יְהוָה 's Answer – Sin Will be Judged!
Last time we looked at the first four verses in Habakkuk where the prophet cries out to God concerning the intolerable evil that he saw all around him [OHP] – how could a righteous and just God allow such things to continue? I said last time that hwhy hears that genuine cry. Today we will look at יְהוָה 's answer. [OHP1] The question was "How can allow evil to continue?"; יְהוָה 's answer was: that "sin will be judged!". God answers – יְהוָה speaks. Hallelujah! It is no vain thing to cry out to God. He answers but His answer may not be what we expect – in fact it seldom is. Habakkuk was perplexed with the silence and forbearance of God in permitting evil to continue and pours out his soul to God. God answers! He responds to the sincere cry. He is not indifferent to evil nor ignorant of it – He was about to bring punishment upon the sinful nation. Here is יְהוָה 's answer [read 1:5-11]
יְהוָה 's solution – judgement. It is an eternal unwavering principle of יְהוָה that evil will be judged. [OHP2] יְהוָה answers Habakkuk’s complaint - the Divine solution (v.5,6) is that the Chaldeans/Babylonians would judge Judah, Habakkuk’s complaint was justified and upheld - יְהוָה would act against such inveterate all pervading wickedness - He would use the Babylonians as His agents to carry it out. Although it was Habakkuk who prayed, יְהוָה ’s answer was to the whole nation - He addresses them as "you" in the plural - the command "to look", "be astonished" etc. is also plural. This is a message for all the people. God is not going to sit back anymore, His patience has run its full course. We saw last time that יְהוָה is extremely patient and long-suffering – but it does not go on for ever - in response to Habakkuk’s prayer יְהוָה is going to act! And act in a way that will leave people amazed, astonished, terrified! It will be a terrible judgement, beyond what they could ever conceive. Even if someone told them outright, they still would not believe it is possible. You know, we are the same! We do not believe really that יְהוָה will judge the earth and destroy it - despite the fact that the Scripture clearly and consistently tell us so. The fact of coming judgement hasn’t hit home - it isn’t real and vital to us - if it were then there would be an urgency in our evangelism and a holiness in our living that patently is just not there (cf. Art Katz’s illustration of "Night" by Eli Weissel). The signs that what hwhy said would come to pass were evident, if only they would look among the nations - they would see the Chaldeans conquering all in their path - they would not be exempted. What was happening in the nations was a portent of what would befall them! יְהוָה was going to act! And He was going to do so in their days! יְהוָה is going to act in judgement - He is going to do something in our very own days! But though we are warned we do not really believe it in our hearts. hwhy tells them specifically what He is going to do (v.6ff) but they still will not heed. No one lays it to heart. Paul quotes this verse (Acts 13:37-41 but He whom God raised did not undergo decay. Therefore let it be known to you, brethren, that through Him forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be freed through the Law of Moses. Therefore take heed, so that the thing spoken of in the Prophets may not come upon you: ‘Behold, you scoffers, and marvel, and perish; For I am accomplishing a work in your days, A work which you will never believe, though someone should describe it to you.’ ”) - according to his Divinely inspired interpretation, this verse speaks of the judgement upon those who reject redemptive work of Christ. It is not just the judgement that came upon idolatrous Judah, but the judgement that will come upon all who reject Jesus – yes, it applies to our own day! God replies that he is about to do something quite extraordinary. He is bringing in the armies of Babylon — the strongest, cruellest and most unscrupulous force on earth. A self-made people who worship their creator. The Divine Solution: The Chaldeans would judge Judah. יְהוָה explicitly tells His people that the Chaldeans are coming! Not of their own enterprise but יְהוָה rose them up to perform His purpose - to execute His judgement. They are a fierce and impetuous people - violent who rapidly overtake the nations in their path. In a matter of few short years their armies marched throughout the earth and took possession of it - dispossessing nations, taking their dwellings for themselves, exiling the inhabitants to Babylon. None can withstand them, they inspire terror wherever they go. And they are coming upon Judah! - upon God’s people! hwhy has sent them! The Chaldeans, or neo-Babylonians, ruled the ancient Near East 612-539 B.C., tyrannically administering a justice all its own and worshiping its own might. The answer the prophet received is valid for all time. A sovereign God has the incontestable prerogative of dealing with the wicked in His own time and way. יְהוָה 's answer to the wickedness of man is judgement! This is a universal and unerring principle.
