Habakkuk and The Problem of Idols

Habakkuk 1:11 (ESV) Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!”

Habakkuk 2:18-20 (ESV) What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! 19 Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it. 20 But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”

John Calvin said that mankind’s heart is an idol factory, and I can testify to that. Leave me alone, and I can craft the most elaborate of idols or as Habakkuk calls them, “gods”.

All idols incarnate in some form as “gods” and they are one of Satan’s ways of imitating the God of the Bible, and particularly the second person of that Triune God, Jesus. In the Bible, many nations sought their “god’s” incarnate state by crafting some figure from wood or metal. 

Mine take the form of children, or the form of some skill I can use to create something tangible. 

How do I know they are idols? I trust in them for either some emotional salvation or to get me somewhere or to something usually without God or in the place of God with God’s name neatly placed on top of my chosen means, and if they fail me, I am bitterly disappointed in them. 

In Christ, I have a new heart, but I have a body and nature in that body that wars against my  new heart, and it offers me many objects that I can trust in rather than God. 

In Habakkuk, the invading Chaldeans that Yhwh was going to bring for the purpose of discipling his people have many “gods” or idols, and one of them is their own might. They were powerful and able to take over wherever they set their power (all this mind you at Yhwh’s temporary granting that power to them). 

Israel, although they would use Yhwh’s name and say he was their God, have incorporated the dependence of local deities into their hearts, and thus the spiritual and practical habits of those false demonic entities have become their practice while putting Yhwh’s name on them. 

Yhwh intends to redeem his reputation and people by manhandling an invading army to be his means of discipline for his people and thus show his people how futile “gods” or idols are and bring them back to trust him. 

This does two vital things. First, Yhwh shows that “gods” either of strength or whatever, have no power over him. Second, Yhwh shows them that “gods” are not gods at all, rather “lies” that mankind has created in rebellion against him. 

How will it turn out? Yhwh tells Habakkuk to wait and live by faith. 

Among uncountable and eternal glories, we can take away some nuggets of truth from Habakkuk.

  1. Fight to shake off anything that vies for our devotion and attention and affection over God or seeks to use God to justify being above God. Those things are lies. 
  2. Idols or gods are good things that turn into God things and that ruin everything. So, take the good things for the good God created them for, but don’t trust them. 
  3. Wait on the Lord by faith, and shake off the temptation to not wait on the Lord in faith. 

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