August 14, 2020 – Friday
Habakkuk 1:5-6 NIV
5 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.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.
The book of the prophet Habakkuk (pronounced Haba’ cuk) is a truly unusual book. It is only three chapters long and the first chapter begins with four verses of complaints from Habakkuk to God about the injustice and idolatry in Israel’s Southern Kingdom. He ends his complaints in verse four saying, … the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.
Of course, God knows what is going on. The first part of His reply shows that when He says, Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed which would literally translate as be amazed, amazed. The word is doubled to express how amazement should follow upon amazement; when the first was passing away, new source of amazement should come (Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).
What will cause this amazement upon amazement? God wastes no time in telling Habakkuk, For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. In other words, judgment is coming, a judgment so terrible as to be difficult or impossible to believe. Even in the midst of all their sin, the people of Israel thought they were protected by being God’s chosen people. They were about to find out this was simply not true when they acted with arrogance thinking they could do as they pleased with no real consequences.
Actually, this sounds familiar. It is how many (most?) people behave, act, and believe in our own time. All we need to do is look around. We will see too few people really believe in heaven and hell. Oh, most believe in heaven, but refuse to believe in hell. What they really refuse to believe, is that they will be judged by God. They don’t want to acknowledge their need to repent and accept the free gift of grace offered through His Son, Jesus the Christ.
But in Habakkuk’s time His judgment would come in the form of hell on earth via the heathen Gentiles. He says, I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. Then He goes on to say in the next five verses; 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 is shocked (amazed?) at God’s response and replies with complaints. He asks in verse 13, Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Do you see it? Habakkuk finds God’s judgment something he cannot bring himself to believe. At least not initially. After all the Babylonians are much worse than even the Southern Kingdom. Habakkuk wants to know, even demanding to know how a Holy God could do such a thing.
In His reply to Habakkuk, God makes it clear Babylon will eventually fall as will all nations who live in such a manner. But in His reply about judgment on Babylon and like nations He makes the statement at the end of 2:4, the righteous person will live by his faith. Then He lists five woes for Babylon and those like Babylon. God concludes with verse 20, The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.
Habakkuk ends with a prayer in chapter three and prophesied a time when mankind would be delivered all such as Babylon. He prays this prophesy even as he awaits the judgment he now believes is coming. Near the end (v18) he says I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. He had hope just as we have hope.