“Shall not all these take up their taunt against him, with scoffing and riddles for him, and say, “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own— for how long? — and loads himself with pledges!” Will not your debtors suddenly arise, and those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them. Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.” (Habakkuk 2:5-7)
The LORD revealed to Habakkuk a series of woes which the prophet was not only to receive but also prophesy to the people. The “five woes” is structured in five stanzas with three verses contained in each stanza. This structural form is reminiscent of the Fourth Servant Song of Yahweh (Isaiah 52:13-53:12) which we have previously studied.
Today’s text contains the first stanza, which was God’s first announcement of woe upon the Babylonians. Each woe contained a particular sin for which God judged the Chaldeans as guilty. The first sin was extortion.
Extortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats. In the Babylonians case, they not only extorted money from conquered nations, they also extorted people (Daniel 1). The irony was that the nations which the Babylonians plundered would eventually plunder them. Those who the Babylonians frightened would frighten them. The truth of Galatians 6:7 resonates here when it says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
John Calvin writes, “Whatever therefore the Prophet subjoins to the end of the chapter tends to confirm his doctrine, which we have already explained—that the just shall live by faith. We cannot indeed be fully convinced of this except we hold firmly to this principle—that God cares for us and that the whole world is governed by his providence; so that it cannot be but that he will at length check the wicked, and punish their sins and deliver the innocent who call upon him. Unless this be our conviction, there can be no benefit derived from our faith.”
As we watch world events unfold through the medium of 24 news channels, it can be to believe that the world is seemingly out of control. However, we must always remember that God is in control and He will do what is right in punishing the wicked.
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!