Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Sowing and Reaping

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you sow apple seeds, you’re going to reap an apple tree. You’re not going to reap green beans by sowing apple seeds. You reap what you sow. Now usually the harvest is multiplied, but you reap after what you sow, the same kind of thing that you sowed. This is the law of divine retribution.

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, October 19.

Most of us are far removed from the farms that produce our food. But all of us are still planting and harvesting all the time. Nancy will explain as she continues with an in-depth look at the prophet Habakkuk.

If you missed the earlier part of the series, you can listen at ReviveOurHearts.com. The series is called, Habakkuk: Moving from Fear to Faith.

Nancy: We said at the beginning of this series on the book of Habakkuk that in this book there are contained the seeds of many major biblical doctrines. You get glimpses of the doctrines of salvation and faith. And we’re looking at some of those doctrines.

But one of the doctrines that we see hinted at today in Habakkuk chapter 2 is the depravity of man, the utter sinfulness of man apart from Christ. And we’re looking in chapter 2. We just finished with the section where God said to Habakkuk, “The Babylonians, the Chaldeans, are proud. They are puffed up. They are arrogant. They are not righteous. But if you are going to be a righteous man in this corrupt day you’re going to do it by faith” (see Habakkuk 2:4).

Habakkuk needed to realize that he was no more righteous than the Chaldeans apart from faith in God. The Chaldeans were a wicked people, and God was going to use a wicked, ruthless nation as we saw in chapter 1 to chasten the Jewish people who themselves were backslidden and in need of repentance and revival.

So God has already told Habakkuk, “I’m going to bring this wicked nation that’s going to become a dominant world power, and they are going to conquer Judah.” In chapter 1, God gave Habakkuk a description of the Chaldeans, of the Babylonians.

But today in chapter 2 we find an even more detailed description of the wickedness of the Babylonians. In fact, the rest of chapter 2, beginning at verse 5 is this very vivid blow-by-blow description of what the Babylonians are like.

We’re going to walk through that description and see what that has to say for our own hearts beginning at verse 5 of Habakkuk chapter 2. “Moreover, wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest.”

Now let me just stop there and say that the Babylonians were known for their addiction to wine. In fact, you remember the last night of the Babylonian Empire, years later. they were having this great drunken orgy. God sent the handwriting on the wall and said, “Your days are numbered. Your kingdom is over.” (See Daniel 5.) They were renowned for their drunkenness, for their insatiable lust for alcohol.

But that was really just a picture of their insatiable lust for power, their insatiable lust and appetite to conquer the nations of the world. So their drunkenness was a picture of the way they lived their lives, it was a picture of their whole system.

“Wine is a traitor.” Proverbs 20 tells us that. “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).

We see today in people’s lives these addictive habits, these addictive patterns. And we’re an addictive culture. But we also see this lust for control, this appetite to control and dominate other people’s lives. So as we go through this description, we’ll see that in many ways we are not a whole lot in our culture unlike the Babylonians in theirs.

Wine is a traitor, an arrogant man who is never at rest. His greed, [now speaking of the Babylonians,] is as wide as Sheol [or hell]; like death he has never enough. He gathers for himself all nations and collects as his own all peoples (Habakkuk 2:5).

The Scripture is saying here that the Chaldeans were proud, like an arrogant man who is never at rest, and they were greedy. Like death and hell, they never have enough. They claim everybody; they claim everything. They always want more. They were never satisfied. They were aggressive, always reaching out for more.

He gathers for himself all nations, collects as his own all peoples, marching through the breadth of the earth to seize dwellings that are not their own (Habakkuk 1:6).

Now chapter 2, verse 6: “Shall not all these,” speaking now of those who’ve been ravaged by the Chaldeans, the nations and the peoples that they have gobbled up,

Shall not all these take up their taunt against him [against Babylon] with scoffing and riddles for him and say, "Woe."

Now note that word. If you’re following along in your Bible, you may want to underline it or circle it because it appears several more times in this chapter. We’re going to see in this chapter five woes. A woe is a pronouncement of divine judgment in the Old Testament. You’ll see that word woe in verse 6, in verse 9, verse 12, verse 15, and again in verse 19.

And those woes make up five stanzas that have three verses each. And these five stanzas are really saying essentially the same thing: the certainty of God’s judgment on the wicked. Ultimately they will reap what they have sown. And that’s the take away on this chapter. Whatever you sow you will reap.

