Posts belonging to Category Habakkuk



Blogging with Habakkuk (15) – How to Lose It All

(Part 15 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 2:15-20

We have looked at the first three woes from the taunt song in Hab. 2:6-20.

1) Theft (verses 6-8)
    – The sin: Stealing from others to gain wealth for yourself
    – God’s judgment: You will lose all that you have taken

2) Injustice (verses 9-11)
    – The sin: Treating others unjustly to gain security for yourself
    – God’s judgment: You will forfeit your life

3) Violence (verses 12-14)
    – The sin: Hurting others to gain power for yourself
    – God’s judgment: All your efforts will come to nothing

Today we will look at the final two woes.

4) Exploitation (verses 15-17)

    – The sin: Taking advantage of others to gain pleasure for yourself

The fourth woe is found in verses 15-17 and deals with the sin of exploitation. Look at verse 15: “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.” (Habakkuk 2:15)

The sin here is identified as taking advantage of others in order to gain pleasure for yourself. The specific example given is that of encouraging someone to get drunk so that you can take sexual advantage of him or her. Sadly, this still takes place in our day and age, whether through alcohol or other means. There’s been a lot in the news in recent years about date rape drugs such as rohypnol, GHB and ketamine. Other examples of exploiting others for your own pleasure include sexual abuse and pornography.

Exploitation does not have to be sexual. Gambling casinos take advantage of poor people’s hopes in order to line their own pockets. Drug dealers take advantage of people’s addictions in order to benefit themselves.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (14) – How to Lose It All

(Part 14 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 2:9-14

Yetserday we began looking at the taunt song against Babylon found in Habakkuk 2:6-20. We saw that the taunt song contains five woes against Babylon. Each woe first identifies a specific sin, and then pronounces God’s judgment upon that sin. Yesterday we looked at the first of these five woes dealing with the sin of theft.

1) Theft (verses 6-8)
    – The sin: Stealing from others to gain wealth for yourself
    – God’s judgment: You will lose all that you have taken

Now we will look at the second and third woes:

2) Injustice (verses 9-11)

    – The sin: Treating others unjustly to gain security for yourself

The second woe is found in verses 9-11 and deals with the sin of injustice. Look at verse 9: “Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!” (Habakkuk 2:9)

The sin here is identified as treating others unjustly in order to gain security for yourself. The phrase “to set his nest on high” is a picture of an eagle making its nest high and secure in the rocky cliffs, safe from trouble and harm. Babylon committed gross injustices in order “to set their nest on high.” They conquered cities, they exiled the people to foreign lands, they subjected them to forced labor, they plundered their wealth – all in order to build their own walls high and to make their cities secure.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (13) – How to Lose It All

(Part 13 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 2:6-8

Last week we saw that God made a general promise that he would judge Babylon. Habakkuk 2:6-20 gets more specific as it highlights Babylon’s specific sins and God’s corresponding judgments. But even more importantly, this passage highlights the various ways in life that people seek to advance themselves to their own ruin.

Do you want to know how to lose it all? You just have to follow man’s way, which is summed up by Jesus with these words: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, yet loses his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) Man’s way is very simple: “Gain whatever you can however you can.” Man’s way is the way of selfishness and greed. Man’s way is how you lose it all.

Verses 6-20 contain what is called a “taunt song.” In this particular song, Babylon is mocked by the very nations it conquered. And although the song is obviously directed against Babylon, Babylon is never even mentioned by name. The words are generalized in such a way that the song could apply to anyone who acts in the way Babylon acted.

The taunt song in this passage is made up of five different woes. Each of the five woes in the song first identifies a specific sin of greed or selfishness, and then pronounces God’s judgment upon that sin. Babylon’s greed manifested itself in 1) theft, 2) injustice, 3) violence, 4) exploitation, and 5) idolatry. But to what profit? The irony of the song is that those who practice these things may think that they are gaining wealth, security, power, pleasure, guidance and direction, when in reality they will lose all that they hoped to gain.

We will just look at the first of these woes today and pick up on the others throughout the week.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (12) – Is God Fair?

(Part 12 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 2:2-5

We last left Habakkuk standing on the watchtower waiting for God’s answer to his question: “Is God fair?” Now in verses 2-5, God answers Habakkuk. God gives him a revelation, a vision of what will happen in the future. The Babylonians will also be judged for their sin. Meanwhile the righteous will live by faith, trusting God to act justly in his own time.

