Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 125

Habakkuk 1–3, Nahum 1–3

Bible text(s)

1This is the message that the LORD revealed to the prophet Habakkuk.

Habakkuk Complains of Injustice

2O LORD, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence? 3Why do you make me see such trouble? How can you endure to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all round me, and there is fighting and quarrelling everywhere. 4The law is weak and useless, and justice is never done. Evil people get the better of the righteous, and so justice is perverted.

The LORD's Reply

5Then the LORD said to his people, “Keep watching the nations round you, and you will be astonished at what you see. I am going to do something that you will not believe when you hear about it. 6I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people. They are marching out across the world to conquer other lands. 7They spread fear and terror, and in their pride they are a law to themselves.

8“Their horses are faster than leopards, fiercer than hungry wolves. Their horsemen come riding from distant lands; their horses paw the ground. They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey.

9“Their armies advance in violent conquest, and everyone is terrified as they approach. Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand. 10They treat kings with contempt and laugh at high officials. No fortress can stop them — they pile up earth against it and capture it. 11Then they sweep on like the wind and are gone, these men whose power is their god.”

Habakkuk Complains to the LORD Again

12LORD, from the very beginning you are God. You are my God, holy and eternal. LORD, my God and protector, you have chosen the Babylonians and made them strong so that they can punish us. 13But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?

14How can you treat people like fish or like a swarm of insects that have no ruler to direct them? 15The Babylonians catch people with hooks, as though they were fish. They drag them off in nets and shout for joy over their catch! 16They even worship their nets and offer sacrifices to them, because their nets provide them with the best of everything.

17Are they going to use their swords for ever and keep on destroying nations without mercy?

Habakkuk 1GNBOpen in Bible reader

The LORD's Answer to Habakkuk

1I will climb my watchtower and wait to see what the LORD will tell me to say and what answer he will give to my complaint.

2The LORD gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on clay tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. 3Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. 4And this is the message: ‘Those who are evil will not survive, but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’ ”

Doom on the Unrighteous

5Wealth is deceitful. Greedy people are proud and restless — like death itself they are never satisfied. That is why they conquer nation after nation for themselves. 6The conquered people will taunt their conquerors and show their scorn for them. They will say, “You take what isn't yours, but you are doomed! How long will you go on getting rich by forcing your debtors to pay up?”

7But before you know it, you that have conquered others will be in debt yourselves and be forced to pay interest. Enemies will come and make you tremble. They will plunder you! 8You have plundered the people of many nations, but now those who have survived will plunder you because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.

9You are doomed! You have made your family rich with what you took by violence, and have tried to make your own home safe from harm and danger! 10But your schemes have brought shame on your family; by destroying many nations you have only brought ruin on yourself. 11Even the stones of the walls cry out against you, and the rafters echo the cry.

12You are doomed! You founded a city on crime and built it up by murder. 13The nations you conquered wore themselves out in useless labour, and all they have built goes up in flames. The LORD Almighty has done this. 14But the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the LORD's glory as the seas are full of water.

15You are doomed! In your fury you humiliated and disgraced your neighbours; you made them stagger as though they were drunk. 16You in turn will be covered with shame instead of honour. You yourself will drink and stagger. The LORD will make you drink your own cup of punishment, and your honour will be turned to disgrace. 17You have cut down the forests of Lebanon; now you will be cut down. You killed its animals; now animals will terrify you. This will happen because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.

18What's the use of an idol? It is only something that a human being has made, and it tells you nothing but lies. What good does it do for its maker to trust it — a god that can't even talk! 19You are doomed! You say to a piece of wood, “Wake up!” or to a block of stone, “Get up!” Can an idol reveal anything to you? It may be covered with silver and gold, but there is no life in it.

20The LORD is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.

Habakkuk 2GNBOpen in Bible reader

A Prayer of Habakkuk

1This is a prayer of the prophet Habakkuk:

2O LORD, I have heard of what you have done,

and I am filled with awe.

Now do again in our times

the great deeds you used to do.

Be merciful, even when you are angry.

3God is coming again from Edom;

the holy God is coming from the hills of Paran.

His splendour covers the heavens;

and the earth is full of his praise.

4He comes with the brightness of lightning;

light flashes from his hand,

there where his power is hidden.

5He sends disease before him

and commands death to follow him.

6When he stops, the earth shakes;

at his glance the nations tremble.

The eternal mountains are shattered;

the everlasting hills sink down,

the hills where he walked in ancient times.

7I saw the people of Cushan afraid

and the people of Midian tremble.

8Was it the rivers that made you angry, LORD?

Was it the sea that made you furious?

You rode upon the clouds;

the storm cloud was your chariot,

as you brought victory to your people.

9You got ready to use your bow,

ready to shoot your arrows.

Your lightning split open the earth.

10When the mountains saw you, they trembled;

water poured down from the skies.

The waters under the earth roared,

and their waves rose high.

11At the flash of your speeding arrows

and the gleam of your shining spear,

the sun and the moon stood still.

12You marched across the earth in anger;

in fury you trampled the nations.

13You went out to save your people,

to save your chosen king.

You struck down the leader of the wicked

and completely destroyed his followers.

14Your arrows pierced the commander of his army

when it came like a storm to scatter us,

gloating like those who secretly oppress the poor.

15You trampled the sea with your horses,

and the mighty waters foamed.

16I hear all this, and I tremble;

my lips quiver with fear.

My body goes limp,

and my feet stumble beneath me.

I will quietly wait for the time to come

when God will punish those who attack us.

17Even though the fig trees have no fruit

and no grapes grow on the vines,

even though the olive crop fails

and the fields produce no corn,

even though the sheep all die

and the cattle stalls are empty,

18I will still be joyful and glad,

because the LORD God is my saviour.