Now in each of these five stanzas, in each case, there’s a sinful behavior that’s described followed by the consequences for that behavior. And in each case the consequence, the punishment, matches the sin that was committed. The consequence is related to the sin. You will reap what you sow.

If you sow apple seeds, you’re going to reap an apple tree. You’re not going to reap green beans by sowing apple seeds. You reap what you sow. Now, usually the harvest is multiplied, but you reap after what you sow, the same kind of thing that you sowed. This is the law of divine retribution.

You plant seeds of selfishness, exploitation, cruelty, injustice, oppression, violence—it will come back to you. You will pay. And in this world it seems for a while (maybe for a long while), that the wicked seem to prevail over the righteous.

But we’re being reminded in this chapter as we read through these woes that the wicked will receive their just dues—whether the wicked is your neighbor or your husband or your boss or you. We will reap what we sow.

So let’s look at these woes. We’ll move through them pretty quickly today. We’ll look at the first three or four and then at the end of this chapter and in the next session. Verse 6:

Woe to him who heaps up what is not his own—for how long?—and loads himself with pledges!

Now these are woes being pronounced on the nation of Babylon in the immediate situation there. And it’s speaking of this greed for acquisition, gain by extortion. He heaps up what is not his own. He loads himself with pledges.

The Babylonians would conquer people and then place exorbitant taxes on the people. They would confiscate the lands of the people that they took over. They would make loans to the poor and then charge these excessive interest rates.

God says to these people, “Woe for living that way. You’ve sown greed and extortion. Now you’re going to reap the same.” Verse 7: “Will not your debtors suddenly arise?” Who are their debtors? The nations that they have conquered and wronged, “those awake who will make you tremble? Then you will be spoil for them.” The tables will be turned.

Verse 8:

Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the peoples shall plunder you, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.

You’ve plundered others? You will be plundered. You will reap what you have sown.

Look at the second woe in verse 9.

Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to be safe from the reach of harm!

This is a picture of the Babylonians self-exaltation. They thought they could build these strong cities that would make them invincible. They set their nest on high. And they did it by getting evil gain to build their house, by illegal, unethical, immoral practices. And God says, “Woe to people who do this.”

And where’s the consequence? Verse 10: “You have devised shame for your house.” You thought you were getting gain for your house, but because it was evil gain you were really getting shame for your house. “By cutting off many peoples; you have forfeited your life.” You thought you would be safe from the reach of harm. But, in fact, you have forfeited your life by cutting off the people that you have wronged.

“For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the woodwork resound” (Habakkuk 2:11). This house that you have built with this evil gain, even the bricks and mortar in the house are a witness of your cruelty and your injustice and your oppressive tactics. They will cry out against you. You will not get away with this. That’s the point.

Look at the third woe, verse 12. “Woe to him who builds a town with blood.” You build up your kingdom through violence. “Woe to him who founds a city on iniquity.” You build up your kingdom through violence and corruption; that’s how you build your empire.

Verse 13: “Behold, is it not from the Lord of hosts that peoples labor merely for fire,and nations weary themselves for nothing? ” He’s saying here, “All these incredible efforts that you have gone through to build your towns and found your cities, you’ve done it with blood, violence, and corruption. It’s all futile. It’s all going to be wasted. It’s all going to come to nothing. This great, huge empire you’ve built? It’s going to be buried. It’s going to be nothing.

I want to skip over verse 14 at the moment. I want to come back to that in the next session because I want to give more attention to it. But let’s keep looking at these woes.

Verse 15, woe number four:

Woe to him who makes his neighbors drink—you pour out your wrath and make them drunk, in order to gaze at their nakedness!

Verse 16: “You will have your fill of shame instead of glory.” You’ve shamed others? You will be shamed. “Drink yourself.” You made others drink? You exposed their nakedness? You exposed them? “Drink, yourself, and show your uncircumcision!”

You’ve had this great facade. Your facade is going to be stripped off and people are going to see your secret sins. They’re going to see what you are really like. You shamed others; you will be ashamed yourself.

“The cup in the Lord’s right hand will come around to you, and utter shame will come upon your glory!” Now you see the word glory twice in verse 16. “You will have your fill of shame instead of glory. Utter shame will come upon your glory.”

The Babylonians thought theirs was a glorious empire—the glory era, the golden age of the empire. And they were building for their own glory.

