Habakkuk 2:14-The Earth Will Be Filled with the Knowledge of the Glory of the Lord
Habakkuk 2:13 Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (NIV)
Habakkuk 2:13 “Behold, does it not in fact originate from the decree of the Lord ruling over the armies that the peoples are working hard in exchange for the fire of God’s judgment so that the nations are exhausting themselves for absolutely nothing? 14 For the earth will be filled with knowing the Lord’s glory experientially just as the waters fill the sea.” (My translation)
The Lord, God of Israel in Habakkuk 2:13 continues His 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.
This response began in Habakkuk 2:2 and ends in Habakkuk 2:20.
Habakkuk 2:2-20 presents the Lord’s decision to judge the Babylonian empire in the future for their unrepentant sinful behavior.
Specifically, He will judge them because of their evil treatment of those nations they conquered in the Mediterranean and Mesopotamian regions of the world at the end of the seventh century B.C. and at the beginning of the sixth century B.C.
Now, we come to Habakkuk 2:14, which is composed of a causal clause and a comparative clause.
The former asserts that the earth will be filled with knowing the Lord’s glory experientially while the latter asserts that the waters cover the sea.
This verse presents the reason for the emphatic declaration implied by the rhetorical question in Habakkuk 2:13.
The latter we noted earlier is emphatically asserting that the Lord ruling over the armies has sovereignly decreed that the peoples of the earth are working hard in exchange for the fire of God’s judgment so that the nations are exhausting themselves for absolutely nothing.
Thus, this declaration is asserting that the Lord will judge the nations of the earth for their unrepentant, sinful behavior.
Now, here in Habakkuk 2:14, the Lord asserts that the earth will be filled with knowing the glory of the Lord experientially like the waters covering the seas.
This assertion speaks of the millennial reign of Jesus Christ on planet earth and so therefore, the causal function of this word indicates that the Lord will judge the nations “because” He will establish His kingdom on the earth.
This statement in Habakkuk 2:14 speaks of the future millennial bodily reign of Jesus Christ on planet earth since it has never been fulfilled in history that the earth was filled with people knowing the Lord’s glory experientially as the waters cover the sea.
However, both the Old and New Testament prophecy that He will reign in Jerusalem bodily for a thousand years as king of not only Israel but also the king over all the nations on planet earth.
The Lord’s First Advent did not fill this prophecy in Habakkuk 2:14 since only a small remnant of those who believed in Him possessed a personal experiential knowledge of Him.
The majority in Israel rejected Him and the rest of the inhabitants of the world did not know about Him until His apostles and disciples spread the message about Him in the gospel regarding the significance of His death, resurrection, ascension and session at the right hand of the Father.
The reference “glory” here in Habakkuk 2:14 is the Hebrew noun kā·ḇôḏ (כָּבוֹד) which refers to the manifestation of the personal presence of the Lord Jesus Christ to the inhabitants of planet earth during His millennial reign.
The proper noun yhwh, “the Lord” is the covenant-keeping personal name of God and is used here in connection with His covenant relationship with the nation of Israel and in particular the remnant of Judah.
Specifically, it is used in connection with Habakkuk’s covenant relationship to God.
Thus, it also expresses God’s sovereignty over not only the nation of Israel, or the northern kingdom of Israel or the southern kingdom of Judah but also it expresses His sovereignty over each and every nation on the earth, which He will exercise during His millennial reign on planet earth.
The verb yā·ḏǎʿ (יָדַע) in Habakkuk 2:14 speaks of the inhabitants of planet earth “possessing a personal, experiential knowledge” of the Lord’s glory.
This is indicated by the fact that the word speaks of personally encountering the Lord’s glory, i.e. His personal presence through the process of fellowship with Him and being affected by this encounter in that the inhabitants of planet earth gain a practical wisdom from this encounter and more of the character of the Lord.
For this to take place, the inhabitants of planet earth would have to be regenerated through faith in the Lord as their Savior since the Scriptures teach that only those who are regenerated through faith in Him have the capacity to possess an experiential knowledge of Him.
People will have an experiential knowledge of Him during His millennial reign because the Scriptures teach that at His Second Advent which ushers in His millennial reign, He will order the elect angels to remove all unregenerate Gentile and Jews (cf. Matt 25).
Thus, leaving only those Jews and Gentiles who accept Him as Savior and who survive the judgments of the seventieth week of Daniel.
The Scriptures teach that there will be a national regeneration and restoration of the nation of Israel at His Second Advent.
In contrast to His First Advent where only a small remnant of Jews believed in Him the majority of Jews will accept Him as their Savior (cf. Rom. 11:25-27; Zech 12).
So therefore, both Jew and Gentile believers will possess an experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ during His millennial reign because they will experience fellowship with Him in His personal presence just as His apostles and disciples during His First Advent.
This personal, experiential knowledge will be the result of the instruction that these people will receive personally from the Lord Jesus (Is. 2:2-3; 12:3-6; Jer. 3:14-15; Mic. 4:2).
Possessing an experiential knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is equivalent to experiencing eternal life and fellowship with Him.
Like church age believers today, regenerate Jew and Gentiles during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ will experience fellowship with the Lord because of His finished work on the cross and His resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father.
Fellowship with God and their fellow believer is based upon their union and identification with Jesus Christ in His crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and session at the right hand of the Father.
Now, this statement in Habakkuk 2:13 is based upon the prophetic declaration recorded in Isaiah 11:9, which closes Isaiah’s description of the millennial kingdom.
Isaiah 11:9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (NIV)
This prophetic declaration in Habakkuk 2:14 that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord echoes Numbers 14:21, Psalm 72:19 and Isaiah 6:3.
Numbers 14:21 Nevertheless, as surely as I live and as surely as the glory of the Lord fills the whole earth. (NIV)
Psalm 72:19 Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen. (NIV)
Isaiah 6:3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” (NIV)
This fulfillment of this prophetic declaration in Habakkuk 2:14 and these passages will fulfill one of the unconditional promises of the New Covenant, namely, the knowledge of the Lord will be universal on planet earth.
Jeremiah 31:34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (NIV)
Therefore, Habakkuk 2:14, Numbers 14:21, Psalm 72:19, Isaiah 6:3, 11:9 and Jeremiah 31:34 reveal that there will be a final judgment of the nations for their unrepentant wicked behavior since every unregenerate person must be removed from the earth and repopulated with regenerate people who obey the Lord in order for the earth to be filled with an experiential knowledge of the Lord’s glory.
Unrepentant, unregenerate human beings must be removed from planet earth and replaced with regenerate human beings who obey the Lord’s commands and prohibitions in order for the earth to be filled with knowing the Lord’s glory in an experiential sense.
The seven seal, trumpet and bowl judgments of Revelation 6-18 culminating in the Second Advent of Jesus Christ will accomplish this since the Scriptures teach that at His Second Advent, Jesus Christ will imprison Satan and the fallen angels for a thousand years.
He will also order the removal of every unregenerate Jew and Gentile who has survived the judgments of the seventieth week of Daniel.
So this judgment of the nations of the earth who are deceived by sin and Satan will usher in the millennial reign of Jesus Christ.