Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, That puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, That thou mayest look on their nakedness! Thou art filled with shame for glory: Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: The cup of the LORD’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory. For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, And the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, Because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, Of the city, and of all that dwell therein.— Habakkuk 2:15–17
Returning to Habakkuk, many commentaries will claim that it is okay to give others drink because, as they say, the verse indicates that the wrong was not in giving the drink but in desiring to see the nakedness of their neighbor. I will not spend much time on this subject as I have already written on the true Christian perspective of alcohol in great length in a previous doctrinal study. Many commentaries will point out that Paul instructed Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach and Proverbs 31:6 indicates that it is alright to give drink to those who are depressed or on the death bed. Again, I refer the reader to this study.
Although the focus of this section of Habakkuk 2 appears to be directed at those who draw out the iniquity in others through wine, we must not forget our summary verse for the five woes of Babylon in Habakkuk 2:5 which starts out with the words, “Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine . . .” In this fourth woe, drunkenness and transgression are best friends.
The wickedness of the Babylonians was so great that they were not content in indulging upon their own personal wickedness. Instead, they lusted to draw others into their sin with them to indulge in the shame of others. As they drew others to partake in their sin, their guilt diminished more and more. This is why it is so important to make friends with the right people. If you make friends with the wrong people, it often winds up with a deterioration of standards. If everyone else around you is doing it, it doesn’t seem too bad. But God rebukes these wicked drunkards with the words, “Thou art filled with shame for glory: Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: The cup of the LORD’s right hand shall be turned unto thee, And shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.”
These heathens were emboldened with the strong drink. They felt no guilt. The Lord thus pronounces a solemn judgment. The Lord is indeed a merciful and loving God. But here the Babylonians had crossed the line. Instead of pleading with these heathen as He did for the people of Nineveh in Jonah 3:4–5, the Lord gives these Babylonians up. He says, “Drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered.” Though our Lord is loving, gracious, and exceedingly merciful, He will exact judgment. The Lord takes no delight in sin, but He delights in holiness and justice. Though the heathen rage, the Lord will laugh at their derision. I realize it is disheartening with the wickedness multiplying rapidly today, and I also realize that we must have a heart for the lost of this world. But I don’t believe it is altogether terrible to delight in the fact that the wickedness itself will be judged. Love the sinner and hate the sin.
The Lord then pronounces the judgment, “For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid.” Lebanon was known for its beautiful, large, bold cedar trees. They were known throughout the ancient world for their cedars. However, the Lord pronounced judgment upon Lebanon (Isaiah 37:24; Jeremiah 22:23; Ezekiel 17:3). The cedars of Lebanon were cut down. Throughout history, kings and emperors sought to propagate the cedars to restore Lebanon’s ancient glory, but all efforts failed. Today, the country of Lebanon commemorates their ancient glory by displaying a cedar tree on their flag, but there are no more than 12 small groves of cedar trees left in Lebanon. Nobody can endure the judgment of God! And here in this verse, God is telling the Babylonians that their glory and power cannot and will not endure the judgment of God. Just as the seemingly secure glory of Lebanon was violently cut down, Babylon will be completely obliterated. “The spoil of beasts which made them afraid.” Just as the beasts of the earth were helplessly caught in the trap of the hunter, the glorious Babylonians will be pitifully trapped in the Lord’s eternal judgment. And once again, the Lord repeats the reason for these judgments as He stated in the first woe of verse 8:
, “Because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.”
The wages of sin is indeed death.