Let me tell you ladies, we build either for God’s glory or for our own. And everything that you build for your own glory, even if it’s the way that you’re raising your kids because you want to look good, when you build for your own glory—if I build this ministry for my own glory—our glory will turn to shame.

Whatever is not for God’s glory will turn to shame. And we see this picture here of making your neighbors drunk in order to gaze at their nakedness, a picture of hatred and passion being poured out. We bring others to shame; we will ourselves be shamed. Those who exploit and shame and ridicule and take advantage of others will themselves be shamed.

You see it again in verse 17. It’s still a part of the consequence here.

The violence done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, as will the destruction of the beasts that terrified them, for the blood of man and violence to the earth, to cities and all who dwell in them.

So what’s the take away from these four woes? It’s the law of sowing and reaping. You will reap what you sow. What you do to others will come back onto you. And you see this theme throughout the Scripture. You see that it happens of nations, as we’re reading here in the book of Habakkuk.

This was speaking to the Babylonians. As an empire they were cruel and exploiting people and unjust and oppressive. And God says, “As a nation you will reap what you have sown.”

That theme is reiterated in Psalm chapter 9 where it says,

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made, in the net that they hid [trying to trap others], their own foot has been caught (Psalm 9:15).

Any nation that oppresses other nations and peoples will experience what they have sown. They will reap what they have sown. It will happen to nations.

But it’s true also of individuals, not just of nations but of individuals. Psalm 7 says, “The wicked man makes a pit, digging it out.” What’s he trying to do? He’s trying to trap someone else. So he makes this pit. He digs out something that he hopes his neighbor will fall into. And what does it say? He “falls into the hole that he has made” (Psalm 7:15). Verse 16 of Psalm 7: “His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.”

As we’ve been reading these woes in chapter 2 of Habakkuk, these are corporate, national woes on the nation of Babylon. But it’s interesting to me as I’ve been studying this passage that it’s also a personalized passage.

Every time he says “woe,” do you notice what it says? It says, “Woe to him.” It doesn’t say “Woe to them;” it says “Woe to him.” Now I believe it’s speaking of Babylon there. But there’s a personal sense. Woe to the person who sins against others in these ways.

And as you study these offenses that are listed here, and you see the depravity of the Babylonian Empire and its rulers, notice that they are all relational sins. These are sins that they commit against other people.

They’re unjust. They’re cruel. They’re vindictive. They’re shaming other people. They’re taking things that don’t belong to them. They’re stealing. There’s corruption. It’s sins against other people, these first four woes.

Could it be that as God looks at our lives He sees some of those same attitudes and practices? Now most of us on first reading of Habakkuk chapter 2 would see all these woes and all these egregious sins, and we would just kind of glaze over and skip over this and think, “I’m a committed Christian. I don’t relate to the things in that list.”

But I have meditated on the things listed in this passage, and I’ve just given you a quick run through of this passage. I challenge you to get into it for yourself. Dig into it and study what these things are that are listed. As I’ve gone through these, I’ve realized how many of those sins can sometimes be seen in my own life, in my relationships with other people. Perhaps you can see some of these in your own life.

Look at these sins. There are sins of greed that are listed in this chapter. That could be:

  • unethical business practices
  • taking advantage of customers or vendors
  • overcharging for goods
  • cheating
  • stealing
  • getting personal gain or profit at the expense of others

What about going to an amusement park and saying that your kids are younger than they are so you can get in at a lower price?

And then see sins of violence in this chapter. And among God’s people we see sins of violence toward one another or abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse.

  • Do you ever discipline your children in anger?
  • Do you ever speak cruel words to your children?

As soon as you say it, you think, “I can’t believe I just lashed out at my child that way.” Violence. Anger.

God says, “What you sow you will reap.” Violence.

  • Stripping others of their dignity; exposing them; making them look ridiculous; exposing their secrets.

We do it with our tongues:

  • slander
  • gossip

It’s violence, this drive to control.

  • the drive to control your mate
  • to control your children
  • to control your church
  • to control the people in your workplace

It’s violence. And God says, “You will reap what you have sown.”

I suppose heading the list of these sins is this whole thing of arrogance and pride. I mean isn’t that really at the heart of so much of this?

  • putting others down to exalt yourself, to make yourself look better
  • insensitivity to the needs of others

Do you see any of those things in your own heart?

  • We’re not kind.
  • We’re cruel and sharp with our tongues.

