Number 30 – If you are following the series.
LAUGH ALONG WITH THE WORLD
With the amount of stress we encounter in life, particularly under lockdown restrictions, it is good to have a hearty laugh at times. Click To Tweet
The words, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone,” are attributed to Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
There was a preacher who fell in the ocean miles from land. When a boat came by, the captain yelled, “Do you need help, sir?” Calmly the preacher said “No, God will save me.”
A little later, another boat came by and a fisherman asked, “Hey, do you need help?” Again the the preacher replied, “No, God will save me.”
Eventually the preacher drowned and went to heaven.
The preacher asked God, “Why didn’t you save me?”
God replied, “I sent two boats to save you!”
Funny? In a way. But, isn’t it also true? We ask God for help, and when it arrives, we look for further help.
Habakkuk 2:6 NIrV
“Won’t those people laugh at the Babylonians? Won’t they make fun of them? They will say to them, ‘How terrible it will be for you who pile up stolen goods! You get rich by cheating others. How long will that go on?'”
While it’s good to have a laugh, it is not good to be laughed at. Would you agree?
- Do you recall an occasion when you entered a room and you felt that everyone was laughing at you behind your back? Why did you feel that way?
- Can you think of an occasion when you did or said something really foolish which caused everyone to laugh at you?
In verse 5, the Babylonians are likened to a drunkard who does foolish things. Here, in this verse, they are scorned with laughter due to their tendency to stockpile goods stolen from the nations that they conquered.
The prophet’s bitter vocal attack against the Babylonians in verses 6-20 takes the form of five woes, covering five different types of evildoing.
The first woe which God pin-pointed is that of extortion (Habakkuk 2:6-8).
THIEVES AND ROBBERS
“You take what isn’t yours.” (GNB) Thieves and robbers seem to be part and parcel of every era in history. History, as well as our daily news bulletins, tell of numerous occasions where people choose not to earn an honest day’s pay but rather deprive others of their hard-earned income.
There are also many who steal because they are unemployed and have no means of earning an income. But this verse is not about them.
Several versions of this passage have these or similar words, ‘pile up stolen goods’. The Babylonians were not stealing from other nations to support their own people. The goods they stole were stockpiled just to make them feel good.
- Are we guilty of stockpiling? Are you? Am I? Take a look in your cupboards. Are there perhaps items you are not likely to ever use? Clothing hanging in your wardrobe that you don’t wear?
- How could these surplus items be channelled to those who would be better able to use them?
Jesus warned His followers against another category of thieves and robbers.
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber (John 10:1 NIV).
In the world, there are those who constantly bombard our lives with their ideas—false values and false standards of behaviour. Like the thieves and robbers that Jesus spoke about, they seek to rob us of the benefits of being enveloped in our shepherd’s loving care.
In the news media, there is a lot of talk about human rights: the right to go where we like, do as we like, live as we like, and decide on our own destiny. In actual fact, we do not have these rights! We belong to God.
We become like thieves and robbers when we ‘do our own thing’, going against God’s plans for our lives. By doing these things, we bring trouble upon ourselves and cause problems for others.
Everywhere people are being robbed, not only of material possessions, good health, peace, and security but also of the heavenly treasure, which is far more valuable.
LAUGHING AT THE BABYLONIANS
Our text states, “Won’t they make fun of them?” (NIrV) Won’t who make fun of them?
The Good News Bible and Eugene Peterson’s The Message provides us with the answer:
“The conquered people will taunt their conquerors and show their scorn for them.” (GNB)
“Don’t give people like this a second thought. Soon the whole world will be taunting them.” (MSG)
- Apart from the Babylonians, can you recall any other biblical examples of folk getting wealthy at the expense of others?
- Can you think of any present-day examples of this practice?
MODERN-DAY THIEVES AND ROBBERS
The Babylonians plundered nations for the purpose of making themselves rich. Sadly, human nature has not changed much down the centuries. The words, ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’ sum up the worldwide greed of mankind.
- Can you think of some examples of this?
A recent example of this sin of stealing from others in order to gain for oneself was clearly seen in our country during the lockdown period brought on by the Corona-19 virus. Numerous groups undertook the task of making up food parcels for the underprivileged, who were severely affected by the lockdown. Often these food parcels were claimed by persons in authority and were not passed on to those for whom they were intended. Similarly, funds were made available for those whose income was drastically affected by the lockdowns, however, on many occasions, those funds did not reach those they were meant to assist.
We are inclined to think of stealing as breaking into someone’s house or perhaps robbing a bank. Where that may not be true of you, is there some other area where you are guilty of stealing in some way?
We are guilty of stealing whenever we cheat others out of what is rightfully theirs or acquire something that is not rightfully ours.
God’s warning to the people of Jeremiah’s day apply equally to us if we have cheated others in some way.
“You cheated others, but everything you gained will fly away, like birds hatched from stolen eggs. Then you will discover what fools you are.” (Jeremiah 17:11 CEV)
In closing let’s get back to those unused items we have in our homes. Pray about them and ask the Lord to show you who to pass them on to.
If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.