11This is the message that the LORD revealed to the prophet Habakkuk.
2O LORD, how long must I call for help before you listen, before you save us from violence? 3Why do you make me see such trouble? How can you endure to look on such wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are all round me, and there is fighting and quarrelling everywhere. 4The law is weak and useless, and justice is never done. Evil people get the better of the righteous, and so justice is perverted.
Then the LORD said to his people, “Keep watching the nations round you, and you will be astonished at what you see. I am going to do something that you will not believe when you hear about it. 6
I am bringing the Babylonians to power, those fierce, restless people. They are marching out across the world to conquer other lands. 7They spread fear and terror, and in their pride they are a law to themselves.
8“Their horses are faster than leopards, fiercer than hungry wolves. Their horsemen come riding from distant lands; their horses paw the ground. They come swooping down like eagles attacking their prey.
9“Their armies advance in violent conquest, and everyone is terrified as they approach.1.9 Probable text and everyone… approach; Hebrew unclear. Their captives are as numerous as grains of sand. 10They treat kings with contempt and laugh at high officials. No fortress can stop them — they pile up earth against it and capture it. 11Then they sweep on like the wind and are gone, these men whose power is their god.”
12LORD, from the very beginning you are God. You are my God, holy and eternal. LORD, my God and protector, you have chosen the Babylonians and made them strong so that they can punish us. 13But how can you stand these treacherous, evil men? Your eyes are too holy to look at evil, and you cannot stand the sight of people doing wrong. So why are you silent while they destroy people who are more righteous than they are?
14How can you treat people like fish or like a swarm of insects that have no ruler to direct them? 15The Babylonians catch people with hooks, as though they were fish. They drag them off in nets and shout for joy over their catch! 16They even worship their nets and offer sacrifices to them, because their nets provide them with the best of everything.
17Are they going to use their swords for ever and keep on destroying nations without mercy?
21I will climb my watchtower and wait to see what the LORD will tell me to say and what answer he2.1 One ancient translation he; Hebrew I will give to my complaint.
2The LORD gave me this answer: “Write down clearly on clay tablets what I reveal to you, so that it can be read at a glance. 3
Put it in writing, because it is not yet time for it to come true. But the time is coming quickly, and what I show you will come true. It may seem slow in coming, but wait for it; it will certainly take place, and it will not be delayed. 4
And this is the message: ‘Those who are evil will not survive,2.4 Probable text will not survive; Hebrew unclear. but those who are righteous will live because they are faithful to God.’ ”
5Wealth is deceitful. Greedy people are proud and restless — like death itself they are never satisfied. That is why they conquer nation after nation for themselves. 6The conquered people will taunt their conquerors and show their scorn for them. They will say, “You take what isn't yours, but you are doomed! How long will you go on getting rich by forcing your debtors to pay up?”
7But before you know it, you that have conquered others will be in debt yourselves and be forced to pay interest. Enemies will come and make you tremble. They will plunder you! 8You have plundered the people of many nations, but now those who have survived will plunder you because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.2.8; 2.17 the people… cities; or the land, the city, and those who live in it.
9You are doomed! You have made your family rich with what you took by violence, and have tried to make your own home safe from harm and danger! 10But your schemes have brought shame on your family; by destroying many nations you have only brought ruin on yourself. 11Even the stones of the walls cry out against you, and the rafters echo the cry.
12You are doomed! You founded a city on crime and built it up by murder. 13The nations you conquered wore themselves out in useless labour, and all they have built goes up in flames. The LORD Almighty has done this. 14
But the earth will be as full of the knowledge of the LORD's glory as the seas are full of water.
15You are doomed! In your fury you humiliated and disgraced your neighbours; you made them stagger as though they were drunk. 16You in turn will be covered with shame instead of honour. You yourself will drink and stagger. The LORD will make you drink your own cup of punishment, and your honour will be turned to disgrace. 17You have cut down the forests of Lebanon; now you will be cut down. You killed its animals; now animals will terrify you. This will happen because of the murders you have committed and because of your violence against the people of the world and its cities.2.17; 2.8 the people… cities; or the land, the city, and those who live in it.
18What's the use of an idol? It is only something that a human being has made, and it tells you nothing but lies. What good does it do for its maker to trust it — a god that can't even talk! 19You are doomed! You say to a piece of wood, “Wake up!” or to a block of stone, “Get up!” Can an idol reveal anything to you? It may be covered with silver and gold, but there is no life in it.
20The LORD is in his holy Temple; let everyone on earth be silent in his presence.