13 Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity?
“Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?” – NIV
This hints to another universal, philosophical question that every person asks themselves at least once in their life, “What is the meaning of life?” Ecclesiastes has the answer:
Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. Ecc. 12:13b
May I also add:
I Cor. 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Mic. 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what [is] good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
So all this work for power, fame and riches, if not for the sake of heaven, that is to say, God, is futile, like a star going nova and burning itself out; its self-destruction veiled as progress and self-sufficiency.
People will do all this with willing blindness, because…
14 For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
There will be and is no excuse for such vanity. It is working to buy the rope in which one will hang themselves with.
15 Woe unto him that giveth his neighbour drink, that puttest thy bottle to him, and makest him drunken also, that thou mayest look on their nakedness! 16 Thou art filled with shame for glory: drink thou also, and let thy foreskin be uncovered: the cup of the LORD's right hand shall be turned unto thee, and shameful spewing shall be on thy glory.
When one is drunk and here meaning with power, ones nakedness (shameful flaws) is exposed and exploited. Here Babylon will get Judah drunk to show the world Judah’s self-incriminating drunken foolishness, this is a part of Judah’s judgment and part of the reason why Babylon will be judged.
The Stones Tanak comments, “The enemy gained friendship of Israel, and then treacherously “intoxicated” her with a potent brew of suffering. His intent was not for gain, but to gloat over the “shame” imposed upon Israel.”
This is the comparable to capturing the drunken antics of an enemy on a cell phone and it is uploaded to the internet for the entire world to see, for no motive except to shame someone you dislike.
17 For the violence of Lebanon shall cover thee, and the spoil of beasts, which made them afraid, because of men's blood, and for the violence of the land, of the city, and of all that dwell therein.
God tells Babylon for the “violence done to Lebanon,” which is an idiom for the Temple because cedars from Lebanon were used to build it (according to the interpretation of the Targum) in turn Babylon will be destroyed for their actions.
18 What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? 19 Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it.
The only power and wisdom idols have is given to it by man himself and this the pagan gods are only as powerful as the men who dream them up and thus they will be defeated by their own imaginations, they will fall due to their own finite insight.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.
ADONAI is Infinite and all of man’s knowledge and finite wisdom is nothing but annoying, meaningless white noise to G-d and thus it is better that all be silent before Him, for to continue ranting is futile and self-destructive.
God is so powerful and Holy that He leaves all the earth speechless and stunned in silent awe.
The questions are now over and Habakkuk blown away by ADONAI’s answers and an do nothing but plead for mercy and praise Him for His sovereignty, power, and mercy in an orchestrated prayer.