When God Makes No Sense: Day Three

by | May 20, 2020 | Engage God Daily

The following comes from Chapater 3 of Bruce’s book, “When God Makes No Sense.”

Mature faith humbly trusts in the God whom we can never fully understand. In the face of evil and suffering, we trust in the Lord God who will one day fill the earth with his glory. But sometimes life has a way of shaking our faith. This week, we’re learning how to hold on to the unshakeable God when he makes no sense, we’re entering into the third section of Habakkuk—the five woes or dooms. 

A deep question for the people in Habakkuk’s day was how to live faithfully for God while they were being cruelly oppressed by the evil Babylonians. Their cry has been echoed throughout history all the way to today by those who are victims—those oppressed by powerful people who are oftentimes cruel. We think of the Jews in Nazi Germany. We think of slaves in the nine­teenth century in America. What about people today who are unjustly mistreated for their faith, their color, their sexuality, their status as felons, or for being immigrants? What about people oppressed in North Korea or the Central African Republic or in northern Nigeria? How can we live faithfully while we are suffering?

Our text today gives us insight into how to endure well. It gives victims a voice that transforms them into survivors. It gives hope to the hopeless and peace to those in great pain. In the striking passage we will look at today, we get a preview of what will happen to those who are unrighteous and proud.

Read

Habakkuk 2:6–20 (NET)

The Proud Babylonians are as Good as Dead

2:6 “But all these nations will someday taunt him

and ridicule him with proverbial sayings:

‘The one who accumulates what does not belong to him is as good as dead

(How long will this go on?)—

he who gets rich by extortion!’

2:7 Your creditors will suddenly attack;

those who terrify you will spring into action,

and they will rob you.

2:8 Because you robbed many countries,

all who are left among the nations will rob you.

You have shed human blood

and committed violent acts against lands, cities, and those who live in them.

2:9 The one who builds his house by unjust gain is as good as dead.

He does this so he can build his nest way up high

and escape the clutches of disaster.

2:10 Your schemes will bring shame to your house.

Because you destroyed many nations, you will self-destruct.

2:11 For the stones in the walls will cry out,

and the wooden rafters will answer back.

2:12 The one who builds a city by bloodshed is as good as dead—

he who starts a town by unjust deeds.

2:13 Be sure of this! The Lord who commands armies has decreed:

The nations’ efforts will go up in smoke;

their exhausting work will be for nothing.

2:14 For recognition of the Lord’s sovereign majesty will fill the earth

just as the waters fill up the sea.

2:15 “You who force your neighbor to drink wine are as good as dead—

you who make others intoxicated by forcing them to drink from the bowl of your furious anger,

so you can look at their genitals.

2:16 But you will become drunk with shame, not majesty.

Now it is your turn to drink and expose your uncircumcised foreskin!

The cup of wine in the Lord’s right hand is coming to you,

and disgrace will replace your majestic glory!

2:17 For you will pay in full for your violent acts against Lebanon;

terrifying judgment will come upon you because of the way you destroyed the wild animals living there.

You have shed human blood

and committed violent acts against lands, cities, and those who live in them.

2:18 What good is an idol? Why would a craftsman make it?

What good is a metal image that gives misleading oracles?

Why would its creator place his trust in it

and make such mute, worthless things?

2:19 The one who says to wood, ‘Wake up!’ is as good as dead—

he who says to speechless stone, ‘Awake!’

Can it give reliable guidance?

It is overlaid with gold and silver;

it has no life’s breath inside it.

2:20 But the Lord is in his majestic palace.

The whole earth is speechless in his presence!”

In looking at the introduction to this section in verse 6, who will speak these words? When? To whom?

What short phrase do you see repeated five times? Check out a few other translations. How do they translate this same line?

Give a brief heading to each of the five dooms summarizing each one in a short phrase.

How do 2:14 and 2:20 stand out as unique in this passage?

How does the earth respond to God in 2:20? When will that happen?

Reflect

Before we get to the text itself, we need to understand its literary form because this passage is culturally distant from us. I have come to some fresh insights for me that are challenging, partially because they are not familiar.

Let’s read the first verse of our passage that previews the rest of the passage. Habakkuk 2:6:

But all these nations will someday taunt him and ridicule him with proverbial sayings.

