2622. Watching To See

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No. 2622-45:229. A Sermon Delivered On Thursday Evening, January 26, 1882, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Intended For Reading On Lord’s Day, May 14, 1899.

I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, so that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it delays, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” {Hab 2:1-4}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1749, “Luther Sermon at the Tabernacle, A” 1750}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2591, “Pride the Destroyer” 2592}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2622, “Watching to See” 2623}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2809, “Faith: Life” 2810}
   Exposition on Hab 2:1-11 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2622, “Watching to See” 2623 @@ "Exposition"}

1. I know that, on Thursday nights, there is a large number of friends here who are engaged in the work of the Lord, and sometimes it is fitting to address them mainly; because, if the bread is put into the hands of the disciples, they will pass it on to the multitude. In the day of battle, if the command is given to the officers, they will repeat it to the various sections of the army, and so the whole mass shall be moved forward with one aim and object. Habakkuk was, like ourselves, called by God to labour for the good of the people among whom he lived. He was one of the later prophets who came to warn God’s ancient people before the Lord meted out their last terrible measure of chastisement. He saw, in vision, his country given up to the Chaldeans, and he pleaded with God about the matter. He had a burden on his heart which pressed very heavily on him; he saw the nation crushed beneath the oppressors, and he asked, “Why is this?” The Lord replied, “Because of the iniquity of the people.” Habakkuk understood that, but then it occurred to him that the Chaldeans, who were treading down the people, were themselves far greater sinners, — that, certainly, in the matter of oppression and bloodthirstiness, they were a far more guilty people than those whom they came to punish. So he used this fact partly as an argument with God that he would withdraw the Chaldeans and overthrow them, and partly he set it before the Lord as a difficulty which troubled his mind. He said, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity: why do you look on those who deal treacherously, and hold your tongue when the wicked devour the man that is more righteous than he?” Habakkuk was puzzled, as David had been before him, and as many a child of God has been since. He felt as if he could not do his work properly; so, in his perplexity, he came to consult God concerning it; and having laid the case before the Lord, he made use of the memorable and instructive words which we are now to consider under the gracious guidance of the Holy Spirit.

2. I. So, first, dear friends, we shall notice, in our text, THE ATTITUDE OF THE LORD’S SERVANT.

3. That is expressed in the one word, “watch.” When you are puzzled, — when you are troubled, when you do not know what to do, then may God help you to say, “I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” Before we can do any real service for God, we must first of all receive our commission from him. We cannot teach others properly unless we ourselves are taught by God, and his best servants are those who continue waiting on him so that they may receive from him the words which afterwards they are to speak in his name to the people. Habakkuk is a model for us in this respect. Troubled in heart, he resolves to set himself to watch his God, and to listen for the message he is afterwards to deliver.

4. We learn from him that the attitude of the Lord’s servant towards God is, first, an attentive attitude:“ I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me.” If we have a deaf ear towards our Lord, we must not marvel if he gives us also a dumb tongue. If we will not hear what God speaks, we may not expect to be able ourselves to speak in his name; or, if we do pour out a flood of words, yet we may not expect that they will be such as he will approve of and bless. Oh dear friends, if we would work for God in the right spirit, we must begin as Jesus did, of whom it was written in prophecy, long before he came to the earth, “The Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, so that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary: he awakens morning by morning, he awakens my ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back.” In the fulness of time, Jesus came, and taught to others what he had learned in secret; and, if we would teach others, we ourselves must first be taught by the Spirit of God. How much more we might know if we were only willing to listen to the Lord’s messages! There is, in the Word of God, a voice which is often inaudible because we are so engrossed with other things. There is, also, the voice of the Christian ministry which often speaks to us, but it is like the cry of one in a wilderness, and it is not heard by us. There is, too, a voice in God’s providence. How much the Lord says to his flock by every stroke of his rod, and by every blessing of his daily providence! There is a voice from every grave, — a message in every bereavement when friends are taken away. There are voices everywhere speaking to those whose ears are open. Above all, there is the blessed Spirit always waiting to communicate to us the things of God by that soft mysterious whisper which no one knows but those who are themselves spiritual, but which they know at once to be the very voice of God within their spirits. Brethren, we must be attentive; we must not allow a single sound from the Lord to escape us. Some men seem as if God must speak thunder and lightning before they will ever hear him; but his true children sit at his feet, so that they may catch the slightest movement of his lips, and not let a single syllable from the Lord fall to the ground. The attitude of the Christian worker must be one of attention.

