14 Now they grope through the streets
as if they were blind.
They are so defiled with blood
that no one dares to touch their garments.
15 “Go away! You are unclean!” people cry to them.
“Away! Away! Don’t touch us!”
When they flee and wander about,
people among the nations say,
“They can stay here no longer.”
16 The Lord himself has scattered them;
he no longer watches over them.
The priests are shown no honor,
the elders no favor.
17 Moreover, our eyes failed,
looking in vain for help;
from our towers we watched
for a nation that could not save us.
18 People stalked us at every step,
so we could not walk in our streets.
Our end was near, our days were numbered,
for our end had come.
19 Our pursuers were swifter
than eagles in the sky;
they chased us over the mountains
and lay in wait for us in the desert.
20 The Lord’s anointed, our very life breath,
was caught in their traps.
We thought that under his shadow
we would live among the nations.
21 Rejoice and be glad, Daughter Edom,
you who live in the land of Uz.
But to you also the cup will be passed;
you will be drunk and stripped naked.
22 Your punishment will end, Daughter Zion;
he will not prolong your exile.
But he will punish your sin, Daughter Edom,
and expose your wickedness.
If we compare verse 17 with Habakkuk 2:1, we see that Habakkuk was looking for his answers from the living and true God, and he got them, even though he had to wait. But the people of Judah were focussed on foreign ‘gods’ – in this case, hoping for help from some other nation. Here was part of the grave sin of the false prophets, that they encouraged the people to believe that such ‘foreign aid’ would come. But it didn’t – not in any lasting way.
It is a constant danger for the church – and I think especially so in the generally affluent and comfortable west – that we are far too self-reliant. We are too clever by far; too trusting of our own resources. This regularly shows itself in a form of ‘practical atheism’, where we say we believe in God, but it doesn’t translate into committed, corporate prayerfulness.
Are we looking in the wrong direction for our help?