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Habakkuk 2:20-The Earth’s Inhabitants are Commanded to be Silent Because of the Lord’s Presence in His Holy Temple

Habakkuk Chapter Two  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  1:04:20
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Habakkuk 2:20-The Earth’s Inhabitants are Commanded to be Silent Because of the Lord’s Presence in His Holy Temple

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Habakkuk 2:20 The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (NIV)
Habakkuk 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Silence each and every inhabitant of the earth because of His presence!” (My translation)
Habakkuk 2:20 brings to an end the Lord God of Israel’s response to Habakkuk’s argument against His choice of the Babylonians to discipline the apostate citizenry of the southern kingdom of Judah and which argument is recorded in Habakkuk 1:12-17.
Now, Habakkuk 2:20 begins with a declarative statement which asserts that the Lord is in His holy temple.
It is followed by a command which required that each and every one of the inhabitants of planet earth be silent because of the Lord’s presence, which is manifested in His holy temple in the third heaven.
Together, they present a contrast with the previous statements in Habakkuk 2:18-19.
Therefore, a comparison of Habakkuk 2:18-19 with verse 20 indicates that this contrast in these verses is between mute, lifeless pieces of wood and stone and the Lord who sits in His temple who is living and who provides guidance and instruction for His moral rational creatures such as mankind and angels.
The Lord’s holy temple is located in the third heaven and is the place where the members of the Trinity manifest their personal presence to their moral rational creatures, namely human beings and angels.
It appears in the third heaven which is above the stellar universe and contains the throne of God.
The tabernacle and temple were patterned after the heavenly one according to Hebrews 8:1-5.
Therefore, the third heaven is where the Lord’s holy temple resides and where He manifests His personal presence to His moral rational creatures.
His temple is described in Habakkuk 2:20 as being “holy” which means that it is set apart exclusively to manifest His personal presence to both human beings and angels.
This declarative statement in Habakkuk 2:20 which asserts that the Lord is in His holy temple is followed by a command which required that each and every one of the inhabitants of planet earth remain silent because of the Lord’s personal presence, which is manifested in His holy temple in the third heaven.
This command required each member of the human race to refrain from speaking in the presence of the Lord while His sits in His holy temple.
He demands awesome, respectful silence from His moral rational creatures, both human beings and angels.
Notice that this command required that they remain silent “because of” His presence.
In other words, the Lord’s personal presence as manifested in His holy temple in the third heaven is the reason why every member of the human race must remain silent.
A comparison of Habakkuk 2:18-19 with this command and the declarative statement which precedes in Habakkuk 2:20 indicates that the command to be silent implies that unlike the gods of the Babylonians, the God of Israel and Judah is living and teaches His subjects, both men and angels.
Thus, every member of the human race should remain silent in order to listen to the Lord teach them.
Ultimately, the command for the inhabitants of the earth remain silent because of the Lord’s presence in His holy temple here in Habakkuk 2:20 also indicates that the Lord was about to judge them.
This judgment was imminent as we noted in Habakkuk 1:6 since this verse asserts that the Lord was “about” to empower the Babylonians to be His instrument to judge the apostate citizens of Judah and the surrounding nations which were in unrepentant idolatry.
Habakkuk 2:2-20 makes clear that the Babylonians would eventually be judged by God as well for their unrepentant sinful behavior towards their neighbors and because of their unrepentant idolatry.
Now, we must make clear that this reference to the Lord being in His holy temple does not refer to Solomon’s temple which was still standing when Habakkuk received this vision at the end of the seventh century B.C. in 605 B.C.
This is indicated by the fact that the Shekinah Glory, i.e. the manifestation of the Lord’s personal presence would depart from it due to the apostasy of the citizens of the southern kingdom of Judah.
Solomon’s temple was ultimately destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.
Furthermore, Habakkuk 1:1 asserts that Habakkuk received a vision from the Lord which he communicated in this book that bears his name.