5. But, next, it must be a patient attitude. Observe what Habakkuk says, “I will stand on my watch”; not merely, “I will be on my watch for a moment”; but, “I will take my place like a sentinel who remains on guard until his time of watching is over.” Then the prophet puts it again, “I will set myself on the tower,” — as if he took his position firmly and resolutely on the tower, there to stand, and not to stir until he had seen and heard what God the Lord would have him see and hear. Do you think, dear friends, that we are sufficiently resolved to know our Master’s will? Do we frequently enough get upstairs alone, and with our open Bibles search out what God would have us learn? And do we pray over the Word until we have wormed ourselves into the very heart of the truth, — until we have eaten our way into it, as the weevil eats its way through the nutshell, and then lives on and in the kernel? Do we do this? Do we set ourselves on the tower, determined that we will not go out to speak for the Lord until the Lord has spoken to us, lest we go on a fool’s errand, to deliver our own inventions, instead of proclaiming the message that comes from God himself?

6. Your attitude, my brother or my sister, if you are a servant of the Lord, is that of attention and patience.

7. To which I may add that it is often a solitary attitude:“ I will stand on my watch.” The church has gone to sleep, but “I will stand on my watch.” Like flocks of sheep they lie all around us, the multitudes of souls for whom we have to care; but there are still shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, to whom the glory of the Lord is often revealed when the sheep do not perceive it. The city lies wrapped in slumber, and no sound is heard among her ten thousand sleepers; but there is one who knows no sleep, nor gives slumber to his eyelids, for he is the appointed watchman of the night; and he stays on his tower, and sets himself in his place, firmly resolved that, until the morning breaks, there shall be someone to keep guard over the city. Well, sometimes, I say, that watchman has to be quite solitary. Oh brothers and sisters, it would be better for us if we had more solitude! It often becomes necessary for us because we cannot find kindred spirits that can watch with us a single hour. The higher you get up in the Church of God, the more solitary you will be. For the sheep, there are many companions; but even for an under-shepherd, there are very few. As for that Great Shepherd of the sheep, the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of souls, the Good Shepherd, you know that his most favoured disciples could not watch with him even for one hour, but he had to endure his terrible agony in Gethsemane alone; and such of his servants as he honours most will know best what is the meaning of Gethsemane, the olive press, and the solitude which often accompanies the stern watch that the faithful servant of God must keep. Never mind if all others around you say that you are hot-headed, and zealous, and enthusiastic, and foolish, and I do not know what else; say to yourself, “I will stand on my watch.” What if they should, think that you carry things much too far, and have too much religion, or are too consecrated? Reply, “I will set myself on the tower, and will still watch, for that is my business even if I must attend to it all alone.” The man who has God for his Companion has the best of company; and, he who is a solitary watcher for the Most High God shall one day stand amid those shining legions of angels, and himself shine out as the sun in the Kingdom of his Father. Expect, therefore, if you are a servant of the Lord, sometimes to have to watch alone, and, be thankful for that position if God honours you by calling you to occupy it.

8. Observe, further, that the attitude of the child of God who is called to be a prophet to his people — as I know that many of you are, — is one in which the mind must be entirely engrossed. The true servant of the Lord thinks of nothing else than this, — “I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and will watch to see what the Lord will say to me.” He is entirely taken up with that one matter. Many of you have your secular callings to follow; but, without neglecting them, you can still, in spirit, be watching and waiting to hear the voice of God; for God speaks to us not only when we are in the study, or kneeling in prayer by our bedside, but he has ways of talking with us while we are going along the road, and so he makes our hearts to burn within us. He can speak with us in the thick of the greatest throng; and, perhaps, some of us were never more conscious of the voice of God than amid the rushing of ten thousand spindles, or in the midst of the crowded street. At such times, the noise and turmoil of this busy world have not been able to drown out the gentle voice of God within our spirit. May you, beloved, be engrossed like this! If you intend to serve the Lord, give your whole soul to the learning of his truth and the hearing of what he has to say to you, so that you may afterwards be able to tell to others what you yourselves have been taught by God.

