God wants His position to be clear: Everyone who does evil will face judgment. Just because He is using the brutality of the Babylonians to execute judgment on the Israelites is no endorsement of the behavior and values of the Babylonians. But they are the ones who have sufficient military power to accomplish the task, and so God withdraws His protective hand from Israel so that they face the assault of the Babylonian hordes.

Yet God is neither blind nor deaf. He knows the arrogance and godlessness of the Babylonians, and their day of judgment will also come, all in good time. He will let their barbarism play itself out, and He will even use them in the meantime, but their time in the spotlight will be short lived, as far as empires go. In the fullness of time they, too, will face the conquerors’ swords, and their kingdom will be taken from them.

Though on the surface it seems as if evil is winning and that the greater evil gets rewarded with the blessings of success and wealth, the greater truth is behind the scenes. In a series of five woes, God relates to Habakkuk and the Israelites that the spiritual travesties (the sins) of the Babylonians exceed their military savagery and their cultural defects. Their souls are empty, and their supposed treasures are nothing more than self-contradictory trinkets. We discover that greed is self-destroying, extortion is a sure road to forfeit, violence brings self-harm, excess results in emptiness, and false values are just self-deceptive lies. God is at work to judge the Israelites with an appropriate military force to teach them the error of their ways, and He is also at work to judge the Babylonians for their spiritual blasphemy. In time, God’s wisdom will be evident.