Habakkuk 2:2-5 – 2 Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. 3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. 4 “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright — but the righteous will live by his faith — 5 indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples. (NIV)

God’s answer to Habakkuk is threefold: 1) the answer awaits an appointed time; 2) Babylon’s actions are not justified in God’s sight; and 3) the righteous will live by faith.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (11) – Is God Fair?

(Part 11 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 2:1

Last time we looked at Habakkuk’s second question, found in 1:12-17, “Is God fair?” So what is Habakkuk going to do with his question this time? I love the way Habakkuk deals with his questions and doubts. When Habakkuk struggled with doubt, he did not walk away from God, but he brought his questions and doubts to God. And so after voicing this complaint to God, look at what Habakkuk does next.

Habakkuk 2:1 – I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (NIV)

Habakkuk stubbornly clings to God even in the midst of his doubts. Habakkuk 2:1 is the Old Testament equivalent of Mark 9:24: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Habakkuk takes his stand upon the watchtower; he stations himself on the ramparts; he looks for God’s answer.

This is something we all need to learn to do. When you have questions or doubts, bring them to God. Take your stand, dig yourself in, station yourself for the long run, and wait upon the Lord. God will answer your questions in his time. Now God may not settle some of your questions until you reach heaven. But he will always give you himself, and he will always give you the faith to carry on. Habakkuk takes his stand on the watchtower, and looks for God’s answer.

(Looking ahead: Next time we will look at God’s answer in 2:2-5.)

Here are the links to the whole Blogging with Habakkuk series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

Blogging with Habakkuk (10) – Is God Fair?

(Part 10 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:12-17

Habakkuk brings his second question to God in verses 12-17: “Is God fair?”

Habakkuk 1:12-17 – 12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? 14 You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. 15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. 16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. 17 Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy? (NIV)

Habakkuk is trying to reconcile three different truths here – 1) that God is sovereign, 2) that God is holy, and 3) that Babylon is wicked yet prospers. Habakkuk believes that all three of these things are true, but he does not see how all three can be true at the same time.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (9) – Is God Fair?

(Part 9 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk’s three big questions were the same questions that many people have struggled with over the years. “Does God care? Is God fair? Is God there?” We have already looked at the first of those questions: “Does God care?” Now it is time to move on to the second question: “Is God fair?”

Have you ever questioned God’s fairness? Has something bad ever happened to you, and you responded by saying, “God, that’s just not fair!” Actually, life is frequently unfair. That’s something I often tell my boys. They will complain about something and I will tell them, “I’m sorry, but life’s just not fair.”

But saying that life is unfair is very different from saying that God is unfair. I can live with life being unfair. After all, I am a sinner. I live in a world that has been affected by sin. And I live here with . . . a whole bunch of other sinners! So it makes sense to me that life is not going to be fair all the time. But when you ask, “Is God fair?” that is a very different question.

In the first section Habakkuk struggled with the problem of evil in the world. In this second section he struggles with the problem of God’s justice. When confronted with the problem of evil, Habakkuk questioned, “Does God care?” Now when confronted with God’s judgment for sin, Habakkuk questions: “Is God fair?”

I think that is very typical of how many people think of God even today. The two biggest questions people ask about God are: 1) “How could a loving God allow evil in the world?” and 2) “How could a loving God send people to hell? Why doesn’t he just look the other way?” Those are the modern versions of “Does God care?” and “Is God fair?”

What people often don’t realize is that the second question answers the first. Yes, God is a loving God who cares about evil in the world. We know that because God does not look the other way but in fact will judge all evil and sin in the world. God is both loving and just. Yes, God cares. And yes, God is fair.

Habakkuk’s situation was a little different, though. He wasn’t questioning God’s right to judge sin. He was questioning God’s method. How could God use the Babylonians to judge the people of Judah, when the Babylonians were even more wicked than the people God was judging? Wouldn’t it make more sense to judge the Babylonians? Was God being fair in this situation?

(Looking ahead: Next time we look at Habakkuk’s actual complaint in 1:12-17.)

Here are the links to the whole Blogging with Habakkuk series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25.

Blogging with Habakkuk (8) – Does God Care?

(Part 8 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:6-11

We have looked at two ways we know that God cares from verses 5-6:

    1) God assures us that he hears our every prayer.
    2) God promises us that he will deliver us in his time.

Today we will look at a third way found in verses 6-11:

Habakkuk 1:6-11 – 6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. 7 They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. 8 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; 9 they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty men, whose own strength is their god.

