Chastisement by God – Habakkuk 1:5-11

God Will Use Evil Nations To Chastise His People

5 “Look at the nations and watch-
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwellings not their own.
7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.
8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like an eagle swooping to devour;
9 they all come intent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.
10 They mock kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
by building earthen ramps they capture them.
11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on-
guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

Crisis Counseling

In the verses just before these, Habakkuk asks a profound, appropriate, and Godly question:  What are you going to do about the wickedness of Your people, Lord?

2 How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

God answers Habakkuk’s cry for intervention by the Lord with an answer that he did not expect, and one that would cause us all to take pause – He declared that He would raise up the Babylonians to conquer His people.  Habakkuk and the rest of us were most likely expecting a different response, something like, “I know it is difficult to watch, but I will surely turn the hearts of the people back to me, and all will be healed and restored, and there were be great joy and celebration of the people as they give their lives back to Me.”  Instead, Habakkuk now gets to hear about God’s plan to conquer Israel and enslave His people.

Careful Correction

The people Israel, descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, have had a tendency throughout history to wander off the beaten path to pursue their own desires.  God had shown them in the past that they should follow Him, in good times and bad.  However, Israel has required repeated correction.  Gentle rebukes by the prophets of God were met with stoning (they lashed out at the messengers because they couldn’t do it to God Himself, it would appear).

Time and time again, God increased the severity of hardships He placed on His people to get them to turn from wickedness and turn back to Him, the only Holy and Righteous God that exists.  But Israel, after turning back to God, quickly prospered, and then just as quickly went their own way.  And just as a human parent becomes annoyed when they spank a child and see in their eyes that, even during their correction, they are planning their very next act of rebellion, God took it up a notch.  They would be enslaved by the Babylonians.

Creative Chaos

It was bad enough to be “spanked” by God, but by the Babylonians?  That is like taking your child to the local bully guild, and then saying to them, “OK, beat up my child, he certainly deserves it.”  It was not only a rebuke by God, but humiliation as well.  Not only was God withdrawing His protection from His people, but using the equivalent of today’s modern gang-banger drug lords to do it.  God’s description of the Babylonians should give us pause:

  • They have no sense of law (God gave the Israelites the Law of God, something that they were very proud of)
  • They promoted their own honor (God warned against pride and haughtiness.  Rather than chastise the Babylonians, He was using them to chastise His people)
  • They were a violent people (God wanted the Israelites to be a people, and was using violence, antithetical to their law, to chastise the as well)
  • They mock kings and rulers (God’s law showed the Israelites to be respectful of authority.  God would use this very thing against them as a rebuke, since they themselves refused to honor and glorify God)
  • They were idol worshipers (they worshiped their own strength, rather than the One who gave it to them.  Again, a serious rebuke to the people who were told to worship God and refused to honor Him)

God would introduce chaos into their lives through a most stinging rebuke – a people who God would not immediately judge for doing even worse things than they were doing.  God is perfectly capable of bringing people back to Himself with love and kindness.  But when a people refuse the very love and kindness that are offered to them, what can be done?

Day of Distress

When we refuse God’s gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) nudges and rebukes, God resorts to the “bend your back” beat-down methodology.  God will allow another nation to thoroughly cause distress in the lives of His people.  And He does this for both the righteous (those who believe God) and the unrighteous (those who refuse to believe God, and through their sin, obscure the truth about God in their actions, words, and thoughts).

In the past, it was the Babylonians who were feared.  In today’s world, the new Babylonians are the Fundamentalist Adherents to Islam.   The F.A.I. have no fear – they strap bombs to themselves, their children, and anyone they can to cause the maximum amount of fear and disruption in society.  They behead, mutilate, rape, and disfigure anyone that has the impudence to oppose them and their belief system.  They pour acid on the faces of women who they accuse of disobedience to their laws.  They accuse women of sexual infidelity if a man rapes her, and her word is so despised, she needs several male witnesses to testify on her behalf that she was not at fault.  In all things, they act in ways that they believe honor their god, but that are, in God’s eyes, absolutely abhorrent.  They are promised great rewards in eternity, and are guaranteed entry into their heaven if they die while killing their enemies.  Only YHWH, the one true God, in His sovereign will, can change the mind of someone who is convinced that murdering others brings glory to their god.

God has been raising them up for more than a millennia now, and God blesses the fruit of their women’s wombs, while the rest of the world experiences barrenness and strife.  Their hatred of anyone who is not like them is amazing and appalling, and their adherence to the idea that the end justifies the means should place us all on guard (take a look at what is going on in Europe, especially Great Britain, France, and Germany…).  Any group of people who believe that what they do, no matter how cruel, evil, heinous, and despicable, is honored by their “god” because it advances the agenda of their “god”, is a people who should be watched and guarded against.  Just like the Babylonians more than two millennia ago, these people are the new force of evil that God is raising up to chastise the nations.  And they are very effectively chastising the nations even now.

Regal Rescue

YHWH, the one true God, is a God who is our strength and our rescue.  He is able, and willing, to rescue us from our every difficulty.  And just as God sent Jesus Christ to rescue us from our bondage to sin, He will rescue us again when we turn towards Him and away from sin:

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  Am I doing anything that would justify God bringing His chastisement upon me, my family and my nation?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your judgments are holy and righteous.  Everything that You do is right and good.  Father, forgive me for my sins.  Forgive my nation for its sins against You.  Father, because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of most is growing cold.  Forgive us for not better guarding our hearts against such wickedness, and for not speaking up when we had the opportunity.  Give me the courage to do what You desire me to do when faced with injustice.  Help me to encourage my family, my neighbors, and my nation to turn to You, worship You, and live our lives for You.  And when You send Your holy judgment upon us to chastise us, remember me, and keep me and my family safe from Your anger.  This I ask In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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