For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs. They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand.— Habakkuk 1:6-9
We introduced the thought yesterday about how the name, “Chaldeans,” literally means “clod-breakers.” Just as a tiller would violently turn over the dirt and bust up the clods, the Babylonians would violently turn over the land of Israel. They would bust up any remnant of rebellion and any semblance of pride. Though God used this terrible event to judge Israel for her sin, God would use this event to cleanse the land of inheritance He would preserve for His earthly people, Israel. When the Lord allowed His earthly people to return to Israel under the protection of the great Persian king, Cyrus the Great, Israel had become a humbled people, ready to fervently serve the Lord in fear and reverence (Ezra 1:1-3:11). Likewise, God works in similar ways with His spiritual people, the Body of Christ. God WILL chasten His children. This does not mean every trial of affliction a Born-Again Believer goes though is the chastening of God, but rest assured, if you are a Child of God, you WILL be chastened by His wise and loving hand. We should DESIRE the chastening hand of the Lord to shape us into the spiritual person He wants us to be! Lord, bust up all the clods of filthy sin and desires in my life, turn my life over, stir up a burning fire in me, and fill me with Your Spirit so that my life would be a fruitful garden which brings You glory from all its sweet and pleasant fruits and fragrances!
Habakkuk 1:5-11 is God’s reply to Habakkuk’s prayer. Habakkuk cried out for God’s seeming 1) Silence, 2) Indifference toward Violence, 3) Allowance of Sin, and 4) Tolerance of Injustice. God answers each of these accusations.
God’s Seeming Silence
Habakkuk cried out in verse 2, “O LORD, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear!” The Lord answers Habakkuk with seven verses which answers every little aspect of Habakkuk’s prayer. Habakkuk DID cry, and the LORD DID hear! This judgment God pronounced wasn’t just a last minute thought. This judgment was already planned because of the sin of king Manasseh (2 Kings 21:11-15). God does not remain silent.
God’s Seeming Indifference Toward Violence
The Chaldeans were a brutal people. They were known to put the kings and rulers of conquered cities in cages paraded through the streets. They were known for merciless slaughter. Habakkuk complained of the violence of Judah. God punishes Judah by bringing upon them a nation more violent and merciless. The Lord says that they “shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not theirs” (1:6). Similar wording is used in Revelation 20:9 when Satan’s armies encompass the camp of the Lord’s people at the end of the Tribulation. The difference is that in Revelation 20, the Lord rains fire from heaven to devour Satan’s armies where here in Habakkuk, the Lord allows the Chaldeans to take over Judah. The Lord WILL TAKE vengeance.
The Chaldeans were “bitter” and “hasty.” They were “terrible” and “dreadful.” The terror and dread that befell Judah were unlike anything they have ever experienced. Verse 8 tells us their horses were “swifter than the leopards.” Leopards are known for their speed which can reach up to 36mph, but they are also known for their precision and focus in their running. The Chaldeans were “more fierce than the evening wolves” which after a long day of fasting crave to sink their teeth into fresh flesh. Judah probably had a sense of security in being so far away from Babylon, but though “their horsemen shall come from far, they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat.”
What is their motivation? What drives the Chaldeans? What do they want? The Bible says “they shall come all for violence” (1:9). Habakkuk complained of Judah’s violence. To punish Judah’s violence, the Lord will bring upon them the Chaldeans whose motivation is solely violence. They don’t care about Israel’s land. They don’t care for its people. They have come for violence.