Scripture reading – Habakkuk 1-3
Habakkuk was a prophet whose brief ministry served as a final warning of the LORD’s judgment on Judah for the sins of the people. A contemporary of Jeremiah, Habakkuk’s lamentation over Judah and the imminent invasion of the Chaldeans was an ominous conclusion of a succession of warnings faithfully delivered by the prophets.
Only three chapters long, Habakkuk’s prophecies were as much an appeal to the LORD for Judah as they were a lamentation over the devastation God’s people would soon face as the invading armies of Babylon (the Chaldeans) stormed over the land, finally destroying Jerusalem and the Temple.
Habakkuk 1 is a record of Judah’s sins (1:1-4) and a warning that God would use the Chaldeans to punish the sins of His rebellious people (1:5-17). Habakkuk questioned why the LORD would use Babylon, a heathen nation whose wickedness far exceeded the sins of Judah, to punish His people (1:12-13).
Habakkuk 1:13 – “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked[Babylon] devoureth the man [i.e. Judah] that is more righteous than he?”
Having questioned the ways of the LORD, the prophet waited for an answer (2:1) and the LORD graciously responded (2:2-4). The judgment of God was set against Judah; however, God had not forsaken His chosen people, therefore, “the just shall live by his faith” (2:4; note Romans 1:16-17).
Although God would use Babylon as a tool to exact justice on Judah for her wickedness, the LORD was not blind to the sins of the Chaldeans (2:5-20). Habakkuk raised several grievances against Babylon, among them their drunkenness (2:5, 15-16), greed and covetousness (2:6-9), violence (2:10-14, 17-18), and idolatry (2:19-20).
Habakkuk began with a cry of lamentation over the sorrows and sufferings that would soon engulf Judah (1:1-4), but ends with the prophet praying and acknowledging the LORD’s sovereignty (3:1-2) and majesty (3:3-16). The prophet had moved from questioning the LORD, to trusting His ways and rejoicing in His faithfulness (3:17-19).
Habakkuk 3:17-19 – “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”
I close today’s devotional drawing your attention to two verses too many 21st century believers trivialize and dismiss as they assail any who dare question their “Liberty.”
Among the sins and wickedness of Babylon, was one that was mentioned twice…wine and drunkenness (Habakkuk 2:5, 15). The Chaldeans were condemned not only for their drunkenness, but also for giving strong drink to mock and take advantage of their neighbor.
Habakkuk 2:5 – “Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:”
Habakkuk 2:15 – “Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!”
I close with a lesson all believers would be wise to heed: Wine and strong drink often chart the path to unrestrained pride, shameless adultery, uninhibited lust, and gross immorality.
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith