1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.
Watchmen were stationed at the highest part of a city wall to warn of potential danger. The prophets were all watchmen in the sense as messengers of Yahweh they gave warnings to the house of Israel of impending judgment unless they repented of wickedness - Ezek 3: 17.
2 And the Yahweh answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.
"The vision" - Of Elohim coming from Teman? [3;3]
3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it [HE] will surely come, it will not tarry.
Daniel was instructed to seal up the vision "until the time of the end," when
"knowledge would increase" (Dan. 12: 4). HE - the Messiah will come at the appointed time.
in the midst of our commonplace life, our ears will be made to tingle with the announcement that our waiting is past - that our warfare is accomplished - that the Lord is in the earth. For this, we are being prepared by evil and delay.
Bro Roberts - Breaking of Bread
At the end it shall speak and not lie
-We must consider the connection of this passage to see its meaning. The connection is manifest at a glance. Habakkuk laments the corruptions prevalent in Israel.-(Chap. 1:4.) His lamentation is followed by an intimation of God's purpose to send the Chaldeans upon them as a punishment for their sins.-(verses 5-11.)
The prophet in view of the approaching horrors of invasion, manifests a visible degree of anxiety, yet takes consolation in this view, that God has ordained these heathen powers as mere instruments of correction, and that He is of purer eye than to view with indifference the permanent establishment of such cruel scourges in the earth. On this foundation, he appeals to God against them. He asks:
"Wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?"
He likens the successful military power of Babylon to fishermen catching fish in a drag, and then sacrificing to their drags,
"because by them is their portion fat and their meat plenteous."
He asks if they are perpetually to slay the nations? Having presented this matter before the Lord, he takes up his position in the watch tower, to see what answer he will receive.-(Chap. 2:1.)
The answer is prefaced by a command (verse 2) to write the vision about to be communicated; and two reasons are given why it should be written. First, that those who read it may run; that is, that they may not fall nor be discouraged by the unexplained triumph of the heathen; but run, or make their way easily and quickly, under the sustaining comfort of the vision.
The second and principal reason why the vision was to be written was that 'it was for an appointed time.' It was to be realised at 'the end.' 'At the end it shall speak and not lie.' That is, the things foretold would not be falsified by their non-occurrence, but would 'speak' in their accomplishment.
This reason shows that the vision had reference to something not to occur in the prophet's day. If it had been to occur then, there would have been no need for writing it. The writing was to preserve the record of the vision against the time of its fulfilment, that all men fearing God during the interval, might be upheld and enabled to run the race by the power of the information communicated.
Well, what is the vision?-(verse 4-14). That the covetousness of the heathen, displayed in their military inroads (though provisionally employed by God to punish Israel,) was a covetousness that would at last turn to their own destruction 'at the end' when there would rise up 'suddenly' those that would bite the last great impersonation of Gentile rapacity and ambition, viz., the Gog of Ezekiel, under whose hand the nations will be gathered as thick clay.
It is of the Lord that the people, during the Gentile time, weary themselves, under these heathen nations in the fire of vanity; but at the last, 'the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.' This is the vision written for the comfort of those who read it.-(Verse 15 resumes the delineation of Israel's sins).
It is exactly adapted to allay the fears expressed in Habakkuk's prayer. It amounts to an assurance that although the Gentiles have the upper hand for a season, that season is appointed of God, and at last it will come to an end; when God will destroy them that destroy the earth, and
"the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ."
This purpose of God, declared in vision to His servants the prophets, will "speak and not lie" in due time, in the accomplished regeneration of all the earth, in judgment and mercy.
The Christadelphian, June 1872
5 Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
Proximately - refers to Nebuchadnezzar a type of Latter day Gog. Encouraged by the military prowess of his Russian army, Gog will be drunk with power and with the wine of modern day Babylonian idolatry. His ruthless and insatiable and despotic ambition for a greater Russian empire are noted in Ezekiel's vision. He comes into the holy land to take a great spoil. His initial military triumphs will spur him to further devastating conquests.
6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!
The gentiles formerly at Gog's steps take up a taunting proverb following his defeat by the antitypical Cyrus - Yahweh's anointed. With the fall of Babylon, Cyrus gave permission for the rebuilding of the temple [Ezra 1] - Ezekiel's temple being the antitype.
7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?
