The Threat of Security (Habakkuk 2:6–20)

This post was originally published on December 29, 2014 and was revised  on April 3, 2020.

Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
to set his nest on high,
to be safe from the reach of harm!
You have devised shame for your house
by cutting off many peoples;
you have forfeited your life.
For the stone will cry out from the wall,
and the beam from the woodwork respond.

—Habakkuk 2:9–11

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When threatened, picking up a sword could be the most dangerous response. Reaching for a gun when an officer has commanded “Freeze!” is a fool’s act. Sometimes, the supposed wisdom of security is really the folly of unbelief. All our attempts at security might be nothing more than thinly veiled self-reliance and idolatry.

Nebuchadnezzar built an eagle’s nest where he thought his dynasty and kingdom would be safe. Walls were erected wide enough for a chariot to travel on. Much was invested in security, but all this was counterproductive because the most crucial factor in any building program wasn’t heeded—the One who holds the atoms of every stone, brick, and piece of lumber together—God Almighty.

Unless the LORD builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
—Psalm 127:1

All that was for safety only testified against Babylon. The materials gained by evil means antiphonally cry out against her (2:11), just as Abel’s blood cried out against Cain (Genesis 4:10; Habakkuk 2:12). Where men see glory, God sees sin; and He isn’t intimidated. Babylon was a city built with blood and sin; and thus, it was not a city to flee to, but to flee from. Worse than building their own prison, they’d constructed nothing more than a giant lightning rod to attract the unbearable storm of God’s wrath.

Your efforts at security may not be mortared with blood, but if they’re an expression of self-reliance and idolatry, then it’s still bonded with explosive-laced sin and a fire is coming. Tis far better to be Habakkuk in certain-to-fall Jerusalem, confusingly trusting in the Rock (1:12). The righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).

3 thoughts on “The Threat of Security (Habakkuk 2:6–20)”

  1. I am choosing to believe this is in no way suggesting that people should ignore federal guidelines about self-isolation and put trust in God alone to protect them. I know God looks after fools and sinners, but let’s not give Him extra work, okay? Recklessly putting you and your loved ones in danger sounds like an invitation for God to teach you about humility, not an expression of faith.

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    1. Dear covertly Concerned,

      That choice would be a wise one considering:

      1. The original publication date of this post indicated in italics at the top. This entry was originally posted in 2014 in conjunction with a series of sermons I preached through Habakkuk. It was reposted because the elders of our church are recommending our members listen to the aforementioned sermon series at this time because…

      2. Our church isn’t currently gathering. We posted an explanatory letter here .

      3. If you read the blog post and the Scripture passage carefully, I believe it is clear that the issue isn’t what is being done, but why. Two men can build a wall, but one can do so out of godly wisdom, reverence, and love of neighbor while another is concerned only for self and idols. Nebuchadnezzar’s wall building was folly and faithless. Nehemiah’s was wise and faithful. It isn’t the act but the motive that is in question here. What is critical is understanding that it matters not how worldly wise we are, if we are idolatrously centered on self, there is no refuge for us.

      4. One deeply concerned could have listened to the sermon audio appended to the bottom of the post for fuller context and seen that this was not the intent at all.

      Such a choice would’ve been wise, but the remainder of your comment suggests that instead of graciously choosing to believe the best, you’ve mercilessly chose to accuse the worst. Now I certainly am the worst I know, but in this instance, I don’t believe my motives were.

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      1. Yes, I noticed that this was a revisited sermon. I do see your intent in criticizing motive as opposed to action, but I shouldn’t have to go and listen to a sermon audio (which I had no way of knowing would differ from the text) just to verify that you weren’t urging faith at the expense of common sense.

        Your last paragraph is what gave me doubts on that point, since you say that instead of idolatrous efforts at security, “Tis far better to be Habakkuk in certain-to-fall Jerusalem, confusingly trusting in the Rock (1:12). The righteous shall live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4).” In context of current events, that just doesn’t read well to me. People should by no means be neglecting security right now, idolatrous motives or not. I admit that I am of a more practical than spiritual bent, which leads me to the belief that God will use whatever means He wants to accomplish His aims. Which does kind of gel with Habbakuk’s message, come to think of it…

        In any case. I’m glad to be wrong about your intent here, and very glad to hear about how your church is helping keep your parishioners safe.

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