The Unveiling Of God’s Instrument Of Judgement 

Part 3 of 4
Base on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, Mar-Aug 2014

Previously, we saw how the Lord identified His instrument of judgment upon Judah, namely, the Chaldeans or Babylonians. In this article, we will look at the Lord’s description of the Babylonians in greater detail.

The Lord Describes His Instrument of Judgment  (verses 6b-11)

As many as twenty different features are listed with some of them coming in pairs. Let’s look at them. 

Verse 6b says, “that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs.” It’s not just the king or some of his troops who are bitter and hasty or impetuous but it is the whole nation that may

be characterized in that way. Their bitter or irritated or illtempered spirit causes them to act with cruelty and disregard for life. And they move quickly or in haste. They do not wait or take time to sort out all the facts. Instead, they act swiftly and as a result, much injustice is done to those whom they come into contact with.

Verse 6 goes on to say that they march through the breadth of the earth to take possession of territories and things that do not rightly belong to them.  This last part of verse 6 reminds us of what the Israelites did to the Canaanites many years ago under Joshua. At that time, God used His people to bring judgment upon the wicked inhabitants of the land, to drive them out and to take possession of their dwelling places. 

Deuteronomy 6:10-11 says, “And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not…” In short, the Israelites were to march through the breadth of the land to possess the dwellingplaces that were not theirs.

But now, almost 800 years after dispossessing the Canaanites and inheriting their land, the Israelites were themselves about to be dispossessed and disinherited by the bitter and hasty Chaldeans. The tables were about to be turned on the covenant people of God. 

Verse 7, “They are terrible and dreadful…” The words terrible and dreadful may be translated fearsome and dreaded. The mighty Babylonian army strikes fear and dread in the hearts of all

the people. The news or the sight of the Babylonians evokes panic and terror because of their reputation for being cruel and brutal. Whereas during the time of Joshua, the Canaanites were filled with fear at the news of the approaching Israelites, now it is the Israelites who will be terrified and fearful when the Babylonians come.

Verse 7 goes on to say, “their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves.” We can summarize this statement with two words “autonomous” and “proud.” The Babylonians are autonomous in that they are a law unto themselves. They are not bound by the laws of other lands or even by the laws of common decency. God’s law, whether written on tables of stone or written in the hearts of men, is not their standard of righteousness or justice. Rather, they determine for themselves what is right and wrong. They exemplify the statement, “Might makes right.” And because of that, they are proud and arrogant. Their dignity or self-worth is found in themselves and is of their own making. 

But exactly how mighty is their army? What does it look like?   

will be one of mockery and derision. They will make fun of their adversaries and laugh at them. They will even laugh at all their strongholds or fortifications. In other words, whatever defences and obstacles the people may set up in order to try and prevent the Babylonians from coming, they will fail. The Babylonians will laugh at their defences and with little effort, they will break them down and take the city.  

Finally, in verse 11, we read, “Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.” From a spirit of mockery and laughing at their enemies, the Babylonians will change their mind or attitude to one of deadly seriousness as they turn to the task of destroying and devastating their victims. The final phrase “imputing this his power unto his god” simply means that they regarded their strength and power as their own god. Although they worshipped various idols and gods, yet, the reality is that they actually worshipped themselves and their own power. They were their own god.  

And so in this third part of the text, the Lord describes to

Habakkuk and the covenant people His instrument of judgment and retribution. The Lord was really bringing upon them the curses of the covenant for disobedience that we read about in Deuteronomy. 

In Deuteronomy 28:49-51, we read “The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee.”

Doesn’t our text sound familiar to those words in Deuteronomy, which were spoken by Moses over 800 years before the time of Habakkuk? We will look at two lessons based on Habakkuk 1:5-11 in our next article.

─ Linus Chua