God’s Word of Prayer
Habakkuk 2:1-20: The LORD offers Habakkuk a vision of justice, saying that the Babylonians will be punished according to the way they have treated others. This vision is borne out by history: the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. and stole the treasures of Israel’s temple. Yet by 539 B.C., the Babylonian leaders became so weak that King Cyrus of Persia captured the city of Babylon without a fight.
The Lord‘s Answer to Habakkuk
1I will climb my watchtower and wait to see what the Lord will tell me to say and what answer he will give to my complaint.
2The Lord gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. 3 Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. 4 And this is the message: ‘Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’”
Doom on the Unrighteous
5Wealth is deceitful. Greedy people are proud and restless—like death itself they are never satisfied. That is why they conquer nation after nation for themselves. 6The conquered people will taunt their conquerors and show their scorn for them. They will say, “You take what isn’t yours, but you are doomed! How long will you go on getting rich by forcing your debtors to pay up?”
7But before you know it, you that have conquered others will be in debt yourselves and be forced to pay interest. Enemies will come and make you tremble. They will plunder you! 8You have plundered the people of many nations, but now those who have survived will plunder you because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.
9You are doomed! You have made your family rich with what you took by violence, and have tried to make your own home safe from harm and danger! 10But your schemes have brought shame on your family; by destroying many nations you have only brought ruin on yourself. 11Even the stones of the walls cry out against you, and the rafters echo the cry.
12You are doomed! You founded a city on crime and built it up by murder. 13 The nations you conquered wore themselves out in useless labor, and all they have built goes up in flames. The Lord Almighty has done this. 14 But the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord‘s glory as the seas are full of water.
15You are doomed! In your fury you humiliated and disgraced your neighbors; you made them stagger as though they were drunk. 16You in turn will be covered with shame instead of honor. You yourself will drink and stagger. The Lord will make you drink your own cup of punishment, and your honor will be turned to disgrace. 17You have cut down the forests of Lebanon; now you will be cut down. You killed its animals; now animals will terrify you. This will happen because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.
18What’s the use of an idol? It is only something that a human being has made, and it tells you nothing but lies. What good does it do for its maker to trust it—a god that can’t even talk! 19You are doomed! You say to a piece of wood, “Wake up!” or to a block of stone, “Get up!” Can an idol reveal anything to you? It may be covered with silver and gold, but there is no life in it.
20The Lord is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.
Today’s Key Verse: Habakkuk 2:4
This is the message: “Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.”
Habakkuk 2:4 is used by several New Testament writers (see Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Ephesians 2:8; Hebrews 10:38). The “proud” (verse 5) likely refers to the Babylonians. But it also refers to those who take pride and place their trust in their own abilities, power or wealth rather than trusting God. Does pride ever interrupt your relationship with God? In verses 9-17, the messages of doom are most likely directed at the Babylonians. In what ways will they be punished for the ways they have treated others?
Holy One, you alone are God. Forgive me of my foolish pride, and remind me that you are the source of all things. Make me a humble servant that I may become an agent of your justice and peace. Amen.
Habakkuk 3:1-19: Habakkuk prays to the LORD.