Our next reading is Habakkuk 2:5-11
v5: (a more difficult verse to translate, so this is closer to how it is in the original): “For wine betrays, and a prideful man will not be fitting. He broadens his soul as Sheol; for he, as death, is never satisfied. He will gather unto him all the nations, and all the peoples will be gathered unto him.”
- Wine: Instead of being influenced by truth this unrighteous one is influenced by wine. To a large degree, wine was used in pagan worship. Alcoholics usually drink in order to escape inner turmoil. They do not have inner peace.
- Betrays: Does that which is treacherous. The Word and purposes of G-d are betrayed.
- Fitting (נָוָה): A word search of this word reveals that it is a word that refers to something beautiful (like an oasis). What this verse is simply revealing to us is that pride does not make someone beautiful. Nothing good comes from pride. It produces an ugliness in our behaviour and attitude. Pride brings about destruction.
- Sheol: An abyss or pit (Is 38:18).A place of punishment. satan rejoices when hell is broadened (Matt 7:13).
- Death is never satisfied: Spiritual death has a permanence to it – it literally never ends. Once a person dies no more changes can take place. Those who have not accepted the gospel, who have rejected the covenant that G-d put in place, are going to be in a state of eternal death.
- Gather…all the nations: This is what Babylon wanted to do. Their goal was to have control over every nation. Those who have a spirit of pride or self-exaltation are never satisfied. They always want more, and when they do not get it they become frustrated. If they do get what they want, they are never content with it for long. Before long they start desiring the next thing. This is what happened with Babylon. Not satisfied with few nations under their authority they sought to add more and more.
- Peoples: All the ethnic groups.
v6: Take up or Lift up: Say
- Taunting: Mocking
- (They will) say: They say this because of Babylon’s objectives – the way that he thinks and behaves.
- Woe to him who increases (acquires much of) what is not his: Babylon was taking things that did not rightfully belong to them. Based upon a pride in their power and resources, Babylon attacked Judah. They wanted to take control of it. It was not, however, theirs to take, and for that reason this proverb or parable is lifted up against them. Note: When we take things that G-d never intended for us to take, it lines us up, like a bullseye, for the judgement of G-d. That is why it is so important to be submissive to G-d.
- How long….Until when: How long will it take them to realise that what they are acquiring is not satisfying them? How long until they realize that what they are doing is not related to the purposes of G-d? These people are deceived and in bondage. For this reason, they go on doing the same thing over and over again. They never find peace, joy, or contentment.
- Loads himself…is weighed down: Heavy
- The word translated ‘pledges’ is the literal word that means Clay(טִֽיט): Thick mud with heavy material in it. It was used as a plaster for buildings. Wrong behaviour can bring a heaviness upon us. It can weigh us down (stress, anxiety, pressure).
v7: “Surely, suddenly, the one who bites you will rise up. And you will wake up in a shocking way. You will be plundered by them.” – the very literal translation
- Suddenly: Some see this as a prophetic message concerning the sudden demise of Babylon. It did not continue in its power for as long as people thought it would. Babylon became so wealthy and powerful in such a short space of time (compared to other empires) that others thought Babylon was there to stay for a long time. Because of their wickedness, however, that was not the case (Daniel 5).
- The one who bites you (נֹשְׁכֶ֔יךָ): Some say this is a word that has to do with creditors. They interpret this as G-d having kind of bankrolled the Babylonians – allowing them to become very wealthy and powerful. G-d did not force them, encourage them or call them to use their wealth and power in a prideful way. That was part of their nature. What their pride produced G-d used for His own purposes. A time was coming when those who had lent to the Babylonians were going to suddenly call for a payback day.
- You – speaking of Babylon
- Will wake up: They were going to be dealt with. Their wealth and power was going to wear out (Matthew 7:2).
- Shocking: Terrifying.
- You will be plundered: Those who had plundered were themselves going to be plundered.
v8: Plundered many nations: Their goal was to increase their wealth. They would look to see which nation had what they desired and to see if they could defeat them. They would then make a move to plunder that nation.
- The remnant of the people: Those who had not been conquered by the Babylonians.
- Shall plunder you: This is a prophecy that was going to be visited back on Babylon because of what they had done. A specific judgement day had been reserved for Babylon.
- Violence (חֲמַס): Violence for the sake (and love) of violence. For some people violence is like an addiction. They enjoy inflicting pain and suffering on others. It brings them pleasure to cause misery to others.
Note: In the last days the world is going to be characterized by this lawless Babylonian spirit. People will not want to love or bless their neighbours. Instead, they will look for ways to take from them, ways to harm them.
G-d is a G-d who accepts repentance. When we repent, He repositions us back in His will so that we can serve Him and be the instruments that He has called and enabled us to be. Are we interested in G-d’s will, and are we committed to the things that are pleasing to Him?
Verse 9: Woe: This is a term of future punishment. G-d was going to bring destruction on the Babylonians because of their sinfulness. G-d is never a part of that which is sinful. He does not cause sin, and nor does He encourage it. A person chooses, of their own free will, to sin. G-d, however, can and will use all things (even sin) and turn them into something that can be an instrument of His glory. The sinfulness of the Babylonians was going to be used as an instrument to manifest the righteousness of G-d, and to bring about a glorious change in His people.
- Covets evil gain….Secures profit, through evil: Most commentators see this as ill-gotten gains. They profited, but in an unrighteous and unjust way. They profited by utilising evil schemes – believing that, in the end, this was going to be a good thing for their household.
- Nest: His habitation
- The power of disaster …literally translated: The inside of the hand: This could be an idiom for power.
Note: The Babylonians used evil, but they tried to escape from the consequences of evil. They did not want the evil to be visited on themselves – i.e. they did not want the consequences of the evil they applied to others to be applied to themselves. They deceived themselves into thinking that their ill-gotten profits would protect them and their families from the experience/consequences of evil in this world.
v10: Shameful counsel…Counselled shame: They did evil, but they believed (and counselled) that evil would not find them out. In the end, their counsel brought shame into their homes.
- Cutting off many peoples: Theybelieved that by doing this they would become strong and secure in their wealth (in their physical or earthly possessions).
- Sinned against your soul: Babylon had a sin tendency that was spiritual in nature. They damaged themselves to their very core.
v11: The stone will cry out from the wall: Judgment will visit them – even in their high and lofty habitations that they had presumed would be untouchable. This is poetic language, describing how even their habitations would cry out because of G-d’s judgement and destruction.
- The beam (rafter) from wood (timber) will answer it: There is (even) unity between these building materials. At that time, the walls of the houses were built from stone, and roofs were made of wood. Using poetic language, the writer is revealing to us that even the wood and stone cried out a warning to the people. These inanimate objects realized that the sinfulness of the people was going to be ultimately judged by G-d. The Babylonians were not smarter than the stone and the wood of their homes. Those who lived in these houses paid no attention to what their future truly held.