Woah! That’s a Lot of Woes!
Habakkuk 2:1 – I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the lookout tower. I will watch to see what He will say to me and what I should reply about my complaint.
So when we last left our hero, Habakkuk (why couldn’t I have picked an easier name to spell throughout this series), he was waiting on God’s reply.
God tells Habakkuk not to worry because the Babylonians are going to get their due. He says it may seem like it will take a long time, but it will happen. I am fairly certain God knew to say this because Habakkuk, while a very devout man, he was a man. When we don’t see something happen, we begin to question whether it was meant to happen at all. In the Bible, God spends a lot of time doing what is called “tarrying.” When justice tarries, as it did with the Israelites in Habakkuk and happens all around the world today, we begin to think it is never coming. We get on social media and begin to blast either the conservative or the liberal blaming it on them.
Faith in God is the light at the end of the tunnel.
Habakkuk 2:4 – But the righteous one will live by his faith.
Habakkuk 2:4 is one of the most quoted verses in the book of Habakkuk and is spoken about by James in James 2. He says, “the righteous will live by faith.” Some versions say “faithfulness.” Both faith and faithfulness are part of what Habakkuk is trying to say. Faith is WHAT you believe while faithfulness is acting according to what you believe.
James 2:22 – You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.
Many people like to claim that faith isn’t true by using the example of the smoker who knows it is bad for them but doesn’t stop thinking they will be fine. That is false faith. Placing your faith in an object which is specifically bad is not what the Bible is talking about. Faith, in the Bible, is specifically geared toward a single entity, God. Anything outside of faith in God is false faith. Faithfulness is following God’s law to serve God and others. There was a remnant in Judah that God would protect. Verse 2:4 is geared toward them to tell them how to proceed during the dark days coming.
In verse 5, we see God explaining Babylon, comparing her to a drunkard. Babylon was well known for their drunken parties. It is how Cyrus defeated Babylon in 539 BC. Here is the account by the Greek historian Heroditus, “But, as it was, the Persians came upon them by surprise and so took the city. Owing to the vast size of the place, the inhabitants of the central parts (as the residents at Babylon declare) long after the outer portions of the town were taken, knew nothing of what had chanced, but as they were engaged in a festival, continued dancing and reveling until they learnt about the capture. Such, then, were the circumstances of the first taking of Babylon.” (translation by George Rawlinson)
Verse 5 goes on to show that the Babylonians were never satisfied. They would continue to look for places to conquer and would war with anyone they felt they could beat.
This is an important contrast. The Babylonians, described as proud, or arrogant, spend their time going out and abusing others while the righteous are humble and place others before self and do acts for for the good of others.
While this one is very specific with Babylon and Judah, there is a universal truth proclaimed and it leads into the “oracle of the 5 woes.” While pride is not specifically called out in the oracle, it is something that is a human trait that we need to be wary of and oppose. We need to constantly be on guard for pride in our hearts as we make choices and decisions lest we become a singular Babylon instead of a righteous person.
Habakkuk 2:7 – Since you have plundered many nations, all the peoples who remain will plunder you
Verses 6-20 describe the rest of the “woes.” There is a woe to the greedy which says that those whom the greedy have taken from will take from you. There is a woe to the dishonest as they will bring shame upon their house. There is a woe to the violent that God’s glory will become known in their cities as violence does not come from God. There is a woe for those who get drunk and naked for they will be filled with disgrace, not honor and glory. And finally there is a woe to the idolater, and those who worship something other than God. Those are not alive, they do not speak. They are not active in this world. Only God is a living, active being creating and generating history each and every minute.
Habakkuk 2:19 – Look! It may be plated with gold and silver, yet there is no breath in it at all.
The chapter ends with a very sobering verse, “But the Lord in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.”
Here, God is giving a message to Habakkuk, and to all who believe in Him. He is telling them to simply be silent and spend time in God’s presence. THAT will oppose injustice. THAT will bring down strongholds. THAT will bring about lasting change.
We can’t simply sit on the sidelines as injustice happens, but we can’t go out and attack with our words or actions simply being the opposite voice of those who are bringing injustice. How, then, will that bring justice to THEM?
Yes, we need to think about those being persecuted and abused. Yes, we need to act out against injustice of all sorts. But we CANNOT and SHOULD NOT act without spending time being SILENT in prayer in HIS PRESENCE. That will affect the change in our own hearts to see how we should proceed. The goal is not be the one with the loudest voice at the end. The goal is to be the one who shines the light of Christ.
In everything we do, whether it is speaking out against the government, standing up for pro-life, pro-marriage, anti-gun, or anything, we need to speak Christ, not our opinion.
That is the challenge.
That is where we fail.
Look at social media and you will see post after post littered with hate speech against another person.
For our battle is not against flesh and blood! It is against the powers. It is against the authorities. It is against Satan in this present day and age.
That is where our anger needs to be directed. Not to MSNBC or Fox News. Not to Republicans or Democrats. Not to Israel or Palestine. None of those or more.
We need to direct our anger appropriately and know just who is pulling those strings.
It is Satan.
And he is laughing our world all the way to hell.
So, Christians, wake up. Before you speak out against something, check your own self first and make sure that when you speak out against something that YOUR voice is not heard and the CHRIST’S WORD is taught.
Habakkuk 2:20 – But the Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence.