Promises! Promises! Promises!

In the Peanuts cartoon series we often find Linus clutching onto his blanket which seems to give him the promise of security. And we laugh.

And yet? Don’t we all desire to have a sense of security? When things get out of hand we naturally yearn for whatever it will take to restore that sense of security.

Where Is Our Security?

When people make promises to us, we trust them to fulfil them. When we bank our money with a guaranteed interest rate, don’t we anticipate the money to grow by the promised rate? We place our security in our finances.

In the book of Habakkuk, we see the Babylonians receiving a stern warning. Their sense of security would soon be undermined.

“Indeed, how long before your victims wake up, stand up and make you the victim?” (Habakkuk 2:7 The Message)

Habakkuk 2:8 NIV puts it this way:

‘Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed human blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.’

They had made many wrong decisions. They had shed innocent blood. And God made them a promise. He would remove their security. Those they had wrongly treated, would rise up against them.

Our Search for Security

  • What are some of the areas that people concentrate on today to gain a sense of security? 
  • What do you think God would say about them? Are they sound investments in His sight?

For many, the source of their security is a healthy bank balance and investments. Consequently, people think that the wealth they have so carefully saved up will protect them in tough times.

Banks have promised. And they will deliver.

People may also trust in the promise of a safe and secure future ‘guaranteed’ by the ruling government.

  • How often does that work out?

People believe those who make solemn promises. We want to believe them,

Retirement Nest Egg

During our working years, most of us seek to ensure that we will have an adequate pension to live off when the day comes. We rely on the promised inflation rate to provide good dividends.

But in actual fact, despite all our efforts to provide a nest egg for our future retirement years, it doesn’t always work out as we planned. The interest promised in our policies may remain the same. But they are insufficient.

Most pensioners today are finding their retirement annuities, their pensions, their savings, do not live up to the promise of former years. These are due to 

  • the increased cost of living
  • fluctuations in the economy
  • unexpected health problems
  • the COVID-19 pandemic
  • and so many other factors

These combine to eat away at our capital investments. Money doesn’t go as far as we anticipated in our younger days.

The Apostle Paul’s advice to the young pastor Timothy is truly relevant for us today.

“Warn the rich people of this world not to be proud or to trust in wealth that is easily lost.Tell them to have faith in God, who is rich and blesses us with everything we need to enjoy life.” (1 Timothy 6:17 CEV)

Lack of Security

In the previous study, we looked at the chaos caused by the plunder of a number of malls and factories in South Africa. There was certainly a lack of security when the looting took place. Why?

The public placed their trust in the security personnel. The security forces were caught napping. In other words, they failed to keep their promises of maintaining control.

False Security

The Babylonians plundered the nations that they attacked. Furthermore, they destroyed lands and cities and they shed the blood of their victims.

Those who profit at the cost of others think they are secure, but God says they will be judged. Share on X

The Babylonians were secure in their confidence that in their strength and ability they could overcome any enemy. But God warned them, “the peoples who are left will plunder you.

As a result of them gaining their wealth through bloodshed and destruction, God’s judgment was, “Now those who survived will be as cruel to you.”(Verse 8b CEV) 

Misuse and Abuse

  • How are God-given resources misused or abused today?
  • What other ways could we use the resources available to us? Can you name a few?

In some ways, the world has really changed very little since Habakkuk’s day. We only need to watch the TV or read the news to see the comparisons.

For instance, across the globe, we hear of fraud, embezzlement, corruption, and misappropriation of funds designated for others. Rape, bloodshed, violence, gang warfare, it’s still all happening.

Even more perplexing is how, the world over, the perpetrators seem to avoid justice.

Payback is Certain

Yet God’s Word endorses the fact that there will be a payback time for all evildoers.“…be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23b KJV) How often do you hear these words quoted?

And yet—when you take these words in the context of the chapter, they were not a warning against sin at all. They were a warning of the consequences of failure to keep a promise made to God.

Keeping Promises

En route for the Promised Land, the children of Israel conquered several nations on the eastern side of the Jordan River. At the point that they were about to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land (Palestine)  two and a half of Israel’s twelve tribes requested permission to settle on the eastern side, in the territories they had recently conquered.

They received permission on one condition. They had to join the other tribes in the conquest of Palestine. Once achieved they could then return to the eastern territories.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh agreed to this condition. Moses then issued this warning, “…if you do not keep your promise, I warn you that you will be sinning against the LORD.Make no mistake about it; you will be punished for your sin.” (Numbers 32:23 GNB)

Or as the KJV put it, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” 

Personal Promises

I’m sure that all of us without exception have made at least one, more likely many, promises in our lives.

We probably made a few light-hearted promises in our childhood with little intention of following through. However, as adults, the significance of a promise became more important.

  • Did you make a promise to God at your confirmation or baptism?
  • If you are married what promises did you make before God at your marriage ceremony?
  • Have you promised to raise your children by providing a godly example?
  • If you are a church leader, did you make a promise to be a faithful leader and continue to stay close to God?
  • If you have changed churches, did you promise to become involved and supportive of your new church’s mission statement?


  • Which of the above have you failed to keep?
  • Do you need to seek forgiveness for those broken promises?
  • Who do you need to speak to? God? Or others as well?

The Babylonians would face God’s discipline for their plunder of conquered nations.

God would discipline the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh if they failed to fulfil their promise.

Our situation is no different. God expects us to fulfil the promises that we make. 

“Make your vows to the LORD your God and perform them.” (Psalm 76:11 ESV)

Are there people you have made promises to, which you have not kept? What can you do today in an attempt to rectify it? Decide to do it now!


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

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.