9. Observe, also, that the prophet was entirely submissive to the will of God. He put himself into this attitude, that he might hear whatever God should say to him, and that his only thought, all the while, should be, “What shall I answer when I am reproved?” We need to be as much as possible like clean white paper for God to write on. Our mind is often far too much occupied, and too prejudiced, to receive a clear impression of the will of the Lord. How many make up their mind concerning what they will see in a text, and so they never learn what the passage would teach them if it were allowed to speak freely to them. If you would serve God, say to your soul, “I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and I will give both my ears and all my heart to understand what God would have me know, and to learn what he would teach me.” May this be the happy privilege of us all!

10. The last remark I will make on this first point is, that the attitude of the Lord’s servant was eminently practical. The prophet did not watch and wait merely so that he might know the secrets of the future, or be able to prophesy, or show his wonderful knowledge. No; but he wanted to know what he should answer when he was reproved. He knew that, when he went out into the world, men would begin to reprove him for being a prophet at all; they would rebuke him for his zeal and his earnestness, and he waited so that he might have the right answer to give, with meekness and fear, to all who opposed themselves. That should be your wish and mine, beloved; for, if we serve God faithfully, we are sure to meet objectors. Well, if this opposition is only against us, it does not matter much; but, alas! sometimes their critical and cruel remarks are against the truth itself; and, worst of all, against our blessed Lord. In such a case, it is good to have something with which we can stop the mouths of the snarling dogs. It is a blessing to have heard God’s voice, for, if you repeat the message he speaks to you, even the echo of God’s voice will break the rocks in pieces, and cause the cedars of Lebanon to split in two. There is nothing that can stand against the Word of the Lord. In the twenty-ninth Psalm, David says, “The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty”; and, if we have heard that voice, and know how, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to echo its mighty tones, they will strike the objector dumb; and even when he hates the truth, he will still be compelled to feel what force there is in it. So the servant of the Lord says, “I will watch and wait to hear what God will say to me, for then I shall know what to answer when I am rebuked and reproached for the truth’s sake.”

11. This, then, is to be the attitude of the children of God. Get away to your watch-towers, brethren; get away to your tower by the Brook Jabbok, and wrestle with the angel there; get away to the top of Carmel, and put your head between your knees, and cry to the Lord until the heavens are covered with clouds, and the thirsty earth is refreshed with rain. “The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”; but those who do not hear God’s voice cannot effectively pray, for God will not hear their voice if they will not hear his. If we have been deaf to him, he will be deaf to us. The fellowship and communion necessary for prevailing prayer render it absolutely essential that we should first set ourselves to hear the voice of God, and then again it shall be said that the Lord listened to the voice of a man, for the man first listened to the voice of the Lord.

12. II. The second part of our subject is, THE WORK OF THE LORD’S SERVANT.

13. We have seen what his attitude was; the next verse tells us about his work: “The Lord answered me, and said, ‘Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, so that he may run who reads it.’ ” It was not long before the waiting prophet heard God speak; and if you and I wait on him, it will not be long before we hear something that will be worth our waiting for; and, especially, we shall receive plain directions concerning our duty.

14. Habakkuk was, first, to see the vision. The first name for a prophet was, “a seer.” You, my brother, cannot be a teller of the good news of salvation unless you are first a seer. Take care that you see well all that is to be seen. Use your eyes to the best advantage; and also to be able to see what God sets before you. It is curious how the different senses are mingled in these verses. Did you notice the expression in that first verse, “I will watch to see what he will say to me?” When God speaks to us, we can hear with our eyes as well as with our ears. There is an inner sense which sees the meaning of the Lord’s language, and the inner ear hears the very tones in which that meaning is expressed. So, the prophet was first to be a seer, he was to wait to see what God would say to him.

