Our last reading in Habakkuk this week: Habakkuk 2:12-20
v12: Builds a town with bloodshed: This was the foundation of the Babylonian mindset. They built up their cities, their empire, by shedding the blood of others. They incorrectly thought that this activity was going to ultimately make them strong and secure. This was not the case.
- Builds…with bloodshed and establishes…by iniquity (injustice): The Babylonians were doing two things that G-d hates. G-d is a G-d of justice and righteousness. The Babylonians were not concerned with either. They were doing those things which were against the will of G-d.
v13: Note: This verse is a question. The grammar here always implies a negative answer.
- Behold it is not…of the L-rd: The (two) things mentioned in this verse are not from G-d.
- L-rd of Hosts: L-rd of the Armies.
- Labour: They work to the point of exhaustion.
- Nations weary themselves: Working them to the point of exhaustion. G-d never wantedHis people to engage in activities or behaviour that would take them into a state of exhaustion. Many people are workaholics. This behaviour places them in bondage and leads to their physical and spiritual harm.
- (literally) Abundance of a fire… abundance of emptiness: The Babylonians were in bondage to sin and therefore began to labour abundantly – “burnt the candle at both ends” so to speak. In the end this profited them nothing and, in fact, was to their detriment.
v14: Note: This verse is a verse of contrast. The other verses have dealt with the Babylonians. In this verse we see that G-d shows a contrast between the Babylonians and their idols and Himself – the only true G-d, the G-d of Israel.
- The earth (world) will be filled…: This is G-d’s promise!
- As the waters cover the sea: For the sea to be a sea there must be water. For G-d’s creation to become what G-d has created it to be, the knowledge of the L-rd must cover every aspect of it (Is 6:3). When Yeshua returns, this world is going to be transformed into the Kingdom of G-d. The only way that this Kingdom can become a reality is through judgement – when that final antichrist/evil empire is judged (of which Babylon is a picture – See also Revelation 18).
v15: Note: This verse goes back to speaking about the Babylonian spirit. What is being revealed here is very similar to the antichrist spirit – both empires think and act in the same way.
- Woe: ‘How awful it is going to be…’
- Gives drink to his neighbour: The implication is: to get him drunk.
- Make him drunk: They did not give drink to others to quench thirst, but with the goal to get them addicted to alcohol so that they could be easily exploited and defeated.
- Nakedness: Used as an idiom for shamefulness. Shame exposes a person’s failure. This is opposite to the spirit which seeks to edify, build up or bless others (1 Thess 5:11).
v16: You are filled with shame: This is the outcome of those who have the type of behaviour or mentality mentioned in verse 15 – the outcome for those who want to tear others down rather than build them up.
- You also drink: Babylon was also going to be led astray.
- Exposed as uncircumcised: ‘Uncircumcised’ is also an idiom for shame. Another aspect of it is that their behaviour manifested that they had no faith in, or covenant with, G-d.
- The cup of the L-rd’s right hand will be turned against you: The measure that they used against others was going to be used against them.
- Shame will be on your glory: G-d wants to bless. He wants to move in order to bring glory (ie lift up people). The Babylonian’s behaviour, however, caused G-d to move to allow them to receive shame and to be exposed in a most displeasing manner.
v17: (literally) “The violence done to Lebanon shall cover you, and the plundering of the animals, is going to bring terror, because of the shedding of man’s blood and the violence in the earth, and upon the city and all the dwellers therein.”
- Lebanon: Context determines how ‘Lebanon’ should be understood. It can be understood as the nation of Lebanon, but it can also be understood as ‘white’ (לָבָן) – synonymous with purity. Sometimes when the Bible speaks about the mountains of Lebanon it is really speaking about the mountains of Jerusalem (ie a reference to the Temple Mount where the temple stood – ‘the white mountain’). Context tells us that the mention of Lebanon here is a reference to the Temple Mount and the first temple on it. This verse is referring to how the Babylonians were going to violently destroy the first temple.
- Cover you: G-d is going to punish them greatly because of what they did to Jerusalem.
- Animals: These were the animals that were supposed to be sacrificed to G-d. The Babylonians took them and butchered them for their own purposes and for their own gods.
- Bring terror: G-d was going to render retribution because of what they had done.
- The city: A reference to the city of Jerusalem.
v18: Image/Statue (פֶּ֗סֶל): The Babylonians behaved the way they did because they were influenced by idolatry rather than by spiritual truth.
- Its maker… carves it: There is nothing spiritual about an idol. It is the work of man and not the work of G-d. What is its profit? It has no value.
- Moulded/Molten image (מַסֵּכָ֖ה)…teaches lies: The goal of idolatry (rooted in satan) is to teach that which is false (see John 8:44).
- [The one who creates it trusts in (it)]: They do not trust in G-d but in the work of their own hands (what they are able to accomplish).
- Mute idols: Idols cannot speak or bring about any revelation. They are empty and have no purpose whatsoever from a Kingdom perspective.
v19: (literally) “Woe to the one who says to wood: ‘Wake up!’ or ‘Rise up and speak!’ to the stone that is silent. Behold, he is the one that overlays it with gold and silver – there is no spirit within them.”
- The one: The creator or maker of the idol.
- Wake up!’ or ‘Rise up!’: This one is trying tocommand wood and stone. They are not alive and cannot respond to commands. We see a contrast here: wood and stone cannot serve G-d, but humans can – if we respond to G-d’s revelation.
- Speak: Wood and stone cannot speak.They cannot receive revelation and nor can they give revelation.
- He is the one that overlays it: This man works to make these idols look splendid.
- No spirit: There is no life in these idols/images.
v20: But: In contrast to idolatry (idols that are inanimate objects with no life in them) we find that the L-rd G-d is very much alive.
- Holy Temple: The Holy of Holies – the place of divine habitation. This place was found in the temple in Jerusalem.
- Keep silence before Him: We need to be quiet,focusing upon what G-d is revealing to us (His will, instructions, and commandments). The Babylonians were greatly involved in idolatry. They were not interested in true revelation. They wanted to pursue their own desires and create their own reality. This is not true spirituality. True spirituality is when we submit to that which G-d has created for us. He has a will for our lives. We do not try to get G-d to do our will – that is idolatrous. When we are still before G-d, listening to Him and submitting to Him, He will reveal His will to us. When we submit to G-d’s Word we find ourselves becoming a recipient of His revelation.
Are we individuals who truly want to hear from G-d so that we can submit to Him?