Summary: Seeing the past clearly enables Habakkuk to look ahead with 20/20 faith. His fear is turned to faith. His worry is transformed into worship. His terror becomes trust. His hang-ups are resolved with hope. And his anguish melts into adoration.
20/20 vision is a term used to express normal clarity or sharpness of vision. It is measured at a distance of 20 feet. If you are fortunate enough to have 20/20 vision, you can see clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance. 20/40 vision is what’s usually required to obtain a driver’s license. And if your vision is 20/200, meaning you can see at 20 feet what should normally be seen at a distance of 200 feet, you are legally blind.
We often say that hindsight is 20/20. This means that when we look back at a certain event in our lives, we can clearly see exactly what happened, what led to the event, what other choices we may have had, or what may have led to a different result. We often have a better understanding of a particular circumstance when we look back on it than when we were actually experiencing it. Our vision of the past is often better than our vision of the present.
The prophet Habakkuk learned firsthand what 20/20 hindsight was all about. Habakkuk begins his book by engaging the LORD in a conversation regarding a disturbing burden. Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God was silent about all the evil that was going on in the land of Judah. Habakkuk couldn’t figure out why God wasn’t doing anything about it. And Habakkuk wondered why God even tolerated all that evil.
When God told Habakkuk that he was going to use the wicked Babylonians to bring judgment on the people of Judah, Habakkuk was even more confused. Why would God use a nation that was even more wicked than Judah to be his channel of discipline? It just didn’t make any sense. God’s plan seemed like a perversion of justice.
God reveals the rest of the story to Habakkuk. God would deal with the wicked Babylonians in his own way and in his own time. The Babylonians had exalted themselves, but God would bring them down. The Babylonians had become a proud and violent people, but God would use the nations they had abused to shame and humiliate them. The Babylonians had used slave labor to build an expansive empire, but God would cause that empire to be destroyed. Babylon would surely experience God’s woe.
God assured Habakkuk that the righteous would live by being faithful. God would perform a work that would cause his glory to fill the entire world. And Habakkuk could be confident that God was in control because the LORD was in his holy temple.
In our text this morning, Habakkuk looks back with 20/20 vision. And seeing the past clearly, enables him to look ahead with 20/20 faith. His fear is turned to faith. His worry is transformed into worship. His terror becomes trust. His hang-ups are resolved with hope. And his anguish melts into adoration.
Chapter 3 begins with prayer. “LORD, I have heard of your fame,” Habakkuk prays. “I stand in awe of your deeds.” Habakkuk has heard all about what the LORD has done in the past. He is aware of all the reports concerning God’s work. He has heard everything that has been said in regard to the LORD’s reputation.