15. Then, next, he was to “write the vision”; that is, to make it known; and, beloved, when you and I have seen or heard anything which God has revealed to us, let us go and write it, or make it known by some other means. God has not put the treasure into the clay vessel merely for the vessel’s own sake, but that the treasure may later be poured out from it, that others may be enriched by it. You have not been privileged to see, merely to make your eyes glad, and to charm your soul; you have been permitted to see in order that you may make others see, so that you may go out and report what the Lord has allowed you to perceive. God does not usually favour his servants with visions so that they may keep them to themselves. Paul hid one that he saw for fourteen years, but he was obliged to let it out at last; and I suppose that, if he had had more visions, he would not have been able to keep that one concealed for so long. John no sooner became the seer of Patmos than he heard a voice that said to him, “Write.” He could not speak to others, for he was on an island where he was exiled from his fellows, but he could write, and he did; and, often, he who writes, addresses a larger audience than the man who merely uses his tongue. It is a happy thing when the tongue is aided by the pen of a ready writer, and so gets a wider sphere, and a more permanent influence than if it merely uttered certain sounds, and the words died away when the ear had heard them. The first thing which you have to do, if God has called you to serve him, is, after hearing what he has said to you, to make it known to someone else: “Write the vision.”

16. And take care, dear friends, that, in the spreading of truth, you use as permanent a means of doing so as you can. “Write the vision”; that is to say, if you cannot write with the pen, if you do not have that special gift, yet write it on men’s hearts. Do not merely speak it; but seek to reach the innermost soul of your fellow beings, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, write the truth there. May God help you not merely to sound it in their ears, but to write it on the fleshy tablets of their heart, and to leave the truth deeply inscribed on their memory! I have sometimes been greatly favoured in this way; indeed, it has often been the case, for I almost daily meet people who say, “We remember hearing you preach more than twenty years ago, and we remember what you said”; and they will quote something which they then heard. I remember visiting, in one of our hospitals, a man who had heard me years before; and he said to me, “While I was lying here, one night, I thought I heard the very tones of your voice”; and he told me some similes that I had used when he listened to me. I am glad to be successful in producing permanent impressions on my hearers; I wish I could be more so. Mr. Jay used to say that, in preaching, we must say things that will “strike and stick.” It is good when we can do so; and I urge you, who are the servants of the Lord, to take care that, when you teach the truth, you so teach it that it shall be permanently learned under your instruction. “Write the vision …… on tablets.”

17. Then the next duty of the servant of God is to “make it plain.” I have sometimes thought that certain ministers imagined that it was their duty to make the message elaborate, to go to the very bottom of the subject, and stir up all the mud they could find there, until you could not possibly see them, nor could they see their own way at all. I could not help, the other morning, comparing some preaching to a boy who was in front of me, one summer’s day, wanting a penny, and sweeping the crossing for me in such a way that he enveloped me in clouds of dust in order to clear my way! Have I not seen preachers do just the very same thing? They tell people all the difficulties they have discovered in the Bible, — which difficulties most of their hearers would never have heard about unless their ministers had told them, — and they raise a cloud of dust in order to make a pathway for a poor troubled soul! We would rather that they let the dust lie still, for we ourselves raise enough dust without their help.

18. “Write the vision, and make it plain.” I suggest that as a motto to you who preach in the open air, and to you who speak in the lodging-houses or anywhere else. “Make it plain.” It is amazing how plain we must make the gospel before some people will be able to understand it; they have no idea what we mean by many of the expressions that we use. The most common language among Christians is often a distinct dialect to worldlings; they cannot make head or tail of it. You and I, speaking together of our Christian experience, perfectly understand each other; but if we were to say the same things outside to the majority of the people, we might just as well preach to them in Dutch. If you have a loaf of bread, and you want to feed a hungry child with it, it is hopeless to try to put that loaf of bread inside the child just as it is. Break it up, brother, break it up as small as you ever can; and pour over it some of the nice warm milk of your own hearty love; and in that way the child and the loaf will come into contact before long. There is no way of getting many great truths in the lump into most people’s minds; we must break it up into small pieces; or, to use the words of the text, when we “write the vision,” we must “make it plain.”