He shall be "broken without hand" by the "Prince of princes." Resurrected immortals bite and vex Gog...Gog's destruction is after the resurrection.
At the resurrection, the beginning of Micah's forty years will have arrived in which "the mystery of the Deity" will be finished. Is the Russo-Gogian Autocracy broken by the Stone-power before or after the end of this forty-year period? I should answer, In the course of it.
Again: Is it broken to pieces before or after the resurrection of the saints? After it, without doubt; for speaking of the destruction of the Clay power: that is, of a power that "ladeth itself with thick clay," by gathering unto it all nations, and heaping unto it all people, and thus accumulating what does not belong to it: Habbakuk says to its chief,
"Shall they not rise up that shall bite thee, unexpectedly, and awake that shall vex thee? . . . For the Stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it. . . . For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea. . . . Yahweh is in His holy place; be silent, all the earth before Him."
This is evidently a prediction of the resurrection of the power that is to destroy the Clay-dominion. The Clay-power stands unconsciously waiting for this in the Holy Land and City. The saints gathered unto Christ in the political air of heaven, will be witnesses of its prostration as Israel were of Pharaoh's.
All the glory of this will be due to the Ancient of Days, with whom "the chosen" only co-operate in the infliction of the first disaster upon the enemy, which is by pestilence, mutual slaughter, hail and thunder-bolts from heaven.
This cripples and disintegrates, but does not finally destroy, the Image. It is as a Moscow to Napoleon, which subsequently required repeated blows for the destruction of his power. Christ and the holy ones as clouds and hail grind the shattered fragments of the Russo-Gogian Image to powder. The Lion-man, the Bear, and the Leopard, or the gold, the silver, and the brass, must have their dominion taken away. These are borderers upon the Holy Land, and will demand the immediate attention of the Stone and Beam out of the timber; "who shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimroud in the entrances thereof: thus shall Israel be delivered from the Assyrian, when he cometh into the land, and when he treadeth within their borders" (Mic. v. 6.)
The taking of the saints up into the ærial will be to gather them there for the execution of judgment upon those who are to be the objects of Divine indignation; and to make them as the falling artillery of the clouds. For these reasons and others that might be adduced, it may be concluded that the resurrection will precede the overthrow of the Russian hosts upon the mountains of Israel.
The Christadelphian, Dec 1896
8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant [called out of the nations for Yahweh's name] of the people shall spoil thee; because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
Because of men's blood
"And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man's brother will I require the life of man...for in the image of Elohim made he man.."
[Gen 9: 5,6.]
9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!
Nebuchadnezzar built high walls (estimates between 40 and 100 ft) and of great thickness (chariot races were held on them) in the expectation that Babylon would be impenetrable by an enemy army.
10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.
Instead of building an indestructible empire, the Babylonians created a short-lived dynasty abhorred by Yahweh
11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
The ruins of ancient Babylon testify to its sudden and absolute destruction
12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!
Babylon condemned for its oppression of foreigners in warfare and use of hard bondage to establish its fine city.
13 Behold, is it not of the Yahweh Tz'vaoth that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
The building of Babylon was a vain project - the city would be burnt.
And I will kindle a fire in his cities,
And it shall devour all round about him - Jer 50: 32
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Yahweh, as the waters cover the sea.
It is the marvel of all history that God should have formed and used and guided a nation as He did in the case of Israel, and that that nation should be extant to the present day in the very position foretold by Moses over three thousand years ago-scattered among all other nations. It is a marvel with a meaning. It is no mere episode. It is not a mere passage of history. It is part of a plan. We comprehend the plan in the light of the prophets evangelised to us by the apostles of the lord Jesus.
The plan is in fact the programme of the earth's deliverance in harmony with the honour of the earth's Possessor and Creator.
The plan consummated shows us the earth "full of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea"; and Israel restored, the head of a family of enlightened and happy nations, united in the service of Israel's God. The foundation of the plan had to be laid ages ago. There had to be a gradual working up from a time when the earth was poorly peopled and overgrown with forest, to a time of immense population and extensive subjugation of the soil and occupation of the earth with cities.
To replenish the earth and subdue it is the mission of the first Adam. An empty world would have been a poor theatre for the revelation of the glory of the Lord. It requires an "all flesh" to "see it together." And this "all flesh" requires in some measure to be civilised.
