July 9, 2017
Last week we learned about the role faithfulness plays in our life and embracing the tension where faith and fear collide. This week, we will continue through chapter 2 of Habakkuk and see how we are shaped by our choices and how our choices shape us. Have you heard the saying, “We make our choices and our choices turn around and make us?” God has a special concern for the weak and defenseless.
The first woe: GREED and EXTORTION “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion!” (Habakkuk 2:6).
I want you to think about people who make a profit by taking advantage of other people’s misfortune. They prey on others who, because of life circumstances, financial troubles, face legal difficulty, need medical treatment or face other urgent problems and are unable to defend themselves.
Early Quaker merchants initiated the fixed price system in order to help eliminate exploitation. They believed that bargaining over the cost of merchandise could lead to untruthfulness, so to avoid the temptation to exaggerate the worth of their goods, and to avoid encouraging customers to do the opposite, they set what they figured was a fair price and stuck to it. Customers liked the system, and it took hold generally. People could send their children to the store to buy milk and know their child would pay the same price as them!
The second woe: PRIDE “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin!”
The third woe: INJUSTICE/MURDER “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice!” (Verse 12).
Here is some insight about the Hebrew word translated “woe.” The word was used in funeral laments and thus carried the implication of death. For this reason, the New English Translation Bible translates all the woes in the following fashion is as good as dead: “The one who builds a city by bloodshed is as good as dead.” (verse 12a, NET). Feels a little more ominous, does it not?
The fourth woe: IMMORALITY “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wine skin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies (Verse 15)! God does not shy away from condemning those who use alcohol as a tool of seduction.
The final woe: IDOLATRY “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’” (Verse 19)
We talked last week about waiting being an action. This is reinforced in this final woe. Waiting is hard! It is easy to despair, to become unbalanced, to doubt what God is doing OR if He is doing anything at all. God asks us to wait for him. When the world is screaming at us, “Don’t just stand there – do something,” God says, “Don’t just do something – stand there!”
I believe the whole point of Habakkuk 2 is to show us that we can choose Babylon (the world) and think we won in the short run OR we can choose God and win for eternity. My prayer for us, today, is for God to help us choose Him over the call of Babylon. To help us be on His side of history – the right side. And for God to give us faith to believe that in the end, His ways are right and He does not make mistakes. I pray for courage to choose right because no one who trusts His way ever loses.
Joy M. Lujan
Co-heir with Christ, Wife, Moma, Nana