19. Another important point is, to make it practical. I have heard this text misquoted a great many times, “that he who runs may read it.” Kindly look at the passage, and see whether that is correct. It does not say, “that he who runs may read it,” but it does say, “that he may run who reads it.” That is a different thing, and that is what we want to see. But I have known some people who have had the gospel delivered to them, and they have slept who heard it. There has been something about the prophet’s very tone, and voice, and manner, that has tended to fill the ear with somniferous influences. “Ah!” said one to me, “I cannot help believing in mesmerism, and so would you it you could see how our minister mesmerizes the people all around the gallery every Sunday. They can sleep soundly enough after he has been preaching for a little while.” Now, dear brethren, if we want to do any good to our fellow creatures, we must hear God’s voice ourselves, and that will not send us to sleep, but it will wake us up; and then we must go and tell the people very plainly what we have heard, and also tell it to them so earnestly “that he may run who reads it.” I believe that I could easily make some of you run if I were to take up a telegram from the table, and read, “Mr. So-and-so’s house is on fire, he is requested to hurry home as fast as possible.” Away he would go down the aisle as soon as the words were out of my lips. You see, that message is something that concerns him personally, something that may mean great peril to his property, so he runs who reads it, or hears it read; I wish I could always preach about the wrath to come in such a way that every unsaved man who heard me would take to his heels, and run for his life from the City of Destruction; or that I could so speak about the glories of heaven, and the preciousness of Christ, that men would immediately run to him, even to the Holy One of Israel, whom God has glorified. Let us always try to write on men’s hearts in a good running hand, so that he who reads the message may at once begin to run to escape from judgment, and to find a Saviour, and to enter into eternal life.

20. There, child of God, is your attitude; and here is your work.

21. III. Now, in the third place, the next verse brings out our difficulty; that is, THE DELAYING OF TRUTH: “for the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it delays, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.”

22. We preach a gospel whose chief glory lies in the future. The blessings which we proclaim have a most important bearing on the present, but the stress and emphasis of them relate to the future, and hence it is that, often, men reject our testimony because, to them, the time is not yet; or they doubt its truth, because they do not at once see the results produced which we foretell.

23. Brethren, every promise of God’s Word has its own appointed time of fulfilment; and every doctrine or privilege has its own allotted hour. There is an election of grace, but we shall not know all who are included in it until we shall meet the whole company of the faithful at the right hand of God. There is a redemption by blood, but the fulness of that redemption will not affect these mortal bodies until the trumpet of the resurrection has sounded out its mighty blast over land and sea. Then we shall see how Christ has redeemed the bodies as well as the souls of his chosen ones. Take any blessing that you please, and the same rule applies. Although there is much in the covenant of grace to be enjoyed today, there is much more that is yet to come. Still the servant of God is a prophet. He says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved”; — that is a prophecy. He says, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain you”; — that is a prophecy. He says, “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but remains for ever”; — that is a prophecy. He says, “The hour is coming, when all who are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation”; — that is a prophecy. And the testimony of Jesus is still the spirit of prophecy, and each prophecy has an appointed time when it will be fulfilled.

24. And, further, it is absolutely certain to be fulfilled. There is no word which God’s servant properly speaks for his Lord which will not come true. You have not followed cunningly devised fables; and, therefore, you need not speak your Master’s message as though you were old wives rehearsing the gossip of a country village. You are telling what God the Holy Spirit has revealed in the Word, and applied to your own soul; therefore, proclaim it boldly. Now, then, you are ambassadors for Christ, as though God beseeched sinners by you; and you are to go and pray for them, in Christ’s place, to be reconciled to God. Do you not see, dear brethren, the position you are to take up? May you be helped to take it up! You are a prophet, and your prophecy has a time for fulfilment, and it is absolutely certain to come to pass.

