Habakkuk 2:3

Habakkuk 2:3

For the vision [is] yet for an appointed time
Not the present vision only, but vision or prophecy in general: it was a doubt that arose in the minds of the prophet and other good men, upon the notice given that the Chaldeans would be raised up to the destruction of the Jews; that then the law of God would cease, his worship would not continue; vision and prophecy would be no more; it would be all over with the doctrine of the law and the prophets: now in answer to this, and to remove this doubt, they are assured that vision or prophecy should "yet", or still, continue, and even "to the appointed time"; the time fixed for the continuance of it, notwithstanding the people of the Jews should be carried captive into another land: and accordingly so it was; there were prophets, as Daniel and Ezekiel, in the time of the captivity; and, after it, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi; yea, the law and the prophets were until John; for vision and prophecy were to be sealed up by the Messiah, and not before; see ( Luke 16:16 ) ( Daniel 9:24 ) it was true indeed with respect to the present vision or prophecy concerning the Messiah, that that was not to be fulfilled presently; there was some considerable time first to elapse; there was a time appointed for the accomplishment of it, and it would remain till that time, and then be most surely fulfilled; which would be before the sceptre departed from Judah, while the second temple was yet standing, and when Daniel's seventy weeks, or four hundred and ninety years, were come; which were the limited, determined, and appointed time for the Messiah's coming, the time appointed of the Father, the fulness of time; so there was an appointed time for his coming to take vengeance on the Jewish nation, for their rejection of him, to which the apostle applies these words, ( Hebrews 10:37 ) and also for his spiritual coming, to visit his people in a gracious way; there is a set time to favour Zion and her children; as well as there is a day fixed for his second coming, or coming to judgment. But at the end it shall speak, and not lie;
or rather, "he shall speak" F25; and so in the following clauses it should be rendered, not "it", but "he"; and so the apostle has taught us to interpret it of a person, and not a thing, ( Hebrews 10:37 ) that is, "at the end" of the time appointed, or at the end of the Jewish state, both civil and ecclesiastic, the Messiah should appear, as he did, which is called the end of the world, ( 1 Corinthians 10:11 ) ( Hebrews 10:26 ) when a new world began, the world to come, the Gospel dispensation, of which Christ is said to be the Father, in the Greek version of ( Isaiah 9:6 ) see ( Hebrews 2:5 ) and being come, he shall "speak"; or, as it may be rendered, "at the end thereof" shall be "the speaker", or "preacher" F26; that shall publish and proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel; and this agrees with Christ, the Logos, or Word of God, the great Prophet that should be raised up in the church, the teacher sent of God, the Wonderful Counsellor, and faithful witness; who spoke out the whole mind and will of God; published the everlasting Gospel; delivered out the doctrines of grace and truth; and spoke such words of grace as never man did, and with such power and authority as the Scribes and Pharisees did not. Some render the words, "and he shall break forth as the morning" F1; so the word is used in ( Song of Solomon 2:17 ) ( 4:6 ) and so the Septuagint version, "he shall arise at the end"; like the rising sun: this agrees with Christ, the day spring from on high, and whose coming is said to be as the morning, ( Luke 1:78 ) ( 2 Samuel 23:4 ) ( Hosea 6:3 ) and when he should thus appear, and exercise his prophetic office, he should "not lie"; this is the character of God himself, as opposed to a mere man, who is subject to lying and deceit; and suits well with Christ, who is truly God, and not a mere man; and answers to his character in prophecy and fact, that there was no guile in his mouth and lips, ( Isaiah 53:4 ) ( 1 Peter 2:22 ) and fitly describes him as a preacher, who is truth itself; taught the way of God in truth; spoke the word of truth, the Gospel of our salvation; and no lie is of the truth; and who is infallible in all his doctrines, and does not and cannot deceive any; all his words are to be depended upon as faithful and true. Though it tarry, wait for it;
or "though he tarry, wait for him"; not that he really would or did tarry; but he might seem to do so, not coming so soon as the Old Testament saints expected, and as they wished for and desired; it was a long time from the first promise of him; and sometimes the saints were ready to give it up, and their hearts to sink and faint, because it was seemingly deferred. This shows that this prophecy does not respect the Babylonish captivity; for that had no seeming delay, but, as soon as ever the seventy years were up, there was a deliverance from it; but the Messiah's coming was long expected, and seemed to be deferred, and the patience of the saints was almost wore out; but they are here encouraged, when this was the case, still to wait for him, as good old Simeon and others did, about the time of his coming; and so his spiritual and second coming should be waited patiently for, though they may seem to be delayed. Because it will surely come, it will not tarry;
or "for he that is to come", or "is coming, will come F2, and not tarry"; beyond the appointed time. This is a periphrasis of the Messiah; for, being so often spoken of as to come, it became a description of him, "he that is to come"; see ( Matthew 11:3 ) and as it was foretold he would come, so assuredly he would come, and not stay a moment longer than the time appointed of the Father; in which fulness of time God sent him, and he came, ( Galatians 4:3 Galatians 4:4 ) . The person here prophesied of is not Jeremiah, as Jarchi, but the Messiah; and this is acknowledged by some Jewish writers, ancient and modern; and removes the doubt and objection that might arise from the Chaldeans coming upon the Jews, and carrying them captive, as if the promise of the Messiah would fail, whereas it would not. In the Talmud F3, they say,

