When Life Gets Out of Hand

On July 9, 2021, uncontrolled rioting and looting broke out in Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa.

This spread to Gauteng. For the next six days, things got out of hand. Chaos reigned.

Those few days of unrest cost the country in the region of 35 billion rands.

Image by Peter H from Pixabay[spacer height="20px"]

Rioting and Looting

Although the photo above is not of one of our ravaged factories or malls it nevertheless does give one a graphic picture of the extent of the devastation caused by the looters.

The appalling rioting and looting of those terrifying few days were focused on several major shopping malls and factories. The Government estimates 40,000 businesses were affected. Buildings were torched.

Millions of rands (dollars) were plundered. Shopping malls were left in states of complete devastation and many businesses will never recover. More than 200 people lost their lives and thousands are out of work.

Why Did It Get So Out of Hand?

That was the question everyone was asking. The truth is, the security agencies and police forces were unprepared for this totally unexpected looting spree. They were unable to handle the alarming volume of looters and criminals involved.

The State President had to call a state of emergency and enlist the military to assist the police in seeking to restore order.

In the light of all this, let’s now turn to our next verse of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 2:7  GNB

‘But 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!

This could have applied to South Africa in July. It could also apply to numerous situations across our angry world right now. Switch on your television and look at the violence and criminality which is forming yet another pandemic for the 21st century to cope with. 

Why Does Law and Order Get So Out of Hand?

Surely for the same reasons. Either the law enforcement agencies are being caught off guard. Or, in some countries, they are behind the anarchy and breakdown of law and order.

Habakkuk has the same message for us all.

Before you know it ….they will plunder you.

The New International Readers Version of our text puts it this way, “Those who owe you money will suddenly rise up ….. So they will wake up and make you tremble with fear. Then they will take away everything you have.

Yet that verse tells us that those who steal will lose all that they have taken. They will lose rather than gain.

The Babylonians plundered the nations they conquered. But the Lord says, the nations will plunder Babylon in return. Babylon will lose everything because they had stolen from other nations.

No empire intoxicated with the red wine of power and the plunder of weaker races has yet lived long in this world. Mahatma Gandhi Share on X

Accrued Interest

An examination of the various translations of our text verse reveals how God clothes His message in accountancy terms. He talks of debts, debtors, and interest on the outstanding debt. In no time at all, things get out of hand.

The Babylonians were the creditors having gained their wealth at the expense of the conquered nations. However, God’s warning is because they had deprived others of their livelihood, they would find themselves in debt. What’s more, they would have to pay back even more in the form of interest.

In Debt?

We have probably all experienced times of being in debt. Mortgages, rent, car installments, bank loans, home loans, doctor’s bills, chemist accounts, school fees …. The list seems endless. And the interest on unpaid debts and loans is generally exorbitant.

  • What have you found to be the most troublesome thing about being in debt?

Victims of Plunder

The Contemporary English Version renders our verse in this way, “But without warning, those you owe will demand payment. Then you will become a frightened victim.”

Shop owners and staff in those South African riots were certainly frightened. Yet whatever the looters were able to get away with has done them no good. Many have been arrested.

Others face huge fines. Their own neighbours have turned against them because the goods they gained were at the expense of others who were trying to make an honest living.

You may not have ever taken part in riots or looting, but is there any area in your life that threatens to get out of hand?

  • Honestly consider, is someone a victim because you have gained materially? 
  • Have you perhaps borrowed something which you failed to return?
  • Do you recall a time when you were doing a cleanup and discovered an item belonging to someone else and you don’t know whose it is or when you acquired it? (Disclaimer! Guilty! On more than one occasion, my wife or I have been packing for a move and we’ve stopped to ask, “Who does this belong to? It’s not ours!”

It happens so easily, doesn’t it? I like this verse from Proverbs:

“Ill-gotten gain gets you nowhere; an honest life is immortal.” (Proverbs 10:2 The Message)

Let’s decide today to avoid profiting at anyone else’s expense. Take care not to let any of your daily practices get out of hand. Then look at the end of that verse. “An honest life is immortal.” Now that, to me, is worth remembering.

Think for a moment. What can you do or pass on to someone today that will show you to be honest?  


If you haven’t yet read the background to the prophecy, please do. It will benefit you throughout this series of studies.