Habakkuk 2:3 (ESV) … “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:3 is referring to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Habakkuk 1:5–11. It would take at least 20 years depending on the date of Habakkuk’s ministry. During this wait, many scoffers would arise, questioning the authenticity of the prophet’s vision. However, Yahweh’s word of encouragement to the prophet, is to wait in patience and faith.
The prophet saw himself as a watchman on the walls of Jerusalem, waiting for a message from God that he could share with the people. In ancient days, the watchmen were responsible to warn the city of approaching danger, and if they weren’t faithful, their hands would be stained with the blood of the people who died (Ezek. 3:17–21; 33:1–3). It was a serious responsibility.
We get the impression that Habakkuk was fearful of what the Lord might say to him because of His servant’s “complaint.” But the Lord graciously answered Habakkuk and gave him the vision he needed to turn his worrying into worshiping. This vision included not only the words in Habakkuk 2, but also the revelation of God’s glory recorded in 3:3–15. When you behold the glory of God and believe the Word of God, it gives you faith to accept the will of God.
We wouldn’t be studying this book today had Habakkuk not obeyed God’s orders and written down what God had told him and shown him. This writing was to be permanent so that generation after generation could read it. It was also to be plain, written so that anybody could read it, and it was to be public so that even somebody running past the tablets on display could get the message immediately. Habakkuk wasn’t the only person in Judah who needed this message, and it was his obligation to share it.
The revelation God gave was for a future time and about a future time. While the immediate application was to the end of the Babylonian Captivity, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews interpreted it to refer also to the return of Jesus Christ. Led by the Holy Spirit, he changed “it” to “He” and applied it to our Lord. “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10:37). Along with the scoffers Peter wrote about, some readers might ask, “Where is the promise of His coming? (2 Peter 3:3ff) and God’s reply is, “Wait for it! It will surely come!” A discouraged Jew in Babylonian exile might ask, “Will the Lord come and deliver us?” and the answer is, “Yes! Wait for him!”
As believers, we still wait in faith for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promises. He told us he is coming again and that it would be soon. While it has been over 2000 years since Jesus left us that promise, we still wait in faith and patience for that blessed moment.