Habakkuk 1:5-11

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, January 18, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; they all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

Last week, we started writing on the book of Habakkuk. I’d encourage you to go read last week’s post to get a feel for the background of this prophetic book.

In Habakkuk 1:2-4, the prophet Habakkuk was calling out to God. In this week’s passage of Habakkuk 1:5-11, we see God’s response to Habakkuk’s pleas. In short, God’s basic answer is the judgment is coming. God addresses some of the concepts from Habakkuk’s lament, such as violence and the lawlessness of the people at that time.

God will carry out this judgment on Judah through the Babylonian people. In verse 6, we see the three ways judgment will be carried out: through their character, their conduct, and their motivation. Their character was “ruthless and impetuous.” As a whole, they were not nice people. Their conduct was “to sweep across the whole earth,” and their motivation was “to seize dwellings not their own.” Their goal was clearly to take over as much territory as they could.

The Babylonian people did not worship God, at least not the one true God that the Israelites worshipped. They considered themselves to be gods. In verse 7 it says, “they are a law to themselves.” That indicates that they decide what it right and wrong, rather than listening to the rules that God has set for right and wrong. Similarly in verse 11, we see that their “own strength is their god.” The Babylonians had no accountability to others but instead worshipped themselves. They had absolutely no remorse about terrorizing others.

But you may be thinking, why would God send this kind of judgment on to His people? This situation with Habakkuk occurred before Jesus came to earth as God in human form, so the people were still fully under the Law and hadn’t experienced God’s grace yet. The law stated that violence should be repaid with violence. God was simply upholding the law that He had put in place for the people. They were demonstrating so much violence that that was clearly what they wanted, so that’s what they needed to receive.

But didn’t God love His people and want to spare them from violence? The love of God, which is totally and completely good, doesn’t always mean that life is all happy and cheery. Sometimes God shows love to His people through things that aren’t comfortable for them. If you have ever disciplined a child (or been disciplined as a child), that discipline is only done because you love that child. The child doesn’t enjoy being disciplined, but he or she needs it so they learn how to live a right life. That is what God was doing with the people of Judah.

The world we live in now is difference, because we’re on the other side of the cross. Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection has allowed us to receive grace more often than the true punishment we deserve, although God still loves us enough to discipline us when it’s needed.

When we disobey God, we deserve punishment too, just like the people of Habakkuk’s day. God’s law states that we should reap what we sow. If we disobey, we deserve the punishment. We should always be praising God that we often do not get what we deserve, and we should respect God’s decision when we do suffer the consequences of our actions.

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