-v.7 The Chaldeans are fear and terror inspiring - none can withstand them or appeal to international law or conventions of morality - they take no heed of the world court. They are a law to themselves - they set their own law and authority and heed no one else. So what can be done to resist them? They also represent the Babylon of the last days - the empire of man’s might (humanism) - coming to a zenith under the anti-christ - who sets himself as authority above all, a law to himself. None can resist him - he brings fear and terror, but what can be done when he respects none of the conventions, laws and authorities set up? He places himself above all. Babylon rules at the end, only to be destroyed by the stone cut without hands (cf. Dan 2; Rev 18; 19:1-6). Like the Chaldeans here, the end time Babylon is evil but is an instrument in יְהוָה ’s hand in fulfilling His end time plan - accomplishing His will before being judged herself.
-v.8 יְהוָה tells Judah that He is going to use Babylon as His instrument to execute judgement upon them because of their wickedness. Now Habakkuk vividly describes their attack. The invaders are likened to creatures of prey - swift and fierce. The invasion will be swift and fierce – swift like a leopard the horses will race upon them; like a wolf they will be ferocious. The cavalry of the Chaldeans is a notable feature of their army, their war horses prancing. Distance is no obstacle to an army so equipped - they come from far away but like the swift and vicious eagle the army of the Chaldeans swoops down to devour - utterly consume wicked Judah – none escapes his far-seeing eye.
-v.9 There are hoards of them in this army - when mustered together they are innumerable as grains of sand – so are the captives they sieze. They swoop in like the east wind - fierce, hot from the desert, burning all in its path. Every one of them come bent on violence. They destroyer has come! Judah will suffer violence! The consequence of her injustice and violence will return upon her own head. There is a God in the heavens who is just, and will execute judgement. Man’s sins will not be forever overlooked! A day of judgement is coming!
- v.10 Utterly arrogant and confident in their own invincibility, this invading army scorns all accepted authority - they are not impressed by kings and rulers - violence rules - their might is their authority (cf. Mao "authority comes from the end of a gun"). They mock kings and princes, they mock and laugh in derision at people’s attempts to defend themselves. Their fortresses are no obstacle - they laugh at them, totally assured in their might. They build an earthwork against the city wall and capture it. Nothing stops them. Resistance is futile. They overrun and capture all they set their heart upon. When יְהוָה acts in judgement, do you think that your defences will be able to stand and hold off the onslaught of violence that is coming? All efforts of defence and resistance are laughable to the might foe יְהוָה will send against the wicked. They will be captured because hwhy has decreed that they be captured. Captives will be as numerous as grains of sand. This verse accurately portrays the military practice of the Chaldeans in throwing up earthen ramparts to take fortresses.
-v.11 Nothing holds up this army in its rapid onward advance - they pass through leaving destruction and devastation in their path. They conquer then move on to their next objective. The capture of Judah is barely a hiccup in their onward path. The capture of Judah is no obstacle at all. They sweep through like a wind, coming and passing on - but oh, what a trail of destruction is left in their wake! They are a wicked people, guilty, military power is their god. They glory in their might, delighting in violence, destruction and conquest. This is not war for defence, because of a threat or a dispute - it is mindless war for its own sake. They worship violence, they war because this is their delight. Arrogant and proud, they worship their own great might and power, giving them an insatiable lust to conquer more. Although they are יְהוָה ’s instrument, they are guilty for their unjustified violence and conquest. But when war is their god, there is no reasoning, conciliation or appeasement possible. Nothing will cause them to relent. War, might, conquest is their raison d’etre. Nothing can be done to avert them or prevent the inevitable conquest. Nothing can be done to stay the judgement of the wicked! Judgement is inevitable and unavoidable.
