“Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.” (Habakkuk 2:5)
In contrast to the righteous who lives by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4), the wickedness of the Babylonians is given a climatic, summary description prior to the LORD’s pronouncement, through the prophet, of five woes. The images God conveyed to describe the nation was not pretty and was not supposed to be. The main idea was that Babylon was greedy.
Greed has often been portrayed in popular culture as a good thing. The more you have, the better off you are. However, one psychologist commented that, “Greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.”
Ecclesiastes 5:10-12 says, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.”
I Timothy 6:9-10 says, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”
“Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest.” The ancient Babylonians were betrayed by their love for wine. They were addicted to it. In fact, Daniel 5 records that the ultimate defeat of Babylon was preceded on the very night of their destruction by a huge and riotous banquet. Proverbs 23:31-32 says, “Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.” The insatiable arrogance and haughtiness of the Babylonians was compared to a wine besotted drunkard.
“His greed is as wide as Sheol; like death he has never enough.” The greedy man, or in this context nation, is never satisfied with what it has. He, or it, always wants more. This greed, like death, is never satisfied and ultimately proved to be Babylon’s undoing. See Proverbs 1:12; 27:20; 30:15-16.
He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples.” Babylon was likened to a thief. It took what was rightfully not its own. However, there would be a day of reckoning. Dr. John Walvoord comments that, “Like some hideous monster, the grave devours the nations. Likewise, Babylon opened wide her insatiable jaws to devour all peoples. But this evil nation would not continue unpunished. God’s judgment would fall!”
Habakkuk 2:5 would serve as the basis for a series of five woes (2:6-20) which God would pronounce upon the proud and arrogant nation.
God’s word forbids greed or covetousness of any kind (Exodus 20:17). Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
Take a moment to examine your inner self and see if there is anything you covet and for which you desire. Repent of it daily and saturate your mind and soul with Scripture.
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!