I am confident of the fact that we all know that we are a church contained within our own selves. The building with the steeple and mortar and clay is not your primary church in as much as your fleshly dwelling. Materialisim and fleshly living are Babylonian practices we as stewards of “The Living God” need to beware of. I recently wrote about being slave to the lender and surprisingly I got no response pertaining to its content. We never feel good about our darkness being spoken of, but in-order to render ourselves stewards of healing we need the word spoken. The scripture says faith comes by hearing and how can the people hear without a preacher.
New King James Version (NKJV)
6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
‘Woe to him who increases
What is not his—how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?[a]
7 Will not your creditors[b] rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,
Because of men’s blood
And the violence of the land and the city,
And of all who dwell in it.
9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
That he may set his nest on high,
That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!
10 You give shameful counsel to your house,
Cutting off many peoples,
And sin against your soul.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
And the beam from the timbers will answer it.
12 “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed,
Who establishes a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,[c]
And nations weary themselves in vain?
14 For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.
20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”
The sentence of judgement against Babylon for their character of pride and their action of all-consuming greed (implicit in 2:4-5 and 1:5-7) is clearly and absolutely stated in verses six through 20. Here we have God giving voice to all the victims of injustices in a taunt song against their oppressors. All those nations conquered and plundered by the Babylonians would in due time witness the fall of their conqueror and join in this song of derision and denunciation. The announcement is captured in five stanzas of three verses each all beginning with the denouncement woe. These five woes are not only pronounced against the Babylonians but against the Israelites and all peoples who practice such evils.
I. Greedy Pawnbrokers, 6-8.
II. Secure Extortioners, 9-11.
III. Ruthless Enslavers, 12-14.
IV. Perverse Disgracers, 15-17.
V. Senseless Idol Worshippers, 18-20.
The suffering righteous receive alleviation if they discern the consequences for wicked living. The woes against the vicious wicked begin in verse 6. “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him, and say, ’Woe to him who increases what is not his–for how long–and makes himself rich with loans?”
Habakkuk said that all those nations (v. 5b) that Babylon has ruthlessly conquered and plundered will one day take up a taunt-song (mãŝãl) against them. This song of ridicule or mockery sung by their survivors is a poetic composition that has parallelism as its principle form of construction. This song is a type of object lesson for those who overstep God’s boundaries.
Woe is an exclamation of disaster because of certain sins (Isa. 3:11, 5:11, 10:5). It was frequently used by the prophets (22 times by Isaiah, 10 by Jeremiah and 7 by Ezekiel and 14 times in the minor prophets, and often by Jesus). The first is directed towards those puff-up proud who acquire goods dishonestly. They became wealthy by extortion. This woe compares the Babylonians to unscrupulous pawnbrokers who lend at exorbitant interest. They sought to heap up for themselves property that was not theirs. It was of course brazen theft. The valuables taken were not the property of the invaders. How long did they think they could continue doing this with impunity? How long would God let them keep It? Since it was not theirs, God sees it as loaned out to them. We will find out it was loaned to them at very high interest rates.
God’s responses to Habakkuk’s question as to the outcome of the conquering wicked continues in verse 7. “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.”
The question in verse 6 about how long they would be rich with the loans of others is answered by two other questions. The first is, will not your debtors suddenly arise? The word debtor/creditor is literally biter. They will bite back and get hold of what is theirs. The word collect is literally shake violently. It is a strong word like the violent shaking of loose leaves and branches by a force five hurricane. Babylon would become plunder or the victim. The plundered will not only get a lockjaw hold on their goods but shake (collect) their oppressor violently to get even more from them. Babylon would now herself be attacked and extorted.
Ambition can be a good thing (Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 5:9) or it can be a motivation for greed, selfishness, and abuse. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambition and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and power. They had hoards of stolen goods plundered from weaker people. God warned them that the owners of this wealth would one day rise up to collect what was due them. The Babylonians then would become the victims.
Some of their crimes are describe more fully in verse 8. “Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you–because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.”
The punishment fits the crime. The looter would be looted for the plundered would rise up suddenly to plunder. There was going to be a boomerang effect and their action would come back to strike them full force. Babylon’s intimidation and inhumanity would recoil on their own heads. They would reap what they had sown (Prov. 22:8; Gal. 6:7).
This reversal of roles would come about because they had ruthlessly shed man’s blood and had recklessly ravaged both lands and cities. Babylon had shed rivers of blood and so her blood would be shed. The nations will plunder the plunderer. The people will do violence to the violent.
II. SECURE EXTORTIONERS, 9-11. The second woe is pronounce on the violent extortioners who think they have made their life secure in verse 9. “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high to be delivered from the hand of calamity!”
Not only were the Babylonians guilty of unjust gain (vv. 6-8) but they also used that plunder for self-exaltation. A man is motivated to try and build a family and accumulate as much as he can by more or less honest means. Then a vulture swoops in and takes it away because he desires to enlarge his portfolio. He does what ever it takes to place himself beyond the possibility of ruin. Like these banks taking people homes in America right now.
The imagery is that these greedy men wanted to build a fortune, elevate themselves to invulnerable financial security depicted by an eagles nest on high. They sought to build for themselves a secure heritage, inaccessible and impregnable from the attack of others (Num. 24:21, Job 39:27; Jer. 49:16 and Ob. 4). They wanted sufficient enough wealth to deliver themselves from all forms of calamity. But this goal wasn’t just for an individual but for a towering world empire that they built with plunder and covetousness.