- "whose strength is their god" – This is Babylon! Man worshipping man, his own power, might and ability. This is humanism - the worship of man, and it is ages old.– (Genesis 10:8-10 Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the יְהוָה ; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the יְהוָה ” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar) Nimrod was a mighty man – man in his own strength – and what did he do? He went about setting up cities, gathering men together for collective strength. "United we stand, divided we fall" – that is humanism. Democracy – that is humanism. Man organises, and collaborates, co-operates – if we work together we can do anything. The majority is right, truth is what the majority says. The majority is wrong. Man thinks that he is right, that he is the measure, that he has the power. We don't need God, we can do it ourselves. Terrible arrogance! Man in his pride, thinks he can do without God! Not realising his utter dependence upon Him. (Genesis 11:1-9 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” יְהוָה came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. יְהוָה said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So יְהוָה scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there יְהוָה confused the language of the whole earth; and from there יְהוָה scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.). We applaud human efforts – we don't realise that they are actually satanic! (cf. Matthew 16:22,23 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”). Babylon/humanism is satanic – the prophecy against Babylon in Isaiah 14 is in fact referring to satan (Isaiah 14:4,5,12-15 take up this taunt against the king of Babylon, and say, “How the oppressor has ceased, And how fury has ceased! “יְהוָה has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit.) It is this satanic empire of humanism, man in his cooperative power that is defeated by Jesus at the end in Revelation 18 – Babylon is man worshipping his own power and ability, proud, supreme confidence in himself – this is what we will face at the end – it is what we face now! And God is going to use Babylon – it will be His instrument in the end-times just as it was in Habakkuk's day.
יְהוָה was going to use Babylon – Who raised up the Chaldeans? - not Nebuchadnezzar but יְהוָה ! יְהוָה uses the nations, is in control of them. He is sovereign directing the affairs of the nation. They may think they are carrying out their ambition but יְהוָה is controlling everything to work out His own purposes. God is in control, He can and does use people and nations to carry out His purpose. יְהוָה said, "Look among the nations." (v.5) - it pays to look among the nations - יְהוָה acts in history – He always has and He still does – He is in control. We need to discern the times, ask ourselves what is יְהוָה saying to us through the things that are going on around us. "I am doing something in your days" – yes, God is at work in our days. We may think that man is doing his thing, that evil is in control – but God is acting in history, even using the evil of man in the fulfilment of His purposes. We are seeing the rise of Babylon (humanism) in our own day and will soon see the emergence of the final manifestation of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar may have had his heart set on world conquest, but it was יְהוָה 's purpose – he was just a mere instrument in יְהוָה 's plan, a pawn, a player or character in the Divine drama. I have found that this sovereignty of God is a concept greatly resisted by natural man – natural man likes to think that he is in control of his own destiny, he objects to the idea of a God who has the absolute right , authority and power to do as He chooses with what He has made. I know some years ago some people were outraged by Tim Shadbolt using the mayoral Daimler to tow his concrete-mixer – what right has he to do that with a fine piece of luxury motor-vehicle? He may not have, but if he owned the car, he can do with it as he chooses. Even more so does Mr. Daimler have the right to do as he chooses with a car that he designed, made and owns! We are not our own! Our great sin of pride is to think that we are! God is in control of history. He uses time, this era, this universe for the expressed purpose of making known His nature. He is the Director of The Divine drama. God uses whole nations and empires to do His purpose without them even knowing – yes, even evil Judas did God's pre-planned purpose – he was still responsible for what he did (cf. Matthew 26:24 The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”). Ultimately even satan is an instrument whereby the Divine nature is revealed. God can raise up Babylon to carry out His purpose – He did so with Pharaoh (Romans 9:14-24 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing moulded will not say to the moulder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honourable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.) I have found that man reacts against the concept of the sovereignty of God. It is actually because the inherent rebellious nature of man – he likes to think that he is in control. One thing I have found, even among Christians, that is like a red rag to a bull – and that is to talk of the sovereignty of God. They object to the idea of a Divine drama with God working out what each player does, working all things according to His purpose. Definition of God's sovereignty: God can do what He likes, when He like, with who He likes and He doesn't have to ask anyone's opinion. You may not like it, but it doesn't alter the fact that GOD IS SOVEREIGN! God is Spirit, invisible – how would His eternal nature be known unless their was an object on which it could be expressed. God is love – but without something to show that love to, its all rather meaningless. God is just – but without injustice, the greatness of that quality could not be appreciated. God is! That is what the Name יְהוָה means! But without conscious beings with a spiritual nature, He could never be known, His glory would never be known. So God created a universe peopled it, made beings with a spiritual nature, then played out His Divine drama so that His nature, His glory, could be seen. The reason the world and universe and indeed man was created was not for our benefit so we would have a nice place to live – it was for 's glory! Only through the Divine Drama that He is directing could His glory be known, be displayed. The prime motive in all that יְהוָה does is FOR HIS GLORY!