. This begs the question: what do we do while we wait for a response? More importantly, what should we do while we wait for a response?
The prophet Habakkuk gives us a glimpse of the ideal, but admittedly difficult posture to both have and maintain as believers when we are anticipating a response from the Lord. As the seemingly sole righteous citizen among a disobedient and rebellious people, the prophet Habakkuk spends the first four verses of the book bearing his name in lament to the Lord in regard to the wickedness of the nation of Judah, his own people! He feels as if the Lord has been ignoring his cries for help and justice amidst the violence and dissension of his people. Ultimately, Habakkuk wants to know what the Lord is going to do concerning Judah and when He is going to do it! To Habakkuk's surprise, the Lord reveals that He is going to sovereignly raise up a "fierce and impetuous" people called the Chaldeans, rulers over the nation of Babylon, to execute judgment upon Judah for their disobedience (cf. 1:5-6).
After the Lord spends five verses (cf. 1:7-11) in thorough description of just how incredibly vile, destructive, and flippant the Chaldeans are, Habakkuk properly discerns that God is going to use them to judge the nation of Judah. In the same manner, however, Habakkuk desperately questions God as to whether He is going to allow the Chaldeans to completely destroy the nation of Judah, including himself as one of the righteous ones (cf. 1:12-13). In the final verses of this first chapter, Habakkuk asks the Lord how long He is going to allow the Chaldeans to conquer and celebrate in victory over their conquests of other nations, including Judah, without any punishment or discipline (cf. 1:17). In the same way he feels like his own people have been escaping correction and discipline in their rebellion, Habakkuk also does not want the Chaldeans to escape punishment for their evildoing, even though the Lord is sovereignly using them to execute His judgment upon Judah.
This series of questions causes Habakkuk to take the following steps in the first verse of the second chapter:"I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the watchtower; and I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and how I may reply when I am reprimanded." The watchman played an incredibly significant role in Biblical history! His primary duty was to station himself in the highest sector of the city wall to warn the citizens of impending danger. The watchman also stationed himself at the highest sector of the tower to look out for messengers who would travel from near and far bringing important messages to the people, usually that of good news! Despite feeling frustrated with the Lord's apparent negligence concerning his pleas for help and his own resistance towards God's plan to use an even more vile nation to judge Judah, Habakkuk nevertheless stood at his post and stationed himself at the top of the watchtower to wait for the Lord's response!
This phrase "keep watch" in the Hebrew language means to "lean forward, i.e. to peer into the distance". Not only did Habakkuk intently position himself to hear and receive from the Lord, but he did so in an anticipatory manner by leaning forward into the distance, the seemingly long distance between his plea and the Lord's answer! He even considers how he will reply once the Lord reprimands him. Even in his frustration, Habakkuk shows that he is willing to accept correction from the Lord! He acknowledges his limited understanding in light of God's omniscience, even though His way seems to be completely off-base! Interestingly enough, we do not know the exact amount of time that expired between Habakkuk stationing himself at the top of the watchtower and the Lord's response to his plea in the second verse, which simply reads "Then the Lord said to me". It'd be easy to assume that the Lord's response was immediate, but without knowledge of the elapsed time, we cannot be completely certain. However, not knowing how much time elapsed between Habbakuk's stationing at the watchtower and God's second reply actually works to our advantage, more specifically our maturity as believers!
At times, it feels as if His responses to our inquiries have been slow, quick, or somewhere awkwardly in between! But regardless of the time between the presentation of our request to the Lord and His response, will our posture remain that of a watchman at the highest sector of the watchtower? Will we station ourselves as Habakkuk did and wait intently for the Lord to answer? Or will we allow elements such as fear and weariness to slacken our posture while we wait? While waiting on God does not mean that we should refrain from working diligently, it does mean that we should look intently for His reply and be willing to receive whatever He says to us! This week, climb up to the watchtower and stand at your guard post! Lean forward, peer into the distance, and look intently for the Lord's response! It can come in a myriad of different ways, but the Holy Spirit will help you to discern His voice in whichever way His answer may arrive!