“Look around at the godless nations. Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. Something’s about to take place and you’re going to find it hard to believe. I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you, Babylonians, fierce and ferocious— World-conquering Babylon, grabbing up nations right and left, A dreadful and terrible people, making up its own rules as it goes. Their horses run like the wind, attack like bloodthirsty wolves. A stampede of galloping horses thunders out of nowhere. They descend like vultures circling in on carrion. They’re out to kill. Death is on their minds. They collect victims like squirrels gathering nuts. They mock kings, poke fun at generals, Spit on forts, and leave them in the dust. They’ll all be blown away by the wind. Brazen in sin, they call strength their god.”
God, you’re from eternity, aren’t you? Holy God, we aren’t going to die, are we? God , you chose Babylonians for your judgment work? Rock-Solid God, you gave them the job of discipline? But you can’t be serious! You can’t condone evil! So why don’t you do something about this? Why are you silent now ? This outrage! Evil men swallow up the righteous and you stand around and watch ! You’re treating men and women as so many fish in the ocean, Swimming without direction, swimming but not getting anywhere. Then this evil Babylonian arrives and goes fishing. He pulls in a good catch. He catches his limit and fills his creel— a good day of fishing! He’s happy! He praises his rod and reel, piles his fishing gear on an altar and worships it! It’s made his day, and he’s going to eat well tonight! Are you going to let this go on and on? Will you let this Babylonian fisherman Fish like a weekend angler, killing people as if they’re nothing but fish?
What’s God going to say to my questions? I’m braced for the worst. I’ll climb to the lookout tower and scan the horizon. I’ll wait to see what God says, how he’ll answer my complaint. And then God answered: “Write this. Write what you see. Write it out in big block letters so that it can be read on the run. This vision-message is a witness pointing to what’s coming. It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait! And it doesn’t lie. If it seems slow in coming, wait. It’s on its way. It will come right on time. “Look at that man, bloated by self-importance— full of himself but soul-empty. But the person in right standing before God through loyal and steady believing is fully alive, really alive. “Note well: Money deceives. The arrogant rich don’t last. They are more hungry for wealth than the grave is for cadavers. Like death, they always want more, but the ‘more’ they get is dead bodies. They are cemeteries filled with dead nations, graveyards filled with corpses. Don’t give people like this a second thought. Soon the whole world will be taunting them: “‘Who do you think you are— getting rich by stealing and extortion? How long do you think you can get away with this?’ Indeed, how long before your victims wake up, stand up and make you the victim? You’ve plundered nation after nation. Now you’ll get a taste of your own medicine. All the survivors are out to plunder you, a payback for all your murders and massacres. “Who do you think you are— recklessly grabbing and looting, Living it up, acting like king of the mountain, acting above it all, above trials and troubles? You’ve engineered the ruin of your own house. In ruining others you’ve ruined yourself. You’ve undermined your foundations, rotted out your own soul. The bricks of your house will speak up and accuse you. The woodwork will step forward with evidence. “Who do you think you are— building a town by murder, a city with crime? Don’t you know that God -of-the-Angel-Armies makes sure nothing comes of that but ashes, Makes sure the harder you work at that kind of thing, the less you are? Meanwhile the earth fills up with awareness of God ’s glory as the waters cover the sea. “Who do you think you are— inviting your neighbors to your drunken parties, Giving them too much to drink, roping them into your sexual orgies? You thought you were having the time of your life. Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace. All the time you were drinking, you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. You’ll wake up holding your throbbing head, hung over— hung over from Lebanon violence, Hung over from animal massacres, hung over from murder and mayhem, From multiple violations of place and people. “What’s the use of a carved god so skillfully carved by its sculptor? What good is a fancy cast god when all it tells is lies? What sense does it make to be a pious god-maker who makes gods that can’t even talk? Who do you think you are— saying to a stick of wood, ‘Wake up,’ Or to a dumb stone, ‘Get up’? Can they teach you anything about anything? There’s nothing to them but surface. There’s nothing on the inside. “But oh! God is in his holy Temple! Quiet everyone—a holy silence. Listen!”
The prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. Lord, I have heard the news about you. I am amazed, Lord, at the powerful things you did in the past. Now I pray that you will do great things in our time. Please make these things happen in our own days. But in your anger, remember to show mercy to us. Selah God is coming from Teman. The Holy One is coming from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covers the heavens, and his praise fills the earth! Rays of light shine from his hand, a bright, shining light. There is such power hiding in that hand. The sickness went before him, and the destroyer followed behind him. He stood and judged the earth. He looked at the people of all the nations, and they shook with fear. For many years the mountains stood strong, but those mountains fell to pieces. Those old, old hills fell down. God has always been able to do that. I saw that the cities of Cushan were in trouble and that the houses of Midian trembled with fear. Lord, were you angry at the rivers? Were you angry at the streams? Were you angry at the sea? Were you angry when you rode your horses and chariots to victory? Even then you showed your rainbow. It was proof of your agreement with the families of the earth. Selah And the dry land split the rivers. The mountains saw you and shook. The water flowed off the land. The water from the sea made a loud noise as it lost its power over the land. The sun and the moon lost their brightness. They stopped shining when they saw your bright flashes of lightning. That lightning was like spears and arrows shooting through the air. In anger you walked on the earth and punished the nations. You came to save your people and to lead your chosen king to victory. You killed the leader in every evil family, from the least important person to the most important in the land. Selah You used Moses’ walking stick to stop the enemy soldiers. Those soldiers came like a powerful storm to fight against us. They thought they could defeat us easily, as robbing the poor in secret. But you marched your horses through the deep water, stirring up the mud. My whole body shook when I heard the story. My lips trembled. I felt weak deep down in my bones and stood there shaking. But I will wait patiently for destruction to come to those who attack us. Figs might not grow on the fig trees, and grapes might not grow on the vines. Olives might not grow on the olive trees, and food might not grow in the fields. There might not be any sheep in the pens or cattle in the barns. But I will still be glad in the Lord and rejoice in God my Savior. The Lord GOD gives me my strength. He helps me run fast like a deer. He leads me safely on the mountains. To the music director. On my stringed instruments.