THE GREAT TIME OF TROUBLE
“For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.” Luke 21:22
“…Watchman what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said the morning cometh, and also the night…” (Isa 21:12)
“The Morning cometh“–of that there is no doubt–“and also the night“–the dark night of distress described by Daniel as “a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan 12:1)
“The watchman said, the morning cometh“, and though, while making this answer, he forewarns us of night, he also assures us of the morning. There is a morning, says he, therefore do not give way to faintness of spirit; but there is a night between, therefore take warning, that you may not be surprised nor dismayed, as if the promise were broken, or some strange thing allowed to befall you.
There may be delay, he intimates, before the morning–a dark delay, for which we should be prepared. During this he calls for watchfulness, for the length of the night is hidden, the time of daybreak is uncertain. We must be on the outlook, with our eyes fixed on the eastern hills (towards the sun’s risings). We have nothing wherewith to measure the hours, save the sorrows of the church and the failing of hearts.” R302 (820)
“The clouds are even yet gathering and men’s hearts are beginning to fail for fear of the approaching storm–“for fear of those things that are coming on the Earth.” Soon it will break in all its fury. But though it fills all hearts with fear and dread, in its final results, it will prove a great blessing to the earth (mankind), displacing the present order of things, the “powers of the Air” (“powers of darkness,”—spiritual wickedness in high-controlling-places“) and giving place to the “new earth”, the new order and, its rightful ruler–Jesus and his Bride, also spiritual beings (powers of the air.) So after the storm shall the “Sun of righteousness rise with healing in his wings,” and the kingdom of darkness shall give place to the kingdom of light and mankind will rejoice in the pure air and cloudless sunlight of that perfect day.” R153
Nevertheless, it is the duty of the watchman on the walls of Zion to declare the whole counsel of God the bitter as well as the sweet.
The Book of Habakkuk was most likely written during the reign of King Jehoiakim roughly 15 to 20 years before the invasion and destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 606 B.C.
“The name “Habakkuk” means “wrestle, wrestling”—hence the mental and moral struggle presented in Habakkuk’s prophecy. Other commentaries imply that the Hebrew name is derived from the verb habaq, “embrace.” Thus his name probably means “One who Embraces” or “Clings” And so it was that the Prophet Habakkuk chose to cling firmly to God regardless of what was transpiring at the time.
Now of course in the type the Prophet was writing about the condition of things in his day, prior to the destruction of Jerusalem, but in the antitype these things apply to conditions as they soon will be in our day, as seen through the eyes of the Great Company class, some of which are even now becoming manifest. Therefore, by extension, the Book of Habakkuk pertains to the mental and moral struggle or condition of the Great Company, a righteously inclined class who will experience severe difficulties once the Little Flock is off the earthly scene, and they enter the great time of trouble.
“O Lord, how long shall I cry,
And You will not hear?
Even cry out to you, “Violence!”
And you will not save.”
“In Verses 2–4 the prophet described his feelings and experiences at the time he gave this message. That time was shortly before judgment was to be executed upon Judah and Jerusalem in 606 BC by the Babylonians (called the Chaldeans in the Book of Habakkuk).
A turbulent picture is being described of evil conditions surrounding the righteous continually. The message begins with “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” Habakkuk witnessed all the spoiling (looting), violence, strife, contention, slackness of the Law, the wicked encompassing the righteous, wrong judgment, etc.—in short, a condition of lawlessness, anarchy.
This situation was also Lot’s experience in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed because of iniquity. Wickedness was everywhere. Lot’s righteous soul was vexed daily by the evil conditions he saw (2 Pet. 2:8). He was extricated from Sodom just as the city was going to be destroyed, being yanked out at the last minute. In antitype, the Little Flock will not be on the scene at this time, for just as Abraham saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah from afar (Gen 19:1-29), so the Little Flock will witness the destruction of Christendom from heaven.”
“Certainly these words can well be applied to this “present evil world,” when God seems to many to be indifferent as to whether good or evil succeeds, and permits evil to triumph, the godly to suffer persecution, and the wicked to flourish. In view of this, the prophet asks as the representative of all who love righteousness, “How long, O Lord,” shall it be thus? *Why and for how long will evil be permitted? When shall the present evil world give place to that wherein dwells righteousness?” R622
Nevertheless we believe that this prophecy applies more specifically to the end of the age and to the great time of trouble soon to come. The time prophesied when the Beast that was, and is not and is to come again will makes its appearance once again.
