The Clod-Breakers – Part 3

They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves . . . And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride ever strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it. Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.

— Habakkuk 1:7,10-11

The Chaldeans were God’s clod-breakers, turning over the land of Israel in judgment. We saw yesterday how God answered Habakkuk’s prayer regarding God’s seeming silence and indifference toward violence. Today we will look at how God answers Habakkuk’s complaint of God’s seeming seeming tolerance of injustice and allowance of sin.

God’s Seeming Tolerance of Injustice

“Their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” They respect no other person as judge. The Chaldeans committed much injustice toward Israel in Israel’s eyes because the Chaldeans had absolutely no respect for Israel’s judgment. Remember that Habakkuk had complained about the injustice found throughout the land of Israel? God answers Habakkuk’s prayer by bringing upon Israel a nation lacking even more justice.

We also read that their dignity shall proceed of themselves as well. The Chaldeans not only lacked respect toward the judgment of everyone else, the Chaldeans lacked respect for any other leadership as well. “And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them.” Jehoiakim thought very highly of himself as king of Judah. After the Chaldeans took over Judah, Jehoiakim thought he could defeat Nebuchadnezzar himself and rebelled. He failed miserably! The Chaldeans had no respect for king Jehoiakim! The kings of Judah were but weak little play-kings in the eyes of Nebuchadnezzar. God destroyed the pride of Judah with an even prouder nation.

God’s Seeming Allowance of Sin

“Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god” (1:11). We saw in the preceding verses how the Chaldeans came for violence. They treated Judah as a little plaything. They scoffed at Judah’s kings. Judah’s princes were so beneath the dignity of the Chaldeans that they were repugnant. After they had conquered the land and humbled the leadership, their mind will change. Based on what comes next in the verse, this change of mind was not one of humbling repentance. Their heart was full of violence and pride. When they accomplished their work and got as much thrill as they could get from their violence, they will pass over and return to their own country, “imputing this his power unto his god.” Their mind will change from one characterized by violence and thrill to one of fear and respect for their gods. Archaeologists have found inscriptions recording some of Nebuchadnezzar’s public words praising his gods for the victory over the other nations. One of the inscriptions records Nebuchadnezzar’s praise to his god, Marduk, after he conquered Lebanon – “O Marduk, my lord, do remember my deeds favorably as good deeds, may these my good deeds be always before your mind so that my walking in Esagila and Ezida – which I love – may last to old age. May I remain always your legitimate governor , may I pull your yoke till I am sated with progeny, may my name be remembered in future days in a good sense, may my offspring rule forever over the black-headed” (Taken from Ancient Near-Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament by James Pritchard, 1969).

Their mind had changed to fear and reverence for their gods. Instead of owing their victory to the Lord God of Israel, they offended the Lord by owing their victory to idols. This word for “offend” is usually translated as “guilty.” The Chaldeans accomplished GOD’S plan of judgment upon Judah. The Chaldeans were raised up by GOD. Now that they have accomplished God’s work, they have become guilty by owing their victory to idols. This offends the Lord and causes Him to be angry and full of wrath towards the Chaldeans. The Lord pronounces an even more severe judgment upon the Chaldeans in 2:4-20. God DOES NOT allow sin. He PUNISHED the sin of Judah by bringing upon them the wrath of the Chaldeans. He PUNISHED the sin of the Chaldeans by completely destroying their whole entire empire.

We have looked into Habakkuk’s first prayer and God’s response. Habakkuk had an earthly perspective toward what was happening around him. He could not see the full picture. In his mind, sin, violence, injustice, and God’s silence implied God didn’t care. To Habakkuk these things implied God was indifferent and tolerated sin and injustice. The Alpha and Omega, on the other hand, is not limited to just one little period of human history. He’s ALREADY won the battle! He’s ALREADY taken victory over sin! The wages of sin IS DEATH. It always has been and will continue to be. God IS NOT silent, so pray! God is not indifferent toward violence, so live peaceably! God does not allow sin, so live in holiness! God does not tolerate injustice, so live honestly!

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