    3) God affirms that he will judge all evil in the world.

A third way we know that God cares is because he affirms that he will judge all evil in the world. This is the answer to Habakkuk’s “Why?” question: “Why, Lord do you tolerate wrong?” (Habakkuk 1:3) God’s answer to Habakkuk is basically this: “I do not tolerate wrong. In fact I will judge all the wrongs in this world.” The nation of Judah was full of violence and injustice. Judah had turned away from God and his law, and now God would judge Judah for her sins. God was raising up the Babylonians for this very purpose.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (7) – Does God Care?

(Part 7 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:6

We saw three reasons from Habakkuk 1:2-4 why people sometimes think that God does not care.

  1. We pray but do not see God’s answer right away.
  2. We are in trouble and God does not deliver us right away.
  3. We see the wicked triumphing over the righteous.

Now we are looking at three ways that we know God does care from Habakkuk 1:5-11. Last time we looked at the first way found in verse 5:

    1) God assures us that he hears our every prayer.

Now in verse 6 we find another way we know God cares.

    2) God promises us that he will deliver us in his time.

We know that God cares, because God promises us that he will deliver us in his time. This is the answer to Habakkuk’s “How long?” question. God has his purposes, and we must trust his timing. Look at verse 6 where God tells Habakkuk how he will deliver him. “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.” (Habakkuk 1:6)

This was the amazing something that Habakkuk would not have believed even if told. While Habakkuk was busy crying out, “How long?” God was orchestrating the events of history so that the Babylonians would come to world dominance and power and finally bring an end to the violence and injustice in Judah.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (6) – Does God Care?

(Part 6 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:5

Last time we looked at three reasons why we sometimes think that God does not care.

  1. We pray but do not see God’s answer right away.
  2. We are in trouble and God does not deliver us right away.
  3. We see the wicked triumphing over the righteous.

Habakkuk 1:5-11 addresses each of these problems in turn. Today we will look at verse 5 which provides an answer to the first problem.

How do we know God does care? (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

So how do we know God does care? What about when we pray and don’t see God’s answer right away? What about when we are in trouble and God does not deliver us right away? What about when the wicked triumph over the righteous? I mean, in those situations it really could look like God doesn’t care. But, remember, looks can be deceiving. In verses 5-11 God responds to Habakkuk’s complaint. And in answering Habakkuk’s questions, God showed Habakkuk, and he shows us, that yes he does notice, yes he is concerned, yes God does care.

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Blogging with Habakkuk (5) – Does God Care?

(Part 5 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:2-4

Habakkuk was a prophet who struggled with questions about evil in the world and why God permits evil. Habakkuk’s three big questions were: “Does God care? Is God fair? Is God there?” People are still asking the same questions today. The book of Habakkuk traces the prophet’s journey from doubt to faith as he brought his complaints to God and found satisfying answers to his questions.

Habakkuk 1:2-11 deals with the first of these questions: Does God care? We will just look at verses 2-4 today.

Habakkuk 1:2-4 – 2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3 Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4 herefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (NIV)

“Does God care?” It is a question that has haunted countless persons over the ages as they have grappled with the problem of evil in the world. “If God is all powerful, then why does he allow evil and suffering? Is God concerned about us? Does he notice all the troubles that take place on our planet? Does God care?” If you have ever asked questions similar to these, then you are not alone. Habakkuk struggled with the same questions and doubts, and he was a prophet!

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Blogging with Habakkuk (4) – An Oracle Received

(Part 4 in a series of posts on Habakkuk.)

Habakkuk 1:1

Today we will look at Habakkuk’s introductory statement in 1:1.

Habakkuk 1:1 – The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.

Only three prophets in the Old Testament specifically identify themselves as prophets at the beginning of their books. Habakkuk is one of them; the other two are Haggai and Zechariah.

Habakkuk identifies himself as a prophet, and he identifies the book that follows as “the oracle that he received.” An oracle is another word for prophecy. Habakkuk is saying from the very start that the message in this book is not a message of his own devising. Rather, it is prophecy. It is a message from the Lord.

There are several Hebrew words that can be translated “oracle” or “prophecy,” but this particular word also conveys the idea of a burden. It is used especially to describe prophecies that carry a warning or a rebuke for the receivers. It may also imply that bringing a prophecy of judgment upon a people was a burden for the prophet as well. It is never easy to be the bearer of bad news.

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