``God does not renew his world till after seven thousand years; another says five thousand. R. Nathan says, this Scripture penetrates and descends into the abyss; i.e. fixes no particular time; "the vision is for an appointed time"; not as our Rabbins, who inquire the meaning of a time, and times, and half a time; what then is meant, "but at the end it shall speak", and "not lie?" Let them burst that compute the times, who used to say when the time comes, and he cometh not, he will never come; but wait for him, as it is said, "if he tarry, wait for him": perhaps you will say, we wait, but he does not wait; this may be an instruction to you what he says, "therefore the Lord waiteth to be gracious"''
Maimonides says F4, their twelfth fundamental article of faith is, the days of the Messiah; that is, to believe, and be firmly persuaded, that he will come, nor will he tarry; "if he tarry, wait for him": though, he observes, this Scripture does not fix the certain time; nor is it to be so expounded, so as to gather from thence the exact time of his coming. This they do not choose to own, though it does, because the time is long ago elapsed. Abarbinel F5 owns that this vision is different from that in the preceding verse ( Habakkuk 2:2 ) , which concerns the second temple, but this another redemption; and would have it that the words may be explained thus, he that shall come will come at the time appointed, which is mentioned; and, after his coming, the King Messiah shall not tarry from coming to redeem you; which, though a wrong sense, shows his conviction of the prophecy belonging to the Messiah. So Abendana F6 says, our Rabbins understand this, "at the end it shall speak", of the end of our redemption from this captivity in which we now are; and in this way it appears right to explain it, for the prophet was complaining of the prosperity of Nebuchadnezzar; and the Lord answers him, that he should write the vision of the destruction of Babylon, which should be at the end of seventy years; and said, do not wonder that I prolong to Babylon seventy years, for "yet the vision is for an appointed time": as if he should say, yet there is a vision for times afar off, "and at the end it shall speak": in all which there are plain traces of the sense the ancient synagogue put on this text, though now perverted, to favour their hypothesis of the Messiah being yet to come and save them.
FOOTNOTES:

F25 (xpyw) "idque ille loquetur", Castalio.
F26 "Praeco erit in fine", Cocceius; "et praeco aderit in fine", Van Till.
F1 (kai anatelei) , Sept.
F2 (aby ab yk) "quia veniens veniet", V. L.; "veniendo veniet", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Van Till, Burkius.
F3 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 97. 2.
F4 In Pocock. Porta Mosis, p. 176.
F5 Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 64. 1.
F6 Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc. Vid. Caphtor Uperah, fol. 6. 4. & 45. 1. 2.
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