Attributes of the Kingdom
Nothing can surpass the perfect loveliness of the attributes which will characterize the kingdom of God under its future new-covenant code of constitution. As an institution it will provide for the existence and triumph of every really good thing that has ever been conceived of by human brains. It will be the realization of the "desire of all nations"* for just and wise and merciful government. In it will dwell:
Light, life, lustre, love, and liberty;
Peace, plenty, purity, and praise;
Health, happiness, holiness, and honour;
Justice, judgment, joy, and jubilation;
Sweetness, sincerity, singing, and salvation;
Grace, goodness, godliness, and glory;
Beauty, blessing, benevolence, and brotherhood;
Wisdom, wealth, well-being, and worship;
Truth, trust, treasure, and thanksgiving;
Mercy, meekness, miracle, and majesty;
Order, offerings, obedience, and obeisance;
Fruitfulness, forgiveness, favour, and faith;
Charity, clemency, concord, and comfort;
Resurrection, restitution, and refreshing;
Immortality, inheritance and incorruption;
Knowledge, kindness, and kindred feeling;
Agreement, affection, and assurance for ever;
Uprightness understanding, and the undefiled;
Excellence, earnestness, and the everlasting.
All these things will at last fill the human situation with joy unspeakable, and overflowing glory. They are God's own contrivance for bringing honour to his own name, and at the same time filling human life with unextinguishable conditions of the highest well-being. Where faith leads the way, fact will follow in due time, with the smiling host of heaven's own treasures, that in the end will leave nothing to be desired, by either God or man.
The Christadelphian, Apr 1888
The desire of all nations - Bro Thomas gives a different rendering
"the Excellency [all the Saints] of all nations"
15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!
16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the Yahweh's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
The forests of lebanon were stripped of their cedars to be used for building projects. The decimation deprived the animals of natural habitat.
20 But Yahweh is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
But the holy ones raised from the dead, and Jerusalem and the Holy Land delivered, "Yahweh is in His holy palace," and for a time "all the earth is silent before Him," and trembling in expectation of what shall come next. At this crisis, He is as "an Ensign upon the mountains;" and the tranquility of the epoch is "dry heat impending lightning, as a cloud of dew in the sultriness of harvest." It will then be said of Jerusalem, "Yahweh is there."
The remnant of Judah in the land for the seven months ensuing the fall of Gog on the mountains of Israel will be occupied in burying the dead, and cleansing its surface from the slain (Ezek. xxxix. 11-16.) The destruction of Pharaoh and his host, which, with the plagues of Egypt, were well known to all that generation, did not cause the nations to confederate and to rush upon Moses and his people to swallow them up; nor did it forty years after deter the seven nations of Canaan from combining to preserve their country from conquest by Israel.
It is true that when, in addition to this, they heard that Yahweh dried up the waters of Jordan, and that the two Amorite powers east of that river had been exterminated, "their hearts melted, neither was their spirit in them any more;" nevertheless, the kings assembled their armies and contended for five years in numerous battles against Israel. Though melted with fear, they found no chance of escape but in resistance. Extermination was decreed against them. Death without resistance or with it was their only alternative; they accepted the latter, and perished sword in hand by the armies of Israel.
After the same type will it be with the Ten Toes of the Image, the Latin Kingdoms of the Babylonian dominion after the fall of the Czar and his hosts, the Pharaoh of modern times. Micah says, "Their ears shall be deaf." Whatever news may greet them from the Holy Land, will have no more effect upon the powers than Yahweh's message to Pharaoh. They are to be dashed in pieces as a potter's vessel; diplomacy or resistance, the result will be the same.
They are to become as the chaff of the summer threshing-floors. Fair warning, however, will be given, that Israel and their friends who, believing in the bursting forth of impending vengeance, may desire to escape it, may separate themselves from those who determine to resist. "I will be still, saith Yahweh; yet in my dwelling-place I will be without fear." This is subsequently to their overthrow at Bozrah-an awful pause between the treading of the Edom and Jehosaphat winepress, and Yahweh's roaring out of Zion, and uttering His voice from Jerusalem (Joel iii. 16.)
Bro Thomas - BEFORE AND AFTER THE RUSSO-GOGIAN OVERTHROW
The Christadelphian, Dec 1896