We have noted that the contents of Habakkuk present a dialogue with the Lord, which implies Habakkuk was in the throne room of God in the Lord’s temple since how could he speak with the Lord unless they were face to face.
Therefore, this would indicate that the reference to the temple in Habakkuk 2:20 is a reference to the heavenly temple and not Solomon’s temple.
The Shekinah Glory mentioned in the Old Testament is also a reference to the preincarnate Christ and the meaning of the word “Shekinah,” “the One Who dwells” emphasizes that God seeks to live with man and not vice versa.
The glory of God is the “manifestation” of the holiness of God, i.e. the absolute perfection of His character.
Thus, the glory of God is the “manifestation” of the presence of God since the presence of God’s holiness indicates that God Himself is present since God as to His Person is holy.
Ezekiel 8-11 records the departure from Israel of the Shekinah glory.
Therefore, we can see that the glory of the Lord had initially dwelt in the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex 40:34 Ex 30:34-38).
It departed when the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, which God allowed because of Israel’s sin.
The glory of God came into the temple of Solomon upon completion and consecration (1 Kings 8:10).
Then, it progressively departed the Temple, in preparation for the destruction of the nation of Israel which had turned irrevocably to the worship of abominable idols (First step: Ezekiel 8:3-4; Second: Ezekiel 9:3; Third: Ezekiel 10:18-19; Fourth: Ezekiel 11:22-23).
The Temple that was rebuilt after Judah’s seventy years of exile in Babylon did not possess the Shekinah glory of the LORD.
Many in Israel wept over this fact that the Shekinah glory had departed (Ezra 3:12).
The Shekinah glory appeared in Israel for thirty-three and a half years in the Person of Jesus Christ but departed when they crucified Him.
It will return to the millennial temple in the Person of the resurrected, glorified incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ (Haggai 2:9; Isaiah 4:5; 35:1-3).
This command in Habakkuk 2:20 requiring the members of the human race to be silent because of the Lord’s presence in His holy temple in the third heaven appears in Zephaniah 1:7 and Zechariah 2:17.
Zephaniah 1:7 Be silent before the presence of my Sovereign, my Lord because the period of judgment to be brought about by the Lord is imminent. Indeed, the Lord has prepared a sacrificial meal. He has consecrated His invited guests. (Author’s translation)
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet Zephaniah issues the inhabitants of Jerusalem a command to be silent before the presence of his sovereign and his Lord who is of course the God of Israel.
This command emphasizes the Creator/creature distinction in that the creature must be silent before his or her Creator.
“The day of the Lord” in Zephaniah 1:7 is not a twenty-four period but rather it is a period of time in which the God of Israel judged the citizens of the kingdom of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem between 605-587 B.C. through the Babylonian Empire under Nebuchadnezzar.
The reference to “the day of the Lord” in Zephaniah 1:7 had a near eschatological fulfillment since Zephaniah 1:8-13 describes the situation in this prophet’s day in Judah.
However, in Zephaniah 1:14, the context would indicate that “the day of the Lord” will have a far eschatological fulfillment since Zephaniah 1:15-18 speaks of God judging the inhabitants of the earth which He will do during the Seventieth Week of Daniel.
The declarative statement in Habakkuk 2:20 which asserts that the Lord is in His holy temple and the command which follows it and required that each member of the human race be silent because of the Lord’s presence in His holy temple is a call to Habakkuk and the faithful remnant of Judah in the seventh century B.C. to trust in the Lord regardless of the adversity they were to face.
This verse harkens back to Habakkuk 2:4.
Habakkuk 2:4 Look! He is characterized as being proud and arrogant. His soul within him is by no means characterized as being upright. However, in contrast to him, a righteous person will live by means of their faith. (Author’s translation)
Ultimately the command in Habakkuk 2:20 which required all the inhabitants of planet earth be quiet because of the Lord’s presence in His holy temple is a call to worship the Lord rather than the false gods promoted by Satan and his cosmic system.
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