At the time of this evil, prophesied by Habakkuk, the nominal churches will already have been destroyed. Hence there will be no religious restraints nor governmental restraints, for the governments will have likewise fallen. Anarchy and confusion will prevail.
Let us consider the words of Verse 2 again: “O LORD, how long shall I cry … and thou wilt not save!” Habakkuk expressed the feelings of the righteous class, who were perplexed and bewildered by what they saw and the slow response of God to correct the situation. Iniquity was abounding. “Why didn’t God stop it?” was their question.
Habakkuk reveals the thinking of the Great Company class in the future after Christendom, including the governments have been destroyed. These are the sentiments of the Great Company at that time, who will be perplexed by evil so great that the very survival of humanity will be threatened with extinction. Matt 24:22 attest to this fact, “Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.” Thus we believe these texts to be describing “THE GREAT TIME OF TROUBLE”.
“Why do you show me iniquity,
and cause me to see trouble?
For plundering and violence are before me;
there is strife, and contention arises.
Therefore the law is powerless,
and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
therefore perverse judgment proceeds.”
“Even the Great Company class, let alone the Little Flock, must feel grieved about evil. Jesus and the Little Flock love righteousness and hate iniquity, and Lot was vexed. Something would surely be amiss if the consecrated remaining after the departure the Little Flock were not greatly disturbed by the evil conditions then taking place. The Great Company class will mourn the conditions and wonder why God does not stop them.
When mystic Babylon falls, God will miraculously preserve the Great Company class who are forced out of the great nominal systems (Just as Lot having been forced out of Sodom was miraculously saved). These will be preserved by God’s mercy so that they might through the adverse conditions then prevailing wash their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:14) These will be to a greater degree ignorant as to what is transpiring than those of the consecrated Bible Students who were made acquainted with “present truth” but, who nevertheless felled to make their calling and election sure. This latter group will be blessed with the mantle of Elijah that falls upon them (2 Kings 2:8-14), having seen (i.e.perceived) the taking of the Elijah class (the completion of the Church class) from amongst them.
By far, the greater number of the Great Company at the end of the age will come out of Babylon when it falls, as compared with those who are left in the Bible Student movement after the feet members go beyond the veil. These being mere “babes” especially in regards to the knowledge of the truth, present truth will be puzzled as to why God is permitting the evil conditions then transpiring. Those with a present-truth background have been specially blessed to understand this philosophy. Therefore, Habakkuk was expressing the viewpoint of the greater number, those lacking understanding, such will be praying earnestly for instruction.
Verse 4 says the evil will be all pervasive because “the law is powerless (slacked, ignored).” The Torah is a compendium of principles, and these righteous principles are supposed to be in our civil law, for American and English law are offshoots of the Mosaic Law. The law will be “slacked” in the sense that it is not being carried out or enforced because unrighteousness and lawlessness prevails.
“Justice never goes forth: for the wicked [the vast majority] surround the righteous.” If the majority follows libertine ways, how can the minority control the evil? They cannot, even though righteous laws are in the books. Technically speaking, all are condemned except those in Christ, for “none [are] righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). It is true that there are some nice people in the world with good sentiments, but they are a minority. “Therefore perverse judgment proceeds (justice is perverted).”
“The wicked (in far greater numbers) surround the righteous.” When Lot was in his home, the wicked inhabitants of Sodom surrounded his house. Lot’s two guests would not have gotten out safely except that they were angels. Sodom, from which Lot (the Great Company) was miraculously delivered, pictures Christendom. And so in anti-type, when the wicked beset the righteous, the wicked will be in the majority and they will prevail. Back there homosexuality and sodomy were flagrant sins of the majority. Similarly, the great majority in the future will practice evil without restraint, without restrictions.
IMPORTANT: However if proven faithful, we will not be here when this evil condition exists, when the great tribulation occurs. We should pray to escape this trouble. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).”
Our study continues with Verse 5 in our next post.
Excerpts taken from “The Book of Habakkuk” Brother Frank Shallieu
*See the study on “The Permission of Evil” for more insight into this question.