The speaker of these sayings is the nations, those who are being oppressed. They will taunt and ridicule “him.” The “him” is the Babylonian tyrant who stands for the nations, which while historical, also represents all proud oppressors. What follows is a taunt song with five stanzas. Each one has the Hebrew word, Hoy, which is onomatopoetic. It means woe or doom. It was used during funerals as a wailing lament for the dead. God gave Habakkuk a mock funeral dirge to ridicule the Babylonian oppressors.  While it appears that the proud, cruel oppressors were winning the day, the victims sang a song of lament for the soon to be dead. The Babylonians were on the verge of death and didn’t know it. The righteous victims by faith would live, but the proud, temporary victors were about to die so they were having a funeral for them in advance.

Babylon looked invincible, as has every great empire in history—but in the end, they all fell.

In a series of five mocking oracles, God gave the victims a powerful voice of hope, justice and victory. Each of the five dooms describes the sin of the ungodly and the corresponding judgment to come. This series of dooms shows that ultimately sin, evil, crime, injustice, oppression and immorality are doomed to destruction. In answer to Habakkuk’s questions, God essentially said, “I am on my throne; I do see what’s going on and I am going to do something about it in a very serious way.” “Vengeance is Mine . . . says the Lord” (Romans 12:19, NKJ).

What’s striking to me is that these verses of doom were sung by the victims to their captors. God gives us this strong language as seeds of hope, turning helpless victims into hope-filled survivors. The ungodly proud think they are on top of the mountain, but they will crash while their victims, who seem in bad shape, will actually live forever in God’s power. God empowers the victims and gives them a voice.

By application, we can see three powerful implications of these five dooms: first, they function as a warning to God’s people of sins that we must avoid; secondly, they warn the ungodly to repent; and thirdly, they assure us that God will make it all right.

In verse 20 the Hebrew word for “be silent” is hāsâh. It can be translated, “hush,” hāsâh. Habakkuk calls us to silent reverence, respectful allegiance to the Lord who sits in his majestic palace as the rightful King of the world. When you really open your eyes to see the incomparable God, you are speechless.

What’s the point of this amazing text? The Lord will judge the ungodly and fill the earth with his glory, so sing truth to warn yourself not to sin, to warn the ungodly of divine doom and to assure yourself that God will make it right. One day, justice will be done. God will vindicate his name and finally set everything right. God tells us that the righteous will live by faith and faith­fulness while the ungodly will reap what they sow. God will make all things right. Until that time, God gives victims the gift of a song that offers warning and hope.

We take these five dooms as a warning to us and to our children against greed, injustice, violence, immorality and trust­ing in created things. We write them on our hearts. We take these dooms as a warning for the ungodly so we tell them God’s message. Be warned: God will bring shame and disgrace on you. You will self-destruct and taste God’s wrath.

The only hope of any human being is to find safety in Jesus Christ our Savior. We have all sinned. We have all pridefully tried to build our own security apart from God. The only hope is faith in the One who came to save us from ourselves, the One who gives life eternally.

While Habakkuk did not get detailed answers as to why God was doing just what he was doing, he learned more about the mysterious ways of God and so have we. We cannot grasp all of God, and that is good. God is God and we are not. He will never fit in our puny little brains.

Respond

How are you guilty of some of the same types of things that Babylon did? Of what could you repent? How do God’s promises in 2:14 and 2:20 impact you?

In view of chapter 2:20, I think it is only appropriate, before we come to the final chapter of the book, to take a moment to be silent before the Lord.

The complete text of When God Makes No Sense: A Fresh Look at Habakkuk is available on Amazon. Bruce will donate all profits from the sale of his book this month to Christ Fellowship’s Love Fund to help those in need.

About the Engage God DailY

Jesus invites us to know him personally and engage with him daily. Through daily Bible reading and prayer, we can grow in our relationship with him. The Engage God Daily is a daily resource designed to help you better understand the Bible and take you deeper into the concepts taught on Sunday mornings.

Use this guide to prepare for next Sunday’s teaching. Each day presents a reading, Scripture, and a prayer to help grow in your walk with Christ this week. 

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