Habakkuk 2:9-14

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 8, 2016 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

“Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice! Has not the Lord Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:9-14)

At this point in the book of Habakkuk, God is replying to Habakkuk’s second lament. God has already stated that He will send the Babylonians to judge Israel for their crime, and now in God’s response He is proclaiming the judgment that will come on the Babylonians too. This section of Habakkuk has five “woe”s; we saw the first one last week, and now we continue with the second and third ones.

The second woe is in verses 9-11. The crime is similar to that of the first woe (verses 6-8) - storing up many things for themselves. Here, it is more focused on their selfish ambitions. The Babylonians will receive shame as the punishment for their self-exaltation. They will also receive loss of life and a result of their ruining other peoples and taking their lives.

While this clearly applies to the life of the Babylonians, does this apply to the life of the average person today? Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself to have “plotted the ruin of many peoples.” But I must admit that I have had times when I have wished something evil would happen to another person. There are times that we think seeing someone fail will make us feel good, but often that ends up not being the case. We realize that watching someone else fail really doesn’t make us feel any better, and we end up only hurting ourselves in the process. Like the Babylonians, we receive shame as punishment for trying to make ourselves look better by wanting someone else to look worse.

The third woe is in verses 12-14. The crime and punishment here are clear: if you build an empire on destroying others, that empire will be destroyed itself. All of this conquering people and laboring to be the best are really for nothing. Whether in the day of Habakkuk or today, we humans are really not in control over this world. These verses emphasize how God is sovereign and rules over everything. God’s glory will fill the entire earth, totally and completely.

We can focus on the crimes we commit and the negative consequences we deserve from them, but it all boils down to the fact that we are here in this place and alive for the sole purpose of glorifying God. No matter what we do, God must be worshipped as the God of the universe. This is in stark contrast to the Babylonians, whose God is their own strength (Habakkuk 1:11).

Every person has two choices in this life: to glorify self, or to glorify God. Which are you choosing today?

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