19The Sovereign LORD gives me strength.

He makes me sure-footed as a deer,

and keeps me safe on the mountains.

Habakkuk 3GNBOpen in Bible reader

1This is a message about Nineveh, the account of a vision seen by Nahum, who was from Elkosh.

The LORD's Anger against Nineveh

2The LORD God tolerates no rivals;

he punishes those who oppose him.

In his anger he pays them back.

3The LORD does not easily become angry,

but he is powerful

and never lets the guilty go unpunished.

Where the LORD walks, storms arise;

the clouds are the dust raised by his feet!

4He commands the sea, and it dries up!

He makes the rivers go dry.

The fields of Bashan wither,

Mount Carmel turns brown,

and the flowers of Lebanon fade.

5Mountains quake in the presence of the LORD;

hills melt before him.

The earth shakes when the LORD appears;

the world and all its people tremble.

6When he is angry, who can survive?

Who can survive his terrible fury?

He pours out his flaming anger;

rocks crumble to dust before him.

7The LORD is good;

he protects his people in times of trouble;

he takes care of those who turn to him.

8Like a great rushing flood he completely destroys his enemies;

he sends to their death those who oppose him.

9What are you plotting against the LORD?

He will destroy you.

No one opposes him more than once.

10Like tangled thorns and dry straw,

you drunkards will be burnt up!

11From you, Nineveh, there came someone full of wicked schemes, who plotted against the LORD. 12This is what the LORD says to his people Israel: “Even though the Assyrians are strong and numerous, they will be destroyed and disappear. My people, I made you suffer, but I will not do it again. 13I will now end Assyria's power over you and break the chains that bind you.”

14This is what the LORD has decreed about the Assyrians: “They will have no descendants to carry on their name. I will destroy the idols that are in the temples of their gods. I am preparing a grave for the Assyrians — they don't deserve to live!”

15Look, a messenger is coming over the mountains with good news! He is on his way to announce the victory! People of Judah, celebrate your festivals and give God what you solemnly promised him. The wicked will never invade your land again. They have been totally destroyed!

The Fall of Nineveh

1Nineveh, you are under attack!

The power that will shatter you has come.

Prepare the defences!

Guard the road!

Prepare for battle!

2(The LORD is about to restore the glory of Israel, as it was before her enemies plundered her.)

3The enemy soldiers carry red shields

and wear uniforms of red.

They are preparing to attack!

Their chariots flash like fire!

Their horses prance!

4Chariots dash wildly through the streets,

rushing to and fro through the city squares.

They flash like torches

and dart about like lightning.

5The officers are summoned;

they stumble as they press forward.

The attackers rush to the wall

and set up the shield for the battering ram.

6The gates by the river burst open;

the palace is filled with terror.

7The queen is taken captive;

her servants moan like doves

and beat their breasts in sorrow.

8Like water from a broken dam

the people rush from Nineveh!

“Stop! Stop!” the cry rings out —

but no one turns back.

9Plunder the silver!

Plunder the gold!

The city is full of treasure!

10Nineveh is destroyed, deserted, desolate!

Hearts melt with fear;

knees tremble, strength is gone;

faces grow pale.

11Where now is the city

that was like a den of lions,

the place where young lions were fed,

where the lion and the lioness would go

and their cubs would be safe?

12The lion killed his prey

and tore it to pieces for his mate and her cubs;

he filled his den with torn flesh.

13“I am your enemy!” says the LORD Almighty. “I will burn up your chariots. Your soldiers will be killed in war, and I will take away everything that you took from others. The demands of your envoys will no longer be heard.”

1Doomed is the lying, murderous city,

full of wealth to be looted and plundered!

2Listen! The crack of the whip,

the rattle of wheels,

the gallop of horses,

the jolting of chariots!

3Horsemen charge,

swords flash, spears gleam!

Corpses are piled high,

dead bodies without number —

men stumble over them!

4Nineveh the whore is being punished.

Attractive and full of deadly charms,

she enchanted nations and enslaved them.

5The LORD Almighty says,

“I will punish you, Nineveh!

I will strip you naked

and let the nations see you,

see you in all your shame.

6I will treat you with contempt

and cover you with filth.

People will stare at you in horror.

7All who see you will shrink back.

They will say, ‘Nineveh lies in ruins!

Who has any sympathy for her?

Who will want to comfort her?’ ”

8Nineveh, are you any better than Thebes, the capital of Egypt? She too had a river to protect her like a wall — the Nile was her defence. 9She ruled Ethiopia and Egypt, there was no limit to her power; Libya was her ally. 10Yet the people of Thebes were carried off into exile. At every street corner their children were beaten to death. Their leading men were carried off in chains and divided among their captors.

11Nineveh, you too will fall into a drunken stupor! You too will try to escape from your enemies. 12All your fortresses will be like fig trees with ripe figs: shake the trees, and the fruit falls right into your mouth! 13Your soldiers are like women, and your country stands defenceless before your enemies. Fire will destroy the bars across your gates. 14Draw water to prepare for a siege, and strengthen your fortresses! Trample the clay to make bricks, and get the brick moulds ready! 15No matter what you do, you will still be burnt to death or killed in battle. You will be wiped out like crops eaten up by locusts.

You multiplied like locusts! 16You produced more merchants than there are stars in the sky! But now they are gone, like locusts that spread their wings and fly away. 17Your officials are like a swarm of locusts that stay in the walls on a cold day. But when the sun comes out, they fly away, and no one knows where they have gone!

18Emperor of Assyria, your governors are dead, and your noblemen are asleep for ever! Your people are scattered on the mountains, and there is no one to bring them home again. 19There is no remedy for your injuries, and your wounds cannot be healed. All those who hear the news of your destruction clap their hands for joy. Did anyone escape your endless cruelty?

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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