The Book of Habakkuk
James J. Barker
WOES UPON THE WICKED CHALDEAN
- We left off
last week at Habakkuk 2:4, the great Scripture, which is quoted three times in
the NT – “The just shall liver by faith.”
- We are saved
by God’s grace through faith, but it is important to remember that we “live by
- The first
part of the verse is usually overlooked – “Behold, his soul which is lifted up
is not upright in him…”
- “His soul…”
– this refers to the Chaldean. The Chaldeans attacked Jerusalem and destroyed
the temple. They took the Jews into
- Here the
Chaldeans represent all proud, self-sufficient sinners. It is important to study this chapter
with that in mind.
- We saw in
our study of Habakkuk chapter 1 that Habakkuk was perplexed. He wondered why a holy and righteous God
would use wicked heathens like the Chaldeans to chasten His own people who were
“more righteous” (1:13).
- God revealed
to the prophet Habakkuk that the just were to live by faith. Meanwhile, God would surely judge the
- In this
chapter, God pronounces five woes.
“Woe” means “calamity.”
God’s judgment would soon come upon the wicked Chaldeans.
- WOE UPON PLUNDERING (2:6).
- WOE UPON COVETOUSNESS (2:9).
- WOE UPON OPPRESSION (2:12).
- WOE UPON DRUNKENNESS (2:15).
- WOE UPON IDOLATRY (2:19).
WOE UPON PLUNDERING
- The words
“plunder” or “plundering” are not found in our English Bible. Instead we see similar terms –
“gathereth unto him… heapeth unto him…increaseth that which is not his… ladeth
himself” (2:5, 6).
- When I speak
of “plundering,” I mean stealing and taking by force what is desired (2:5,
Chaldeans are described in the Bible as proud sinners, intoxicated by wine,
never satisfied, always looking for more things to acquire, and more cities and
nations to conquer (2:5).
- In the
Bible, hell and death are pictured as “never full.” Proverbs 27:20 says, “Hell and
destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.”
says the Chaldean “enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be
satisfied…” (Hab. 2:5).
30:15, 16 says, “There are three things that are never satisfied, yea, four
things say not, It is enough: The grave; and the barren womb; the earth that is
not filled with water; and the fire that saith not, It is enough.”
- Isaiah 5:14
says, “Therefore hell hath enlarged herself, and opened her mouth without
measure: and their glory, and their multitude, and their pomp, and he that
rejoiceth, shall descend into it.”
- We often sing, “There’s Room at the Cross for You.”
But there is a flip side to that.
There is still plenty of room in hell for impenitent sinners.
- Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean army were greedy for conquest. They also loved to drink wine (Hab.
2:5a). Daniel 5 tells us that while the Babylonians were getting drunk, the Medes and Persians marched into the city
and took over.
- Habakkuk 2:6 says, “Shall not all
these take up a parable against him…”
“These” refers to the various nations oppressed by the violent
- The reference to “thick clay” has been interpreted in several ways. Merrill Unger, in his Commentary on
the OT, says “thick clay” (2:6) refers to a “pledge or article pawned or
pledged” as security for a debt.
- The Chaldeans and Babylonians had plundered others; now they would be
plundered (2:7, 8). This prophecy
was fulfilled when Darius the Mede invaded Babylon and killed King Belshazzar
WOE UPON COVETOUSNESS
and materialism hinder spiritual life. For the unsaved, covetousness and
materialism hinder them from getting saved. For believers, these things hinder them
from growing spiritually.
Chaldeans set their “nest on high” (2:9), like an eagle that thinks his nest is
- In Babylon
there were 250 towers placed along the walls of the city. These towers were 420 feet
- Walls 350
feet high and 87 feet thick surrounded the entire city. There were 100 gates made of brass. So they thought they were
- But God
warned them, “Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the
people shall spoil thee” (Hab. 2:8).
- Around the
same time, the prophet Jeremiah prophesied, “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The
broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be
burned with fire” (Jer. 51:58).
prophecies were fulfilled when Darius the Mede and his army cut off the
Euphrates River and diverted the water into other channels. The Euphrates River ran right through
the city, but Darius turned it into a dry riverbed. This allowed him and his
army to march in and take the Babylonians by surprise (cf. Daniel
Darius did not burn down Babylon.
