Will God Execute the Wicked? Habakkuk Answers Yes!
PEOPLE all over the world have asked, ‘Will God ever execute judgment on the wicked?’ The inspired prophecy of Habakkuk gives us complete confidence that God will soon act against the wicked worldwide. Then, and only then, will the earth be “filled with the knowing of the glory of Jehovah as the waters themselves cover over the sea.”—Hab. 2:14.
Habakkuk’s short prophecy is, in fact, a series of three executional judgments made by the God of heaven and earth. Two of them have already been fulfilled; the third will soon be fulfilled. Our looking into these judgments will give us confidence in Habakkuk’s description and the outcome of the coming global war, Armageddon.
JUDGMENT AGAINST JUDAH
Wherever the prophet Habakkuk looked in the land of Judah he found 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) Habakkuk received an answer that seemed unbelievable. It even shocked the prophet. (Hab. 1:5) What was the judgment of Jehovah?
God answers: “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.”—Hab. 1:6, 7.
So the Chaldeans, or Babylonians, would be God’s instrument to punish the unfaithful Israelites, and nothing could stop the Babylonians from carrying out God’s decree. Why, this nation would ‘capture every fortified place’! The kingdom of Judah, with its capital at Jerusalem, simply could not hope to escape.—Hab. 1:10.
True to Jehovah’s word to Habakkuk, the Chaldeans did come against Jerusalem in the land of Judah. The Bible tells us that the king of Babylon, 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.
Jehovah indeed executed judgment against all the wicked in the land of Judah.
JUDGMENT AGAINST BABYLON
The Babylonians acted according to their own desires and, unknown to themselves, served as God’s means for executing his righteous judgment against an unfaithful people. But what about Babylon? Habakkuk had found it hard to understand how God could use the wicked Babylonians 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.—Hab. 1:14-17.
Answering Habakkuk’s objection to the use of the Chaldeans, God made it known that they would not remain unpunished for their ruthless greed and bloodguiltiness. He declared regarding Babylon: “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.”—Hab. 2:8.
Moreover, the Babylonians were idol worshipers. So Jehovah said through his prophet: “Of what benefit has a carved image been, when the former of it has carved it, a molten statue, and an instructor in falsehood? when the former of its form has trusted in it, to the extent of making valueless gods that are speechless? Woe to the one saying to the piece of wood: ‘O do awake!’ to a dumb stone: ‘O wake up!’”—Hab. 2:18, 19.
The idol-worshiping Babylonians now were in line for God’s judgment to be executed upon them. That happened in 539 B.C.E. when Babylon was overthrown by the Medes and the Persians.
Those who heard the judgments against Judah and Babylon thought them to be unbelievable, even shocking. Yet the prophetic word spoken through Habakkuk was fulfilled.—Hab. 2:2, 3.
The Bible indicates that like events are soon to take place against the wicked worldwide.
GOD’S EARTH-WIDE MARCH AGAINST THE WICKED
The Christian Greek Scriptures quote from Habakkuk’s prophecy and locate its final fulfillment in the future, in our own generation. (Heb. 10:36-39; Hab. 2:3, 4) That is why we are especially interested in it. In the third chapter of Habakkuk’s prophecy, he prays for God to bring to life again His triumphant activity of old. (Hab. 3:1, 2) Habakkuk then proceeds to describe God on the march against all His enemies. It is an earth-wide march. How varied will be God’s way of destroying his enemies!
“Before him pestilence kept going,” says the prophet, “and burning fever would go forth at his feet.” (Hab. 3:3-5) In the near future, as Jehovah marches to the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon, he will bring death upon many of his enemies by the nonviolent, silent means of execution—pestilence. It will then be dangerous, fatal, to get in the way of Jehovah’s line of march to victory. For ahead of his steps he will send the pestilence; behind his heels he will leave victims afflicted with death-dealing burning fever.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
Habakkuk’s dirgelike prayer continues: “He stood still, that he might shake up the earth. He saw, and then caused nations to leap. And the eternal mountains got to be smashed; the indefinitely lasting hills bowed down.”—Hab. 3:6.
Jehovah’s taking his stand causes a commotion in the figurative earth that lies before him. It causes, as it were, an earthquake in the earthly organization of the enemy. When it becomes evident that it is indeed Jehovah who has approached and stands before them, the earthly organization gets all shaken up prior to falling to ruin. The nations at last realize that God the Almighty ‘sees’ them. They are indeed startled. They leap, not for joy but with a shock in a burst of agitation. No mountainlike organization will obstruct Jehovah’s march to triumph. Such will be smashed. Jehovah’s pushing forward irresistibly strikes terror into all those who hear the report of it, these ones not being friendly to Jehovah and his people.
For his destruction of the wicked, Jehovah has more kinds of weapons in his divine armory. Habakkuk tells us about this, saying: “A thunderstorm of waters passed through. The watery deep gave forth its sound. On high its hands it lifted up. Sun—moon—stood still, in the lofty abode thereof. Like light your own arrows kept going. The lightning of your spear served for brightness.”—Hab. 3:7-11.
At the disposal of the Creator are flash floods to engulf the enemies. Waters from the skies can pour down in a thunderstorm. Moreover, the waters deep within the earth can be made to spout up, as if the deep were lifting up its hands on high to play a part in the destruction of the wicked.
Jehovah’s superhuman weapons of war make certain that no enemy will escape. Not one of the wicked will get away. Roaring thunderbolts and crackling lightnings are at Jehovah’s disposal. At the flashing of God’s means of death to his enemies, the light will be so intense by day and night that the natural sun and moon will, as it were, feel themselves not needed for illumination. It will be as if they stood still, not functioning as light bearers, but letting Jehovah’s radiant missiles put on a display of an illuminating power. Jehovah’s larger weapon, like a spear, will be sent streaking through the air and brightening the battlefield. Imagine the mental effect on foes of Jehovah and his people!
