Summary: The sentence of judgement against Babylon for their character of pride & their action of all-consuming greed is clearly stated. Here we have God giving voice to all the victims of injustices in a taunt song against their oppressors.
Habakkuk 2:6-14 (-20)
THE SENTENCE FOR THE SINS OF BABYLON
The sentence of judgement against Babylon for their character of pride and their action of all-consuming greed (implicit in 2:4-5 and 1:5-7) is clearly and absolutely stated in verses six through 20. Here we have God giving voice to all the victims of injustices in a taunt song against their oppressors. All those nations conquered and plundered by the Babylonians would in due time witness the fall of their conqueror and join in this song of derision and denunciation. The announcement is captured in five stanzas of three verses each all beginning with the denouncement woe. These five woes are not only pronounced against the Babylonians but against the Israelites and all peoples who practice such evils.
I. Greedy Pawnbrokers, 6-8.
II. Secure Extortioners, 9-11.
III. Ruthless Enslavers, 12-14.
IV. Perverse Disgracers, 15-17.
V. Senseless Idol Worshippers, 18-20.
The suffering righteous receive alleviation if they discern the consequences for wicked living. The woes against the vicious wicked begin in verse 6. "Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him, and say, ’Woe to him who increases what is not his--for how long--and makes himself rich with loans?”
Habakkuk said that all those nations (v. 5b) that Babylon has ruthlessly conquered and plundered will one day take up a taunt-song (mãŝãl) against them. This song of ridicule or mockery sung by their survivors is a poetic composition that has parallelism as its principle form of construction. This song is a type of object lesson for those who overstep God’s boundaries.
Woe is an exclamation of disaster because of certain sins (Isa. 3:11, 5:11, 10:5). It was frequently used by the prophets (22 times by Isaiah, 10 by Jeremiah and 7 by Ezekiel and 14 times in the minor prophets, and often by Jesus). The first is directed towards those puff-up proud who acquire goods dishonestly. They became wealthy by extortion. This woe compares the Babylonians to unscrupulous pawnbrokers who lend at exorbitant interest. They sought to heap up for themselves property that was not theirs. It was of course brazen theft. The valuables taken were not the property of the invaders. How long did they think they could continue doing this with impunity? How long would God let them keep It? Since it was not theirs, God sees it as loaned out to them. We will find out it was loaned to them at very high interest rates.
God’s responses to Habakkuk’s question as to the outcome of the conquering wicked continues in verse 7. "Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.”
The question in verse 6 about how long they would be rich with the loans of others is answered by two other questions. The first is, will not your debtors suddenly arise? The word debtor/creditor is literally biter. They will bite back and get hold of what is theirs. The word collect is literally shake violently. It is a strong word like the violent shaking of loose leaves and branches by a force five hurricane. Babylon would become plunder or the victim. The plundered will not only get a lockjaw hold on their goods but shake (collect) their oppressor violently to get even more from them. Babylon who had attacked and extorted would now herself be attacked and extorted.
Ambition can be a good thing (Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 5:9) or it can be a motivate for greed, selfishness, and abuse. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambition and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and power. They had hoards of stolen goods plundered from weaker people. God warned them that the owners of this wealth would one day rise up to collect what was due them. The Babylonians then would become the victims.
Some of their crimes are describe more fully in verse 8. "Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you--because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants."
The punishment fits the crime. The looter would be looted for the plundered would rise up suddenly to plunder. There was going to be a boomerang effect and their action would come back to strike them full force. Babylon’s intimidation and inhumanity would recoil on their own heads. They would reap what they had sown (Prov. 22:8; Gal. 6:7).
This reversal of roles would come about because they had ruthlessly shed man’s blood and had recklessly ravaged both lands and cities. Babylon had shed rivers of blood and so her blood would be shed. The nations will plunder the plunderer. The people will do violence to the violent.
II. SECURE EXTORTIONERS, 9-11. The second woe is pronounce on the violent extortioners who think they have made their life secure in verse 9. "Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high to be delivered from the hand of calamity!"