“Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told.
For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans,
that bitter and hasty nation,
who march through the breadth of the earth,
to seize dwellings not their own.
They are dreaded and fearsome;
their justice and dignity go forth from themselves.
Their horses are swifter than leopards,
more fierce than the evening wolves;
their horsemen press proudly on.
Their horsemen come from afar;
they fly like an eagle swift to devour.
They all come for violence,
all their faces forward.
They gather captives like sand.
At kings they scoff,
and at rulers they laugh.
They laugh at every fortress,
for they pile up earth and take it.
Then they sweep by like the wind and go on,
guilty men, whose own might is their god!” Habakkuk 1:5-11 ESV
The Lord of hosts has sworn:
“As I have planned,
so shall it be,
and as I have purposed,
so shall it stand,
that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
and his yoke shall depart from them,
and his burden from their shoulder.” Isaiah 14:24-25 ESV
The Assyrian empire ruled the known world for a long time, but there was another empire that rose as the Assyrians got weaker. Babylon had been a civilization in the Mesopotamia for centuries, but when the Assyrians came to power, they ruled the Babylonians. The Babylonians continually fought against the Assyrians and tried to rebel against their rule. Finally the Babylonians and another nation called the Medes combined forces and laid siege to the city of Nineveh, Assyria’s capital. After three months of being pressed by their two enemies, the city of Nineveh fell. The Babylonian empire, sometimes called the Chaldean empire, took power and started expanding to the west. The time for Babylon to rule the known world had come.
Habakkuk had cried out to God about all the violence and injustice that was happening in the southern kingdom of Judah, and he waited and hoped for an answer from God, but the Lord’s answer might not have been what he expected. God didn’t talk about Judah at all, but instead he talked about the Chaldeans, and how he was about to raise them up and bring them to power. As one empire fell and another empire rose in its place, the Lord would work through the events of the world to set right the evil and wrong among his own people. The northern kingdom had been defeated and taken into exile by Assyria, and soon the same thing would happen to the southern kingdom by Babylonia. God’s judgment was about to fall on his people, and Babylon was the empire God would use to bring this judgment about.
God still works through the events of the world to bring about his purposes, but we can’t always know what these purposes are. God promises to work for the good of his people, and sometimes the Lord works through sadness and suffering and hard times. We can see this when we look at Jesus. He came into our world and was put to a horrible death by the mighty Roman empire. Jesus’ death looked like a terrible defeat, but his death was the way God defeated death and all the forces of evil. God worked through Jesus to bring about his greatest purpose of all–to forgive our sins and make us his people now and forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for working through the events of the world. Help us to trust you to work for our good. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.