6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
“‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
How long must this go on?’
7 Will not your creditors suddenly arise?
Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their prey.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed human blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
(Habakkuk 2:6-8 NIV)
Today we look at the first of five woes the Lord pronounces against the Babylonians.
In chapter 1, Habakkuk complained that Judah was not following the Lord and wondered what God was going to do about it. God responded that He was going to raise up the Babylonians to discipline Judah. This shocked Habakkuk (as God told him it would). Habakkuk then asked the Lord why He would use someone so much more wicked than Judah to discipline Judah. God tells Habakkuk that the Babylonians will have their day in court as well.
Before we look at verse 6, let’s review what the Lord has said about the Babylonians:
- “I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.” (chapter 1, verse 6)
- “Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.” (chapter 1, verse 9b)
- “Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.” (chapter 1, verse 11)
- “Because he [Babylon] is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples.” (chapter 2 verse 5)
With this picture of the Babylonians in mind, we see why God says what He says in chapter 2 verse 6. The Lord says that all the nations that the Babylonians have captured will rise up and taunt the Babylonians with ridicule and scorn.
So what is the first woe? Greed.
The Lord goes on to tell Habakkuk that the Babylonians have accumulated all their wealth by stealing it and taking it by extortion.
In verse 7, the Lord tells Habakkuk that the tables are now suddenly turned, and the Babylonian captives are now the creditors. As the creditors, the captives are calling in their loans from the Babylonians, demanding payment.
When we talk about creditors, loans, repayment, etc., we always think of financial transactions. In verse 8, we see God saying that the Babylonians took much more than material possessions and wealth from the lands they conquered. They also took human life, by the killing of the people, the destruction of the cities, the devastation of the land, and the collapse of the communities and ruined lives of everyone in them.
Backing up a moment to verse 7, the Lord tells Habakkuk that this will happen “suddenly”. This reversal of roles (captive/captor, creditor/debtor) will happen in the blink of an eye. In fact, history records that in fact is what happened. Daniel chapter 5 tells us that this change took place overnight. In one night, the Medes took over the entire Babylonian empire.
So what can we learn from this first woe? Our security is not wrapped up in our possessions or wealth. God calls us to walk by faith and trust in the Lord. Jesus reminded us of the same thing:
“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
(Mark 8:36 NIV)
May we learn to hold our possessions loosely, and allow ourselves to be held tightly by our Lord.