WOE TO THE PRIDEFUL MAN
We live in a “Me” centered culture and our society affirms, endorses and sways such behavior in the culture to think this way on a daily basis. We live in a society that believes. I take what is mine and I don’t care who gets in my way, because I’m special, I desire it, and I deserve it. I want, I want, I want and if I don’t get what I want, you are going to hear me roar like a two year old child at the department store. Pride is what causes us to connect every experience and every conversation with ourselves. It’s that person who must be the center of the conversation or the center of the universe. In a sense, pride is the sin beneath every other sin, because at its core pride is “self-worship.” What makes pride so dangerous is that it can be subtle, perverse, and sometimes undetectable. Certainly there are people whose pride displays from them as if it were a badge of honor. In some cases, this happens unknowingly though.
Pride has very effective ways of blinding self-awareness.
And there are others who proclaim their humility by complaining about or condemning prideful people. How prideful! Even those who seem to be the least prideful of people who are quietly paralyzed by low self-esteem, anxiety, and worry…..can actually be full of pride.
Pride gives us the deadly illusion that we are competent to run our lives, attain our sense of worth, and find purpose or meaning on our own. However, pride ends in a fall. Prov 29:23 says “One's pride will bring him low…” Prov 16:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty (arrogant, proud) spirit before a fall.” Pride in the religious sense is the arrogant refusal to let God be God. It is to grab God's status for one's self. Charles Spurgeon said “When a man admires himself he never adores God.”
Pride is at the root of most sin.
We sin when we reject God’s authority and when we say, think, or do anything contrary to what God says we must, or must not say, think or do. When we sin, we choose our own desires over God’s. We look at God with haughty eyes and reject what He commands. The Bible calls pride sin in Prov 21:4 says “A proud heart” is sin. Prov 16:5 says “Everyone proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD…”
The bible says that pride is a major hindrance to truly knowing God.
“In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek Him; all his thoughts are, "There is no God." Psalm 10:4 Jesus said pride defiles a man or woman abilities to see past their own ignorance.
“What comes out of a man, that defiles a man.” Matt 7:20 Pride is representative of the fallen world system. 1 John 2:16 says “For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.” J C Ryle said “Pride is one of the common sins which beset human nature. We are born Pharisees.” This is something we need to ask the Spirit this morning about our own lives. Is there pride in my life that is hindering me to worship and grow in my relationship with God?
God in this letter has already characterized the fundamental difference between a proud heart and a faithful heart (v4) The proud heart trusts in self and the proud heart shakes their fist at God and says “This is my life and I will do whatever I please.” As the Atheist slogan goes “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” As I said last week there are two types of people in this answer that God gives to Habakkuk. The one of faith who submits to God and trusts in God’s plan. And the other one is the one who submits to no one. It’s a person who chooses the second way because of pride and arrogance because he says “I don’t need religion. I can take care of myself. I can do without God.” In this response by God we see His displeasure and judgement towards those who continue to choice to live according to self. Many theologians call this portion of Habakkuk “The Funeral Song For Babylon”. Or the “Taunt Song” Because that’s just what it is for the proud person who loves self and sin more than Christ and the gospel that saves.
This portion should cause our hearts to feel for lost souls who will one day face the wrath of a holy God for their ignorance and pride. God was showing clemency to the nation of Judah because this is how they were behaving. And God was going to use a wicked nation to do them exactly what they were doing to others. Trying to live a life without God and doing things their own way. Unfortunately for the Babylonians this was their judgement song that God would fulfill to bring the nation of Judah back into His loving and caring arms. When you see the word “Woe” you know nothing good is coming for those on the receiving line. The bulk of this chapter shows the course and dismal end of the ungodly. The word “Woe” is a strong term that is usually associated with a warning or judgement from God. It’s certainly a negatively used word, often a connotation for extreme emotions such as: grief, sorrow, anger, regret, or even some type of grave misfortune (such as a judgement).
The first woe is…….
