Habakkuk 2 – Life to the Just & Oracles of the Ancient World

Finger Pointing UpNobody knows the future but God, He knows how it all began and He knows how it’s going to end.

“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.

Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:1 Jesus who do you say I am

Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa 46:9-11).

Notice that God said He declared the end from the beginning from “ancient times.”  To us, ancient time begins with Adam and Eve till the birth of Jesus.  God made the above statement before Jesus was born (but Jesus was alive, just not a human being yet).  Therefore, God has always controlled everything.  He was there in the ancient times of Adam and Eve.

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Rev 22:13).

Chapter 2 shows how selfish, greedy, pompous and violent the Babylonians were.  It also shows how that they interpreted their gods as they chose. 

Our God, the only true God, does not promote or condone any person’s stingy or violent behavior.  On the contrary, He punishes them for that.

Most of the world is violent and greedy, but most don’t lay the idea on a god like the Babylonians did and the Babylonians were destroyed.  Yet, let’s look at…

Habakkuk 2
Life to the Just

2 Didyma
As said, there are more Greek ruins in Turkey than in Greece. One interesting one was Didyma, a large temple that gave oracles. It is said that it rivaled Delphi as the lead oracle source in ancient Greece.

1 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.

2 And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.

3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.

5  Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:

6 Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

3 Medusa
Found at and are now displayed at Didyma.

7 Shall they not rise up suddenly that shall bite thee, and awake that shall vex thee, and thou shalt be for booties unto them?

8 Because thou hast spoiled many nations, all the remnant of the people shall spoil thee; because of men’s blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.

9 Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high that he may be delivered from the power of evil!

“Woe” – the Babylonians pride in building is condemned.

“Nest on high” – like the eagle building an inaccessible nest, the Babylonians thought their empire to be unconquerable.  Arrogant independence of the living God is one of the Old Testament’s most heinous sins.

10 Thou hast consulted shame to thy house by cutting off many people, and hast sinned against thy soul.

11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

12 Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity!

4 Perseus
Found at and are now displayed at Didyma. Medusa was decapitated by Perseus.

“Woe” – Babylonian injustice is condemned.

13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labor in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?

“Labor in the very fire” – the cities built by the labor of the Babylonians will be burned.

14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

The Lord’s future destruction of proud Babylon and all her worldly glory will cause His greater glory to be known throughout the world.

15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbor drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness!

“Woe” – Babylonian violence is condemned.  Her rapacious treatment of her neighbors, which stripped them all of their wealth is compared to one who makes his neighbor drunk so he can take lewd pleasure from the main’s nakedness.

16 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.

17 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.

5 Questions written to the Oracle of Sobek and IsisQuestions written to the Oracle of Sobek and Isis
Questions written to the Oracle of Sobek and Isis

“Violence of Lebanon” – the Babylonians apparently had ravaged the cedar forests of Lebanon to adorn their temples and palaces.

“Spoil of beasts” – Assyrian inscriptions record hunting expeditions in the Lebanon range, and such sport may have been indulged in by the invading Babylonians as well.  Babylonian violence was destructive of all forms of life, not only of lands and cities.

18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols?

“Graven image” – the Hebrew for this word means “godlet’ or “nonentity” (and the condemnation of idolatry in Ex 20:4-5; Ps 115:4-8).

19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.

“Woe” – Babylonian idolatry is condemned.

20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Oracles of the Ancient World

An oracle is any divine pronouncement through a prophet that directs human action in the present or foretells future events.

6 Oracles were common
Oracles were common in many civilizations of antiquity. In China, the use of oracle bones dates as far back as the Shang Dynasty, (1600–1046 BC). The I Ching, or “Book of Changes”, is a collection of linear signs used as oracles that are from that period.

Although divination with the I Ching is thought to have originated prior to the Shang Dynasty, it was not until King Wu of Zhou (1046–1043 BC) that it took its present form.

In addition to its oracular power, the I Ching has had a major influence on the philosophy, literature and statecraft of China from the time of the Zhou Dynasty (1122 B.C. – AD 256)

In the Old Testament an oracle always refers to a communication from God through a prophet.  The three New Testament instances of oracles all have Israel’s God as their source and refer to the revelation begun in the Old Testament and finalized in Christ (Acts 7:38; Rom 3:2; Heb 5:12 and 1:1-2).

Significantly, scripture (Num 22-24: 1 Kgs 18:20-40), along with numerous extra biblical texts from Syria-Palestine, Anatolia, Mesopotamian and to a lesser extent) Egypt, attest to the fact that peoples of other nations believed that they too, received oracles from their gods.

The bible presents the classical prophets as ambassadors of the heavenly court (2 Kgs 17:13) who authoritatively presented the revelation of God to his people.

Prophets sometimes mentioned the Holy Spirit’s role in inspiration (Joel 2:28-29; Mic 3:8; Zec 7:12).

At times the source of the message is said to have been a dream or vision (Isa 6:1-13; Jer 31:26; Zec 2:1), but ordinarily the mode of inspiration is unspecified.

Sometimes oracles provided a divine answer to human questions (2 Sam 2:1; Hab 1 -2), but often they were initiated by God.

The divine revelations were at times framed as parables or allegories (2 Sam 12:1- 7), and sometimes oracles were acted out (2 Kgs 13:14-20; Eze 4).

The prophets pronounced oracles of warning against both individuals (1 Sam 13:13-14) and nations (Isa 17; Eze 15) but also oracles of salvation that predicted a day when God would restore his people (Jer 31:31-34; Eze 36:16-32; Amos 9:13-15; Zec 8:1-8).

Prophets of the pagan deities sometimes delivered messages similar to those of Israel’s prophets. Like Israel’s God, these gods purportedly demanded homage and declared judgments. But Biblical prophecy was distinct in at least three ways:

Only Yahweh among the gods of the ancient world spoke in order to establish, maintain and enforce a covenant relationship with his people (Deut 4:5-9).

7 Oracle at Delphi in the Ancient World
Oracle at Delphi in the Ancient World
Although the Delphic Oracle is best known for dispensing advice concerning imperial matters such as with Croesus, it became a repository of ancient knowledge and history.

Whereas many pagan oracles were ambiguous as to their intent and fulfillment, Biblical oracles were generally clear and specific (Deut 18:14-22).

Only from Israel’s prophets did a staunch monotheism confront polytheistic idolatry (Deut 5:7-10; 6:4-5; Ps 115; Isa 40:18-31).


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