The second cycle of Habakkuk is, in my opinion, the hardest to work through. Habakkuk continues to ask God questions relating to how he is going to deal with sin and God does not sugar coat the answer.
Recap of the first exchange between the prophet and God (1:1-11)
Habakkuk – “God, there is sin the nation. Why are you not doing anything about it? God, do something!”
God – “OK. I will deal with your sin with my justice. I am going to send the Chaldean army, a much more wicked nation, to come and wiped you out as a punishment.”
Theme: God wants us to know our sin, and his punishment for our sin so that we can turn from it and turn to him.
Habakkuk’s response to God’s plan (1:12-2:1)
God’s answer does not make sense to Habakkuk. God is choosing to send people who not only seem to be more sinful, but also don’t have any conviction for their sin to carry out the punishment for those who have committed the lesser of sins. Habakkuk cannot understand how a more sinful nation can punish a less sinful nation. Even though this is improper way of look at sin, I would contend that we all do it. We all will gauge our sin based on other people’s sin. The problem is that this approach to dealing with sin does not lead you to the cross. If you feel like you are sinning less then it can lead to pride. If you feel like you are sinning more then it can lead to guilt.
This is a though pill for Habakkuk to swallow. Being punished by “more sinful” people just doesn’t make sense to him. This would be like being punished for immoral business practices by the former CEO of Enron… or being punished for lusting by Hugh Hefner and Tommy Lee…. or being punished for bad parenting by Britney Spears. It just does not seem logical.
On top of that Habakkuk questions why the Chaldeans are not getting punished for their own sin.
God’s answer (2:2-5)
God’s answer to Habakkuk doesn’t change: His justice will be carried out over every sin ever committed. He tells Habakkuk to write down what God has told him and let everyone know about it. God wants people to know their sin and also the punishment for their sin. He wouldn’t be a loving God if he didn’t. God desires all people to come to repentance and put their faith in Christ (1 Tim 2:4).
God reveals his punishment for sin because he desires us to repent of our sin and turn to him. We need to know that the punishment for sin is death and separation from God. The ultimate punishment for sins eternal damnation in Hell. This is obviously not a pleasant reality, but none the less a true reality. The beautiful thing is that God doesn’t stop there. Jesus has been offered as a substitute in our place to absorb the punishment for our sin. A common misconception is that God dismissed our punishment. The fact is that Jesus became our sin taking our punishment. In turn we become his righteousness (2 Cor 5:21).
Check yourself (2:6-20)
So what is God going to do with the Chaldeans? Surely they have punishment coming their way?!? God address their sin along with the punishment for that particular sin. Once again, God address sin so that we have the opportunity to repent of it and turn to him.
Here are the 5 Woes that God has to the Chaldeans:
(2:6) “Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own- for how long? – and loads himself with pledges?”
- Do you spend money that you don’t have?
- Are you running up credit card debt on things that you don’t need?
(2:9) “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm!”
- Are you more concerned with your own comfort or caring and serving others?
- In what ways do strive to keep your own comfort?
(2:12) “Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity!”
(2:15) “Woe to him him who makes his neighbors drink- you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!”
- Do you do whatever is necessary to feed your desires?
- In what ways do you take advantage of others to get what you want
(2:19) “Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise!
- I’ll let Mark Driscoll speak into this one….
It is almost impossible to cover everything that is in this passage in a week, but hopefully we can tackle some of the main points.
Spend time this week wrestling with the ideas in the passage. More post will come over the next few days…