They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves. Habakkuk 1:7
With Themselves – The Chaldeans are coming! Habakkuk’s warning is a call to immediate repentance in advance of certain destruction. God’s people are about to be chastised in a most severe way. As if that isn’t bad enough, Habakkuk provides an insight into the reason the Chaldeans are so dreaded and feared. What he says about them is true of every nation that does not serve YHWH. It ought to make us shudder in our shoes.
Mimenu is the Hebrew for “of himself.” Our English translation makes it into a plural because we normally view a group of people (the Chaldeans) as plural. The Hebrew language merely recognizes that this people comes as if it were a single enemy. Just like Israel, the Chaldeans are one – one dreaded executor of God’s justice. Why are they so dreaded and fearful? Because they make up their own rules to the game. Their view of justice and authority does not depend on the character of YHWH. They have assumed the role of God’s sovereignty. They come to do their own bidding. Run while you can.
If history teaches us anything at all, it teaches us that men are the harbingers of hell on earth. Ha-satan hardly needs to enlist fallen angels to bring death, destruction, suffering, torture and torment to humanity. We are more than capable of inflicting unspeakable evil upon our own kind. Without YHWH’s standard of justice and authority, human civilization quickly becomes human degradation. Any people who believe that they make up the rules as they go along is a people to be feared. They may offer many apparent rewards, but in the end, they serve themselves at cost to everyone else. Habakkuk knew what was coming. Mimenu is the religion of “I am my own god.” Apparently we have learned very little since the Chaldeans.
What do the righteous do in circumstances like these? Actually, they inherit collateral damage. When the people fall, the righteous usually go with them. No wonder Proverbs says that the righteous weep when the wicked come to power. They know what Habakkuk knew. Sometimes being salt and light stings and burns. Sometimes the only way to be the redemptive change-agents in a world in collapse is to be carried off with the powerless or to die with those who take a stand. Being God’s man or women doesn’t seem to mean escape.
The mark of the beast might be 666 in some books, but for most of us, the mark of the beast is the self-proclamation of divinity. The mark of the beast is not doing justice, not loving mercy and not walking humbly with God. That should be a lot easier to identify.
Topical Index: mimenu, of himself, Chaldeans, Habakkuk 1:7, justice, authority
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