The woe of Greed (v6-v8)
“Greed” is an unappeasable longing for unneeded excess, especially for wealth, status, power, or food. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than one need. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambitions and they wouldn’t stop for nothing to acquire wealth and expand their kingdom through the means of intimidation. Greed is a natural but destructive characteristic of one who will not trust in God. If a person trusts in God, he or she does not need to covet in things they can or cannot have. Why? They see that the Lord is their portion and they are completely satisfied resting in Him. The Lord provides the need, not the want, but He provides what is needed for the child of God. As the Apostle Paul said “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:19. The Babylonians judgement and downfall was that they hoarded and stole goods, plundered the helpless for their own pleasure. (v8) We see this behavior today through excessive interest payments, unfair lending practice that cripple people under the weight of owing back. What’s interesting to note….. God warned them that those whom they steal from, would come collecting (v7). Like old saying “What goes around comes around.” Like creditors who come to collect their goods, they will plunder the Babylonian plunderers. This is what was going to happen to the Babylonians for their selfish pride. God does not forget the evil that men do; neither individuals nor nations get away with wrongdoing.
The woe of intemperance (v9-v11)
“Intemperance” is the indulgence of an appetite or passion for something. It’s the “I must have syndrome”. Intemperance is taking or consuming an intoxicating drink, it makes you want more. It’s like the Lays Chip commercial where Mark Messier says “I bet you can’t just eat one.” The bible calls this covetousness and God hates this so much, it made His top ten lists of what not to do. (Ten Commandments). This is a problem that’s been around since the beginning even before man was created as image bearers of God. Isaiah 14:12-15 says this "How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, 'I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.' But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.”
It didn’t just stop their when Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven. It also came when man and woman were tempted in the Garden to disobey God thinking that they could be like God. The Babylonians took and stole land and things that weren’t theirs in order to build an empire big enough to be unstoppable to whoever tried to breach her walls. Just like Nineveh who build big walls to fortify their city was broken down by a holy God who is over all nations and people groups. See, the Babylonians thought the more land they secured the safer they would be from their enemies and especially God.
Instead of having houses and families that brought honor, they would be disgraced, shamed and would one day lose everything. Instead of being content with what they have or what they were given; their end was going to lead to heartache and eternal punishment. (v10) Remember what Jesus said “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” Mark 8:36. Let me ask you! Are you content or do you desire more than what you been given? Can you say truly say with the Apostle Paul “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Phil 4:12-13. A person or a people filled with pride we see things to conquer for them and never be satisfied, because they live with insecurity and fear of not being in control. This portion of Habakkuk’s letter might have been a flap in the face or a loving rebuke to some of the people of Judah. Why? For what they were doing by exploiting the poor and using the money to build expensive homes for themselves.
Example of this!
“Hear, and testify against the house of Jacob," declares the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, that on the day I punish Israel for his transgressions, I will punish the altars of Bethel, and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. I will strike the winter house along with the summer house, and the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall come to an end," declares the LORD.” Amos 3:13-15
The woe of iniquity (v12-v13)
“Iniquity” is a grossly immoral act and wickedness of sin, it’s the lack of integrity or morality. Babylon was built on bloodshed, the blood of innocent victims. Tyrants build their kingdoms on violence, oppression, deception, abuse, fear, intimidation, confusion, uncertainty, revenge, corruption and the like. All the hard labor spent to build the corrupt civilization will not save it in the day of divine judgement. All efforts and labor will have been wasted and in the end when God’s glory will be revealed. Why? (v14) “The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD.” Pride will always get in the way of a person seeing this truth! Sin and wickedness, and the destruction of others, blinds a person to this reality. The glory of Babylon didn’t last, but the glory of the LORD will last forever. This was proven in 539B.C. when Babylon crumbled before its enemies in Jeremiah chapter 51. “for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance.” (v6) God will be glorified in the end when that final great empire that opposes God will be destroyed (Revelation chapter 17-18). When Christ returns and establishes His kingdom then indeed God’s glory will cover the whole earth. Matt 24:30 says “Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” Isaiah wrote of this glory “And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" Isa 6:3. God is not a forgetful God; He will bring all things to the court of His sovereign justice…. all for His glory. A prideful person thinks that they are in the clear if nothing is done to them for their wickedness at the moment. But as it says in the book of Job “For His eyes are on the ways of men, And He sees all his steps.” Job 34:21
The woe of indignity (v15-v17)
“Indignity” is humiliating, degrading or abusive treatment. The LORD uses “alcohol or intoxicating drink” as a metaphor to the destruction of Babylon. In scripture drinking a cup of wine can be a picture of Judgement. Jer 25:15 says “Thus the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: "Take from my hand this cup of the wine of wrath, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it.” The pride and arrogance of Babylon would crumble the same way they mistreated those who they took captive. Ashamed and naked and unaware of the present danger, this is what drunkenness leads too. See! The spiritual application is that alcohol has the power to lead a person to destructive and violence. What we read in (v15b) “..make them drunk in order to gaze at their nakedness.” We need to understand drunkenness and sensual behavior usually go hand in hand. Romans 13:12-14 says “The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. Again to make things clear! The bible doesn’t preach abstinence but it does warn against the excessive use of alcohol. Prov 20:1 says “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.” I’m not here to preach that alcohol is evil in and of itself. but I am here to say “Flee as far away from it as possible.” Nothing good comes from the consumption of alcohol.
