Let’s start with a nice friendly neighborhood warning:
“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm! (Habakkuk 2:9 ESV)
Habakkuk is talking about the Chaldeans who have established security in their lives and their families lives building ‘houses’ that they think will keep them safe from the reach of harm.
God calls this evil for two reasons.
First, because of how they gained their safety. They have established their security by ‘cutting off many peoples’, by shaming others, by the blood of man.
Second, because they think safety can be gained. It’s unspeakably arrogant to think that mortal hands can build something eternally secure. The Chaldeans thought they can build high enough, gain enough resources, that they could be safe from justice. Safe from God’s wrath. Safe from His vengeance.
This is you. This is me. We are constantly operating under the ultimate arrogance. Behaving as if we are God, by seeking to build walls around us to keep us safe as if we can do that with our frail hands. Working to keep our kids safe. Fighting to keep our reputations safe. Strategizing over how to keep our dreams safe.
And I know, I know – we’re not like the Chaldeans. None of us are out killing people to get what we want. None of us are forcing them to stand naked in the street. None of us are cutting them off. At least our hands are clean.
Except for no, not right.
Except for when you hear that someone might be getting the promotion you want at work, and it makes you feel insecure and afraid because you’ve been building a wall of security around yourself through your job. And so you let hate flood your veins. You don’t call it hate, of course. You call it ‘frustration’ or ‘irritation’. But in that moment – when you comfort yourself with the weaknesses of others – you are building a house to keep you safer, killing others so that you can feel safe.
Except for the darkness you feel hovering inside when you see that kid hanging out near your kids when you pick them up for school. Here you are, building a world in which your child will be safe from the dangers of porn and lust, and this other creature (who showed some kid a dirty picture last week) is infiltrating your borders. So you cut them off. You vent to your spouse about their parents. You even encourage your child to pick up the weapons of murder in their own hearts, you train them to kill others – in the name of safety.
Except for that moment when the guy you’re interested in looks at another girl. And so you point out her mistakes – taking notes on the places her body rounds and curves where your body is toned, comparing her strengths to yours – exposing her, shaming her so that you can continue to build a house that feels safe.
Except for when another picture pops up on Instagram of that mom and her adorable children looking lovingly at one another and you feel some sort of fear for just a second, until you can remind yourself of how much easier she it with that nanny, or until you can press into the rumor you heard that her marriage is falling apart – reminding yourself of her cracks – building your security on the blood of others.We too, like the Chaldeans are not only guilty of having the arrogance to believe we can achieve security for ourselves, but we are guilty of pursuing safety by shaming others in our minds and killing them in our hearts.
We are willing to do whatever it takes to convince ourselves that we are safe from harm . That our reputation is safe. That our worth is safe. That our motherhood is safe.
The warning to the Chaldeans is the warning for us. First – no matter how we justify our pursuit of safety, the houses we build to keep ourselves safe will cry out against us. They will testify to the ways we have built them with blood on our hands.
And second – we cannot build a nest high enough. There is no home you can build in this life that will keep you safe. You cannot climb high enough to be safe from pain, to be safe from death, to be safe from rejection or danger.
There is only one place that is safe from the reach of harm. And it has already been built. No nails left to hammer. No walls left to erect.
It has been bought by death. Blood has already been shed to make it so. Shame has already been endured to make it secure. He has been cut off so that you might gain security.
Let His sacrifice be enough today. Demand no more blood, no more shame. He has given it all so that you might rest secure.