The Great Time of Trouble
Habakkuk’s Prophecy Continued
“They all come for violence;
their faces are set like the east wind.
They gather captives like sand.”
The New Living Translation states it thusly,
“On they come, all bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind, sweeping captives ahead of them like sand.”
“Their faces will be set in opposition to the east.” [The east is the direction of the suns rising, and here represents the dawn of the Millennial Day. Hence, the language here indicates that though these shall cause a measure of judgment to come upon evil institutions, yet they will not be in harmony with the true light, but in opposition to it; their mission is violence.] “And they gather the bounden ones as the sand.” R 622
“They scoff at kings,
And princes are scorned by them.
They deride every stronghold,
For they heap up earthen mounds and seize it.”
“The Lord’s Great Army will pull down the governments, and this verse shows a real arrogance and disdain for law and authority. “They shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them.”
“It shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones and the kings of the earth.” Isa 24:21
The Lord’s Great Army will not be part of the establishment either religiously or politically. Rather, they will be an outside, rebellious, disenchanted group. Moreover, they are described in Scripture as God’s battle ax or hammer, for His providence’s will favor circumstances for the development of this element for the purpose of pulling down (destroying) the established order (Isa. 10:15; Jer. 50:23). Understand God will not sanction nor approve of this class in either morals or character, but He will approve of the destructive work which they will accomplish.
“They shall heap dust (earthen mounds), and take it” as they “deride every strong hold [or fortress].” This portion of Verse 10 refers to tactics used in olden times. No matter how strong the fortress wall, the enemy (in this case the Lord’s Great Army) will devise a way to override it. Nothing will stop them. The “dust” alludes to making a ramp to get over the wall. Sometimes battering rams were used in the past—or a siege using siege towers or fire. The Lord’s Great Army will be like locusts, climbing over everything in their way. Nothing will deter their onward march. The word “take”, “seize” means “capture.” The Lord’s Great Army will capture every stronghold.”
“They run like mighty men, they climb the wall like men of war; every one marches in formation, and they do not break ranks. They do not push one another; every one marches in his own column. Though they lunge between the weapons, they are not cut down (not halted by losses). They run to and fro in the city, they run on the wall; they climb into the houses, they enter at the windows like a thief.” Joel 2: 7-9
“Then his mind changes, and he transgresses;
He commits offense,
Ascribing this power to his god.”
“Then they sweep past like the wind and go on– guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” NIV
“Then [by reason of their success] doth their spirit become arrogant and they are surpassingly proud, and offend, imputing this their power unto their God (the God of War of Might). Not realizing that they have been used as the Lord’s great army to overthrow oppression and to bring down the proud and to thresh the mountains (kingdoms), they shall boast in themselves of the victory of Liberalism (freedom from authority).”
“Are You not from everlasting,
O Lord my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die.
O Lord, You have appointed them for judgment;
O Rock, You have marked them for correction.”
“Verse 12, a paragraph break, starts to express thoughts of the Great Company, a righteous class who will be puzzled over the events transpiring. These thoughts continue through Verse 17. In seeing the Lord’s Great Army, an irreligious and powerful force, tear down government and religious institutions (the old order), the Great Company will have mixed experiences: disappointment and chagrin followed by strengthening, then questioning, again strengthening, questioning, etc.
“We shall not die [as new creatures].” The Great Company from a present-truth background, as well as the Great Company from Babylon, will feel that there is still hope— that they can get life as spirit beings and not go into extinction (Second Death). The words “we shall not die” thus indicate a strengthening experience.
“O LORD, thou hast ordained them [the Lord’s Great Army] for judgment [to do a destroying work, to bring down the kingdoms of this world].” The Great Company will then understand that the trouble is a part of God’s plan.
“Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye people: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it. For the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations, and his fury upon all their armies to deliver them to the slaughter.” Isa 34:1, 2
“O mighty God, thou hast appointed them to correct nations.” The King James margin has “O Rock.” A rock is a symbol of stability. Accordingly, the Great Company will realize that God’s omnipotence is not at all threatened by the Time of Trouble, that the lawlessness has been providentially overruled for correction and judgment.” [This is the confidence of the saints, as here expressed by the prophet.]
“You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,
And cannot look on wickedness.
Why do You look on those who deal treacherously,
And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours
A person more righteous than he?”
“Verse 13 expresses questions asked all down the age, but conditions will be exacerbated and intensified in the future. It is one thing to see the Lord’s Great Army pull down that which is old and effete and unjust and corrupt, but it is another matter to see this lawless element encroach upon a “righteous” class.”
“Why do You make men like fish of the sea,
Like creeping things that have no ruler over them?”
“The Great Company class continues to question. Unsuspecting fish (people) are taken suddenly in the net by the Lord’s Great Army. When the Great Company sees noble people and items being taken from them, they will ask, “Why doesn’t God stop the trouble?” (Eventually, the Great Company will get the oil of understanding and zeal, as shown in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matt 25.)
“That have no ruler over them.” In the anarchy the people will crave leadership and order and instruction and help, but there will be no one. These conditions will eventually help the Great Company to wash their robes (Rev. 7:14). Instead of inspecting others, they will begin to be introspective. They will have to search their own hearts.”
“They take up all of them with a hook,
They catch them in their net,
And gather them in their dragnet.
Therefore they rejoice and are glad.”
“The Lord’s Great Army, the ones casting in the net, will rejoice and be glad. They will have no moral restraints and will go after all, good and bad, and will be happy with their seeming success in exploiting others and with force, (might) being their god.”
“Therefore they sacrifice to their net,
And burn incense to their dragnet;
Because by them their share is sumptuous
And their food plentiful.”
“The Lord’s Great Army will worship “their net,” their weapons, their own powers, as the reason for their success. As anarchy interrupts the food supplies, the Lord’s Great Army will enrich themselves with the spoils of others—worldwide. They will march through the lands, taking what they want. Before them is the Garden of Eden; behind them is a desolate wilderness of looting, burning, and extinction. Remember, there will be no police or fire departments at this time.”
“The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word.” Isa. 24:3
“Shall they therefore empty their net,
And continue to slay nations without pity?”
“Verse 17 is a rhetorical question. The answer is obvious: No! The Lord’s Great Army will be insatiable; they will know no end. As soon as they empty the net, they will cast it in again and again and again for more and more spoil. This element has existed all down the age, taking advantage of situations until they are stopped, but here the condition is so prevalent that only divine power will be able to stop them.”
And so it will.
“The nations (the unrestrained anarchist masses, the sea class) raged, the kingdoms (world governments) were moved (out of place, i.e. over-turned, then); He uttered His voice [“BE STILL, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations I will be exalted in the earth!”], the earth melted (the present social order of things was dissolved).” Psa 46:6, 10; Compare 2 Pet 3:10
Broken, battered, humbled, the old order of things having come to an end mankind will finally be ready for the kingdom of righteousness, the new heavens (spiritual rulership) and new earth (a new society) wherein dwells righteousness.
Excerpts taken from “The Book of Habakkuk” Brother Frank Shallieu