25. But, sometimes, it apparently delays. You tell men of the blessedness that comes from true religion, and they say, “There is such and such a believer who is very sorrowful.” “Oh, yes!” you reply, “in his case, the vision is delaying.” “There is such and such a child of God who does not enjoy the light of the Lord’s countenance.” Just so; we did not say that he always would, but we do say that he will one day walk in the light. “Ah!” one says, “I have been seeking the Lord for years, but I have not obtained peace and comfort yet.” Just so; he did not promise that you should obtain the blessing immediately; it may be that, for a while, you shall “walk in darkness, and see no light,” to test your faith. But, though the vision may seem to delay, it will not really delay; it will come in God’s good time. Oh, how often have you and I, struggling to live by faith and to glorify God, gotten into a maze, and we have said, “We shall get out of it”; but we did not get out of it for a long time. “Oh!” we have said, “surely God will deliver us”; yet, for a while, he did not deliver us; we even got into still worse trouble than before; and then the arch-enemy began to whisper, —

    The Lord hath forsaken thee quite;
    Thy God will be gracious no more; —

and what little faith we had, began to waver, for we said, “We did not think that we should be tried like this; we thought we should come out of the darkness very much sooner than this.” But now, brother, in looking back on those past exercises and experiences, what do you say about them? Did the Lord delay, after all? “Well,” you reply, “he delayed as I should like him always to delay.”

    He hid the purpose of his grace,
       To make it better known.

“He allowed the clouds to collect more thickly, to give all the heavier shower of blessing eventually. He did permit me to begin to sink, he did let me nearly go down; but it was only to make me know how weak I was, so that I might all the more firmly cling to his hand when he pulled me out of the waves, and told me to stand still by his side.”

26. I can personally say, at the present moment, that I should not like to have had one ache less, or one depression of spirit less, or one affliction less of any kind. I would rather not have any more, — as everyone says; but yet I am glad that my “rathers” count for nothing with God, and that I do not have any permission or need to manage for myself. How much better everything is arranged by him! As for the past, it is all right; and, blessed be his holy name, it has been so right that it could not be better. It has not only been good, but it has been better; yes, it has been best of all. So shall every child of God find it. You may say, “This life of faith is hard. This hanging on for so long, almost by one’s eyelashes, — will it not soon come to an end?” The end will come at the right time.

    God never is before his time:
       He never is too late.

Remember how Israel went out of Egypt at the appointed time. It is written, “And it came to pass the very same day, that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies,” and on that very same day when infinite wisdom and infinite grace shall know that it is better for you to be delivered, you shall be delivered to the praise of the glory of God’s grace.

27. IV. The fourth verse gives us our last point; but I will only just hint at what I would have said if there had been more time. THIS DELAYING OF TRUTH BECOMES A TESTING OF THE PEOPLE, because that gospel, which we are to tell, does not produce all its fruit at once in those who hear us.

28. What then? Why, this is the winnowing fan, this is the sieve, this is the way by which God discerns between the righteous and the wicked. As for the wicked, man, he says, “I do not see any present good coming out of religion. Look at that poor, miserable, sighing, groaning, poverty-stricken Christian over there; what good has it ever done to him? I do not believe in it.” Just so; now we know who and what you are, for our text says, “His soul which is lifted up is not upright in him.” He is so proud that he judges God’s Word, and condemns it. He will not have Christ to reign over him; he will not believe God; he will not wait for God; and the reason is, that his soul is not upright in him. Follow him home, and you shall see, in his life, that his soul is not upright in him. The man who judges God is one whom God will judge, and who shall not be able to stand in the day of judgment. I will not say that every man who rejects Christ is necessarily immoral; but I will say that, in nine cases out of ten, it is so; and that, when you trace an infidel’s life, there is something there that accounts for his infidelity. He wants a covering in his unbelief for something that he has good need to cover. There is something about his daily walk that does not agree with holiness, some darling sin that spoils his hope of being saved as a Christian; so he tries, as far as he ever can, to get a hope out of falsehood, out of contradicting God. “His heart is not upright in him.”