The conclusion of the proud way is shame and realizing you have wasted your life. Verse 10 continues the second woe. “You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off (killing) many peoples, so you are sinning against yourself.” (10)
In trying to elevate and protect his house and strengthen his rule by robbery and plunder so that his family might live in security he has done a shameful thing. The result of his heaping up evil gain brings shame and not security to his house.
Instead of lasting glory will come shame and ruin. An estate raised by iniquity is always a scandal to a family. But that is not the worst of it. They also sin against (hata) their own soul for he has brought the retribution of God against his own house (Eccl. 8:8) because he ruined many people. The sentence balances the crime, shame for self-exaltation.
Verse 11 indicates that even the items purchased with plunder would cry out against them. “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.”
Even inanimate things like the buildings he has erected to his own glory and for the satisfaction of his own pride will cry out because of the injustices perpetrated first to obtain them and then to use them. Even if all other witnesses were killed the stones of the walls and the beams of the woodwork will testify against them (Gen. 4:10, LK 19:40, Ps. 29:9).
Picture a nobleman in the Babylonian army. He wants to rise to a high position and enjoy its rewards–to have an opulent house and to be secure in it. So he cuts down a forest that belongs to somebody else and from the trees of that forest makes great beams for his home. Then he destroys someone else’s home and takes the beautiful stone blocks it was made of for himself. When he finishes he has a beautiful house, a “nest on high” (v.9). But everyone who looks at it knows where the stones and beams came from, and his pride and joy become a cause for shame. When the opportunity arises they will see that the nobleman is treated as he treated others. The exalted nest would be knocked off its lofty perch and the lavish palaces would become a mausoleum, or an above ground tomb. Saddam Hussein’s palaces are a good examples.
III. RUTHLESS ENSLAVERS, 12-14.
Violent injustice is condemned again in verse 12. “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!”
For the tyrannical oppression of captured peoples, a third woe is called down on the Chaldean conquerors. Here is a nation that has gone from greed, to injustice and now to violence. Not content with what their injustices can procure for themselves they now add crimes of violence to their vices, so great is their lust to have things.
Their cities were built with bloodshed. First the wealth by which the king of Babylon built his magnificent buildings was gain by bloody warfare. Second, capture labor was uncaringly sacrificed to build the structures of the empire. Oppression, murder and tyranny built the nation. Yes, great effort & strength they conquered the world & built an empire, but it was all for naught .
God says that human labor is fuel for the fire for those who build by bloodshed in verse 13. “Is it not indeed from the LORD of Hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations grow weary for nothing?”
The dirge now turns to the LORD of Hosts and His assessment of the violent scene. The outcome of their crimes against humanity are also crimes against God’s way. Contrary to the proud intentions of the Babylonians the Lord would determine the final outcome of all this toil. All their exhausting work for self-exaltation would be for nothing. Their work would all be consumed in the fire that would bring the Chaldean Empire to an end. God causes the plans and peoples who opposed His way to fail and their eveil life becomes fuel for the eternal fire.
Calamity in the earth is not God’s last word. Verse 14 is the center piece of these five woes. It declares God’s intent to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
In times of old Nimrod had set up a kingdom in Babylon to usurp the power and glory of the Most High God (Gen. 10:10, 11:14). But it passed away. Babylon conquered the known world, but it too passed away. One day again “Babylon” will set up its kingdom (Rev. 17-18) but it will be replaced by the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15). The Babylonian kingdoms of this world must give way to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, the kingdom of this world that leads peoples away from the knowledge of the Lord God must be conquered, judged and cleansed. The purpose of God in creating the earth was that it might reflect His glory, (Num. 14:21, Isa. 11:9) and in that day it will!
When the Messiah rules in His earthly kingdom, the knowledge of the Lord will be worldwide. Everyone will know of Him (Jer. 31:34). So extensive and abundant will be that knowledge that it will be like water covering the sea. The jagged rocks of injustice and the entangling seaweed of sin will be covered with the deep peace of God’s righteousness.
In 1861, during the US Civil War, author Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC. One day she saw a large number of soldiers marching. Early the next morning she awoke with words for a song in her mind.
In the midst of all the ugliness of war her faith led her to write: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” She grasped that in spite of and even through the ugliness, God was “marching on” toward the day when He will right the wrongs of the ages.
[The prophet Habakkuk came to a similar conclusion. Chapter 1 of his book tells us how troubled he was when he learned that God was going to punish the people of Judah by letting them be conquered by the wicked Babylonians. In chapter 2, God assured His servant that-]
In spite of and even through all the ugliness and wrongs of history–He is “marching on” toward the day when He who rules the universe from “His holy temple” (v. 20) will fill “the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD”.
In contrast to the shame and infamy of short-lived Babylon, God promised that one day His glory would cover the earth. The gloom of the preceding and following woes is broken by a ray of light shining in the midst of the darkness of man’s self-seeking. One day God’s presence will fill the earth (Num. 14:21; Isa. 6:3) permeating every place like water. Theoretical knowledge is insufficient. Each person needs an intimate personal encounter with God.
Have you had one?-an intimate personal encounter with God? Does your ambitions and business practices demonstrate that you have? How has your wealth been accumulated? Let your ambitions be of God and find your contentment in knowing Him. Encounter the unlimited God and you will not greedily grasp limited realm of earth.