6 For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwellingplaces that are not their's. 7 They are terrible and dreadful: their judgment and their dignity shall proceed of themselves. 8 Their horses also are swifter than the leopards, and are more fierce than the evening wolves: and their horsemen shall spread themselves, and their horsemen shall come from far; they shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat. 9 They shall come all for violence: their faces shall sup up as the east wind, and they shall gather the captivity as the sand. 10And they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a scorn unto them: they shall deride every strong hold; for they shall heap dust, and take it. 11Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god.
Babylon, like Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan of their day, a mighty nation, a world super power with military dominance, but no so superior that God can’t tame them. Not so strategic that they can elude God from using them like a tool and them not even know it. G-d uses their National bent on world domination to accomplish His will. They will end up thinking that their gods prompted them to do this.
The Full Life Study Bible says that, “God answered Habakkuk by telling him he already had plans to chastise Judah for its sins. In this section a hint is given to how Israel would be taken, by siege ramps (v.10). He would use the ruthless and pagan Babylonians to correct Judah. That God would use such a wicked, pagan people to punish Judah was astonishing to the prophet and unbelievable to God’s people.”
Let me further attempt to answer Habakkuk’s first question he posed to God about why do the wicked go unpunished?
Well, first off, we are forced to look at events from fragmented finite linear perspective which is locked in the frame of time. God does not have those issues of boundary, He sees the Big Picture. His reasoning and ways are beyond our comprehension
Isa 55:8-9, 11 For my thoughts [are] not your thoughts, neither [are] your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts… So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.
Time to us is crucial and we think God is being slack but He’s not.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
To Him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years a day (II Pet. 3:8).
Secondly, as He told Moses, God is merciful and compassionate….
Exd. 34:6-7 And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear [the guilty]; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth [generation].
2 Peter 3:9b …not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
So ADONAI provides ample space and time for a people to repent and from our point of view it looks like He’s letting things slide. But when God has had “enough” and when the line has been crossed and it’s beyond the point of no return, LOOK OUT!
Habakkuk; Question: “How can God use a Nation more Wicked than Judah as the Scourge of Chastisement (1:12-2:1)?”
In other words, Habakkuk was confused became he knew the cruel reputation of the Babylonians and wondered how a Holy G-d were more righteous than them!
The Stones Tanak comments, “The conqueror may attribute his success to an idol; we however, know that you have allowed Babylonia to punish us; but let us not be wiped out!”
The Full Life Study Bible says that, “…he was conflicted that God would not allow them annihilate His own people and by that destruction cancel His redemptive purpose for the Human Race.”
12 Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One? we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment; and, O mighty God, thou hast established them for correction. 13 Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?
If you cannot stand to look upon evil, how can you use a nation more evil than Judah as an instrument of punishment? And if Babylonia be more evil how come they haven’t been punished for their evil yet? Wouldn’t Babylonia attacking Judah just increase their own evil? Is not Your silence and use of Babylonia means You condone their evil?
I see it this way, no one is above Torah, but some are held more accountable than others, It’s not that God plays favorites or has double standards, but the “enough” factor for God is different with different people. Here’s why, one group has been chosen as the primary caretakers and dispensers of Torah knowledge and so they are held more accountable.
James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.
Other nations know general morality basics but do not know Torah as Israel does and so they are not held as accountable. Both are held accountable, the punishment is the same, but the amount of time that meads to judgment are different. Look at it as liquid laundry detergent, one is concentrated so it is not as big and you don’t use as much. The other is not and is a bigger size and because it is a slightly diluted formula you have to use more. One cap is small and does not take much to fill because it is a concentrated formula, the other is a larger cap and is a diluted formula.
Or another illustration; let’s say Israel is a teenager and Babylonia is a toddler. Let’s say the teenager is playing ball in the house and ends up breaking a lamp. The teenager is immediately punished because they know better and have been warned numerous times before about not playing ball in the house. They got grounded for a week and with restrictions of several privileges. The toddler does the same thing but only gets a slap on the bum. Why? Because the toddler is too young to truly understand the full ramification of his actions, yet a slap on the bum is applied to connect the incident with a negative consequence, so that the chances of a repeat offence is less likely and to give the toddler some indication what he did was unacceptable.
Consequently using Babylonia would hit two birds with one stone; it would fill their judgment cup quicker, while at the same time get them to acknowledge their wickedness because every time a nation is used to punish Israel they always end up overdoing it, going too far and God ends up having to punish them for their excessive cruelty to Israel. Also it will cause them to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and supremacy while they see the impotency of their gods.
The Full Life Study Bible comments; “Canst not look on iniquity. This phrase does not mean that God does not see evil, for he observes everything; he is omniscient… Rather, the statement means that God never looks on evil to condone or tolerate it. What perplexed Habakkuk was this: God’s use of the wicked Babylonians made it seem like He was tolerating their sin while punishing Judah, who, in spite of all their evil, was still a more righteous nation than the Babylonians.”