29. But how does this test discern the righteous? Why like this: “The just shall live by his faith.” You know that a Christian man, a holy man, a just man, a justified man, talks like this: “Yes, if God has spoken anything, it is true. If God has said that, it will be fulfilled. I will wait. Troubles may multiply; cares may come like a deluge; but I will wait. I am sure that God is true, and I will wait and watch for the unfolding of his purposes. Though he kills me, yet I will trust in him; I will never give up reliance on him.” Now, that man is a just man, and that is the man who will live. It is always good when these three things go together — righteousness, faith, life. They ought not to be found apart; they should always be together. “The just man” — that is, the righteous man — “shall live.” Ah! there is no true life without that righteousness. “Shall live by his faith,” — and there is no true life without faith, and no true righteousness without faith. These three go together; may we all have them, and may it be your joy and mine to keep on telling to others what God has revealed to us, so that we may gather out his own believing people, his elect and redeemed ones, while the graceless will, perhaps, despise and hate what they may see, and so will ripen for the flames of hell! May God grant, by his grace, that they may yet be delivered, for our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Hab 2:1-11}

1. I will stand on my watch, and set myself on the tower, and will watch to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

“I shall look to God, and I shall also look to myself. There shall be an expectation as I gaze upward to my Lord, and there shall also be an examination as I look within at my empty, guilty, good-for-nothing self.”

2. And the LORD answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain on tablets, so that he may run who reads it.

The prophets were accustomed to write their messages on wax tablets, and the Lord told Habakkuk to write what he had seen. God would have both his law and his gospel plainly revealed to men, so that they might know and understand his will. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We use great plainness of speech”; and the Lord would have all his servants do likewise. It is not for us to bury the gospel under a mass of fine words, but to proclaim it in the simplest and clearest possible language; for it is not the power of human words that God blesses, but the truth itself as it is applied to the heart by his Spirit.

3. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it delays, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not delay.

Is that a contradiction, — “Though it delays, …… it will not delay?” No; to us, it appears to delay; but, in God’s way of reckoning, it does not really delay. To our impatient spirits, it seems long in coming; but God knows that it will not be a moment beyond the appointed time.

4. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

This grand text was quoted by Paul when he wrote his Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, and the Hebrews. It proves that Old Testament saints understood New Testament life. David and Abraham lived by faith, even as Paul and Peter and the other apostles did.

5. Yes also, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, neither stays at home, who enlarges his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathers to himself all nations, and heaps to him all people:

This was spoken concerning the Chaldeans, an ambitious nation so extremely greedy that it seemed as if the whole world would not be large enough to satisfy their voracious appetite. Their great kings enlarged their mouths like Gehenna, and they seemed as insatiable as the very appetite of death itself. They heaped up nation on nation to make a huge empire for themselves.

6. Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his! how long? and to him who loads himself with many pledges!’

What is said of ambition may also be said of covetousness. What an idle task it is for a man to go on perpetually hoarding, — heaping together more than he can possibly enjoy himself, as if it were made for no one but for one man, and he needs to grasp all the wealth of the world. There is scope enough for the loftiest ambition when you seek the nobler joys of grace; there is room for a sacred covetousness when you “covet earnestly the best gifts”; but, in every other respect, may these two things — ambition and covetousness — be always thrust far from us!

7. Shall they not rise up suddenly who shall bite you, and awake who shall vex you, and you shall be for booties to them?

So it happened to Chaldea that the nations, which they had plundered, eventually grew strong enough to take vengeance on them, and to plunder them in their turn. Usually, when men do wrong, it comes home to them sooner or later. The chickens they hatch come home to roost; at night, at any rate, if not before. Towards the end of life, a man begins to gather the fruit of his doings; or if he does not reap it in this world, certainly he will in the world to come.

8, 9. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all who live in it. Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!

