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.

    – God’s judgment: You will be filled with shame and disgrace

What is God’s judgment for those who exploit others in order to increase their own pleasure? You will be filled with shame and disgrace. Look at verses 16-17. God says, “You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.” (Habakkuk 2:16-17)

God says, “You exposed others for your own pleasure? Now it is your turn. You will be exposed. You used your power to take advantage of others? Now it is your turn. Judgment is coming, and all your glory will be covered with disgrace. You treated others violently? Your violence will return on your head and overwhelm you.” When you take advantage of others to gain pleasure for yourself, God says you will be filled with shame and disgrace.

5) Idolatry (verses 18-20)

    – The sin: Trusting something other than God to direct your life

The fifth and final woe is found in verses 18-20 and deals with the sin of idolatry. Look at verse 19. God says, “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.” (Hab 2:19)

The sin here is identified as trusting something other than God to direct your life. Habakkuk has addressed the issue of idolatry several times in this book. In 1:11 he called the Babylonians “guilty men, whose own strength is their god.” In 1:16 he said that Babylon “sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet.”

The Babylonians were idolaters who trusted in their own strength and their own means rather than trusting God. Idolatry doesn’t have to mean bowing down to a statue. Anytime you trust something other than God to direct your life, you are committing the sin of idolatry.

    – God’s judgment: You will be deceived and disappointed

What is God’s judgment for those who trust something – anything – other than him to guide or direct their lives? You will be deceived and disappointed. Look at verse 18. God says, “Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.” (Habakkuk 2:18) An idol has no value. It cannot speak. It cannot guide you. It is a false God that only teaches lies. Those who trust in idols are deceived and will ultimately be disappointed.

Verse 20 provides the contrast to the lifeless idols: “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:20) God is in his temple. He is holy. He is majestic. Cease all your activity and be silent before him.

It is a beautiful verse that speaks of God’s awesome majesty and holiness as God stands above the clamor of the nations and apart from sinful man. It provides a fitting end to this entire section, as those who rely on theft, injustice, violence, exploitation of others and idolatry are told to hush, to keep silence before the Lord. God is in his temple. He is holy. Cease all your endless striving for greater wealth, security, power, and pleasure. Be silent before him. Turn away from worthless idols and bow before the Lord in heaven who alone can fill your deepest longings and satisfy your soul.

(Looking ahead: Next time we will wrap up this section by looking at God’s way in contrast to man’s way.)

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.


  1. Sharon Gamble says:

    Ray – Great reminders on how we should and shouldn’t live. I loved the call to be silent at the end of this section. He is holy, holy, holy.

  2. Margaret says:

    I like Sharon’s comment on the verse at the end of chapter two. It is also one of my special verses. Praise and music and joyful worship together are all wonderful, but for me the best times are when we are all silent together, worshipping quietly in our hearts, or just being by myself and having a time of silent prayer. This is especially meaningful if I am alone in the woods and marvelling at the beautiful creation our Lord has given us.

    “The Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth keep silent before Him.” Hab. 2:20

    May I suggest another verse: – Psalm 99:9 “Exalt the Lord our God. amd worship at his holy hill; for the Lord our God is holy.”

  3. Dear Rev’d Fowler,

    Nice outline – well done.

  4. Ray Fowler says:

    Duke – Thanks, I’m glad you found it helpful. I enjoyed visiting your church’s web page and reading about the “reboot.” Great stuff! God bless, Ray

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Blogging with Habakkuk (1) at Ray Fowler .org

Leave a Reply