TRUE WORSHIPERS SAVED
The prophet continues: “With denunciation you went marching through the earth. In anger you went threshing the nations. And you went forth for the salvation of your people, to save your anointed one. You broke to pieces the head one out of the house of the wicked one. There was a laying of the foundation bare, clear up to the neck.”—Hab. 3:12, 13.
Jehovah’s people can have confidence that he will come to their rescue at the war of Armageddon. The worshipers of Jehovah at that time will be under international attack by all the worldly nations, all of which are by then atheistic. Why are they atheistic? Because the nations will have turned against organized false religion and will have wiped it from the face of the earth. Thus this attack on God’s true worshipers takes place after the surprising destruction of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, including Christendom. (Rev. 17:1-5, 16-18) The irreligious nations that will have brought about this destruction will then concentrate on trying to wipe out from the earth the pure worship of the one living and true God, Jehovah. Even now the stage is being set for this destruction of organized false religion. Some nations, in fact, have already announced their aim to promote atheism.*
In order not to let the godless nations succeed in their wicked purpose, Jehovah will have to go forth for the salvation of his people. So, in “denunciation” of the evil-intentioned nations, he will march through the earth and angrily thresh the nations, pounding them underfoot like grain on a threshing floor.
This action on the part of Jehovah will bring salvation to his “people.” The “people” under attack at Armageddon are the remnant of spirit-anointed disciples of Jesus Christ. They make up Jehovah’s “anointed one” at Armageddon. Along with Jehovah’s “anointed one” there will be a “great crowd” of fellow worshipers that will be saved at Armageddon.—Rev. 7:9-17.
In dramatic contrast with the salvation of the “anointed one” and the “great crowd,” there will be the complete desolation of the “house of the wicked one.” Like a house that is laid bare and destroyed from the roof to the foundation, the wicked system of things that has been established under the unseen influence of Satan the Devil will be knocked to pieces. The “head one” or leadership of this international “house” will be crushed, broken to pieces. Those making up the underpart of the worldwide structure will not escape, for such will be demolished clear to the base. Not even the “foundation” will be left covered in the ground as a base for a new building. The “house of the wicked one” will be no more on earth.
There at the battlefield of Armageddon the enemies of Jehovah’s “anointed one” and their companions will be thrown into suicidal confusion. In a prophetic vision of this, the prophet Habakkuk says in his prayer to Jehovah as a Warrior:
“With his own rods you pierced the head of his warriors when they moved tempestuously to scatter me. Their high glee was as of those bent on devouring an afflicted one in a place of concealment. Through the sea you trod with your horses through the heap of vast waters.”—Hab. 3:14, 15.
When speaking of the international attempt to “scatter me” with tempestuous force, Habakkuk is speaking of himself as representing Jehovah’s “anointed one,” His people in need of salvation from the attackers. Like marauders who lie in wait in a concealed place for a victim, nations assembled in full array at Armageddon will leap out upon Jehovah’s “anointed one” and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers to destroy all of these as they destroyed religious “Babylon the Great.” In “high glee,” the enemy is confident of doing away with Jehovah’s worshipers who appear to be as “an afflicted one.”
Jehovah will not be taken by any surprise. He will not lead his afflicted “anointed one” and their loyal companions into any ambush of the enemy. When the anti-God nations storm out tempestuously to scatter those who practice the true religion, God will turn the weapons of the attacking nations against themselves to fight among and against themselves. Jehovah’s enemies will use their own military rods to pierce the heads of their own warriors. God will do even more: He will use superhuman forces to carry their destruction to a completion. With the “horses” of his heavenly armies under Jesus Christ, he will push onward victoriously through the “sea” and the “heap of vast waters” of the surging, roaring enemies. (Rev. 19:11-21) Thus his own people will be eyewitnesses of Jehovah’s sublime victory!
Gone, then, will be all the wicked! And no one throughout eternity will ever be able to question rightly this total destruction of the attacking anti-Jehovah hordes.
Habakkuk’s prophecies give us powerful confidence that God soon will execute judgment upon all the wicked. Nothing can prevent it. Since this is so, will you take your stand for the true God now while there is yet time? Jehovah, the Great Warrior, will win the battle against the wicked. Now is the time to take action so that you may be on the winning side!
Says the National Geographic of October 1980: “Other Communist countries curb religion; Albania forbids it, proclaiming itself in 1967 ‘the first atheistic state in the world.’ All 2,169 mosques, churches, monasteries, and other ‘centers of obscurantism and mysticism’ have been closed, torn down, or transformed into recreation centers, clinics, warehouses, or stables. . . . Albania’s new generation knows only atheism.”
Also, Time magazine of November 17, 1980, said about Cambodia, now called Kampuchea: “The Khmer Rouge began methodical destruction of every vestige of religion. Christian ministers were slaughtered and Muslim mosques destroyed. The greatest indignities, however, were reserved for Buddhists, who constituted 90% of Kampuchea’s population. Insurgents fresh from the jungle looted the country’s 2,800 temples. ‘Buddhas were thrown into rivers or used as firewood,’ recalls Oum Soum, 62, deputy director of Phnom-Penh’s Buddhist Institute. ‘Wats [temples] not destroyed became fertilizer warehouses.’ Bonzes [monks] were denounced as ‘parasites.’ The lucky ones were merely driven from their temples into the fields. Of 80,000 Cambodian monks, 50,000 were murdered.”—P. 90.