Habakkuk 2:5–11 (NKJV)

5 “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine,

He is a proud man,

And he does not stay at home.

Because he enlarges his desire as hell,

And he is like death, and cannot be satisfied,

He gathers to himself all nations

And heaps up for himself all peoples.

6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him,

And a taunting riddle against him, and say,

‘Woe to him who increases

What is not his—how long?

And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?

7 Will not your creditors rise up suddenly?

Will they not awaken who oppress you?

And you will become their booty.

8 Because you have plundered many nations,

All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,

Because of men’s blood

And the violence of the land and the city,

And of all who dwell in it.

9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,

That he may set his nest on high,

That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

10 You give shameful counsel to your house,

Cutting off many peoples,

And sin against your soul.

11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,

And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

The basic message of this passage is wrapped up in two concepts: false security and the cost of oppression. When a person trusts in their own abilities or in wealth, their trust is misplaced. Wealth and talent do not guarantee success. These things vacillate, they come and go. Oppression is also a sad system for success. Taking from others via force or compulsion may provide a temporary boon to your own financial bottom line, but this is a ravenous wolf. Oppressing others to achieve gain will not last forever.

Why are these bad ideas? First, they both lead one into a system that is unsustainable because of the fleeting nature of wealth gained by wrong means and motives. Second, this system is diametrically opposed to the will of God. One cannot go against His nature forever without facing His judgment. God desires that people depend upon Him, and that they love one another. If individuals love one another, they will not oppress, and they will not live in a prideful sense of self-sufficiency. Trust in the Lord and others will not seek to destroy you for your own sinfulness. God will protect and provide for and sustain those who trust in Him!

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