Astonishing Judgments from God
THE Hebrew prophet Habakkuk was greatly disturbed about conditions existing in his day. Everywhere he looked in the land of Judah he could see violence, oppression, quarreling, strife and injustices. This moved him to exclaim: “How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help, and you do not hear? How long shall I call to you for aid from violence, and you do not save?”—Hab. 1:1-4.
Perhaps you, too, have raised similar questions when seeing the lawlessness that has become so prevalent among those claiming to represent God—members of the religious organizations of Christendom. The answer Habakkuk received seemed unbelievable. (Hab. 1:5) It even shocked the prophet. (Hab. 1:13-17) No less shocking to religious sensibilities will be the means by which the religious systems of Christendom will come to their end.
THE CHALDEANS TO BE USED
The pronouncement of Jehovah through Habakkuk was: “For here I am raising up the Chaldeans, the nation bitter and impetuous, which is going to the wide-open places of earth in order to take possession of residences not belonging to it. Frightful and fear-inspiring it is. From itself its own justice and its own dignity go forth. And its horses have proved swifter than leopards, and they have proved fiercer than evening wolves. And its steeds have pawed the ground, and from far away its own steeds come. They fly like the eagle speeding to eat something. In its entirety it comes for mere violence. The assembling of their faces is as the east wind, and it gathers up captives just like the sand. And for its part, it jeers kings themselves, and high officials are something laughable to it. For its part, it laughs even at every fortified place, and it piles up dust [as when building siegeworks] and captures it [the fortified place]. At that time it will certainly move onward like wind and will pass through and will actually become guilty [because of its ruthless conquests]. This its power is due to its god,” evidently its great military machine that it elevates to the position of a deity.—Hab. 1:6-11.
Yes, nothing would stop the Chaldean armies from capturing city after city. The kingdom of Judah simply could not hope to escape.
Habakkuk, however, found it hard to understand how Jehovah God could use the idol-worshiping Chaldeans to execute his judgment. Not only were they not his worshipers but they were ruthless, simply out for conquest. They viewed men as mere fish and creeping things to be captured and subdued. These factors prompted Habakkuk to exclaim: “Why do you [Jehovah] make earthling man like the fishes of the sea, like creeping things over whom no one is ruling? All these he [the Chaldean] has brought up with a mere fishhook; he drags them away in his dragnet, and he gathers them in his fishing net. That is why he rejoices and is joyful. That is why he offers sacrifice to his dragnet and makes sacrificial smoke to his fishing net; for by them his portion is well oiled, and his food is healthful. Is that why he will empty out his dragnet, and does he have to kill nations constantly, while he shows no compassion?”—Hab. 1:14-17.
In having raised questions as to Jehovah’s use of the ruthless Chaldeans to execute judgment upon his own people, Habakkuk recognizes that he is in line for a reproof. So he waits for a revelation from God, saying: “At my guard post I will keep standing, and I will keep myself stationed upon the bulwark; and I shall keep watch, to see what he will speak by me and what I shall reply at the reproof of me.”—Hab. 2:1.
CONFIRMATION AND JUDGMENT AGAINST BABYLON
The answer of Jehovah confirmed that the prophecy was certain of fulfillment. Habakkuk was told: “Write down the vision, and set it out plainly upon tablets, in order that the one reading aloud from it may do so fluently. For the vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Hab. 2:2, 3) There was no question about the fact that the Chaldeans would be the means for executing judgment upon unfaithful Judah. What had been revealed to Habakkuk was “panting” or eagerly moving forward to its fulfillment.
The Chaldeans, however, would act according to their own desires and, unknown to themselves, would serve as God’s means for executing His righteous judgment against an unfaithful people. Answering Habakkuk’s objection about his use of the Chaldeans, Jehovah God made known that they would not remain unpunished for their ruthless greed and bloodguiltiness. He declared: “Because you yourself despoiled many nations, all the remaining ones of the peoples will despoil you, because of the shedding of blood of mankind and the violence to the earth, the town and all those dwelling in it.”—Hab. 2:8.
HABAKKUK’S PROPHECY FULFILLED
According to Jehovah’s word to Habakkuk, the Chaldeans came against Jerusalem and the land of Judah. The historical record preserved in the Bible informs us that the king of the Chaldeans, Nebuchadnezzar, “proceeded to kill their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, neither did he feel compassion for young man or virgin, old or decrepit. . . . Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon.”—2 Chron. 36:17-20.
Less than seventy years later, in 539 B.C.E., Babylon faced her day of reckoning. It was then that Cyrus, commanding the armies of the Medes, Persians and Elamites, captured the city. He diverted the course of the Euphrates River that flowed through Babylon. He then marched his forces through the riverbed. The riverfront gates of Babylon had providentially been left open, enabling his armies to get into the city without any difficulty. Quickly they passed through the streets, slaughtering anyone who put up resistance. Then they captured the palace and killed the resident king, Belshazzar. Thus in one night Babylon fell.
To those who heard the prophecies about Judah and Babylon, they seemed unbelievable, even shocking. Yet the prophetic word was fulfilled.
The Bible indicates that like events are soon to take place. Today the members of the religious systems of Christendom are much like the inhabitants of Judah in the time of Habakkuk. Christendom is filled with lawlessness and injustices. The people are very much a part of the world in word, attitude and action. Therefore, James 4:4 can rightly be applied to Christendom: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God?” This being the case, the religious organizations of Christendom show themselves to be a part of a worldwide religious system that is referred to in the Bible as a “harlot,” “Babylon the Great.” (Rev. 17:1-5) That “harlot” will become an object of hatred in the eyes of political rulers. In symbolic language, the book of Revelation describes what will take place. We read: “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”—Rev. 17:11-16.
In resorting to such violence against the world’s religious organizations, including those of Christendom, the “wild beast” and its “ten horns,” or political rulers, will not be acting out of any love for Jehovah God. Like the Babylonians, they will act in a vicious and beastly way, without any regard for the true God.
As in the case of the Babylonians, those sharing in the destruction of false religion will not escape the execution of God’s judgment. Their day will come when Jesus Christ, in command of angelic armies, moves against them. Regarding this, God’s Word states: “I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness. . . . And I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse and with his army.” What happens to the rulers and their armies? The account shows that they suffer defeat, being “killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse.” “And all the birds were filled from the fleshy parts of them.”—Rev. 19:11-21.
Unbelievable though it may sound to many today, the religious organizations of Christendom will perish at the hands of the political systems, and the anti-God systems will not escape the executional sword of the “King of kings,” the Lord Jesus Christ. (Rev. 19:16) Does this not point up the need to make sure whether one is approved by God? Have you separated yourself from what Jehovah God disapproves? Are you seeking to conform to his righteous ways? If so, you can take comfort in the encouraging words of Zephaniah 2:3: “Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”