“Are you not.” Here in Habakkuk 1:12 the dialogue shifts back to Habakkuk speaking back to God (see commentary on Hab. 1:2).
“We will not die.” Habakkuk hears what God is saying—that the Babylonians are coming to attack Judah—and he does not comprehend it, just as God had said he wouldn’t in Habakkuk 1:5. We can understand that Habakkuk would have a hard time comprehending why God could not somehow find a way to protect His people, His holy city Jerusalem, and His temple, and not see them destroyed. At this point in the narrative, Habakkuk believes that God would protect His people so the Babylonians would not kill them, and therefore says, “we will not die.” But the people of Judah had turned from God, and He could not protect them from the consequences of their sin. The Babylonian attack was terrible. Thousands died as the Babylonians destroyed the cities of Judah, killed, raped, pillaged, and eventually burned Jerusalem and God’s temple to the ground.
We must not prooftext this sentence, “We will not die,” and try to make it mean that people never really die. That is not the context of what Habakkuk was saying. We must not get fooled into believing the first lie the Devil ever told, ‘You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). People do die, and are dead in every way, awaiting the resurrection and their judgment by God. [For more on the fact that dead people are really dead, and that their soul does not live on, see Appendix 4, “The Dead are Dead.” For more on the soul, and that it does not live on after a person dies, see Appendix 7, “Usages of ‘Soul’”].