Habakkuk’s Tower

            “I will stand on my watch, and set me on the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer when I am reproved.” — Habakkuk 2:1

Habakkuk’s Tower

            We’ve already seen how Habakkuk turned to God instead of anger or despair against unrighteousness. But what is this watchtower?

            A Strong Defense. Of course, it is a metaphor of ready defense, as we mentioned earlier. But there is yet more.

            A Strong Tower of Refuge. In order to be on the watchtower, one must go up–away from the throngs of people, away from distracting voices.

            Habakkuk has given us yet another secret to handing our frustrations and confusions here on earth. Can we gain clarity outside ourselves? Can our mere fellow humans guide us rightly? Can my own mind sort it all out and come up with satisfactory answers?

            The answer is found in Romans 8:7: “…the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” We are not sufficient, capable or wise enough. We need a different source of wisdom than ourselves.

            Habakkuk knows that he must be alone with God. He must secret himself into a place where God’s voice alone is heard, and heard clearly.

            Satan knows how to mess with our minds. He is the Deceiver (Revelation 12:9) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He blinds and distorts truth to the weak and rebellious of mind. He knows how to clutter and tangle our thoughts so that we cave in on ourselves in doubt and error, casting aside objective truth in favor of passion or corruption.

            The watchtower, however, is an intentional refuge from competing sound; the watchtower is the refuge of secret prayer with God.

            Where will I go in my distress? I will go to Christ, alone in prayer.

            A Command Post. The watchtower is not simply a place, but an action. C.S. Lewis once stated,

            “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

            Before him, Augustine of Hippo had already said,

            “The mind needs to be enlightened by light from outside itself, so that it can participate in truth, as it is not itself the nature of truth. You will light my lamp, Lord.” (Augustine of Hippo)

            The lamp of the Lord is the Word of God (Nun, Psalm 119:105). The prophet doesn’t just climb into his closet and think his own thoughts anyway. He also doesn’t “clear his mind of all thought” so that some cosmic thought will enter in with some sort of impersonal pantheistic truth.

            Or, put in a way even believers sometimes can understand, he doesn’t climb into his closet and pray words from out of his own mortal mind and then expect God to serve his prayers as if God was his personal servant.

            No, he sets himself on the clearly laid out Word of God.

            When our hearts ache to hear from God in our confusion, when things aren’t as they should be and we stand on the brink of despair, we need to remember that God has already spoken. What has He said? [1]

           When we offer ourselves in prayer to Him, God orders our thoughts according to His own mind and heart. When my own heart is heavy, God’s is heavier. Out of my own distress, I look to find God’s vision that is higher and deeper than my spiritual eyes can see. His heart is infinite in compassion. His own mind is Truth and Light.

            God has spoken. What has He already said?

Habakkuk’s Hope

            In his intercession, Habakkuk doesn’t represent only his own feelings, as if he alone stood righteous in all of Judah. Habakkuk is a representative of all who remain faithful and stand in the gap between unholiness and a Holy God, even if imperfectly.

           What Habakkuk wants is what the true body of believers in Yahweh want–righteous justice that will reveal God to the world as Sovereign King, powerful and able to bring all into His command. To rephrase the Newsboys, “I don’t want to follow a god I can lead around…”.

           “Show yourself to the nations, Lord! Let them know you are the God Who is There.”

            What does Habakkuk do as our representative? We have already seen that he turns to God in his despondancy, taking his case directly to God in a secret place away from the din of the world. He sets his mind on God. He will judge the situation when he has heard from God Himself on the matter. Yet all is not yet done.

            In his commentary on Habakkuk, John Calvin makes a most crucial point: after making his case to God, Habakkuk remains on the watchtower of faith with the patience of hope. From out of the abysmal situation, hope arises in faith and waits…waits…waits.

            What an important principle we have in this! This is where our faith is tried, not out in the world, but here in the place integrity dwells–in secret prayer before Holy God.

          Do I believe God even hears prayer? Am I willing and faith-filled enough to wait on God as long as it takes for him to act in answer to prayer?

          Calvin further notes that Habakkuk was not waiting for a lightning bolt from heaven giving explanation or reasoning. Habakkuk was not waiting for a “Why?” or a “When?”[2]. Habakkuk was waiting on the Lord’s favor to return. Habakkuk knew the prophecies of old that spoke of God’s tender mercies and compassion for His people. He waits for God to accomplish His promises.

           Only when the prophet stilled himself before God in expectant faith and hope did the Lord reveal His greater plan.


© May 2019 by www.ReadPsalm119.com. Revised May 16, 2019; May 21, 2019. 
This is part two of a series of reflections on the book of Habakkuk. See Habakkuk's Lament (Pt1).  

Footnotes:

[1] See also Jeremiah in his own dark night of soul in Lamentations 3:21, “This I remember and have hope...” He was remembering God’s character as displayed in the historical, poetic, and prophetic records.

[2] Update: Grateful credit is given to Alistair McGrath for insightfully aligning the two quotes (Lewis and Augustine) in his book Mere Discipleship: Growing in Wisdom and Hope(2019, BakerBooks), p9. 

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