If you don’t believe me do a study on the cases of broken …. Marriages, spouse abuse, child abuse, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, alternative lifestyles, the adult film industry that destroys lives, all because of alcohol or intoxicating drink. (to name a few)
Look what God says it will do!
Its brings about immorality (v15) “look on his nakedness”
It brings about shame and sickness (v16) “you will have your fill of shame instead of glory.”
It brings about destruction because of violence (v17) “the cup of the LORD’s right hand” this implies God’s divine judgment of the Babylonians.
Pride drives people to do foolish things, and it may lead a person to drink the cup of God’s wrath.
Woe to idolatry (v18-v19)
“Idolatry” is the worship of idols, and that includes anything that isn’t God.
The Babylonians were addicted, or had a fetish towards idol worship.
It is said that the Babylonians worshipped over 65,000 so called deities. This isn’t something that isn’t uncommon in our time or the time of the early church. Paul penned these words “Who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” Rom 1:25
See, we too have to be very careful about our idolatry!
It could be your favorite sports team.
It could be your favorite car or personal belongings.
It could be your retirement to do what you always wanted to do.
It could be your home or cottage or stuff that you have a hard time letting go of.
See the test is! If you love your stuff or whatever it is more than Christ, its idolatry.
We would call this spiritual idolatry because you focus more on things then you do on your relationship with Christ.
To help you! Here is a good test I found by Warren Wiersbe.
Devotion test…..For what are we living?
Dependence test…..In what are we trusting?
Delight test….From what do we obtain pleasure?
Decision test….What guides our decision making?
Destiny test…..To what are we looking forward?
Is it Christ or is it something else?
Because if it is, then you are committing spiritual idolatry on a holy God which is spiritual treason against a holy God. If this is true in your life! I’m here to warn you to stop it right now! Repent or you too will likewise perish as Jesus said in Luke’s gospel. Pride is one of those things that can kill the soul over short period of time if we are not being sensitive to the Spirits leading, as we rest in Christ. This warning and truth that will be Babylon’s fate at an “appointed time” is a warning to our generations that God will not be mocked by His image bearing creation. God will punish the ungodly and unbelief and separate the sheep from the goats, for all eternity in the Lake of Fire. The warnings are out; justice is on hold; grace is on display! God is longsuffering because we are still alive to respond to His gospel truth. The question is… Are we responding to this grace with humility and thanksgiving or are we ignoring the warning signs because we are prideful? As J C Ryle said “You cannot live forever. You must one day die. You cannot avoid the judgement after death. You must stand before the bar of Christ. The summons of the Archangel cannot be disobeyed. The last great assembly must be attended. The state of your own soul must one day undergo a thorough investigation. It will be found out one day what you are in God’s sight. Your spiritual condition will at length be brought to light before the whole world. Oh, find out what it is now! While you have time, while you have health, find out the state of your soul.”
What will He be doing with you on that day?
Will He find a person who was puffed up and not upright?
Will He find a child of God covered with Christ’s righteousness walking by faith?