“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! You have devised shame for your house by cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life. For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork respond.” (Habakkuk 2:9-11)
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 second stanza, which was God’s second 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. The second sin was exploitation.
Exploitation is taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes. Synonyms include misuse, abuse, mistreatment, manipulation and corruption. This was the sin by the Babylonians toward their victims. They abused conquered nations by stripping them of their natural resources and also relocating other nation’s children for indoctrination into Babylonian culture and religion.
The Babylonians would not be safe from God’s judgment. His wrath would come upon them: swift and true.
Dr. John MacArthur writes, “The second charge, of premeditated exploitation borne out of covetousness, was a continuation of vv. 6–8. The walls of their houses, built with stones and timbers taken from others, testified against them (v. 11). Wanting to protect themselves from any recriminations their enemies might seek to shower upon them, the Chaldeans had sought to make their cities impregnable and inaccessible to the enemy (cf. Isa. 14:13–14).” However, all this resulted in the Babylonians shaming their own souls.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “A house built of tortured bodies and stark skeletons is not too habitable. In the fray to erect a monument, they constructed their own shameful (cf. “shame” in v. 16) mausoleum. Death became their due.”
One of the most masterful accounts of 20th century Nazi Germany, and its leader Adolf Hitler, was written by William Shirer and entitled The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer chronicles the movement from the birth of Hitler to the end of World War II in 1945. Shirer’s account parallels the biblical recalling of the rise and fall of ancient Babylon and all nations and peoples who would set themselves up against God.
Do not be discouraged when evil seemingly reigns. God is on His throne and always will be. Evil nations come and go but the Lord is eternal.
May the LORD’s truth and grace be found here.
Soli deo Gloria!