The way you treat your children, the way you treat your students, the way you treat your customers, the way you treat your roommate, the way you treat your in-laws.

Relational issues—in the church, in the body of Christ; the way you talk about your pastor, the way you talk about the things that are going on in your church, the way you talk about people in authority. Is it violent?

You say, “Well, I’d never pull out a gun and shoot somebody.” We do worse than that with our tongues sometimes, don’t we? Don’t we? Yes, we do. And God says, “You will reap what you sow.” You will not be an exception.

The Babylonians were not an exception. The Jews were not an exception, and you are not an exception. I am not an exception. We will reap what we sow. That’s why God’s Word says in the Gospels, “Do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12.).

What if God really gave back to us the exact same treatment that we have given out to others? I mean who could stand? Who could survive?

So we see in this passage that God will judge. But it’s not just that God says, “Okay, I’m going to judge you.” God says, “You’ve sown seeds, and they will reap a harvest. What you sow is what you will reap.”

God’s people were guilty, in fact, of the very same sins as those for which the Babylonians were condemned. You can go through the Old Testament and find many passages that will list for you the sins of the Jewish people in that era, and they were the same as the ones listed of the Babylonians in this passage. That’s why the Jews were being chastened. Their pride was as offensive to God as that of the Babylonians.

And ladies, it’s so easy for us to point a finger at our culture, at the entertainment industry, at secular education, at secular government, at ungodly judges. And those things abound. But I think one of the things that’s needed in our day is to have the church, us as believers, say, “God, show us where we are sinning in these ways. Show us our pride, our greed, our violence, our arrogance.”

And then we cry out to God for mercy. God forgive us. God doesn’t want to judge us. God does not want to have to chasten us. He will if He has to, but God delights in showing mercy.

And that’s why we cry out, “Lord, it’s not my brother. It’s not my sister. It’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. I’m guilty. I’ve committed these sins. God please forgive. Please have mercy.” And you know what? He will. He will.

Those woes, those curses, those judgments, those chastenings can actually become the blessing of God. God will replace blessing. We want to sow seeds of violence and arrogance and greed and then pray for a crop failure, you know? Hope that it won’t turn out.

But God says, “No, the crop will come, but by My mercy and by My grace I can give a whole new crop. As you are repentant, as you are broken, as you are honest about your sins, I can and I will forgive.” The Lord is abundant in mercy. He will abundantly pardon those that return to Him.

Leslie: I hope you’ll pray with Nancy Leigh DeMoss when she returns. Are you sowing positive seeds through your actions today? Nancy’s been reminding us how important our actions are. They’ll have an enormous effect on the future.

When Revive Our Hearts began broadcasting nearly a decade ago, some special donors planted some seeds. They gave a substantial amount of money to get the program off the ground. They knew they wouldn’t be able to continue at that level of giving, but hoped listeners like you would hear and then support the program. They prayed their seeds would blossom as listeners began to pray, donate, and pass the message on.

Now in our 10th year of ministry, we’re thankful for all those who have stood with us to make Revive Our Hearts possible. Month by month, we still need listeners to take up that original challenge and keep the program on the air in your area.

When you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you a Bible study booklet that accompanies Nancy’s teaching on Habakkuk. It’s perfect for your quiet time, especially during this current series. The book of Habakkuk will speak to your prayer life, your faith and unanswered prayer. The booklet will help get truths on these topics deep in your heart.

Ask for the booklet Worry, Woes, and Worship when you donate any amount by calling 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Earlier in the program Nancy shared a sobering list of sins from the Bible, a list of actions that will plant trouble in your life. She’s back to talk about it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Let me ask you to just take a moment and let God search your own heart. If He’s pointed out anything in your life that may have been on this list, sins related to greed or violence or arrogance and pride, the way that you’ve treated someone else with your tongue, with your spirit, maybe a family member, a friend, a colleague, another church member.

Don’t point the finger at someone else. Let God point His finger at your heart and just agree with God. Say, “Lord, it’s me. It’s not just the Babylonians. I deserve Your judgment for my sins.” Confess it, whatever God is showing you. Repent. Turn from going that way. And then remember the righteous shall live by his faith.

We don’t escape the judgment of God by just trying harder to be better. We escape the wrath and the woe and the judgment of God by turning in faith to Christ for mercy.

Lord, have mercy on us, Your people, for we have sinned. We desperately need Your mercy. Restore and renew and revive for Jesus’ sake I pray it, amen.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.