Session 4: Well, What about Babylon?
Habakkuk is learning to “pray yet.” He actually has a legitimate question about Babylon. It’s not as if Babylon doesn’t matter, because she does. So in the Lord’s second response to Habakkuk’s second complaint God tells both the “what of” and the “what for” regarding Babylon. God is going to give Habakkuk a bit of an excursus on Babylon. (1-5, 6-15)
- Play: Session 4 Video
Habakkuk is learning to “pray yet.” He actually has a legitimate question about Babylon. It’s not as if Babylon doesn’t matter, because she does. So in the Lord’s second response to Habakkuk’s second complaint God tells both the “what of” and the “what for” regarding Babylon.
And this is extensive—and a bit challenging to unpack. Maybe focusing on three main passages will help us keep our heads about ourselves:
- 2:4b, “The righteous shall live by his faith.” So significant…Romans 1:17.
- 2:14, “For the earth will be filled…” When? Right now—even in the judgments?
- 2:20, “But the Lord is in his holy temple…” Then why doesn’t it seem that way?
Come what may, Habakkuk will have to learn to “pray yet.”
God is going to give Habakkuk a bit of an excursus on Babylon. God is very aware of how arrogant Babylon can be. How bad is Babylon? Well, maybe this can be our clue—watch for how many of Moses’ famous ten words are broken by Babylon.
Arrogance of Babylon (1-5):
- Write down the vision (revelation). Write it on tablets (think of the ten commandments).
- Make it billboard size so a runner can read it. This is similar to an Olympic runner to see how many laps he has left or something.
- But it’s not going to take place immediately (3). Remember that Habakkuk’s time is 610 BC. Nebuchadnezzar would not invade for the final time until 586 BC. We need to keep in mind that it is the patience of God that ratchets back his wrath at times. If people repent then he might not have to render his judgments.
- The “his soul” of vs. 4a is Nebuchadnezzar. He gobbles up land and wealth thinking that he will get away with it.
The Judgment of Babylon (6-20):
The “woes” to Babylon is what follows. The Hebrew word for “woe” is an interjection intended to get the attention. “Hoy” means, “Hey, wake up.” It appears 5x here.
Other nations and peoples will taunt Babylon for their:
- Stealing, hoarding, and coveting (6-11).
- Murder and immorality (12-13).
- Adultery and debauchery (15-17).
- Idolatry (18-19).
The Bible says that vengeance is mine; I will repay, says the Lord. God always does vengeance best because he is not partial. We never do vengeance best because we don’t have all the facts and are often prejudiced.
So a passage that we could superimpose on this part of Habakkuk would be Rev. 13:10, “This calls for the endurance and faith of the saints.” Someday, Christ will return. When he does wrong will be eradicated and right will be vindicated. In those days we will know of Hab. 2:14. In the meantime, let us do 2:4, 20.
Can you think of some current examples where evil seems to run rampant without any intervention from God?
Can you think of any time in biblical history where a prophecy did not come true because the people (God’s or pagan’s) repented?
Babylon ultimately did fall, but it was 70 years following the Jewish captivity. How does this fact underline the patience of God to punish?
When evil seems to run unchecked, what should God’s people do?
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