Exegesis of Acts 13:13-41, in which Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5.
Let's read the entirety of the passage to get the context.
-What is he talking about as he leads up to verse 41?
-Who is he talking to, as he refocuses in v 26-27?
-v32 - good news, right? In fact, all the way to v 39, this is great news.
Notice how v 17-25 is more or less bad news. Then 26-31 is the really bad news. Note how 26-31 is directed specifically at Jews; given that Paul is speaking at a synagogue, that makes sense. But isn't it the case that those who bear responsibility for Jesus' death extends beyond the Jewish people of that specific time? Sure, they were directly responsible as they were the ones who asked Pilate to execute Him, their representatives put on the show trial, they in the mob cried "Crucify Him, and let His blood be on us and on our children!". But didn't Jesus die for the sins of all who would eventually call on His name and plead for His mercy? In other words, this is bad news for everyone.
-Thus the good news is good news for everyone as well!
-v41, quotes Habakkuk 1:5. What do we know about Hab 1:5? Given that, and given that these Jews would certainly know this passage and its context, what is Paul saying by quoting it?
Back to Habakkuk 2--
v7-8 - Who will be plundered by whom?
How was this fulfilled?
Now begin the 4 Woes for Babylon. I have to confess that I didn't notice the structuring into 4 woes until I read the Pulpit Commentary. Eureka! I subsequently felt dumb for not noticing it before.
v9 - Woe #1 - Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house...
What is the goal of "putting one's nest on high"? What is in the unbeliever's mind as he does that? And how is this related to getting evil gain for his house?
v10 - Again from last week, who gave him permission, what made the Babylonians think it was OK to cut off many peoples and just take and take and take and kill? Did they even stop to ask themselves that question?
v11 - it is so bad that even the house built by ill-gotten gain will cry out in testimony against the Babylonians.
v12 - Woe #2 - Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence...
Notice how in v13 that the Lord is the one from Whom this all has come. The Lord uses evil desires of men for His own purposes.
Three great examples:
1) The way Satan thought he was striking a blow against God with Job, yet God turns it around for His own glory.
2) 2 Sam 24 - Again the anger of the LORD burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.”
1 Chron 21 - Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel.
3) Acts 5 - “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?"
v11 - And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
Those of unbelieving and stubborn mind look at the surface of each and take up their cause against God. "How dare God do what He please with His own creation! How dare He violate my moral principles! How dare God do what He thinks is best and what brings Him glory!" or "Contradiction! Did God do it or did Satan do it? Nya nya, you stupid Christian fundy!"
Do they stop to think that the correct answer to the question of #2 is that BOTH are true? Satan works, and then God uses that work of Satan to bring good to His people and glory to Himself, and judgment and calamity upon the unrepentant, who are servants of Satan anyway. Think about the Garden of Eden - Satan tempts Adam and Eve, and they fall into sin. Yet later God gives us the most amazing gift that anyone could ever receive - Jesus Christ!
So, we see that it is from the Lord that Babylon and other rapacious conquerors "grow weary for nothing". But in contrast to their desire for world conquest, "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord."
v15 - Woe #3 - Woe to you who make your neighbors drink, who mix in your venom even to make them drunk so as to look on their nakedness!
Their disgusting desire to uncover and shame their victims will be turned back on them. Again, see the embarrassing and shameful way that Babylon came to an end in Daniel 5.
v17 - Apparently the Babylonians' rapacity and greed and violence were so overwhelming that they would even attack the very forests of Lebanon, renowned for their beauty. Why attack the forest, of all things? B/c these people were so overwhelmingly evil and full of themselves, to execute their own will to dominate and overwhelm anything in their path. Even the wild animals, apparently, they went after, like the shameful way that some American settlers would sometimes just shoot up a whole herd of buffalo to leave them to rot in the sun. I don't know if that happened all the time as Hollywood would probably have us believe, but it certainly happened a few times, and it's that exact same evil dominating sentiment. Indicative of a heart that refuses to submit itself to God's authority. Did they ever stop to ask whether God thinks it's OK to shoot up His creation for no good reason?
v18-20 - Woe #4 - Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, ‘Awake!’...And that is your teacher?
The hilarious picture of a guy who cuts down a tree, carves an idol, and then asks it to be his god and save him.
Let's notice a pattern in the Word of God about this issue.
Cf Romans 1, especially v 24:
Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
Notice the purpose of God's giving them over. The judgment of God is not just BECAUSE of the sin. The judgment IS ITSELF MORE SIN.
Cf Isaiah 44:9-20
v16 - Half of (the tree that the man cut down) he burns in the fire; over this half he eats meat as he roasts a roast and is satisfied. He also warms himself and says, “Aha! I am warm, I have seen the fire.” 17 But the rest of it he makes into a god, his graven image. He falls down before it and worships; he also prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god.”
18 They do not know, nor do they understand, for He has smeared over their eyes so that they cannot see and their hearts so that they cannot comprehend.
Cf John 10:24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father’s name speak for me, 26but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
Is it that they are not His sheep b/c they don't believe, or is it that they don't believe b/c they are not His sheep?
v20 - Will you answer back to the Lord of the universe? On what basis? What could you, mere tiny worm made of dust and ashes, possibly say to correct the Almighty Omniscient All Holy One? "Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" - Job 38:2
Job certainly found out what that is like:
Job 40:3 Then Job answered the LORD and said, 4 “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to You? I lay my hand on my mouth. 5 “Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add nothing more.”
42:6 - Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.”
Job certainly knew what it was like to feel the weight of the command "Let all the earth be silent before Him".
Let us spend some time to be silent before Him and to reflect on two things:
1) You are guilty too of the 4 woes.
You have coveted that which is not yours, which is as good as taking it, according to the desire of your heart.
You have been unjustifiably angry against a brother for a personal slight of because you wanted something you should not want.
You have lusted after your neighbor and desired to have power over him or her.
You have put something created in the place of your Creator with respect to the direction of your life, desires, and worship.
And I have done more of each of these than you.
Let us spend time in repentance before Him.
2) The Lord is in His holy temple. Yet the Lord has come to Earth, has died for our heinous crimes, and has risen again to give us eternal life! After you repent, REJOICE! The Lord has taken away your guilt and atoned for your sin. What grace! What mercy! What kindness to undeserving people! John 14:1 “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.
Thank Him for His amazing favor! Let us worship Him with all of our heart!