The city fell intact and the Medes and Persians occupied it for many
years. Many Bible teachers believe
Habakkuk 2:13 will be completely fulfilled during the tribulation (Rev. 18:8,
- It is quite
possible that the city of Babylon will be rebuilt and will become the commercial
capital of the antichrist during the tribulation. It will then be destroyed in fulfillment
of Rev. 18.
- Covetousness is a wicked sin, and it brings shame to the whole “house”
(Hab. 2:9, 10). “He that is greedy
of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live” (Proverbs
- The tenth commandment is, “Thou shalt not covet” (Ex. 20:17). It is
widely ignored, and even many Christians overlook it.
- Our Lord said in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of
covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the
things which he possesseth.”
- Colossians 3:5 says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the
earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence,
and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
WOE UPON OPPRESSION
- Babylon was
built by blood and established by iniquity (2:12).
- Daniel tried
to warn proud King Nebuchadnezzar, “Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be
acceptable unto thee, and break off thy sins by righteousness, and thine
iniquities by shewing mercy to the poor; if it may be a lengthening of thy
tranquility” (Dan. 4:27).
- But the
proud monarch would not listen to the man of God (Dan. 4:30-33).
- God allowed
Babylon to invade Jerusalem. And
God allowed Babylon to prosper for some time. “Behold, is it not of the LORD of
hosts?” (Hab. 2:13).
destruction of Babylon is a vivid picture of the future destruction of Satan’s
one-world government and one-world religion, which will precede the second
coming of Christ (Hab. 2:14).
- “But as
truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD”
- “And blessed
be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory;
Amen, and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).
- “And one
cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole
earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:3).
- “For the
earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”
- These prophecies will be fulfilled when Christ returns to set up His
kingdom. The whole earth
“shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea”
after God destroys Babylon.
- It is common in OT prophecy to go from an immediate, imminent judgment
(in this case the destruction of ancient Babylon), to future judgment (the
WOE UPON DRUNKENNESS
- On the basis
of Habakkuk 2:15, it seems highly unlikely that our Lord turned the water into
fermented wine at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1-11).
- Alcohol often leads to shame
and immorality (Hab. 2:15, 16).
- The Bible has many warnings
– consider Noah and Lot.
- Alcohol often leads to
violence – not just at parties and taverns and nightclubs, but often in the home
and in places like airplanes and baseball games,
- There is an article in
today’s NY Post about a recent Columbia University study. Between 1990 and 2003, 145 of 315
unintentional deaths came when drunk subway riders stumbled off the platform,
fell suddenly ill or foolishly jumped onto the tracks to retrieve a personal
item. Drunken subway riders died at
higher rates than those who were killed or committed
- A quarter of a million
Americans lost their lives in alcohol-related car crashes over the past decade –
70 a day! The news media has made a
big thing about the casualties in Iraq, but they seldom mention the slaughter on
our highways due to drunk drivers.
- Congressman Vito Fossella of
Staten Island was arrested for drunk driving, and then it was revealed that he
had a secret mistress and 3-year-old out-of- wedlock
- The other day he threw
himself a big party (before he goes to jail) with some of his big-shot friends
like Mayor Bloomberg and Congressman Pete
- One of the speakers, City
Councilman James Oddo, compared Fossella to the Lord Jesus Christ, while 1,000
supporters in the packed ballroom cheered like
- On an average weekend night,
one out of every ten cars you pass is driven by a drunk driver.
- About 6,000 babies are born
every year with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, literally “pickled” in the womb by a
- Every Christian should take
the same pledge as Abraham Lincoln:
“Whereas, the use of intoxicating liquors as
a beverage is productive of pauperism, degradation, and crime; and believing it
our duty to discourage that which produces more evil than good, we therefore
pledge ourselves to abstain from the use of intoxicating liquors as a beverage”
(Abraham Lincoln, February 22, 1842).
WOE UPON IDOLATRY (2:19).
- Idolatry was
the great sin of ancient Babylon, and it is the great sin of modern day
ecclesiastical and commercial Babylon (Rev. 17 & 18).
“trust” in their “dumb idols” (2:18).
- The idol may
be overlaid with gold and silver, but there is no life in it (2:19).
Thessalonians 1:9 says, “How ye turned to God from idols to serve the
living and true God.”
- Behind idols
lurk demons who delude and deceive all idolaters.
- “But the
LORD is in His holy temple…” (2:20).
- This wicked
world appears to be spinning out of control, but God is on the throne and He is