He imagines, when he gets rich by oppressing others, that he will himself rise out of harm’s way. He says that he will make the best opportunity certain, he who has plenty of gold imagines that he will be able to preserve himself from sorrow; but this is what God has to say about that matter: —

10, 11. You gave shameful counsel to your house by cutting off many people, and have sinned against your soul. For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

These Chaldeans were great builders, as we know by the vast ruins that still remain; and most of their buildings were erected by labour exacted from the people whom they oppressed. They received no wages for their work; so even today, from the ruins, the stone cries out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber answers it. Let all men know that, sooner or later, God will execute justice even on the greatest nations. If they will be destroyers, they shall be destroyed. Their evil policy shall, eventually, sweep them away. “There is something in the world,” one says, “that makes for righteousness.” Indeed there is, only it is more than something; it is God himself who is always working in all things towards the vindication of his own righteous and holy law.

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Attributes of God — Lovingkindness” 196}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Patience and Resignation — ‘Yet What I Shall Choose I Wot Not’ ” 700}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “The Christian, Courage and Confidence — Be Of Good Courage” 685}

God the Father, Attributes of God
196 — Lovingkindness
 1 Awake, my soul, in joyful lays,
   And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise:
   He justly claims a song from me,
   His loving kindness, oh, how free!
2 He saw me ruin’d in the fall,
   Yet loved me, notwithstanding all;
   He saved me from my lost estate,
   His loving kindness, oh, how great!
3 Though numerous hosts of mighty foes,
   Though earth and hell my way oppose,
   He safely leads my soul along,
   His loving kindness, oh, how strong.
4 When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
   Has gather’d thick and thunder’d loud,
   He near my soul has always stood,
   His loving-kindness changes not.
5 Often I feel my sinful heart
   Prone from my Jesus to depart;
   But though I have him oft forgot,
   His loving kindness changes not.
6 Soon shall I pass the gloomy vale,
   Soon all my mortal powers must fail;
   Oh may my last expiring breath
   His loving kindness sing in death!
7 Then let me mount and soar away
   To the bright world of endless day;
   And sing with rapture and surprise,
   His loving-kindness in the skies.
                     Samuel Medley, 1787.

The Christian, Patience and Resignation
700 — “Yet What I Shall Choose I Wot Not”
1 Lord, it belongs not to my care,
      Whether I die or live;
   To love and serve thee is my share,
      And this thy grace must give.
2 If life be long I will be glad,
      That I may long obey:
   If short — yet why should I be sad
      To soar to endless day?
3 Christ leads me through no darker rooms
      Than he went through before;
   He that into God’s kingdom comes,
      Must enter by this door.
4 Come, Lord, when grace hath made me meet
      Thy blessed face to see;
   For if thy work on earth be sweet,
      What will thy glory be?
5 Then I shall end my sad complaints,
      And weary, sinful days;
   And join with the triumphant saints,
      That sing Jehovah’s praise.
6 My knowledge of that life is small,
      The eye of faith is dim;
   But ‘tis enough that Christ knows all,
      And I shall be with him.
                        Richard Baxter, 1681.

The Christian, Courage and Confidence
685 — Be Of Good Courage
1 Your harps, ye trembling saints,
      Down from the willows take:
   Loud to the praise of love divine,
      Bid every string awake.
2 Though in a foreign land,
      We are not far from home;
   And nearer to our house above
      We every moment come.
3 His grace will to the end
      Stronger and brighter shine;
   Nor present things, nor things to come,
      Shall quench the spark divine.
4 The people of his choice,
      He will not cast away;
   Yet do not always here expect
      On Tabor’s mount to stay.
5 When we in darkness walk,
      Nor feel the heavenly flame;
   Then is the time to trust our God,
      And rest upon his name.
6 Soon shall our doubts and fears
      Subside at his control;
   His loving kindness shall break through
      The midnight of the soul.
7 Wait till the shadows flee;
      Wait thy appointed hour,
   Wait till the Bridegroom of thy soul
      Reveals his sovereign power.
8 Tarry his leisure then,
      Although he seem to stay,
   A moment’s intercourse with him
      Thy grief will overpay.
9 Blest is the man, oh God,
      That stays himself on thee,
   Who waits for thy salvation, Lord,
      Shall thy salvation see.
                  Augustus M. Toplady, 1772.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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